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December 29, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

What Does the Future Hold for Energy & Utilities?

December 29, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

What Does the Future Hold for Energy & Utilities?

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Sarah welcomes special guest Enrique Ochoa Reza, an energy specialist, Ph.D. in Political Science and Master's degrees from Columbia University, Lawyer from UNAM and Economist from ITAM, professor and author who was a Federal Congressman in the Mexican Congress and before that, the CEO of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned, nationwide, power and natural gas company. He recently joined IFS to lead the company’s Energy and Utilities Business Unit and patiently enlightens Sarah on the top energy trends shaking up the status quo and forcing organizations across the globe to evolve and adapt.

Sarah: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. We're here today to talk about the future of energy and utilities. Earlier this year, IFS welcomed a new member of the team to head the energy and utilities organization, which is Enrique Ochoa Reza. Enrique, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Enrique: Hi Sarah. This is great to be here. Thank you very much for the invitation.

Sarah: Thank you for being here. So Enrique's bio is impressive to say the least. So I'm going to read some of the highlights Enrique, and then you can fill in some gaps. So Enrique has been in the energy space for more than 20 years. He holds a PhD in political science and Master's degrees from Columbia, a lawyer from UNAM. Tell me what that is?

Enrique: Yes, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. I am Mexican.

Sarah: Okay. Yes.

Enrique: And I studied law in the National Autonomous University down there.

Sarah: Excellent. He's been a professor. He's a published author. He was a Federal Congressman in the Mexican Congress. Served as secretary of the Energy Commission and oh, what am I missing? There's a lot. He was awarded Person of the Year by the Oil and Gas Magazine in 2015. And as I mentioned, he has recently joined IFS to lead the energy and utilities business unit. So Enrique, go back through a couple of those points. It's a tough bio to read, because there's so much to it, but tell folks a little bit more about yourself and some of the background that you have in the energy space.

Enrique: Yeah. I've always been fascinated by energy. And Sarah, I think it's one of the most important things for human mankind. And so, that I always focus on my studies in economics, then law, and then political science, because I wanted to participate in public policy and energy in Mexico. And I had the opportunity to do just that some years ago when I was a deputy secretary of energy in Mexico for hydrocarbons. And back then, I participated in an overall energy reform in Mexico to open up to private participation, the oil, gas, and power sectors in Mexico. After Congress went to a constitutional reform and then some legal and regulatory amendments, I was appointed CEO of Mexico's nationwide power and gas utility, which I run for over three years. And that was a fantastic moment, because we had to transform the utility to allow for private sector competition, both national and international, but more importantly, to strengthen the national utility in order to move from fuel oil, which was a very strong fuel use for power.

Enrique: But as we all know, it was expensive and highly pollutant and we transit to natural gas and renewables. And it was at that moment in time when renewables were succeeding in becoming affordable, as you all know, when back in two decades ago, a decade and a half, we had to choose between producing energy with renewables that was more expensive than other fuels, but it was clean and comfortable with the climate change challenges that we were facing. But it was a choice, it was a trade-off. You'll have to accept that you will have to pay more for that power, not any longer. Now, as we have moved towards very important technological advances, humankind can have at the same time, clean energy, that it's good for the environment, but it is affordable as well. So now, that has created an enormous incentive for utilities worldwide to compete and to attract private and public investment into new technologies that allow us to substitute fuel oil or diesel from your portfolio to generate power and to include more clean energy that makes your portfolio of power generation more affordable and better for the environment.

Enrique: And that transition was one of the busiest that I had to oversee when I was CEO of Mexico's utility. The other big one was to bring more natural gas from the cheapest source of natural gas in the world, which is Texas. Mexico, as we all know, has a big border with the United States and part of the reform allowed for the public utility to be able to buy natural gas from its cheapest source. In the past, it was linked somehow to the supply of natural gas from its sister company Pemex, which is Mexico's oil and gas monopoly, but sometimes Pemex did not have enough natural gas for the industry, for the commerce, for public consumption and for the national utility. So when there were some shortages of natural gas in the country, CFE will have to go back and use more fuel oil or diesel, which were again, more costly and more pollutant.

Enrique: So then, the energy reform allowed for CFE the public utility to be able on the one hand to go towards renewables and on the other hand, to be able to build an extended natural gas pipeline that linked us to the natural gas coming down from Texas, and that allowed to reduce costs of energy production and on the other hand to decrease the amount of CO2 emissions, because natural gas is much more cleaner than fuel oil or diesel when you use it for combustion for power generation. So it was a win-win situation in both great transformations within the public utility. Natural gas and renewables was the answer that technologically was able to provide the public lower costs in energy and a better source of power with less pollutants than before. So for me, that was a fantastic transition and I see that happening worldwide. Most important utilities are going towards clean energy and they're also going away from coal, from fuel oil or diesel in order to use more balanced portfolio for power generation.

Sarah: Okay. And so, we're going to get into quite a few things that you see happening that are really, really changing the dynamics in energy. So you have 20-plus years of extensive experience in, as we kind of walk through a variety of different aspects of this space, which gives you a very insightful and unique view on what has in recent years and also what's coming. So that's what we want to talk a bit about today. So, the reality is that for quite a long time, this space was very stable and some would say maybe even a little bit boring, but just sort of, just very even, very consistent. And now all of a sudden, we're in a time where some of the factors you've mentioned and others are causing tremendous change and it's a real shake up. So talk a little bit about some of those different factors that are contributing to such a stable industry coming to a point of just quite a bit of disruption.

Enrique: Absolutely. As you will say, energy sectors tend to be long-lasting. They seem to be stable and sometimes for some, even boring. However, there's some moments in time when there's important amount of change, technological change, and also consumption change that drives for utilities to have transformations. And this is one of those moments in time Sarah, this a moment of profound change, it's driven by different factors. One of them obviously climate change has become a main concern. We have just come back from COP26 in Scotland that united the world leaders, trying to reach an agreement that will allow the world to focus on reducing pollutants. And on the other hand, you have a consumer that's always more aware of that challenges looking ahead and therefore, even important businesses or commerce, try to respond to that by producing its products with clean energy in order to make their consumers know that they are also concerned about the environment.

Enrique: So technology has been leading the way into making more affordable the fact that we can use the sun and the wind to create clean energy and make it available for the many. And that has led also for consumers, for household consumers, to be able to put solar roofs in their homes and to produce the energy that they will consume. And this is a very important moment in time when every time more households find that this is affordable. And although it requires a lump sum investment on the first year, it takes off in three to five years. And then, you have a long time to make economic sense of that investment. So more people have become producers of energy, and there's a terminology for this. Consumers have become producers, they're the consumers. And what you can see in the future and it's happening already in many important cities in the world is that a household would have a solar roof. It would have even a battery in the basement, and they will use the power that they generate through the day. They'll store it in a battery and they will use it through the night.

Enrique: In the past, that was not really necessary and it was a little bit expensive to have a battery. So in the past, what used to be the battery of everybody that had solar panels was the utility. The utility will take the energy that you were producing in your home through the day and with that bidirectional meter, we'll know exactly how much energy it was taking away from you. And when you came back on the evening and you turn on your TV and you need it for your refrigerator, and to do your house lighting. You will be using energy at night that you will be pulling back from the utility. And that bidirectional meter we'll make a balance of that. And at the end of the month or the period, they will let you know how much you generated, how much did you consume, and what was the balance too. That was the traditional way we were doing these things, not anymore.

Enrique: Now with household batteries of different brands and of different capabilities and different costs, it is becoming affordable for the citizen to be able to produce its own energy, store it in their battery, and use it again. More importantly, we can talk about that in more detail, electric vehicles are also appearing in the ecosystem to transform the way we transport ourselves. So if you want to see it in a way that it closes the cycle, somebody in their household can generate with a solar roof, store it in their battery or in their electric vehicle, recharge its transportation and be disconnected from the overall utility in the services that they are using to transport, to consume, and to entertain, or even to work. The world is becoming every single time more electric and people can be that original source of its power and the utility therefore has to adapt to this new reality and adaptation that's what they're doing right now.

Sarah: Right, okay. Yes. So the way you describe it, and we think about how that traditional model is evolving to this new model where really the consumer is in control and can do a lot of this themselves to be more independent. What does that mean for the organizations that have thrived off of that traditional model? And how do they need to, if you were to give us kind of a best case scenario, how do they adapt? So how do they evolve to meet the needs of today's reality instead of staying kind of on that historical model?

Enrique: I've seen two trends, and obviously there are wide variation in the world, but I'll say that I'll see two trends. One trend is some traditional utilities that will think that this is not going to be a game-changer and therefore, they're a bit on denial and they will say, "We do not need to change, because the overall industrial and commercial and big household consumption is not picking up on clean energy. The electric vehicle footprint is low and some countries are going to be slower than others to adopt change." So they can say, "We still have 5, 10, 15 years for that." So there's not much that they are doing right now. They think that it's business as usual.

Enrique: However, there are some other utilities who are embracing this change, who are not only embracing it, but leading it. And they're coming up to the household and say, "Guess what? We are here, where your traditional utility, we are embracing change, we're promoting it. And we can provide you with solar panels and services that will allow you to do this transition with us. And we're here and we're not going anywhere. We're up here to serve. And we're here to help." And therefore, they're embracing new business units that provide and help citizen with this change of technology to install solar roofs, to install batteries, to have long-term relationships with them to actually help and finance these installations and to advise them, how can they be even more efficient and more knowledgeable about the energy that they're producing and the consumption that they'll be going to go through in the following five years or 10 years as their investments payoff. And I think those utilities are doing the right thing.

Enrique: They're leading the way, and they're making every citizen have a trustful partner to have and drive through this transition. And I think that the key reason to go this way is because it's becoming every time more affordable to do it. So if you don't lead the way, the market is going to lead the way, and you are going to be sitting down in the sidelines. There is an industry that went through this type of transition with some variation obviously, 20 years ago. And you might remember this era when cellphones first arrived, when we were younger, cellphones were big instruments, they were heavy, they didn't last long, they were very expensive. And some people will say, "There is no need to worry if you're in the telecom industry, because cellphones are expensive. Okay, people are not going to like them. They will always like to go back home and call from home. Who will want to carry a phone with them in their pocket?"

