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September 15, 2021 | 29 Mins Read

The Demand for More Digitally Adept Leaders

September 15, 2021 | 29 Mins Read

The Demand for More Digitally Adept Leaders


Russell Masters, Director of IT and Analytics at DHU, a provider to the UK National Health Service, who formerly spent significant time at Rolls-Royce involved in digital innovation efforts, talks with Sarah about the call for leaders to become more digitally adept. They discuss what this does and doesn’t mean, some of the key changes necessary, and what the future holds for leaders in the digital age.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about the increasing demand for business leaders to be digitally adept. We know we are living in a digital world and what that demands of leadership has changed, is changing and will continue to change. Very excited to have with me today to discuss this topic, Russell Masters, who's the director of IT and analytics at DHU, a provider to the UK National Health Service. Russell, thanks for joining me today.

Russell Masters: Hi Sarah, thanks for havin0g me. It's lovely to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Lovely to have you. That was a mouthful. Russell has been so kind to join me today on what is a bank holiday for him, so that's very nice of you to give me some of your time, appreciate it. Before we begin our conversation Russell, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your background, your current role and kind of how we got to be here today to talk about what we're going to talk about.

Russell Masters: Yeah, sure. It's fantastic to be here. Know it's a bank holiday, but it's loads of fun talking about this kind of stuff and I love to take the time out to do it. So my career really I've been kind of in industry for 20 years, and pretty much all have that has been in services, either physical or digital somehow, hence my interest in this and my passion for this subject area. And the vast majority of my career was in fact in aviation, and so I've been fortunate to work in a couple airline organizations and the majority of that time also working at Rolls-Royce where I was responsible for a whole range of business transformation and digital services. And that's brought me after quite a long time in aviation to a big career change, so now I'm in healthcare. And I work DHU, which is a community interest company. We support the UK National Health Service in providing urgent and emergency care services, a big part of which is the digital content required to make those services work. And whilst on the face of it, it would seem that moving from planes to people is a big shift, actually there's a whole load of stuff that's very similar. And notwithstanding, the huge amount of digital content and digital technology required to make all of those services work.

Sarah Nicastro: Interesting. So yeah, I've been covering this space for a little bit less than 20 years, but a similar amount of time. And it's interesting to witness and experience how digital has evolved and what that means as it relates to the topic that we're talking about today. So you, through your experiences in industry and services and in different spaces, aviation, healthcare, the reality is no matter what industry we're talking about, the digital imperative is real and it's an area where all organizations have been forced to not only adapt and embrace but to really transform and innovate. And what that takes at the leadership level is really, really interesting. I think that we've asked our workforce to really do a 180 in how business is done and what value propositions we're providing from 20 years ago. And it's not an easy feat, and the way that companies lead is critically important in the success or failure of this initiatives. So I'm curious Russell, in your 20 years of experience, so I know a big chunk of that was at Rolls-Royce and Rolls-Royce is obviously seen as a leader in that industry with a lot of these things. How have you witnessed digital leadership evolve?

Russell Masters: I think, obviously I've seen this all the way through my career and I've been really fortunate in that I've been both a part of delivery of physical services and digital services. And if you like, I've had kind of the dream set of experiences because I've been able to do some of the doing, do some of the building of new things, and also lead some of the more modern cutting edge digital technology projects and services that you could ever want. And I think I consider myself kind of really lucky in that I was born with a personal computer, probably the first generation to have a PC appear in their life. And yet for me, it's still really, really challenging and really difficult as you take forward the blending of IT technology with the real world and go through what has effectively been a transition from IT and big IT and the way that that technology appeared in our life to the more ubiquitous version of that which is digital. And every aspect of our life now is touched by some form of digital technology. And I would suggest that probably the generation of business leaders that we have now are right at the forefront of being the first to take those big digital tools and technologies and deploy them into their companies, into their businesses and their teams at any real scale.

