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How a digital factory can transform company culture

Companies are beginning to use digital factories as incubators of more agile ways of working, often filtering the best attributes of the factory culture back to the larger organization.

A digital factory often calls for a whole new set of rules, including increased agility, new technology solutions, and cross-functional teams. Those differences have often spelled success for companies trying to develop and push out new digital capabilities quickly. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, senior partner Rohit Bhapkar and partner Joao Dias speak with McKinsey’s Barr Seitz about the challenges leaders might face in building digital factories and how to set themselves up for the best results.

Podcast transcript

Barr Seitz: Hello, and welcome to the McKinsey Podcast. I’m Barr Seitz, global publishing lead from McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales and Digital Practices, and I’m very happy to be joined today by Joao Dias, a partner based in McKinsey’s Cologne office, and Rohit Bhapkar, a senior partner in our Toronto office.

They are also the coauthors of the article “Scaling a transformative culture through a digital factory.” For today’s conversation, we’ll be discussing what a digital factory is, how senior leaders can overcome the management challenges in setting one up and running it, and what it takes to get started.

So, let’s dive in. Joao, I’d like to ask you the first question. In your article, you make the point that companies have had plenty of successes with small-scale digital pilots, but they start to run into real problems when they try to scale those digital programs across the business. Why is that? And why is setting up a digital factory one way to address that issue?

Joao Dias: Thank you, Barr. The issue that most companies face is that, when they start doing digital transformations and digital projects, they realize that they need to break a lot of rules. They need to break the rules on how to allocate people into the initiative, or how to fund the initiative, or even what technologies to use or what project models to use.

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