Enrique: Some communication companies denied that change. And remember that in the past, your telephone company will charge you for every call that you make. And long-distance calls were just prohibited. I remember back home, my mother wouldn't let me call my cousin, because it was a long-distance call and it was just crazy, costly. So nowadays everybody has, cellphones are more numerous than hardline, phone lines. People have one or two devices. Even youngsters use it for their social life. It's not even a communication device. It is way more than that. It's even a working device.

Sarah: I was going to say that, you're not even charged for calls anymore. I mean, it's really just based the access or volume of data, but the idea of being charged for a long-distance call, that's completely obsolete at this point.

Enrique: So the communication companies, and you're right in the point, communication companies that before they had the revenue for every call that you were making, now that they changed the way they charge for services and they charge not for a call that you make, calls are unlimited, long distances are no more. And even you have some apps that allow you to make calls without even going through the communication company. So that has changed in a very important way. And the way that utilities think of the communication's sphere changed their business system to collect cash through the services that they provide changed as well. And I think that's the type of change that we will see with utilities. As every citizen will have the chance to generate its own power, utilities will have to be there to back up the system and to make sure that everything runs smoothly, but they will have to evolve in the way they collect their fees and they charge for services.

Enrique: And I think that those utilities that are thinking about those new ways will lead the way and those utilities that do not think that that's going to happen and stay on the sidelines, will maybe having some risk in their overall business. And they will miss opportunities that others will take in their place.

Sarah: But you made the point too, that the risk to the companies that maybe don't believe that this is a fundamental point of change. It's not just them versus the other utilities that want to lead the way. They also have the risk of third-parties entering the space to compete as well. So it's not just which utilities are going to get it and which aren't, but you may see other organizations come in to provide some of those needed services and support to the consumers, if these organizations don't want to step up and fulfill those needs.

Enrique: And there are areas within the industry that are changing faster than others. And I'm going to be stating the obvious, but utilities have at least four different services that they provide. First, they generate power. And back in the days, they generated power far away from the cities. They transform some fuel into power and they bring it into the cities for consumption. So one is power generation. The second big thing that they do is to dispatch and transmit energy from faraway places into all the regions and cities of a nation. So you see these big high towers that transmit power from high voltage, from one place to the next. So transmission and dispatch is another big, important activity. The third one is distribution. When low voltage energy comes down to your cities and you can see it in city posts and cables that take you down to your house or to your commerce. And that's that distribution activity.

Enrique: And finally, it's wholesale. To actually sell you the power and all the services that I have mentioned and you pay a bill for it. The two sectors that have been open for competition in many places now, in many parts of the world is power generation and wholesale. Now, transmission and distribution are what we call natural monopolies. It will not be efficient to transmit, to create an additional source of transmission or additional posts of distribution to have competition in that area. Those areas tend to be regulated. They're natural monopolies, and they work that way worldwide. But power generation and wholesale are open for competition in many countries and even more so, because now the citizen can generate and commerce with its own power. So you will see that change in those areas.

Enrique: The utilities used to be integrated and provide the four activities in a single bill. That's also changing. Now, in different cities and countries where power generation is a source of competition, you can choose your provider of power. Now you do have to pay a fixed rate for transmission and distribution, and then you can actually choose who's going to sell you the final product. So those are the areas of where utilities have to be participating, and regulators are making that participation happen as well. So this is a trend that's happening on the one hand, because of the choice of the people and on the other hand, it's also being imposed by the decision of energy regulators in different countries that are advancing into this direction.

Sarah: So the end result is these utilities have to work to become more competitive in nature than they have been historically. Particularly, when it comes to the consumers.

Enrique: Absolutely, because there's also some stranded assets of long-term investments that were done 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 years ago that are essential for the overall power system to work. And those assets need to be recognized and paid for. In addition to that transmission and distribution grid also needs always to be modernized even more now so, that so much information is going to be transmitted and require from consumers and the utilities, so that we can include an ever longer list of electronic utilities, electronic appliances that we're using. So we need to have those transmission and distribution grids modernized and up for the challenge of having even more data going through them. So we definitely need to keep on investing in those things. And that's where the regulators come into play. And that's where utilities also need to inform properly regulators, what are the real costs of those systems that it's in the best interest of all that they remain to be very importantly, well-modernized and well-maintained.

Enrique: So I think that's where the overall challenges lies. We need to find a middle ground between the advancement of technology and the right of the citizen to generate, consume and sell its own clean energy. And on the other hand, the fact that we need all those assets from utilities, for transmission and for distribution, and in some sense for generation to create a stable system to be there. And it is a common good that we all have to chip in and pay.

Sarah: Okay. And then, you have the idea that when you talk about the move to consumers doing more of this themselves and utilities needing to respond by introducing new services and kind of thinking about how they evolved their revenue models, it seems like those would be tasks that they really haven't had to think about much, or at least in quite a long while, is that accurate? So sort of when you just think about sort of what's the new value proposition? And what's the go-to-market strategy? And how do we market this? And how do we differentiate ourselves? Those seem like things that under the traditional model, most of these utilities probably haven't had to flex a lot of those muscles. Is that-

Enrique: Absolutely. And let me give you examples of them. I've seen utilities that in order to deny the fact that a citizen can put a solar roof in their home. They just denied the fact that you can buy or install bidirectional meter that will allow you to send back power to the system, where you're producing it and bring in electricity when you require it. In the absence of that bidirectional meter, you can just not have the success of a solar panel working. So a utility will have a gate-keeping power by saying, "There's no more bidirectional utilities available, and therefore I cannot connect it to you, and therefore, it's not a wise investment for you to put solar roofs." In the opposite extreme of that, there are utilities that will facilitate you that bidirectional panel that will allow you to buy it or rent it in payments along a year or two. And therefore, it makes it easier for you to do that transition.

Enrique: Moreover, they can even say, "I'll give you the whole system integrated and I'll give you support to maintain your solar panels, your batteries and your bidirectional meter a long time." So those are two ways that utilities varying their approach to this. And the same thing will happen with batteries or electric vehicles. Electric vehicles and the first time I drove an electric vehicle, it only could run ultimately, 70 kilometers for every recharge. So, you will always be worried that if you will be far away from your recharger, that you will be stuck in the middle of nowhere. And that's a main fear that most people still have today. So the way to go away from that is that as much as you have gas stations in every corner, in the big city, you need to have available electronic fast rechargers so that you will never feel that you are going to be left with no rechargeable nearby with your car.

Enrique: So now, there's ways to go about this. Now, electric vehicles can run over 300 kilometers or more without a recharge. So that technology has improved. And on the other hand, it could be very wise that cities continue to establish public recharging stations that become frequent, and that can be nearby your home, your place of work, or the school of your children, or you can recharge while you're receiving coffee. And therefore, you feel that there, you do not need to fear that your car is going to leave this stranded someplace. In addition to that, some electric vehicles are also suggesting that you can have an electric recharger at home. So it is like when you recharge your phone or your iPad, you ride home, you connect your recharger to your car and the app allows you to choose at what time are you going to be recharging?

Enrique: So maybe you are going to recharge your car every third day at the middle of the night, when the cost of power is the lowest. And therefore, you will be even saving more money in comparison to the gas pump, or maybe you can just do it in your office and when you arrive to your office, you connect it, and in 20 minutes, your supercharger allows you to have a car recharged for the rest of the week or 15 days. Some car makers are even suggesting that they will have a battery for 2024 that will allow you a 1,000 kilometers of autonomy. So maybe you'll have to recharge your car only once a month. So that cost of recharge for electric vehicles is going to be so much lower in comparison to charging for gas at your usual station. That's going to be a game-changer.

Enrique: Now, some people that I talk to in a recent conference in Milan, some will be saying, "Well, that happen maybe in five years in 10 years, and it will never happen in my country." Well, that's exactly the denial that I was telling you about. Others are saying, "Here's the technology it's affordable, you can put it in your home, in your office or in the public space, and it's going to be happening as soon as next year in the following year," and so on. And some countries are seeing the rate of new cars being electric vehicles increase in a formidable way. Most Scandinavian countries, they sell more new cars that are electric than any other type of hybrid or gas or diesel. So there's variation in how countries will adapt to change. But I think that change is happening and there's no way around it.

Sarah: Yeah. I definitely agree. And I think it Enrique, it's interesting, on this podcast, we haven't discussed energy super-specifically many times. It's more just sort of service and more horizontal trends, but what's interesting to me is this idea of disruption and the idea of how these utilities need to a, acknowledge that disruption. I mean, that resistance to change is the first barrier to overcome. That denial is futile, I think. And so, the first thing is you really have to see the reality for what it is. But I think a lot of that resistance comes from fear and the uncertainty in how an organization is going to pivot to meet the new needs. And so, I think in a lot of ways, it's a very natural response, because you want to protect the way in which you've operated and been successful.

Sarah: And so, one way to protect that is to deny that there's a new reality upon us or coming. But I think one of the points that I was thinking about when you were sort of talking about the two ends of the spectrum, like the company that's in full denial, that just refuses to think that this is happening, and then the company who is proactively going out and saying, "Oh, you want to install solar panels. Great, we can get those for you. We can support you. We can help you," and getting ahead of that disruption. The reality is it doesn't have to be, there's a lot of gray area in between those two realities that is the transition time. You have early adopters that maybe already are self-sufficient in their energy, but you have a lot of residential areas that will take quite a bit of time to get there. And so, I think one of the points that seems important to make is that these organizations, you can both accept the reality and start planning for the future while continuing to deliver your current business model.

Sarah: You saying, "Yes, this is coming," doesn't mean that cut, you can no longer make money doing what you're doing. There's a chunk of time here that this transition is going to happen under. And so, we see that when we talk with organizations in manufacturing that are on the journey to Servitization. That whole journey is about moving from someone who manufactures and sells a product to being an organization that delivers an outcome, okay? And that's a whole continuum of steps. And oftentimes, you don't just jump from one end to the other. And so, this seems like a similar situation where part of what these utilities need to be thinking through is how do we embrace this new reality and what's coming even in the future and start preparing for that while continuing to support our current business. And just understanding that you can do both simultaneously for a bit while you get to the point in the future where things are transitioned. Does that make sense?

