Action Engineering’s Guide to a Successful 3D Data Transition
Duane: There’s another aspect to that trust with the suppliers, which is intellectual property because the OEM is really concerned about how much of their intellectual property is going outside and how much they’re in control of, and when you give it to a supplier, yeah, there are NDAs and there are other things that you can put in place for your agreements to keep that information contained, but it’s a risk, so there’s organizational trust between OEM and supplier, and if they can learn… It’s like any relationship, if you can learn to trust and learn to communicate, you’ll have a much better relationship and be able to pass that back and forth, pass that information back and forth much easier.
Rhiannon: Communication is a key word. 3D data is a lot more dialogue. It’s a lot less, “I’m going to create these things, I’m going to set them in stone, I’m going to toss them over the fence.” What product engineers are not seeing on the other side of the fence is the operations folks frantically redlining to get it to actually be manufacturable.
There are NDAs and there are other things that you can put in place for your agreements to keep that information contained, but it’s a risk, so there’s organizational trust between OEM and supplier.Duane
Jennifer: Right. What we’ve built into the READY and the SET phases, which are the stuff that people don’t think they need, is establishing those trust connections within your internal team, with your supply chain, with your leadership structure, and with customers. Clear communications all along the digital thread is about the ability to understand you’re working with humans and not just machines.
Rhiannon: Humans that are bought-in and motivated are the key to 3D transition success. Well-trained humans can still sabotage your entire program, it’s not just about training. For too long people have assumed that they can just throw this transition at people with some training and miracles will happen. In the roadmap, we build a communication plan and cross-functional ownership, and we think about that layer of middle managers and what they’re going to get out of it. We can get leadership buy-in, we can get grassroots buy-in, but that layer of management that’s like, “What do you mean I need to manage people differently?” is powerful and worth understanding.
Humans that are bought-in and motivated are the key to 3D transition success.Rhiannon
Jennifer: We’ve absolutely seen the engineering experts at a company sabotage the effort, even though they want it to move forward. That’s probably the hardest thing, is to keep those experts from running the conversation, because everybody else is just dazed and confused and in the meetings saying “I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’m here.” Being dragged along by the expert in the room who doesn’t ever check in with everyone else – just doesn’t get the job done.
Rhiannon: It’s interesting when we do the mission and vision exercises in team formation to have people write their personal missions. What’s your personal mission on this team? By then we’ve assessed people’s values, we understand what threatens them, and what’s important to them, what they’re proud of about themselves, we understand motivation, and then we say, “Okay, what’s your personal mission?” After we’ve talked about everybody’s personal mission, then we do the team mission. Until then you don’t know why everybody thinks they’re in the room, and not everybody is in the room because they want to do the latest and greatest just because it’s cool. That is not necessarily everybody’s mission. It can be very eye-opening to watch that go down.
Let’s talk a little bit about what not to do. What happens when people start at GO?
Jennifer: They fail, they expensively fail. And when I say they fail, they fail to meet their grandiose vision that was unobtainable to begin with, and so that’s the number one challenge. But then what they also don’t do is recognize the little wins that they gain along the way. That’s almost more detrimental because you’ll have a pocket who was really excited about assembly instructions, but then when it all gets shut down, now they don’t get to do it again and you have eroded your social capital and will have a harder time with them next time.
Duane: One of the things with failure like that is there’s a bit of mental dissonance going on there because they understand what the 3D transition is to some extent, but they don’t realize how far-reaching an effect it can have on an organization and going fully 3D is a very long process. It’s not something that just happens in a three-to-six-month timeframe. It is a marathon, and when they start at GO, it’s like starting a marathon in the middle of the course and trying to sprint to the end. You just don’t make it, you collapse before you get there. And not only that, but you also missed the first half of the marathon, with all the good scenery and refreshment stands and crowd support. All these things need to happen in a methodical thoughtful way, and that’s what the roadmap does, it lays it out in a methodical way.
When companies start at GO, it’s like starting a marathon in the middle of the course and trying to sprint to the end. You just don’t make it, you collapse before you get there. And not only that, but you also missed the first half of the marathon, with all the good scenery and refreshment stands and crowd support.Duane
We do the team formation because we need to understand the organization, we need business psychology to support the organizational change management, and we need both of those to support the processes and the changes that we’re going to make. These changes are not just in engineering, this is not an engineering-specific endeavor, it’s engineering and manufacturing, and quality, and suppliers, and procurement, and so many other areas of the company.
It takes time to line up and get everybody on board, so you must start at the beginning. This is a race you can win, and we can help you, but you can’t just jump in and start in the middle.