Integrative Improvement Blog

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Why culture is key in the modern manufacturing environment

Manufacturing leaders today have a vision of a symbiotic human-robot way of working. Achieving this vision requires the right capex and technology investments, and, more significantly, the right investment in the company’s culture. But what is company culture and what does it look like in a modern manufacturing environment?

Company culture

The culture is often described as the personality of a company, the environment in which people work and it may include the company’s values, ethics and expectations. It is the people who shape the culture, and while some companies favour an informal style with virtually no rules and regulations, others have a very structured and formal atmosphere.

The modern manufacturing environment

Manufacturing organisations are facing significant challenges – from globalisation, trade disputes, rapidly changing technologies and product innovation, to a critical skills shortage – that impact not only the financial success of the business, but also its culture.

Traditionally, and according to one long-time manufacturing executive client, the manufacturing environment has been “a command-and-control environment, with clear reporting lines and functional silos.”

Confronting the inevitable changes and challenges in manufacturing also means relooking at the company culture and ensuring it aligns with the vision of a high-tech working environment where (wo)man and machine complement each other.

The leaders in manufacturing

Modern manufacturing Today’s manufacturing organisation necessitates leaders who leverage the competitive advantage of Industry 4.0 and:

  • are quick but consistent decision-makers
  • work closely with one another to manage shareholder expectations
  • are tech savvy while also displaying people-orientated empathy
  • lead visibly – e.g. by doing gemba walks as part of their Leader Standard Work
  • continue to prioritise health and safety
  • regularly and effectively communicate their vision with the company
  • empower their employees to make decisions on the shop floor, which improves confidence levels and morale
  • encourage problem-solving and new ideas from any level within the organisation
  • create a learning environment where employees are equipped with the necessary tools and techniques
  • are hiring the talent with the skills the business needs now and in the future
  • consistently recognise and reward achievements

The employees

Modern manufacturing Employees from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning disciplines are required and they need to:

  • challenge the status quo
  • enjoy asking questions and problem-solving
  • experiment with alternative ways of working
  • work well in teams and collaborate on ideas
  • show a willingness to improve their existing skills and learn new ones too, such as programming new generations of equipment software and using tools to interface with automated machines
  • ultimately, thrive in a culture of continuous improvement

Sustaining a uniform culture becomes more and more difficult as an organisation expands across continents. According to, “even the best culture needs to revisit itself to meet a growing company’s team. The most successful company culture leads to successful business, and that requires an evolving culture that can grow with it.” Google is a good example of just that, an ever-expanding organisation that has been synonymous with culture for years.


The culture of an organisation is its lifeblood and therefore vital to its present and future success. A manufacturing environment whose people prioritise learning and continuous improvement ensures the organisation has the right foundations to thrive in the digital era.

Read the article Re-imagining the 2030 manufacturing workplace: way beyond automation that looks at the factors impacting manufacturing today, their implications and the strategic steps leaders must take now to remain competitive on the global stage.

The TRACC framework helps organisations build standardised and integrated good practice and performance capacity across their Plan, Source, Make and Deliver functions. Simultaneously it accelerates their collaboration and alignment capacity to build world class end-to-end value chains, enabling the organisation itself to become the ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage.
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