Enrique: Absolutely. Let me give you an example of that. Now that I have been traveling to Europe and to the U.S., what I have seen in airports and what I have seen in the conference that I've attended, is that an industry that is being adapting quite quickly to these changes are the sisters and cousins of utilities which are oil companies. You can see that oil companies have moved from being their traditional business model of extracting oil and gas from the ground or the sea, and now to become an energy company in a way that they're also buying and building wind farms and solar farms. So they're evolving from hydrocarbons to clean energy. Not only that, in their gas stations, they're installing electric vehicle superchargers, because gas stations have two source of business. One, I'm saying the obvious, they sell gas, but second, they have a convenience store that is a source of income, sometimes even more important than the gas pump.

So they do not want to lose that flow of income. I saw in a conference that they estimate of that gas, gasoline, diesel, and car industry is over $1 trillion annually. That's the size of their business. And they don't want that business to be taken away by electric rechargers that go and take the consumer elsewhere, away from their gas stations. So they're putting the electric vehicle rechargers, where you used to go and charge gas. So they're transforming their product into adapting to this change. Now utilities were the natural beneficials of this change of electrification, of transport and electrification of the world. So for utilities, you should be easier to transit to be the paramount of clean energy and the promoters of electric vehicle recharging. But if they do not move fast enough, some of those who do not move fast enough, guess what? Your cousin, the oil company is doing it for you.

Enrique: So they are now, they have a big advertisements in airports, what they say? "We got it. We've heard you and we're transitioning, and we are not anymore an oil company. We are now an energy company and we have solar winds, electric vehicles, and they're going to move into that direction." So that change is happening. How fast you adopt it and how fast you lead the way, that's really up for the utilities to embrace. But there it's a change that benefits utilities, because it brings transportation, batteries and solar panels that it's something that they know of to their front yard. So some other companies are going to come there too, if you don't lead the way.

Sarah: Right. Yeah. It's just interesting, like you said, it should be easier for them, but in my years of doing this, it's not easy, because it's a change in identity of who they are. And it's a change in the identity of how they serve their customers, how they make their money. And that is just, it can be very, very challenging for people to embrace that need to become something different. At the end of the day though, this doesn't sound any different than a lot of the other industries we discuss, which is, what do the customers want? What do the consumers want? If there are going to be more and more electric cars, then yes, you need more charging stations. That doesn't mean that today you need all charging stations and no gas pumps, but you need to start planning for the future now and figuring out how that transition is going to take place and what that's going to look like. And it just comes back to being open to meeting the needs of the consumers you make your money from.

Sarah: So if it's ultimately driven by what do they want and where are they heading, which in this case is incredibly compounded by the environmental impact of these things. So, super, super-interesting.

Enrique: Thank you, Sarah. Absolutely, because at the same time, you do see utilities leading the way. You do see utilities taking all this information right on and actually investing billions of dollars into promoting the citizen to use this clean energy to adapt technology that allows for batteries at homes, at buildings, at commerces. And on the other hand, to collect all this information in a way that allows the utility to plan ahead all the investments they need to do in transmission and distribution to guarantee a normal and high level of quality service, because all this change in way we produce, consume, and commerce power also requires an adaptation of the traditional models of when was the usual way of consuming and producing power in the past. These changes also require investment and also require long-term thinking. And in an industry where five years and 10 years is short-term, because energy industry have investments that when you decide your first investment for a power plant to be built, you know that it's going to be a five-year buildup project and then a 30-year asset that's going to be working very hard for you.

Enrique: So we're taking decisions now for a 35, at least 35 year-period. So five years go by fast in the utility sector that the economic cycle is a long economic cycle. So some of those utilities knowing all this, they're leading the way, and they're doing what's right for the environment, but what's also right for the pocket book. And that's why this moment is very important. Right now, you can really have your major, your cake and eat it too. You can have a win-win situation when technology allows you to make a decision that's good for the environment and good for the pocket book.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. It's really interesting. I want to talk with you a bit after. I'd be interested in relying on your network and maybe having someone on that is leading one of those utilities that is really stepping up and taking the reins in this transformation, because it'd be interesting to just talk about why and how they see things. I mean, to your point, with any disruption there's companies that just are more adaptable and more willing to innovate, and there's those that are just more resistant to change and like you said, more in denial. And it's really interesting to kind of examine the differences there and try and help those who are resisting a bit, understand what the flip-side of that can look like and the opportunity it presents. So really interesting stuff.

Enrique: Well, there's one comment that I want to show you. When you go back to power generation and you see that the cost of solar generation has gone down by almost 85% in the last 15 years. The technological advances of that is tremendous. And one way that countries have been achieving that technology change to benefit their consumers, to benefit their citizens, is that they have auctions every year that will allow for different technologies to bid, to offer the lowest possible price of power generation for wind and for solar. Mexico did that back in 2016 and 2017, and 2018, with very important outcomes of reaching the lowest price for solar panels and wind farms in the world. Other countries that continue doing those type of standard processes, public, international, transparent, open have led the way into having even access to lower cost technology in their own processes in 2019, 2020, 2021.

Enrique: So what I see is that as years go by and countries offer an important atmosphere for technology to come compete and therefore show the way, and you get the benefits that will impact the citizens for years to come. Those solar farms and wind farms take two to three years to be built. And their service life spans from 25 years to 35 years’ time. So, it's very beneficial. And of course, we can suggest names of different companies that have led the way in this technology. The U.S. has just announced that they are going to have their first offshore wind farms established in the east coast, something that has happened in Europe for a long time now, but that technology increasing the size of the basis or the length of the rotators have allowed to even generate more energy with the same wind offshore.

Enrique: So that allows for more efficiency, lower costs and so forth. And obviously, there was always be some criticism to every technology power generation, and there's also always to be open to hear how can we improve technology and improve many things, but the bottom line is that in comparison to hydrocarbons, the possibility to use sun and wind to produce power is just a very important asset within an overall portfolio of power generation. And it's not going to be the only one as we can continue conversing, there's also a hydrogen, there's a conversation about additional nuclear, hydropower is also always very important. So there's always a source of clean energy that has to be part of an overall conversation. But as of today, clean energy, batteries and electric vehicles seem to be leading the way. And in the conference that I was just recently in Milan, everybody was just talking about it.

Sarah: Yeah. Okay. Well, I think we'll have some additional conversations we can have in the new year to kind of dig into some more of this, because there's a lot of interesting aspects to this and I really admire your wisdom and your passion. One other question I wanted to ask you today Enrique is, obviously you're incredibly experienced and have played many different roles in this space, and you're obviously very passionate about this industry and this topic. So I love that. And with your experience and your passion now you're at IFS, you're heading the energy and utilities business. What makes you excited about coming onboard a software organization to bring your expertise in and take it from a new perspective?

Enrique: Absolutely. Software makes all these changes possible. Behind all these decisions in the long run is software that allows you to make services more efficient for the benefit of the people. And software is a live subject. It changes, it evolves. It requires a lot of feedback, a lot of knowledge, but it grows. So one thing that it attract me to join now this effort, is to be able to have conversations with utilities and to understand what are the problems of these changes? How can software allow them to have the information they require to run the assets that utility has to provide services? How to empower the citizen with software so that they know how much power they're generating, how much they're going to be consuming, what they can sell and where, and how to, at what price? On the other hand, you need software to understand how are you going to include the electric vehicles within the ecosystem of a city, a neighborhood or a household?

Enrique: In addition to that, you need software to understand how are you going to transmit all this information that's going to be produced by the consumption of even more electric appliances in the family household, in industry, in commerce? So all these need software and software that allows you to face change in a more secure way, in a more knowledgeable way. And the conversations that I had in the U.S. with many utilities that are leading the way in these changes is that without software, they would be blind going into this change process. So they need their software with them. They also understand that software is something that needs to be improved and included and brought on up. So I think it's just fascinating to be out now on the other side of the equation and understand how a service provider of good software helps utilities lead way.

Sarah: Yeah. I mean, when you talk about big of a foundational change, as we're talking about today. You can't lead through that without a lot of insight. And that's the power of the software, the power of the technology is having the information at your fingertips that you need to know how best to meet the needs of the consumers and businesses you serve. So I think it's really cool. It gives you a chance to be a part of this transformation and in a new and different way than you have thus far.

Enrique: Absolutely. And let me tell you, utilities, although obviously infrastructure is relevant. Utilities is about people. Utilities is about the workers and engineers within a utility that make all this happen. And when I was in the utility in Mexico, I remember to say that a utility is like a referee in a soccer match. If the referee's good work is for him not to be noticeable, you see the game plays, and there's no controversy if the referee called a good shot or a bad shot. So then the referee has to be mostly invisible when it does a good job. Utility is the same way. If you arrive home and you turn on your power and you keep on about your business, everything is fine. So the utilities are quite doing a great job when you don't even think about it, when you can go around in your life.

Enrique: And for that, for the utility to be invisible, is that thousands and millions worldwide of women and men, talented women and men are doing their job right. And what software that helps that is Workforce Management. Workforce Management allows a utility to take care of their workers and allows the workers to take care of the utility, because it allows the job to be done properly, safely and economically for the benefit of all. So that's an additional way that a software company allows for the world to continue doing their business without anybody noticing that it's there. And that is the key of it. You have to do your job. And everybody continues to do, to have their own life and power is on when you need it. And that's the belief of it. Power is on, everybody happy. When the power is not on, it's like the bad referee, everybody's talking about the bad referee and nobody wants to talk about the bad thing he did. So I'm glad to be now in a software company that helps utilities and helps the women and men in utilities do their job properly.

Sarah: Yeah. Well, I think it's great that you're here. I absolutely loved hearing some of your thoughts and some of your experiences, as I mentioned, this is a space that I have not dove a lot into. So I appreciate you educating me as well as some of our listeners. And I'd love to have you back again and dig into some of the other areas of this and just keep learning from your wisdom and your experiences. So thank you Enrique.

