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We have been discussing the definitions of Industry 4.0 [1] [2], the strategic implications for the University to become a good strategic partner in this new landscape [1] [3] [4], and even reviewed a project that demonstrated (even if on a small scale) the potential UPAEP has to follow through with this kind of transformation [5]. In the last paper, we identified a series of lessons learned that UPAEP needed to internalize as it crafts its strategy as a valuable and desired partner both nationally and internationally. [1] We will be going over these lessons in this series of papers, transforming the lessons gleaned into proposed strategic initiatives and directions.




First lesson: Self-study is key. We need to size up and evaluate our digital maturity honestly and dispassionately to chart the best strategic direction




Internationally, the self-assessment or self-study is seen as a key kickoff or evaluation component for major university or program accreditations. [6] [7] [8] The PWC article on Industry 4.0 emphasizes this need for self-study as well. [2] So, what is the purpose of a self-study, and why is it the first lesson we will be turning into strategy talking points?




A self-study can take many different forms depending on the goals and objectives of the study. An accreditation self-study will focus on taking a thorough inventory of the current state, documentation, strengths and weaknesses relative to each established accrediting criterion. In any accreditation, these are generally quite detailed and granular. The PNPC document covering the details to be analyzed and reported is 56 pages long [8], and ABET expects the level of detail and work to be put in its self-study to take a program about a year to complete [6]. In Industry 4.0 terms, there is no shortage of sources to be evaluated or cited. Starting from the seminal work in Germany, the self-assessment has taken the form of the German Standardization Roadmap, Industry 4.0 as a document to understand the current state of industry (self-study), and the directions to be charted derived from understanding this current state with regards to the established goals (roadmap). [9] However, not all roadmaps are as detailed, nor do they need to be. We have already mentioned the PWC report that does an excellent job of sampling the current industrial landscape and distilling the lessons learned into a simple roadmap for transformation, which includes the self-study as an important starting point to setting strategy. [2]




At the core of all these and so many more examples we find a common thread: a self-study is a methodical, dispassionate, thorough exploration, classification, inventory, evaluation, and documentation of specific topics of interest within the organization.




·      A methodical approach helps guide, shape, and orient the information-gathering into topics and data that are required to evaluate and/or build strategy. For example, a 10-year development plan [10] combined with other items such as the PWC roadmap [2] can help determine which parts of the established strategy may need to be re-assessed or updated, and which new strategies must be developed to handle emerging trends and information, especially with regards to becoming an attractive partner in the Industry 4.0 landscape. [1]


·      Dispassionate information-gathering must not shy away from difficulties or disappointing results. The objective of a self-study is not to self-congratulatory or a rubberstamped validation of “where we are”. While very positive things can and will be discovered in the process, at the assessment stage we must absolutely not consider the less-than-ideal or downright disappointing or infuriating results as failures to be hidden.


·      Discovering a problem, weakness, or misbehavior is a positive step as it allows the risk these previously hidden issues can pose to be managed, addressed, and (hopefully) corrected.


·      A thorough exploration will require open access to all necessary and requested information. Information gatekeepers cannot obstruct the goals of the study. This is not to say that every holder of information is obligated to immediately spend their time and effort in collating and compiling endless mountains of data to respond to every whim of the self-study team. One important responsibility for the team performing this work is to not make the burden of achieving the work become so great as to be counter-productive to future collaboration and cooperation. This death by a thousand paper charts can leave a lasting negative impact on future work. In many cases, it may be possible simply to provide the study team with access to the raw or processed data and allow the study team to generate their own reports or data compilations. In others, it may not be possible to do the work without the highly specialized knowledge required to operate in the area. In these cases, the study team must be very careful to request the kinds of information that will contribute to the success of the study in ways that will not create undue burdens.


·      In most cases, before actual information can be compiled, the self-study team will have to demonstrate a willingness to listen and understand those that have “boots on the ground” in the various departments. Providing a safe and open space in which collaborators can direct the team to explore major successes or major risks can save much time and effort later and provide much more meaningful data and analysis.


·      The large amounts of data and experiences gathered must then be organized in an intelligible manner through classification and inventory. Is this a process? Is this a personnel topic? Is this an indicator or can an indicator be built from this information? Does this piece of information contribute to our understanding of our currents state and future directions? Which strategy does this inform?