Russell Masters: And so much of that is exciting, but so much of it is very scary. And what I think it's prompting is a wholesale change in the way that we lead and the way that we support our teams, the way that we approach projects and challenges. If I think back to maybe 10 or 15 years ago when we were firmly in the IT age, IT was by definition very technology heavy, it was kind of quite expensive, it was quite time consuming and quite a lot of effort to deploy these technology into companies, despite the huge value that they delivered. And now we fly forward 15, 20 years and those technologies are becoming cheaper, they're becoming easier to deploy, and they're becoming so great to democratize, there's so much more democratization those technologies into our daily lives. And it makes the challenge of taking those and making something useful out of them, both in one way much, much easier because the cost of doing so and the speed at which you can do so is much less, but also much, much riskier because you can get yourself into a whole load of hot water by deploying digital tools and technologies into your organization on scale and on mass.

Russell Masters: And I think I'm probably part of one of the first generations of leaders who've really had to get their head round how do you take these digital tools and technologies and how do you deploy them successfully into your organization? And it's a really complicated story and it's to do with people and it's to do with technology and it's to do with culture and it's to do with philosophy. And I think what I've seen, the predominant trend over the last 20 years as you say has just been this complete democratization of those technologies and the availability of those technologies and leaders wrestling with how do they make something really successful out of something that they probably haven't had a lot of chance to understand but know is incredibly important and being used by everyone everywhere to make their businesses better and more effective.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's funny, I was smiling because the article that we published today, actually, is called, the headline is Actually, Technology's the Easy Part. And one of the things that I mentioned in that article is what you just said, which is the democratization of these tools in some ways makes things easier, the barrier to entry is lower, the affordability is greater, the accessibility and availability, all of those things. But on the flip side, when I was writing about these things, we'll say 15 years ago, just embracing technology was a competitive advantage. And that is no longer the case, and so from that perspective it is more complex because relating it to the topic we're discussing today, the understanding has to be far deeper. You could get away with, at one point, the understanding being, "Okay, we need to go digital." And that was a feat but it was a journey that was pretty easy to conceptualize and outline and embark on. And what comes next in the further iterations and generations of that strategy is more complex and it requires a lot more expertise and understanding and all of those things. So I think that's a very good point. And like you said, both exciting in some ways and scary for leaders to know that they have some work to do.

Sarah Nicastro: I recently quoted an Accenture report that said all companies are now technology companies. So what are your thoughts on that statement and how does that underpin the importance of leaders becoming more digitally competent?

Russell Masters: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think there aren't any companies now from the smallest kind of mom and pop shop retailer to the largest multinational that doesn't use technology in some ways as part of either their employee experience or their customer experience and the product and service that they provide. And so yeah, pretty much every company is a technology company today. And building upon the point you were making in response to the beginning of the conversation, I think historically in times gone past it was about how do you fit the people to the technology. The technology would show up and it would do something and you needed to fit the people to the technology to make that work. Increasingly, it's now about how do you take the technology and fit it to the people because pretty much every successful company, every organization that exists today that has any kind of future, has any kind of purpose, has people at the center of it. Whether it's the employees who deliver the end experience to the customer or whether it's the customer themselves or it's a whole network of stakeholders and providers and vendors and other people. It's always people at the core.

Russell Masters: And so I think the big challenge for leaders today is, how do you take something that is inherently very sophisticated, very technology based, and how do you make that really super simple and really super compatible with people so that you can get the best of both? And I think pretty much anyone who's been in my position leading digital products or in and around technology will say that it's the people part that's the really hard part and it's the part that can make a project really successful or an endeavor really successful or not. And I think as we're talking about what the leaders need to do to be successful in this area and how does digital leadership show up in a big organization, it is increasingly helping to enable people but with a background of technology and technological change. And I think that is one of the most difficult subjects for any leader to start getting their head around, and frankly not one that you're prepared for when you've come through maybe a University system 20 years ago or have entered the world of work at that time. So that's the challenge for all of us, is how do we get good at making the technology fit the people?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What would you say are the biggest barriers to this happening? So if leaders need to become more digitally adept, what are the challenges in that happening?