Enrique: Oh, thanks so much, Sarah. And I wish you the best. And to all of you for this end of the year. Have a nice holidays with your family and best wishes for 2022. Let's make it a very strong year.

Sarah: Absolutely. Thank you. All right. You can learn more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening. 

December 27, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Service Leaders Share Lessons Learned in 2021

December 27, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Service Leaders Share Lessons Learned in 2021

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Some of you regular readers may not know about another role I have and love, which is running a customer community group for service at IFS. Over the course of 2021, the group has met twice a month for an hour to share insights, discuss challenges, and provide feedback. The power of community is an amazing thing, and it’s been an honor for me to get to know these folks better and to see them helping one another in so many ways. Moreover, in a second year of Covid strain, being able to come together with peers has provided a sense of camaraderie I think we’ve all benefited from. 

We recently held our last session of the year, where we discussed lessons learned in 2021. I thought it would be interesting to share some of those lessons with you. Maybe you, too, can find a bit of solidarity. 

  • “I’ve learned that remote software implementation is really hard. Employee engagement plays such a huge role and trying to ensure enough of that virtually is challenging.”
  • “I’ve learned that some leaders are very comfortable with excuses. They turn a blind eye to the need for or opportunity of change because they don’t want to have to make the effort to do things differently.”
  • “I’ve learned I need to spend more time on the business, and less time in the business. I need to prioritize conserving time for more strategic thinking and initiatives instead of always getting pulled in to the day-to-day.”
  • “I’ve been reminded how valuable face-to-face meetings with customers are. Zoom and Teams can be exhausting, and you simply cannot ignore the power of human interaction.”
  • “2021 was a good reminder that the strength of the organization is in its people. In a remote environment, it became clear which managers were succeeding and which were struggling by how their teams performed.”
  • “I was reminded that you can’t assume the way you do something is the right way. You have to be prepared to shake up your thinking and throw out processes, tools, anything that isn’t serving you. It can be tough to do, but it’s so worth it.”
  • “My lesson in 2021 was to find the right balance of speed and stability.”
  • “I’ve learned that collaboration at the strategic level is very hard in a remote environment. From scheduling to dropped connections and so much more, gathering the right people to make decisions virtually is cumbersome.”
  • “Despite technology, service will always be a people business.”
  • “2021 brought the opportunity – and need – to try new things, which helped us learn that we can change faster and farther than we may have thought.”

What was your biggest lesson learned in 2021? I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for being a part of the Future of Field Service community this year. I’m wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to 2022!

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December 22, 2021 | 15 Mins Read

Two Sides of the Digital Coin

December 22, 2021 | 15 Mins Read

Two Sides of the Digital Coin

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Sarah talks with Andrea Pelizzaro, Connected Services Manager, BU Decanters at Alfa Laval about the company’s multi-faceted approach to digital transformation. From the role of digital tools internally to optimize the customer experience to how to leverage digital to build next-generation services to meet customer needs, Andrea discusses the evolution, lessons learned, and what comes next.

Sarah Nicastro: Hello, everyone. Happy to be here with you today and excited to have Andrea with me. So just to, for a quick introduction of myself, and then I'll ask Andrea to tell you a little bit more about him. So I am with IFS. I actually I'm the creator of a thought leadership platform called Future of Field Service, where I write content as well as host a weekly podcast. So I had the good fortune over my career, which at this point is about 14 years to interview companies almost on a daily basis about their journeys in transforming their businesses, seizing new business opportunities, leveraging technology, et cetera. So it is a very, very great job that I'm happy to do and excited to have this conversation with you all today and with Andrea. Andrea, do you mind telling the audience just a bit more about yourself and your role at Alfa Laval?

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yes, of course. So first of all, hello everyone. And thanks for joining this session together with me and Sarah this afternoon. My name is Andrea Pelizzaro and I'm responsible for Connected Services within BU Decanter. I started actually introduce Business Unit since may this year, but previously I was working as responsible for Business Development within the other business unit boiler still in Alfa Laval. I would say that I have several years of experience when it comes to business model innovation and IoT and I've been working in different industries, but now I'm fully attached to Alfa Laval, of course, and I will do my best to explain you actually a bit more about what we are doing today.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Thank you, Andrea. So we are here today to talk about two sides of the digital coin. So what we're going to be exploring in this session is the role digital plays both internally when it comes to helping you optimize and improve the customer experience, and externally as it relates to leveraging digital as a part of your customer value proposition. So two super important ways that digital tools are being leveraged by leading organizations today. A lot to consider, a lot of areas where you can go astray, and some lessons learned coming out of those, and some thoughts on where things are heading in both areas. So Andrea, with that being said, to start can you share a bit about, from the internal side, looking for Alfa Laval has leveraged digital to streamline and optimize its customer experience. So can you talk maybe about any major milestones and, or next areas of opportunity for that internal use?

Andrea Pelizzaro: Absolutely. So first of all, when it comes to, I believe our focus, especially when it comes to my job on the service business, I think one of the major milestones that we have seen or that we have been able to introduce within the customer experience nowadays is related to the user job remote guidance that is basically a software that enable us to be closer to our customer when they need to have support from remote and have the opportunity to be connected with an expert from our central headquarter. I think this is definitely a quite important advantage that we have been able to create, especially with regards to the challenges that we have seen during the COVID period. But of course this will be used more and more in the future, and that is actually our expectation.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So Andrea, I have the benefit of having a little bit of insight on Alfa Laval's use of IFS Remote Assistance. And one of the things that's interesting, not just with Alfa Laval, but with some other customers who deployed that solution during the pandemic is how it was used initially as a response to enable business continuity. But the way that it can evolve as the COVID circumstances diminish or change to be a part of the overall service delivery mix. So in a COVID situation, particularly in the early days, you had situations where travel was restricted, technicians couldn't get on site in a lot of scenarios and you really needed to act fast and figure out how you could still support your customers. Even as those circumstances change, it becomes a valuable tool to help you just have options for service delivery.

Sarah Nicastro: So to look at perhaps a remote first scenario, or to your point to even leverage it from internal Alfa Laval expertise to frontline workforce, or a number of different ways. And so I think one of the key themes when it comes to digital is being a bit more agile, not in the sense of software development but in the sense of mindset. Right? And thinking about what does the customer need? How can we meet it? If that changes or circumstances change, how can we quickly adapt as best we can using some of these tools? I think the pandemic was a really good lesson for folks that were lagging a bit with their digital investments that it is very important to have these tools in place. Do you have any other thoughts or comments around looking at ways Alfa Laval is helping optimize the customer experience?

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yes, of course. Then if we focus on, let's say the capital sales side, so for new projects, I would say that the way that we are leveraging digital in general, it's through lead generation. So we tend to work more and more through an online customer journey instead of having physical meetings or looking for the right person to talk with over a meeting into an office. Now we leverage a lot on digital campaign and the opportunity to target directly the right decision maker in order to of course, enable more businesses. So I think that is definitely something that many companies are working on, but especially into the industrial business is another important emerging trend I would say.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think you mentioned a critical term, which is customer journey. And one of the biggest issues that we see right now with digital is the siloed approach. Okay? And I think what that really comes from is looking at digital and doing so in a way of how to solve a particular problem, which is important. We just talked about remote assistance and how that was incredibly useful in a specific issue. But it also plays a bigger role in the company going forward. And we can't just look at digital investments to solve a point specific problem without reflecting on their impact on the customer journey. So I think that one of the keys to digital success is really breaking down these internal silos and looking at that overall customer journey and making sure that it's seamless.

Sarah Nicastro: I mean, customers want simplicity, they want ease, they want peace of mind. And digital can either be an incredible enabler of that, or it can be detrimental to that type of experience if it's not done well. And so I think that term customer journey is really the key to looking at your internal use of digital and looking at it from the perspective of how your customers will experience that and reflecting on what's that experience like. Is it as simple as it needs to be? Is it as streamlined as it can be? And use that to guide your investments and your strategic initiatives.

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So good. All right. Let's shift gears a little bit, Andrea, and talk about the use of digital in creating new and differentiated customer value propositions. So tell us a bit about what this looks like for you in your role at Alfa Laval in the Decanter's Business Unit.

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yeah. So when it comes to what we are currently trying to shape as a new portfolio of, let's say services based on big data or IoT, we have different product families at the moment that we can leverage. And actually we start from something that could be very simple, that is a remote support and monitoring solution that is slightly different compared to remote guidance, because in that case, our customer will have the opportunity to remotely monitor their asset from everywhere and get support in case of troubleshooting. To the journey that we are basically working at the moment that is related to the predictive maintenance. That is another extremely important aspect that we want to tackle in the near future because we can clearly see the advantage of having this solution when it comes to support the customer in optimizing maintenance interval, for example. And so we would drive to cost savings.

Andrea Pelizzaro: So these are basically the key solutions that we offer. I can tell you as well that according to my previous experience when I was working in the marine industry, we were leveraging actually the knowhow that we have as a company when it comes to create specific support to our customer in order to operate in a proper manner the equipment that we provide. And I think it's key and where we have still a clear differentiator compared to IT companies, for example, that pop up in the market presenting their digital tool that are based purely on algorithm. I think the knowhow that OEM can provide in this case is still quite extensive. So yeah, that is basically what we are, I would say, bringing into the market at the moment. But of course, there's a lot of ongoing development for future innovation.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so the point here is you're absolutely right. So you as the OEM, you hold a ton of expertise and knowledge and wisdom, and digital is really what helps you depart that upon your customer base. So I think more and more of what we see is customers are not buying products. They're not interested in buying a product or a service. They're interested in buying an outcome, an experience, a form of assistance, something that will remove a burden from their daily lives. Right? And so by leveraging digital, by obtaining this data, by making this data useful, by using that to help your customers with their problems, you're delivering the type of value proposition that people are interested in today. And so I think that that is super interesting.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, what are some of the key drivers of this that you hear from within your customer base? So you mentioned cost reduction, you mentioned the need to leverage Alfa Laval's knowledge to help train and ensure proper use of the equipment. Are there any other customer needs that are really driving the development of these digital services?