·      For evaluation to occur, either a standard or a point of comparison must exist. Evaluation can be one of the more difficult things to do dispassionately and objectively. Is there a standard to evaluate our current state of affairs? Are we adherents to said standard? Are we comparing to the right institutional peers? Are we looking at our actual peers vs. our aspirational peers? Are we communicating in a way that these comparisons can be drawn by those outside of our own institution? Where do we draw the line between comparison and feedback and an unhealthy desire to imitate? As difficult as evaluation may be to establish, perform, compile, and analyze, this step is crucial to generating a useful strategy by providing rational goals, roadmaps, and standards for tracking and guiding progress along the implementation phases.


·      All this work will be for naught if the process, discoveries, raw findings, broad and focused evaluations, conclusions and recommendations are not documented. Documentation is not about creating a mountain of pointless paperwork or endless reports – it is about creating a trackable, explorable, understandable, and digestible condensed synthesis of the current state of affairs across a large and complex organization.




All this work needs to be done concurrently and iteratively with the analysis and strategic planning by the Executive team at the University. The continuously evolving landscape in industry, innovation, and education will mean that the goals for any strategy will evolve and therefore evolve the strategy with them. This evolution can be rapid to the point of feeling like a breakneck, unsustainable pace. It is not feasible to begin the self-study process over again each time a new need or priority emerges on the national or international stages.




This requires a nimble, lean, and responsive Executive team that is able to delegate tasks to the most qualified individuals, synthesize and digest the compiled information, sift through the chaff to get at the useful points of evaluation and comparison, and re-direct team efforts or strategy formulations as necessary in the dynamic industrial, social, political, national, and international environments in which the University must excel as a transformational partner.




The result of this self-assessment process should be a clear picture of where we are, what we’re great at doing, what we need to improve, what we need to stop doing, and what is actively or passively hurting our positioning and posture. This clear picture can then be used by the Executive team to maintain the institutional guiding strategies focused and relevant. It’s great to have a 10-year plan, but in today’s hyper-accelerated innovation landscape, we must be ready and able to provide more agile shorter-term strategies that will either feed toward the 10-year goals or redefine or refine those longer-term goals to align with emerging models, thought, and knowledge.




This is a monumental task. It cannot be done by merely a handful of people at an institution as large as UPAEP. If improperly managed, it can become its own Sisyphean project of never-ending changes and rabbit trails. The limited space in this article does not presume to describe the specific tasks and tactics to be undertaken, but rather provide the strategic framework upon which the entire Executive team must build a working model. However, there is very little hope of success at the following tasks without a useful starting point. At an institution like UPAEP, most of these building blocks and information streams already exist – but they may require fine-tuning or focusing at specific levels in order to make them effective for the Industry 4.0 transformation.





Juan Manuel López Oglesby, "The University as a Strategic Partner in Industry 4.0," UPAEP Graduate School, Puebla, Science Strategy Position Paper 2018. [Online].


PWC, "Global Industry 4.0 Survey," 2016. [Online].


Juan Manuel López Oglesby, "Science, Strategy, and SWOT," UPAEP Graduate School, Puebla, Science Strategy Position Paper 2018. [Online].


Juan Manuel López Oglesby, "The Economic Impact of Innovation," UPAEP Graduate School, Puebla, Science Strategy Position Paper 2017. [Online].


Juan Manuel López Oglesby, "Digitalized Innovation Ecosystem: “iideas”," UPAEP Graduate School, Puebla, Science Strategy Position Paper 2018. [Online].


ABET. (2018) ABET. [Online].


Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. (2018) ACGME. [Online].


CONACYT, Subsecretaría de Educación Superior. (2015, Apr.) CONACYT. [Online].


DKE Deutsche Kommission Elektrotechnik, Elektronik Informationstechnik in DIN und VDE, "DIN/DKE – Roadmap: GERMAN STANDARDIZATION ROADMAP Industry 4.0, Version 2," Berlin, Roadmap 2016. [Online].


UPAEP, A.C., "Visión Rumbo al 50 Aniversario [Vision Toward the 50th Anniversary]," Office of the President, UPAEP, A.C., Puebla, 2015. [Online].



Dr. Juan Manuel López Oglesby, Director, Graduate Biomedical Engineering Sciences UPAEP

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