Rethink 2021: Reimagining the Art of the Possible

“We are in the midst of great change,” declared David R. Brousell, Co-Founder, Vice President, and Executive Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) in his opening speech at the MLC’s 2021 Virtual Rethink Summit today.

“It requires us all to reimagine the art of the possible – to expand our visions, to adapt, to devise new strategies, and to orchestrate change,” he said. “How well you transition to the digital model of doing business will be key to the competitive posture of your company and, as a result, our industry as a whole.”

Reflecting on the massive global disruption of the past year, Brousell noted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on manufacturing has not only been profound but, in many areas of activity, has also led to permanent changes.

“Who could have imagined that as a direct result of a worldwide pandemic, Manufacturing 4.0 would suddenly arrive at an inflection point in its history,” he added. “Spurred by the crisis and the consequent need for greater flexibility and agility, manufacturing companies began accelerating their investments in digital technologies and the changes necessary to fully exploit them.”

Brousell cited the latest MLC survey research which confirms that 54.8% of manufacturing companies believe COVID-19 has increased management’s focus on digital transformation. Powerful majorities also report that many of the COVID-driven changes will now become permanent elements of their leadership approach. For example, 68.2% say that new disaster preparedness plans, resiliency strategies, and response teams will become permanent features in their companies. Likewise, 57.3% say that more collaborative, cross-functional organizational structures will take root. And 62.2% expect remote working by both leadership teams and employees to continue to be part of everyday life.

“More and more,” he predicted, “the digital model of doing business will sweep through other functions of the manufacturing enterprise – sales, marketing, HR, service. With manufacturing operations leading the way, the rest of the manufacturing enterprise will digitize.”

“So, open your minds over the next three days of Rethink and imagine a better future for manufacturing,” Brousell advised the hundreds of Rethink Summit virtual attendees. “Now is the time to think big about manufacturing.”

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