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yeah. I think one of the key drivers that of course is always top of mind from our end is the opportunity to provide, first of all uptime, because in most of the cases this is key for the customer. If you think about a plant in the food industry that you are running couple of decanters, and at some point one of those breakdown, you can have a customer that can potentially have, I don't know, an entire line stopped for a day and they have a huge loss. So we need to provide of course this uptime, it's definitely key for the customer. But I would say that as well performance is extremely important because in most of the cases what we have seen and here again, I relate to my former experience within the marine business. But of course, this is something that we see a clear trend within the food and water business as well is the fact that in some cases, the operator on site, they are not able to utilize the machine always in a proper manner.

Andrea Pelizzaro: So the opportunity from the OEM side is to provide recommendation in order to have actually the 100% performance from the asset that they are utilizing at that moment. So I think those are extremely important as a driver. And then I would say as well, that the fact that now we are in a connected world and especially we have asset located everywhere, it's extremely important to be capable in monitoring from remote your asset. We have companies that are getting more and more mature in the IoT side, and that means that they are basically creating organization responsible to keep track about the processes of machines that are maybe 1000 kilometer away. So that's another of course, driver that we need to take into consideration.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good point too Andrea is in different industries and the differences in the customers they serve, this varies greatly. Some customers actually have less and less internal expertise. And so they need to rely on their suppliers more and more, or their partners. In this case, you bring up another really good point which is, you can't allow the digital aptitude of your customers to outpace your own digital aptitude. So you need to ensure that you are staying ahead of their appetite for these things by prioritizing digital solutions, investing in innovation, et cetera. So that's a really good point as well. So looking ahead, Andrea, if you think about what the next 12 or 18 months will bring either within Alfa Laval specifically, or just in the use of digital in both of the ways we've discussed today. What are some of your thoughts on where this is going to head?

Andrea Pelizzaro: I think in general the trend that we are seeing more and more within our industry is the fact that we have customer that are getting more and more mature when it comes to let's say, the approach of as a service. So it means that they are starting to think more, as you said, as the output that they can get instead of the hardware that support them in order to get this output. So I would imagine that in the future, we will be able at some point, and I don't know exactly when, because of course I'm not able to predict it. But my expectation is that we will be able to sell our piece of steel tied to a service agreement that is based on the output that they need. So they will not think any more about the transactional business, but more as a subscription based model for example.

Andrea Pelizzaro: That could be definitely something that I'm already working or as a company we are taking into consideration in every indigenous industry that we are engaged on. And then I would say that a potential challenge that I see when it comes to OEM like us, is the fact that we need to be better maybe in conveying that even though we have been working for centuries, let's say within the piece of steel industry, we are trying to go beyond the steel. And in this case, we want to be recognized still as a solid company when it comes to provide a digital solution. So I think this is an important aspect that we need to take into consideration into our journey to be more capable in showing our capabilities when it comes to IoT.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So, boy that brings about a lot of thoughts, and I know we only have a few minutes left. But just to comment quickly on those things, Andrea, I think the second part of what you said around what is the company known for, and what is the story you're telling to your customers and prospective customers, and what's the identity. That is such an important point. And it is an area where a lot of companies struggle because it is a change in what and who the company is. And it is a very big cultural shift in a lot of ways to doing business differently and introducing these new business lines and business models. And that part in and of itself can be very challenging. And I think it's a point to bring home for folks, which is, that area deserves a lot of attention. I think going back to my point earlier about silos.

Sarah Nicastro: I think one of the very important first steps is to ensure that you have alignment on what the company wants that identity to be. Because when you have different divisions, different business units, different functions, all sort of telling a different story, it doesn't add up for your customers. And so you need to decide cohesively what's the story we want to tell. Who do we want Alfa Laval to become. And then make sure that you start managing that change and getting people on board with that. So let me pause there and just say that if anyone has a question, please feel free to type it in. We have just a few minutes left. I'm going to keep talking with Andrea in the meantime, because I actually have a couple more questions for you, Andrea, that I'd like to get to. But if the audience would like to ask anything, please feel free to add that in.

Sarah Nicastro: I wanted to go back to the as a service point that you made as well. So I recorded a podcast yesterday that will publish in a few weeks’ time with Dave Mackerness from Kaer, and Kaer is in Singapore, K-A-E-R. And they provide cooling as a service. And he had some really good insights on just why they're passionate about the business model, why it works for their customers. Actually, how it ties to sustainability, and really helps the environment, and the benefits that it's brought to the company. So I think your premonition that you can't predict if and when Alfa Laval will get there, but overall things are moving in that direction. I think is absolutely, absolutely true. Andrea, with the couple of minutes we have left, are there any lessons learned you can share from your experiences in the company's digital journey?

Andrea Pelizzaro: Yeah. I think first of all, I have seen, and we still see actually some challenges when it comes to, think about the standard that different industries should put in place in order to make this journey a little bit easier. Because from time to time, you get caught into, I would say, a conundrum of different directives based on location or based on industries that will not give you the opportunity to standardize and have a similar approach compared to the competition. That in the end, of course, you can pretend that you would be able to provide that to your customer the entire package of the solution that you have into our portfolio. But we know exactly that the customer are not looking for, for example, 20 different platform. They want to have one single platform where they can access all the data and so on.

Andrea Pelizzaro: So this is definitely something that I'm always trying to think about when it comes to the journey that I'm in. But at the same time, I would say that an important lesson learned would've been the fact that partnership and collaboration in general is key into this journey. We cannot pretend to work as a company always trying to produce everything on our own because we need to get the expertise from other places. And especially sometimes we can complement each other. So I think it's key the fact that we can leverage on the expertise that we have in house, together with something that we don't have in house. Of course, in the future, we will get better in filling the gaps. But I would imagine that even the fact that we have used in remote guidance IFS is because we were not capable in producing something on our own. And I think it has been a success in the end. So I think it's definitely an important lesson learned that we always take into consideration.

Sarah Nicastro: That's a very good point. Well, Andrea, thank you so much. I know we are out of time. So Andrea, thanks for being here with me. Copperberg, thank you for having us. We have some additional content on Alfa Laval and others at futurefieldservice.com. So would love to have you visit us there. And I appreciate the chance to come and spend some time with you all today.

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December 20, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

Is It Time for An Alternative Term to “Digital Transformation?” 

December 20, 2021 | 4 Mins Read

Is It Time for An Alternative Term to “Digital Transformation?” 

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a few different conversations with folks who have surfaced the question of whether or not the term “Digital Transformation” is (still) serving us. One point made is that it is a very unclear phrase – what does the transform in Digital Transformation really mean, they wonder? What constitutes ample transformation? 

The other point I’ve had posed to me is that perhaps most organizations have digitally transformed – at least in their minds – if you consider the definition of transformation as a “thorough and dramatic” change. If a company has made an initial stride in digital adoption, perhaps they feel the term no longer applies since they have indeed “transformed.” What we’re really referring to is a transformation that is ongoing rather than final, but that begs the question of whether the term accurately reflects the vision of continual improvement and refinement that we know digital demands – or if that point is being lost in translation. 

This article from the Journal of Business Research does a really good job of clarifying differences between digitization, digitalization, and Digital Transformation – but starts by referring to all three as “stages of Digital Transformation,” which to me is confusing. And I think this is where the issue lies – what may be well defined in some academic research isn’t being as well defined in our everyday vernacular. I certainly don’t have all the answers but am hoping to present some food for thought here that may help you in discussing this issue in a more relatable way in each of your businesses. 

Transformation Vs. Evolution Vs. Journey

Not all that long ago, we were at a point where the term Digital Transformation made perfect sense. Companies needed to embrace the power of digital in a meaningful way and transform their businesses to compete in the digital era. While there are always outliers, most businesses have made ample progress in this effort and have reached varying degrees of digital maturation – which is why the message of “Digital Transformation” may be coming up short in expressing the need to continue reimagining the use of digital for the business. 

So what term is the best term? The reality is, fair amounts of disdain exist for any of the terms that seem to fit – evolution, journey, etc. For companies who have successfully embraced digital, however, Digital Journey or Digital Evolution do make more logical sense than Transformation, which they likely perceive they’ve accomplished. 

However, I’m not here to attempt to redefine how we discuss digital. And honestly, I think it’s less about what we call it than how we drive a common understanding and alignment within each business. If the term is Digital Transformation, that’s fine – but we need to ensure a pervasive understanding that “Transformation” doesn’t have a finish line; it’s an ongoing effort. Otherwise, you have companies who feel they’ve checked a box and then wonder why they aren’t seeing the impact they should. 

The Real-World Digital Continuum

To communicate what I’ve gleaned from 100+ interviews per year over many years, let me share this “real-world” Digital Continuum. In day-to-day conversations and without any academic or tech speak, these are the phases I’ve seen (and do see) companies progressing through in terms of their efforts to maximize the potential of digital. 

  • Digitize – The move away from manual. At this point, very few businesses have not embraced this phase of Digital Transformation (but don’t cringe, I do still sporadically hear stories of clip boards and paper workorders).
  • Optimize – The recognition of the true potential of digital and the initial efforts of using new data from digitization to drive efficiencies, refine processes, and evolve workflows and customer communications. 
  • Automate – Moving beyond optimizing work to looking for tasks that can be automated using more sophisticated digital tools. Automation builds upon successful optimization to remove work that can be completed with technology. 
  • Increase Intelligence – Using the wealth of data this digital world provides to make the business smarter and more agile. Intelligence gleaned can be used to empower the frontline workforce, to increase revenue, to introduce new business models, to improve product development, and so much more. In many ways, while companies may feel they’ve Digitally “Transformed” once they’ve optimized or automated, intelligence is where the real value begins to unfold. 
  • Value proposition – The most sophisticated versions of Digital Transformation that I’ve discussed firsthand are companies who have successfully leveraged digital to create new customer value propositions. These companies have used their intelligence to define the ways in which digital can expand and evolve their customer relationships. 

As I said, I’m not sure the term we use matters so much as the clarity of discussions we have around it – and the importance of recognizing that, whatever we call it, there’s no end to Digital Transformation. How your company leverages digital and the potential for that to grow and expand should be a regular through line of your strategic discussions. 