Russell Masters: Well, there's all sorts of things we could talk about, but there's probably a couple that spring to mind. I think first and foremost, like any big change in business or in society, there's a level of understanding and knowledge required to get started. And I think the subject of digital and IT technology and digital technology starts, first and foremost, with some pretty super sophisticated content. And that can be really daunting when you're starting to contemplate how do you take digital tools and technologies forward. And there's always a sense and a concern that really maybe you have to actually be a developer yourself to be able to be effective in these areas, maybe actually have to understand architecture or maybe you have to understand the latest technologies in order to be successful. And I think that is a very real but not necessarily, it's a boundary, it's a barrier that can get in the way of a lot of leaders when they're starting to take these projects forward.

Russell Masters: And I was actually having a discussion with a colleague of mine who was moving into a government role in and around technology and she was really concerned, "What do I need to know about the cloud? What do I need to know about the latest coding language?" And I think her situation is mirrored across many, many organizations. And the truth is, actually you do need to know something about the technology and you do need to find a way of interacting with the many, many professional people that you'll meet, professional developers, enterprise architects and digital experts. But it's less about understanding what they're doing from a technical perspective, and it's more about having a common language set and some empathy and understanding so that you can both work collaboratively as a team to take forward whatever you're working on.

Russell Masters: And so I think the first challenge for serious lead if you want to be more digitally enabled, is to understand the subject matter a bit more but not to be too worried about knowing it to the Nth degree. And that can be as simple as networking, building up contacts and relationships with people in and around these areas. It can be taking the time to get to know your support team, developer team, IT team, understanding their problems, understanding how the technology works, and as well self-educating. So I think that's the first barrier, if you like, the first action to take if you're going to get serious about becoming a leader in a digital age is to inform yourself.

Russell Masters: But I think then the really value added bit in all of this is there are hundreds, thousands, millions of really well qualified, very professional technology experts out in the world. And it's probably the case that if you're as a senior leader involved in any of these projects, you're not there because you know the technology, you're there to build a team or to work with a team to take them forward and deliver some sort of outcome an some sort of end result. And I think one of the hardest things as a leader of a technological business is to get yourself away from the how are we going to do it more to the what are we going to do and why are we going to do it? And to start getting away from maybe some of the older, safer methods for managing projects and managing organizations where it's about being prescriptive about what happens and why and moving to a more collaborative culture where we start to talk about, "Well, what is the outcome? What is the thing that we're going to achieve?"

Russell Masters: And that's something that I've noticed has been really important in all the world that I've done, both in my previous roles and my current roles, is how is this going to show up in the face of the customer? And that could have been in the face of the end use of the service, or in my case now in the end patient. So the second big challenge for, I think, digital leaders is to start to get better at working towards outcomes and enabling your team to understand those outcomes. And then thirdly, really supporting them, moving away from a culture where you're the one making all the decisions and you're the one driving all the actions to the one where you're more making the team accountable for the outcome that you'll need to deliver and fostering a culture where we all work together to achieve an end result.

Russell Masters: And those are very different cultural approaches, those are very different management philosophies and ways of working and not ones that are necessarily well understood or well practiced everywhere. And so certainly that's been one of the big challenges of the experiences I've been through, both in previous roles and certainly in my current role, is how do you help organizations move away from action to outcome and how do you build the right team and create the right culture an collaborative spirit where you can run at those things together?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay. All right, those are good bits of insight into some of the challenges. So let's then talk next about some of the what not to do. So I think a couple things I want to touch on that I'm taking out of what you just said, I think number one in my mind is that leaders can't completely offload the responsibility to become more digitally competent or adept. So there's a certain degree here of, "Okay, well if I'm not an expert here then I'll just hire someone to do it." So let's talk about the idea of not trying to cop out of growing your own perspective and knowledge and understanding.

