Revolution 4.0

Marcella Ercolini

What does it mean to manage a business in the fourth industrial revolution?  What is the role of our personal self in this new complex environment?

Fourth industrial revolution: What does it mean exactly ?


Barring any technical, cutting-edge definitions, it means to me that in our time we are facing major changes in any industry business model, a complete reshuffling in the way of doing things and in our old, dearest, habitual way of seeing the world.


We are facing a tangible disruption of old paradigms, with great challenges and amazing opportunities.

Revolution 4.0 is not to be seen as the introduction of an off-the-shelf technology or the use of sensors everywhere or mobile technology instead of old devices, but instead  we are fronting a complete evolutionary journey filled with cultural, organizational, entrepreneurial, human and technological challenges, which will be able to dramatically shift the current business models into new paradigms.


Three factors are radically evolving in the new scenario:

  • Product: relentless evolution from a design of products to a design of services
  • Process: the user is more and more at the centre of the design process
  • People: innovation arises when dissimilar skills, complementary abilities are able to cooperate in open environments

An example of a concert played and directed by very talented individuals

Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Concertgebouw Kamerorkest, Live Concert, 2013.

Let’s try to understand what abilities are more relevant to move around in this new environment, using a metaphor.

Imagine a concert hall where an orchestra is giving a live concert performance.

The concert play is our service delivery, the orchestra is our team, the conductor our CEO.

The orchestra-our company, operates in the entertainment business and filling the theatre every single night is the company goal. There is just one chance to do it right, and it has to be right now.


The group of high skilled musicians, experts in playing own instruments at their best, are led by the orchestra conductor. They all read the orchestral score, containing objective data required for a proper execution: the list of instruments required, the music notes, recommended rhythm and suggested pauses. These last two elements are soundly affected by the subjective evaluations of each musician, and can determine success or failure of the performance. How long should the pause last? How fast is an allegro? How slow is a piano?

What makes the performance of a group of individual musicians a real “ensemble” concert and how can they shift from their own solo’s into the orchestra-ensemble mindset?

Some key elements are crucial to the success of the soirée.

The individual competences to read the objective data are reinforced by new abilities to understand the subjective elements of the picture, such as the peripheral look, the ability to perceive the situation, the extended environment, the players involved, the complex setting.

Great role has the active listening, the ability to pay attention to changes, to catch the weak signals and to be eager to listen to others.


Any process to obtain a product or service that involves people has to have a common ground with their Intention. The players and the conductors have to be eager to deliver an ensemble performance to their public, placing the audience gratification as the main goal, and they can only do so by communicating with others, by connecting with others, by merging own separate parts into the group. Surrendering the solo moments for the greatest ensemble the public is willing to hear, and amazing them with their music.


Such as any great live concert, organizations today need to grow and develop new abilities to be able to move into complex environments. New technologies can only enhance and facilitate the business, however people still are the center of the process: customers, users, designers, managers, workers have to connect, listen, share, keep their minds open and look at the world with new eyes. Be awake to catch the wave of opportunities arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.




February 2017