Stay tuned this week for a podcast discussion with Andrea Pelizzaro, Connected Services Manager, BU Decanters at Alfa Laval about how the company is using digital both internally to drive efficiency and externally to increase customer value. 

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December 17, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Revisiting Old Articles: The Case for a Chief Service Officer

December 17, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

Revisiting Old Articles: The Case for a Chief Service Officer

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By Tom Paquin

A few weeks back, I ran a quick retrospective on my first Future of Field Service article, then followed that up with a slightly less old article. Today I was to talk about an article from mid-2019 on the idea of a chief service officer for your business.

You can read the original piece here.

That article discussed in detail the servitization mindset impacting businesses at the time. As I outlined it in the original article:

  • A shift away from ownership towards products-as-a-service.
  • An oversaturation of products entering the market from new, global entrants and decreasing barriers to entry.
  • A fundamental shift in the economy away from product-focused businesses towards services-focused businesses.
  • The need to diversify product portfolios with low-overhead add-ons that simultaneously offer value to the customer beyond your competitors.
  • Best-in-class manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers creating pathways towards completely upending business practices with service.

Servitizaiton shows no signs of slowing, especially in the wake of supply chain issues that are projected to run into next year, changing consumer sentiment, and new technology tools for delivering seamless service for businesses wherein service would not have been a consideration eighteen months ago. 

And the best way to make it clear that service is not a line item on your balance sheet, but a new cultural pillar, is to align a Chief Service Officer.

Service is, as we know, more than ever, the primary touchpoint for businesses. With more ecommerce, and more channels for service through delivery and new business models, it’s reckless to slap service functions onto your business (especially by partnering with third parties) and expect them to carry your brand promise. 

The Chief Service Officer can help set that precedent in a meaningful way for your business. As I wrote in 2019:

So what does the Chief Service Officer do? This will obviously differ from company to company, but on a high-level, here are some general ideas:

  • Own the technology rollout for all of service.
  • Work with product to set rigid parameters for service execution.
  • Develop benchmarks, roadmaps, and dashboard to measure service’s impact on the whole company.
  • Set up and execute on service business development efforts within sales.
  • Own the service management platform, tie it to all areas of enterprise resource planning, asset management, and customer experience management.
  • Make the push that your company provides service because it wants to faster a stronger relationship with its customers.

This hasn’t changed, and having an actual human being behind these processes means that service can be executed, on every level, from a more well-informed place.

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December 15, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

Leadership Competencies in a Time of Unprecedented Change

December 15, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

Leadership Competencies in a Time of Unprecedented Change

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Sarah welcomes Dr. Adam Bandelli, author of the book What Every Leader Needs: The Ten Universal and Indisputable Competencies of Leadership Effectiveness, to discuss how the unprecedented circumstances of the last two years have changed what leaders need to do to be effective.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are going to be talking about the things every leader needs in a time of unprecedented change. I'm excited to be joined today by Dr. Adam Bandelli, who is the Managing Director of Bandelli and Associates. Adam, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: How are you?

Sarah Nicastro: Good. How are you?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I'm doing well. Doing well.

Sarah Nicastro: Great. So, Adam recently wrote a book that he's going to share a bit about with us today. That book is titled What Every Leader Needs. And we're going to talk about some of the characteristics and advice that Adam shares in that book as it relates to some of the change and challenges our audience is facing. Before we dig in, Adam, can you tell our listeners a bit more about yourself?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, absolutely. So, I am a leadership advisor and management psychologist by training. I did my doctoral work down at the University of South Florida, where I really focused on three things that have kind of transcended through my career. One is around leadership excellence, and that played a role in helping to write the first book. The second is around relationships and influence. And then the third is around culture work.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So, I did my degree down there. I spent the first decade of my career working for a global management consulting firm, where we really focused on three different things. One is around leadership selection assessments, so helping companies hire senior executives into key roles. The second is around leadership development and executive coaching. So I worked with a number of leaders, Fortune 100 companies on down, C-suite, C-minus 1 to really help develop and cultivate the skills they need. And then the third phase is around transformational change. So really helping companies set a vision for their teams, and then instilling those norms and beliefs down to their cultures. I started my firm in 2016, and the last five or six years we've seen a lot of growth, even during the pandemic, and we're working with some great clients.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. Good. Excellent. And we've talked a lot over the last year and a half, almost two years, about the elements of change that the pandemic has brought about when it comes to technology, leadership, culture, all of those things. So... All right, so we are going to share some of the insights from the book, but before we do that, I'm hoping you can talk a bit about some of the different forces that are causing an evolution around leadership.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Thanks. So, I think there are a couple things that are really causing a change in leadership across different companies and industries. I think one we're seeing more of this focus around crisis leadership. So the pandemic has really shown us that great leaders need to not only drive results and motivate their people, but they need to really have those connections individually with the folks that work with them. If we go back to the beginning of the pandemic, people were concerned about their children, their elderly parents, so having the work-life balance has gone away. And so, leaders who were able to sew into the relationships and really show an interest and demonstrate empathy for their people, are really getting the most out of their people as we get out of the pandemic. So that would be one place.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the second place that leadership is really starting to see some changes is around inclusive and diverse cultures. And so coming out of social justice from 2020, many companies are now focusing on, how do we build more inclusive cultures? And how do we get our people from different backgrounds and races and ethnicities and sexual orientation to really have that connective tissue, where diversity of thought is the primary thing that's brought to the forefront and you're able to leverage the insights from people from all different backgrounds?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then I think the third piece is really around servant leadership. And so what we're seeing a lot in our firm with our clients is this idea of authenticity. And so leaders who show up and bring their best selves to work are being genuine, they are being authentic, there's a level of humility that they show to working with their direct reports, to working with their people. And that really builds cultures of excellence for their teams and organizations.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's interesting. So, I think about a few things here. I want to comment on a couple of the points you made, but before, maybe I'll add one or two of my own thoughts. One of the things that I think is both exciting and challenging for leaders today is how the need to be more agile, the pace of change, the pace of decision-making, right? This idea of being in a real constant state of continual improvement but like not in a way where like everyone's always continually improving, but like in a real like there are always real significant things happening, right? I mean, we're just in a place where there is a lot of disruption, and the idea of quick decisions, acting on your feet, being able to evaluate data and criteria in a very nimble way, those types of things, is a change in the landscape.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing that we've talked about just a bit on here, because on this podcast we do often talk about the ways companies are leveraging technology to innovate, right? Is the idea that in many instances you have leaders who are not digital natives, right? But they're leading companies through digital transformation and the journey to digitalization, and what that means in terms of how they perceive themselves, how they need to build talent around them, how they manage and reward that talent, right? On outcomes not output, you know? So a lot of different things related to that.

Sarah Nicastro: But I absolutely agree with you that each of the things you mentioned, what's interesting to me is leaders that aren't good leaders are smart enough to know that they need to pretend to be good leaders. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, exactly.

Sarah Nicastro: So like, what stands out to me, what I mean by that is, each of the things you said, like connecting with your employees and focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and... everyone knows that those things are important. So everyone says they're doing it, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: But the real difference is I think the word that you said, which is authenticity. Right? So it is, this is not about checking a box that you're a good leader, it's about genuinely giving a shit and showing up in that way. Right? And it can be really challenging sometimes to tell the difference, do you think?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think you'll see short-term results if you put a quick bandaid around diversity, inclusion, or if you try to show more time for your people, but the best leaders are doing it consistently and they're committed to doing. And so there is no kind of drop off after a short period of time. They're genuinely trying to make the people around them better.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. And I think a lot of that has to do with a real recognition or understanding of the value that comes from that. Right? So if you think about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it's not about making sure that you're hitting X percent of this or pay equity in this area, right? It's what you said, which is, all of that is important, but it's also diversity of thought and opinion.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Like you should not want everyone around you to be the same as you, you should welcome people in that have different backgrounds, different experiences, different viewpoints. And that only makes your organization stronger. And so I think that there's this idea of historically, leaders... There's this perception of the elite and the top dog type mentality. Right? And I think in a lot of today's organizations, you see more democratization of talent and control, more empowerment, more realization that the more I engage my employees and the more they're invested in what they're doing, the better we will all be because of that.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep, exactly. Yep, absolutely. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: It's really interesting though, I also feel for a lot of folks that I have on here, Adam, that work for leaders who are dinosaurs.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So part of an old boys club.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And they see such opportunity for change in their own organizations, but it's just they're met with such resistance.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: They're hitting that wall.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And that's disheartening and it's frustrating and it's testament to that talent that sees that opportunity is only going to hang on so long before they take their talent elsewhere, because they're not in an environment where they can really contribute and thrive.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Well, I think we're in the midst of the Great Resignation now. And so leaders who are doing those things, they're losing people left and right. I have several of our clients who are going through that transition now, where the old guard who's been doing things the same way for years, attrition is going through the roof. And so, unless leaders are really taking time to develop their people and spend time with their people and build relationships with their people, you can find another job tomorrow. And so, especially... And it goes by the generational things too.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: You look at millennials or Gen Z, they're looking for variety, they're looking for things that matter in terms of social issues. And so, folks who are in their careers 20, 30 years, they're not wired that way.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so leaders at the highest levels are not being intentional about how to meet the needs of their employees, that will continue to happen.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I want to ask you a question, though, about... So let's, I don't want to say let's set COVID aside, no one can do that. And I agree that in the same way that we've stated here, COVID sped and exacerbated a focus on technology. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Because the companies that had it were glad they did, and the companies that didn't realized real quick that they should have gotten ahead of that.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I feel similarly about the topic of leadership and company culture in the sense that I do think it has sped and exacerbated some of the companies that were perhaps already on this journey of caring more, and all of these things, but I do think it was underway prior. And what I wonder is, if you have any thoughts or opinions on where was the fork in the road, or like what created the fork in the road of the old guard versus kind of... I don't even know if there is a really good term for it in the organizational psychology world, but like this more new wave of leadership, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. I mean, so you see with the gender inequalities that have been there for decades, that's begun to shift. I'm seeing more of the senior executives that I work with are women, they're empowering their people more, they're creating venues and opportunities where people can communicate more effectively. We're seeing it with minorities and ethnicity differences as well. So people who may have been in lower level roles decades ago, are now given opportunities at the top of the house, and they're bringing about that change.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, I don't think there was one point in time or one event where it shifted, I think we saw in the early 2000s some of this start to shift, we had the recession 2008, 2009. And in this last decade, we're seeing a number of different things. The LGBTQ, that's become huge in terms of just equality in the workplace as well. So I think all these things had their starts at certain points over the last 20, 30 years, and now we're starting to see some of the fruits of that as we're going into the last couple years and moving forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay. All right. So in the book, What Every Leader Needs, you detail 10 competencies for leadership success in today's landscape.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: That's right.