Russell Masters: Yeah, I certainly think you've got to decide when you are going to participate or when you're going to be responsible for a new digital product or service or some sort of transformation journey. You still have to make a conscious decision about how are you going to show up and how are you going to participate in that project. And I guess there's various ways that you can do it. And sometimes it's just about not treading on the toes of the experts, if you know what I mean. And so first and foremost, your first focus should be building a great team. And having built that great team, you've got to trust that that team can do the task that you put them together for. Now, by the same account, you still have to be there and show up every day and show interest and drive the energy. As a leader, your job really in a number of ways is to just pour constant amounts of energy into those projects. And so there is a tension there between wanting to participate, wanting to roll your sleeves up and get involved, but also getting in the way.

Russell Masters: And I think I've seen and I've been myself part, and any experience I've gained here has been through a combination of dumb luck and mistakes and slips and trips. And it is really difficult when you're leading a big project to understand how far do you go in demonstrating that you're committed and care about it and you're willing to take action and participate and how do you make sure you don't go too far and stifle the creativity and the enthusiasm and the ownership of the team around you? And so that's a difficult path to tread and one that you need to take a lot of care. But you certainly can't just throw it over the fence.

Russell Masters: And I think the other thing that you've got to do is just always remain focused on what is the outcome and I think a big learning point for me has been, historically as a project manager of projects or more junior roles, I always felt it was more necessary to drive for the most ambitious goal possible because that felt like really good work. And it's taken me many years really and probably the most number of mistakes and is probably the area where I continue to challenge myself to actually manage these things in a more agile method and not in kind of, to use the fashionable version of the world agile where it's kind of just constantly changing, what I really mean is to be properly agile where focusing on what's the smallest thing that we can do today? What can we deliver in a week? What can we do really quickly and be really efficient with? And again, that is a big challenge for leaders coming into these projects. You might be used to delivering in a more conventional way with more [inaudible 00:21:24] and culture. So both of those things really are the big challenge of what not to do, by all means participate, but don't over participate. And you absolutely have to have control but only the way that helps the team take it forward in the most agile sense.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so there's a lot of areas here that are a delicate balance. So that being said, I think just a couple key points to reiterate for folks, number one is as a leader you can't, to your point, just throw it over the fence. This can't be a facet of your scope of responsibility that you just say, "Well, you know what? This isn't my area of expertise, so I won't worry about it." There has to be a greater desire to learn and grow and expand in the sense of that understanding, not necessarily in the sense, to your earlier point, of becoming an expert yourself. Number two is this idea of if you know that this is an area that you need to increase your knowledge of but you are not going to be the expert then you do need to hire a team of experts that you can trust, and then you need to allow them the culture and environment in which to do what they do and carry out the mission that that you're setting forth. And to your point, that is often going to look different than maybe projects have in the past, so understanding that there needs to be some morphing of workflows and culture and expectations to be more outcome based versus action based.

Sarah Nicastro: So all kind of areas of finding the right balance for yourself, your company, your team, your project that you're working on. But I think those are some really good points in terms of what not to do.