Sarah Nicastro: So, we won't have time on one podcast to go through all 10 in detail, plus, I want people to go buy your book and read about them there. But let's talk about a few. So first, let's talk about compassion.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So compassion is really about impacting people through communication, social awareness, and what I call relational intelligence. And I think the foundations of compassion are really around the idea of EQ and empathy. And so, great leaders have self-awareness about how they're coming across to others, they're effective at managing their emotions, and then they're effective about reading a room. And so those key things really make for people to show up in a compassionate way. But showing up and understanding people's emotions is just one part of it. And so the part that goes deeper is what I've coined as relational intelligence, which is the ability for people to successfully connect with others and build strong long-lasting relationships.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, how do leaders do that? They do it by establishing rapport with their people, they do it by taking time to understand others, to be inquisitive, to be curious. They're also valuing diversity as part of the programs that run their organization, and not just as a quick fix. And then this idea of trust becomes really critical. So, are leaders able to develop trust, give it out, earn it back from their people? And that really ties into role models and mentors, and how organizations are able to build systems where people who are new can learn from those who have been there, and vice versa.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I'm going to come back with some questions on all of these, but let's go through them first.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So the next one is endurance.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. So endurance is really focused more around maintaining resilience, tenacity, and stamina to achieve your goals. And so, we've really seen this become one of the forefront leadership skills coming out of the pandemic. People have had to push through some difficult change and uncertainty. And there are different ways that leaders can focus on. I think what we've seen over the last year are that leaders who are very pragmatic and practical they were able to set goals for their teams that they can achieve in the short-term when people do not know what's going on and trying to figure things out day from day. Leaders who operate with endurance, they play at the right level as well. So this idea of delegation becomes really critical and how you're able to do that within your teams across functions as well.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then there's a piece around balancing strategic and tactical issues. So great leaders who are able to show up with endurance, they know the level that they need to play, but they also know that they have the people around them to go tactical when they need to and they can pull back up. So, it's those kinds of pieces that really make for folks who are able to show that endurance over time.

Sarah Nicastro: So this is maybe a combination of both of those two initial characteristics, but... Well, I had a really interesting conversation a few months ago with someone I know who works within an organization that was really heavily impacted by the pandemic in a negative way, like many were, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: And the conversation we had was about that organization's leadership's missteps in not being able to separate the performance of its employees with the performance of the organization, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, it was this situation where... I just think when you think of endurance and you think about what everyone's been through during the last year and a half, I mean, this can apply to your real life too. I mean, I'll be honest, like I've had times where I've struggled and I'm like, "I can't do it anymore, I don't want to do it anymore." And I'm not talking about work, I'm talking about it all. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Like it's just like the whole thing has just seemed incredibly defeating at times, never-ending, like, "Will we ever be able to X?" All of the things, all of the worry, the stress, et cetera. So... And as a leader of a company, then that's compounded by your own... your need for personal endurance with whatever might be going on in your life, with the endurance of also the organization and the team. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that when you were talking about endurance, I was just thinking like, "Boy, that has to be really, really hard to be a motivating force in such a taxing time." Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: But the reality is, that's where I was kind of thinking about the intersection of those two traits, like endurance and compassion, right? Because, yes, it's frustrating to have to recognize your team for hard work when the overall performance of the company is suffering, but you need to have the compassion to know it's not their fault and they're still trying, right? And so, by not being able to separate those things, and either directly or indirectly placing that blame on them, you just kill the morale of your whole staff. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, there's a lot that comes into, I would imagine, sort of the codependencies of these characteristics and how they all intersect.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, that's spot on. I think there's a huge connection between a number of them, but compassion and endurance are probably two of the biggest ones that have been interconnected in the last year and a half.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And I can think of one example from one of our clients where there was someone who was new to the role and new to the organization, and didn't really know and understand the culture. And so, as performance started to dip for the organization, this leader started to push harder with his people and missed out on those moments to really empathize with what they were doing in their home and personal lives, because the blending lines of work and personal has really kind of been thrown into the forefront in the last year.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, he was unsuccessful in really getting to motivate his team, because he didn't take time for them, he focused more on what we need to do versus who do we have around the table to get it done.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. This is where I wish I knew sports better and I could come with like a really good analogy of like, "What type of coach are you? This guy or this guy, or girl?" But I don't. But I mean, it is very much a thing of... And I think this goes back to the EQ, the relational intelligence, and being able to say, "What do they need from me right now to endure? Do I need to be hard and strict and do I need to kind of lay down the law, or do I need to back up a little bit and be more compassionate, be more empathetic and kind of take a softer approach?" And I think that really good leaders can do both, they don't sort of just characterize themselves as one or the other. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: They can kind of put on different hats as needed to get the outcome.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Great leaders are servant leaders. I'm a firm believer in that. And so, servant leaders put their people first. And if you put people first and you sow into their lives, they're going to drill through walls for you. They're going to be committed to you if you don't lead by fear and intimidation. Some of the greatest leaders that I've worked with, understand that at their core, and so they show up to make their people better. And that shows up in the results at the end of the day.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. All right. The next characteristic we're going to talk about is vision.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. So vision is the kind of quintessential leadership skill. It starts on the very basic level. If you don't have a plan or idea for your future, you'll have no idea where you're going. So vision is about developing a clear sense of the mission and purpose that really provides direction to yourself and to others. And so leaders who are able to do that three year plan, five year plan, they at least get an idea of where they want to go and they can do the kind of delineation of where we are current state and where the future state is. But there's three important things that when you're setting a vision for your team are really critical.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think one, you have to build the playbook. So if I have a goal to do X, Y, Z in five years, what are we going to do each year to get there? And so building those steps until you can achieve that vision. But the most important thing with your people is to bring them along for the journey. And so, it's not just you in a room creating this overall theme or this overall approach, it's are you getting agreement and getting alignment, and making sure that your folks play a role in shaping what that vision will look like.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then the biggest thing that I've seen that's been a challenge in the last two years has been celebrating the victories along the way. And so, leaders are constantly trying to strive for that next hill, that next goal or accomplishment. When they don't celebrate the victories, it can be very demoralizing to your team. So setting a vision really focuses on those three things. It's having your playbook, it's bringing others along, and then it's really being able to celebrate the victories along the way.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, good. The next one is inspiration.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Inspiration is one of my favorite ones. This is really around motivating, encouraging, and influencing other people. And this is where it goes beyond compassion, because compassion is really understanding where people are and meeting them there, inspiration is how you're able to take that and really drive things forward. And so, inspiration really focuses on words that have power. Our words have tremendous power, whether it's good and bad. And the people that report to us can sometimes hang on everything that we say. So, are you being encouraging with what you're sharing? Are you pointing out things that they're doing well and providing that feedback on a consistent basis? So many leaders miss out on opportunities to provide feedback. And so, that's a big critical piece of it.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Rewards, recognition, and repercussions. That's another big part of inspiration. Are you setting clear expectations and holding people accountable? If you are and they're achieving their objectives, how are you rewarding them? And not just incentives and competent pay, but how are you giving them opportunities to take on greater responsibility, or increasing their scale and scope in what they do? And then recognition is about really supporting them and encouraging them to be promoted or to move on. Are you acknowledging the hard work that they're putting in?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then the third piece around inspiration is really around developing the talents of your people. And so, great leaders are very intentional and focused on, how can I make my team better, individually and collectively? And so, inspiration really is shown and demonstrated by how you develop your people.

Sarah Nicastro: So what I'm wondering, Adam, is how reliant is a leader's ability to inspire its workforce on their investment in their own inspiration?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Explain that a little more.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I think for a leader to be able to go to work and inspire others, they need to be inspired.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that sometimes leaders don't do a good job of conserving the time and energy to source their own inspiration. Does that make sense?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. 

Sarah Nicastro: And so, I'm just wondering your thoughts on the correlation between those two things. Like they... I guess the concept of you can't pour from an empty cup, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And so I think like some of the leaders I know that I think are most inspiring, actively prioritize investment in things that inspire them. So whether that's peer groups community, their own mentorships, reading, podcasts, movies, whatever it is that really lights them up, they know that they need to have the time to do those things so that they then have that energy to take to their role.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Where are they getting their energy from? Where are they getting their inspiration from? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think really strong leaders are balanced in how they do things. So they take time for their physical and fitness, they take time for their spiritual, mental, and emotional. So it's well balanced. But they have resources and tools that they leverage, whether it's books that they read, whether it's podcasts they listen to, but they're getting their inspiration from what they're seeing, and then it goes back to the idea around vision.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: They're getting their inspiration from, where are we taking this business? Where are we taking the team? Leaders who have the end state in mind can usually keep themselves engaged and motivated because they're moving towards something.