Russell Masters: Yeah, I think you've just got to show up. You've almost got to be there when the problems are there and show up when the problems are there. So trust that your team will take this thing forward, but recognize that they'll get stuck at times. How can you support them and take responsibility for the problems and then just kind of fade away then it's all working. But all the while, demonstrating that you really care and that you're bothered. And I've certainly tried to only ever associate myself with projects that I'm really passionate about and I care about. And I think that, again, is another side to this more modern leadership style has needed to be, it's a much more feeling, much more empathetic approach, and to what are effectively very technological and kind of scientific problems.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think that's a good point. And that point traverses this topic into other areas of conversation related though to innovation, which is as our businesses continue to evolve and transform in ways that are new and different, you mentioned earlier the idea of a more collaborative working environment. The more we all have to own our areas of expertise but also work well with people that have different strengths. That's how this all continues to advance. We had a conversation on here not too long ago about the fact that when you look at the topic of digital transformation, it's this very fragmented and siloed approach that is really killing business's opportunity to get a return on their investment. And so this idea of whether it's digital transformation or digital products and services, this idea of greater collaboration, better teamwork, more agility is super, super important. So let's talk a little bit more about what that means though. So I want to talk about three areas of what we should focus on doing. And number one is creating a digitally native culture. So talk a little bit about what that means and, not that you can give anyone a blueprint for doing it, but maybe some thoughts on what it means and how to consider advancing that culture within a business.

Russell Masters: Well, I think you've got to, coming back to my previous point about people and this being so people centric, I think it wouldn't be unbelievable in a lot of companies and people who work for companies you might be listening to, the digital projects, IT related projects, they don't always have the best reputation. They can be expensive, they can take time, they can be impersonal. And I sort of think the key to having a digital culture, if you like, is both to completely dispel the fear of these kind of activities and make them as accessible as possible. And that requires you to talk about them frequently, express them simply, make the language as simple and practical and real as possible. And there can be some resistance to that, because it can sometimes be the case that you have your experts and you have people who are very invested in maybe the previous ways of working, and so suddenly talking about it in maybe less technologically accurate terms or in a simpler way can be counter to the current culture. But it's essential that you make everybody feel like they can have some part of these initiatives and that digital capability and digital content can mean something to them.

Russell Masters: And then I think you've really got to start with either the customer or your workforce or both tell you and you've got to make whatever you're working on as relevant to the problems and challenges you've got at any particular time as possible. And the more that you can talk about outcome, the more that you can talk less about the technology and what you're going to implement and more about the change it'll make within everybody's daily lives and the more belief that you can have. And that can be hard, especially if you're leading an organization where maybe there's a bit of legacy, there's a bit of history or maybe you're sort of a bit earlier in your journey. But showing up every day, being really positive about it, is massively important. And you'll suddenly find almost you reach critical mass where this stuff starts to move. And then before you know it, your whole organization is behind this and seeing what's in it for them. And that's when this stuff is both at its most fun and its best because then you can capitalize on that energy and use that to drive forward and whatever the right strategies for your organization and move more towards a digital first culture.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I was just thinking, we talked earlier about how technology itself has become democratized and it's almost this idea of now next we need to democratize the interest and responsibility throughout the organization. So the technology is there, the capability is there, it's the people part of it, the culture part of it, and weaving it into everyone's scope of work and everyone's language and all of that. It makes sense.

Russell Masters: And investing in everybody who's involved in that change because whether you're moving from working on a certain application or providing a service in a certain way or maybe just gaining information or using information to gain an outcome, it is just so important that everybody, from the most senior person to the most junior and everyone in between, is involved in that. Because otherwise you run the risk of it becoming a particular person, a particular area or particular department's job. And much the same as historically, the other productivity tools that we each organization came to know and love became ubiquitous. It's the same here, it's just got to be consistently delivered, everybody engaged, and made relevant for as many people as possible.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay. All right, there's a lot of other questions I could ask you there. And I think we could certainly have you back and talk a bit about the how to in some more granular detail with some of these things. But for the sake of today's conversation, area number two in terms of becoming more digitally adept is improving digital acumen. So let's talk about how leaders need to be able to talk the talk when it comes to digital.

Russell Masters: Yeah, and I think this is another area where there's the potential to get caught out or trip yourself up.

Sarah Nicastro: Overdo it.

Russell Masters: And I think first and foremost, you have to just be realistic with yourself. I've over the course of a 20 year career have found myself involved in increasingly digital technologies, increasingly digital projects, and over the course of that time I've made a point and I've made it a specific ambition to learn more about these technologies, learn more about the approaches and learn more about the best ways to take these forward. It's about learning enough of the language so that you can converse and learning enough of it so that you can engage with the team that you build around you and the team that you work with to take this forward. So you do need to know enough about the technology to make yourself educated and informed, but you don't have to be the expert.

Russell Masters: And I think learning to ask intelligent questions and learning to pick out the areas where maybe it's worth digging into a big deeper or checking your understanding, is probably a far more valuable skill than, for example, taking yourself back to night school and learning all about cloud architecture and everything else. Primarily because you just won't do it justice, and the standard in industry now is so high and the level of education is so high and the quality of individuals that you can attract to these teams is so high. And so if you find yourself, and you should, involved in these increasingly digital projects, your job should be to become familiar and converse in the broad language and be able to know who to speak to about which challenge and which issue, and to learn how to bring those people together in a way that drives towards a common goal.

Russell Masters: And I would definitely advise against trying to become a very deep domain expert, unless you want to retrain on something else, but an executive level I think it's about, "How do I understand enough of this to actually bring together the parts to make something whole?" Much the same as if you're building a house, you wouldn't lecture our architect on where to put the beams and how deep the footings would be, you trust that they know how to do their job. But you'd certainly have an opinion on what the outcome looked like, how many bedrooms and what it would look like.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good point. And I think one of the key things here is pride and don't let pride get in the way of making impacts that matter here. So this isn't about pretending you know more than you do or you know everything. You don't need to know everything, you need to know enough to be able to understand where the business needs to go and understand what the end goals are and to be able to, like you said, pour energy into the team and motivate them. But I think the world we live in today, there's no way for leaders to be a master of all and no need for. I think that the more you can, like you said, ask good questions and own the areas where you don't know what's being discussed. Because if you can just own that and you can let your team, the experts that you've hired to execute here, let them educate you because that lets them see that they're valued. There's nothing wrong with just admitting that, "I know this much, you know this much, so what do you think and what do you think we need to do next?" And like you said, trust the people that you have put in place to do these things and just know enough to talk with them about what's happening and where it's going.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that there's this element for leaders of just the whole pride and power area that we really need to set aside and just focus more on the people and team building and the outcomes.

Russell Masters: Yeah, and I think this isn't a digital challenge, as much as we're seeing a technological step change within industry, we're also seeing a step change in the philosophies that managers and leaders are using to motivate people, to bring teams forward. And we hear a lot about what's the purpose and the vision and maybe historically those could be treated as quite perfunctory kind of things that we just do because that's what appears in the corporate report or something else. But increasingly those are really important areas. And I think the other thing is, to your point on pride, I don't think it's necessarily about, there's nothing wrong with pride, I think that's a good thing. But maybe accepting or tuning into the fact that actually creating the compelling vision for a team of super enabled, super capable people is actually something to be very proud of and is actually tremendously valuable within an organization. Bringing together all of the right disciplines, lining them up in the right way, especially as most organizations today and most teams are multidisciplinary. We no longer exist in organizations where individual departments do their thing because we know that real truly game changing outcomes come from combining lots of different elements together in a certain way.

Russell Masters: And so I think it's not just a digital challenge, it's a modern leadership challenge, it's how do we create organizations with purpose and mission and vision? And how do we get super positive and proud of that as opposed to maybe knowing what the right answer is at any point in time? And ultimately far more satisfying, I think, than always being the person who makes the decision and directs traffic.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Okay. And then the third area, what is your best advice for building confidence, competence, and capability?

Russell Masters: Well I think it's just built upon the conversation that we've had before. I think being very, very curious about every project that you're going into. Certainly something I've had to watch for myself is to jump too quickly to a conclusion or an answer and to try and encourage myself to be more open minded. And the more open minded you can be and the more flexible, the more adaptable you can be, and the more opportunities you can see and the more opportunities you explore, the more you learn. I definitely think this is an area where learning by doing is a really important part of this. This, like any kind of new subject area or discipline, there's so much information out there that you can almost paralyze yourself by trying to know enough to get started. And so I think you've got to start. But I think very much building upon your point, it's about taking forward whatever you're working on with the confidence that you have the right team around you and the humility to engage those team members no matter how small or big the question. And then use that and relying upon your leadership belief and your skills and experience to bring all those elements together.

Russell Masters: And things will go wrong, and I've had many things go wrong in my career. But if you are attacking things with positivity, if you're always doing it for the thing, then my experience you always get the support of your team and your organization and the best thing to do is to embrace that and use that as one big learning experience. And I think that confidence comes from knowing it won't actually be that bad if things go wrong and embracing the fact that if you are working in small steps, your last mistake probably wasn't a big one.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. And I think when you talk about, maybe not digitally native culture, but just the type of culture we need to be fostering today period. This idea of a fail safe environment is very important. Companies aren't getting ahead by playing it safe and embracing the status quo. And part of being able to promote creativity and innovation is people not being terrified to make a mistake or to fail. And so I think that's a good point. Building confidence comes from making some of those missteps and recovering from them and what you learn in doing that, and that's okay and that's important.

Russell Masters: And I think it's the learning the lesson is the most important thing. I would be disappointed in myself to repeat the same mistake again and again and I think that's a really reasonable expectation in the teams that you create and the organization that you work within is, "Well, let's make this mistake and if we make it once well let's not make it again." And I think that's the most important and seeing how you can build upon that is in itself incredibly enabling. And I think maybe just learning to trust your team and trust people is maybe actually one of the things that will have come out of the current circumstances, obviously we've all moved to remote working and a huge number of organizations that would have previously maybe been concerned about that or maybe worried about letting people work from home. I've actually seen it's worked really well and it's a really good proof point of it's not so much about worrying about a mistake, it's maybe trusting that your teams and you will actually make less of them than you might think and might actually achieve more and leveraging the power of people, as with all these things, whether it's management or digital, it's all about the people.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, for sure. Okay. So Russell, last question, what is your best advice for leaders that know that they need to become more digitally adept in terms of, we've talked about some of the, "Here's what not to do, here's what to do," what about specific actions? Whether that's resources or just, "Hey, maybe try this." What type of tactical advice do you have for folks?

Russell Masters: Yeah, and I can't confess that I knew all this when I started and in some of the roles, this is definitely the result not the starting point in terms of my experience, but I think a good discipline to get into, whether it's a digital project or something else, is focusing on the outcome. And that can sound really easy, but it's actually quite difficult to train yourself to think, "What is the outcome I want to achieve?" And it's not, "I want these tasks done by this date," it's, "Well I want my customer to now see these things," or, "I want my employees to now be able to do this." So that is a really good discipline. And I think start would be the other piece of advice. You will learn far more by doing and getting involved than by not and waiting. And it's like any big life event, you're never quite ready. And so again, I will just say start. And network, network within your team, network without your team, and have the humility as you do that to be really open about your experience and not worry too much that maybe this is your first foray into this kind of world or maybe don't forget that as much as you've done 10 or 20 projects you've still got a tremendous amount to learn.

Russell Masters: So just have that continuous asking questions, networking, learning mindset. And with those three things, you won't go wrong. And I'm sure you'll have some slips and trips, but that is by far I think the best way to start.

Sarah Nicastro: Cool. Awesome. Well Russell, thank you so much for joining us and sharing this advice. I think there's some areas here we could definitely dig into, so I'd love to have you back and have some more conversations. But appreciate you coming today on a holiday and sharing with us and our listeners. So thank you.

Russell Masters: Sarah, it's been fantastic to be with you and thank you so much for asking me. It's been a great experience, thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: We'll do it again soon. You can learn more by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS, you can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.