Sarah Nicastro: I also I think would say that some of the best leaders I know allow themselves to be inspired by their teams or individuals on their teams, right? Like they can also get inspiration from the people that they're working with.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. The last one we're going to talk about today is innovation.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. And innovation is really, how are you able to apply continuous improvements to processes and procedures over time? And so, innovation really focuses on four critical elements. I think one, innovative leaders anticipate the future. So they're constantly looking around the corner and anticipating what's going to happen next. Whether you're in an industry where you develop products, whether you're in a services industry, how can I meet the needs of my customers or clients before they even know they're happening?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the other piece around innovation that's really critical is, can you put thoughts into actions? Some of the greatest leaders that I've worked with, not only have people around them who can come up with great ideas, but they're able to then track that back to, "Okay, how do we make this come to life?" Because you can have tons of great ideas, but unless you can bring it to the forefront and make it happen, innovation is not going to be useful.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Then there's this piece at the organizational level, which is really around how do you create cultures where people value creativity and they value idea generation? And it really starts from kind of having an open environment where people feel their values and beliefs are appreciated, and so that people can be more creative. And then going back to what we started with today is championing diversity of thought. You want different people around the table from you so that the best ideas can be brought to the forefront.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think one of the things that comes to mind when I think about innovation is, it seems like such a sexy word, but in reality, it's tied very closely, again, to endurance, right? I mean, it's to your point, you can have innovative ideas all day, every day, but if you don't actually put any of them in place, it doesn't matter. Right? So it's a big part of innovation is execution.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that there's... Some of the most innovative minds I think are also just people that are programmed to think fast, move on to the next thing, think fast, move on to the next thing, right? So kind of tempering that with the ability to execute and the ability to kind of take things in the appropriate order to actually see them come to fruition, is a super important part of innovation.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And the other part that's tied into endurance is a lot of times people are thrown into situations where they need to adjust and change changes imposed on them that's not their choice. And so people who are innovative know how to adapt and respond. They're agile. They can respond quickly to those changing circumstances, and come up with solutions to adapt on the fly.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, really cool. So, if listeners want to know what the other five characteristics are, they need to check out the book, which we'll tell them about later. But you also have a new book coming out in the spring.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I do.

Sarah Nicastro: So, can you tell us a little bit, maybe give us a little bit of a sneak peek into that?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. So as I mentioned, I've spent the last two decades of my life really focused on relationships and influence. So how can leaders get the best out of their people by the relationships that they develop? So, I came up with this concept called relational intelligence, back when I was doing my dissertation in graduate school. And I've refined this framework over the last 15 years, both personally and professionally. So the new book is called Relational Intelligence: The Five Essential Skills That You Need To Build Life-Changing Relationships.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And what the book looks at is this conceptual model that I developed that looks at five skills that lead to building a strong relationship to influence people. So skills like, how are you able to make an initial connection? How are you able to show empathy and curiosity for people? How are you able to embrace diversity develop trust? So the first part of this book really does a deep dive into each of the five skills. Very similar to my first book, there's practical applications at the end of every chapter, where you can apply these right away to use them.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: The second part of the book is the applications of relational intelligence on the different areas of our life. So related to our family lives, our friendships, our professional lives, and even our romantic lives in marriage. So it kind of shows how this applies to both things. We have seen in my firm with our clients become one of the most number one issues that people are facing right now. Especially coming out of the pandemic, people have lost that human element moment. We're doing our conversations like this at Zoom. So getting in the room with people and really being able to embrace others and being able to really reestablish those connections, is critical. And relational intelligence is really a toolkit for people to reestablish their relationships.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Good. So, what do you think are the biggest barriers to leaders embracing the 10 characteristics you outlined in What Every Leader Needs, and/or some of the points that you bring up in the new book coming out, the skills related to relational intelligence?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah, it's a great question. So I think there is what we call the dark side of leadership. So there are certain traits that leaders demonstrate that can really get them into trouble. So things like Machiavellianism, narcissism, and pride. And so, whether you're building relationships with colleagues, or whether you're trying to inspire, motivate people, when leaders are self-centered and directed kind on their outcomes, when they view people as means to an end and they don't think about the repercussions long-term, there's this term, leading with the iron fist, leaders who do that will get immediate results for the short-term, but they'll damage relationships and they'll damage the impact and the culture that they have long-term.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So, that's the first thing I would say that is a real big barrier is finding and identifying who those people are, and making sure that they're not in the roles where they're going to influence and impact other people.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the second thing is really around this inability to change and adapt. The leaders who have struggled the most through the pandemic are the ones who have had an inability to adjust to working from home. I look at people in the restaurant, hospitality industry, who have always been in offices and in restaurants and in places, to be stuck at home it's very challenging for folks in that industry. Other industries like myself, professional services, I did most of this, where I was either at my clients or working from home writing reports. So it was not a difficult transition for me to do this. I'm extroverted and get energy off of interacting with people, so that part was hard. But I think those who couldn't embrace change have struggled.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then I think the other piece that's tied into this self-centeredness is leaders who only care about the results. I believe that the highest calling of leadership is development and cultivation of the skills of the people around you. And if you're just trying to push people to get to a number or to hit your top-line growth, you're not going to be able to generate that success long-term.

Sarah Nicastro: So, to what degree though? The last comment you made. I agree. Okay?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But it doesn't seem to me that a lot of top-level executives and boards that I would interact with today would share that sentiment, or if they do, it goes back to the point I made early on, which is they can say it, but at the end of the day, all of the decisions they make are very driven by just numbers.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, to what degree do you think people share that sentiment that you have? And is that on the increase?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. I think you go by generations. I think folks who are baby boomers, who are probably on their way out in the next decade or so, they have that old guard mindset. I'm working with a lot of executives now who are in their early to mid 40s, where the focus on people and culture has become even more important. So I believe you will start to see a shift over the next decade, where there will no longer be lip service to we have to care and show empathy for our people, that will become more of their priority. It's a much more important factor to millennials, it's a much more important factor to Gen Z. And so, that shift I think is going to start to really snowball over the next 10 years.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I have a lot of other questions I'd like to ask you, but we're not going to have time for all of them today. We'll have to have you back sometime, maybe when the new book comes out in the spring. We can dig in to that a bit.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. That's fine. That's fine. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I did want to ask, you've spent years and years working with different clients on both their businesses and themselves, in terms of their own leadership skills.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Is there any like daily practice or best habit that you would suggest to listeners when it comes to this concept of embracing modern best practices and educating and continually improving yourselves? Let's leave the people out that don't have a genuine desire to go up, because what's the point? That's a different conversation. But for the people that do, what is the best advice you can give in terms of good habits, daily practices, that sort of thing?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I'll start with what my clients do and what I coach them on, and then I'll say what I do personally, because I think that's more meaningful and impactful to your audience. The greatest leaders that I work with have healthy routines that they start their days with. If you go back to Tony Robbins, he talked about his Hour of Power, and a lot of folks. Oprah does the same thing. But you'll see successful people across all walks of life start their day with a consistent routine.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: For me, over the last several years, I've honed and refined it. So I spend the first hours of the day really focused on spiritual practices, physical health, mental and emotional well-being. And one of the things that I do that's very simple, everyone's probably heard of it before, but I journal. And so, journaling is one of the first things that I do in the morning, just getting my thoughts down on paper before I touch anything else or do anything else. And for what it's done for me is it's freed up the creative ability to write elsewhere without having writer's block or things get in the way of me putting my words to paper.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I've written both of these books, What Every Leader Needs, and Relational Intelligence, over the last two years, because of that one specific habit. I start the habit every January, where I'll sit down and just... Again, every morning, I have to fill one page of a piece of paper out with thoughts and just random things I'm emotionally experiencing or whatnot at the start of the day. And that has led into me being freer to write and to create and to be innovative in all the work that I do in my firm.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I would say to your audience, get yourself a good routine in the morning, have it be a combination of thought, physical activity. You want to both exercise the psychology of your mind and also the physiology of your body. And if you do that, I think it will impact your life in many different ways, but it will automatically set your day on a bright note, where whatever types of adversity come your way, because you've kind of given yourself that one hour to set the stage, it makes the rest of the day more successful.

Sarah Nicastro: What time do you get up?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Usually 5AM. So I try to do this with-

Sarah Nicastro: What time do you go to bed?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: 9:30, 10:00. So I'm an early fall asleep early, get up early.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I'm going to be honest with you, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I feel like I don't want this to turn into a therapy session, but I will admit publicly that I, in the last couple of months, have fallen out of that habit myself. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So I, five days a week, would get up, go to the gym at 5:45. I don't know that I was as good at the other parts, I don't journal and then... Those are all things I would like to do. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And it's a completely different day when I do it. I just also... I struggle with the fact that I work full-time, I'm married, I have two small children. Like, I know it's, I don't want to say it's an excuse, it's a reason, but it's not a good enough reason, which is I'm just tired. I'm tired.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But I actually ordered a Peloton last week, it will be here on Monday, and I am committed. You all can follow me on Instagram and watch me post my workouts daily starting Monday morning, because I know damn well it will pay off significantly. And I like the idea-

Dr. Adam Bandelli: You talked about inspiration. You talked about inspiration.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: This is the hour of the day where you can get inspired by something you're listening to, you can get inspired by working out. So, this is the hour of the day you give to yourself. Give the first hour to yourself, give the first hour to energize and get yourself ready for the day, and it will impact the rest of the day.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Yeah, I think that's fantastic advice. And I think that I always go back to after I had my first son and I gained a ridiculous amount of weight when I was pregnant with him, but I did a program from home, it was a half an hour a day, and I always told myself, "It is 30 minutes, like there is absolutely no reason you can't prioritize this." And a lot of it is just habit, you know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And that's why I think I've been frustrated, because I've had it for so long, and then I broke it, and I'm having trouble getting back into it, but I will, you know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But you're absolutely right, that it's a... People always... I don't know how you can get up that early, but like once you're doing it, you realize how good it is and how much it helps you. Like I always say too like, "I work out more for my mental health than I do..." Like, yes, it's good for my physical health, but like my motivation is how I feel, period. You know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I think that's really good advice. Okay. Adam, any closing thoughts or comments before we wrap up today?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: No, no, this has been tremendous, a pleasure to speaking with you and your audience. And you can follow us on... Our website is bandelliandassociates.com, if you want to find out about the services that our firm offers around leadership development. And you can also go to the website, whateveryleaderneeds.com, that's one word. And that's where you can find places to purchase the book, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et cetera.

Sarah Nicastro: What Every Leader Needs. And the new book is coming out in the spring, do you have a month?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: April, 2022. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, we're going to start posting about that in January. So there'll be a lead-up to the release of Relational Intelligence. And you can follow us on social media, we'll have all that information for you.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Well, we would love to have you back when the new book comes out and talk a little bit about the content there. Really appreciate your time today. It's been wonderful having you. So thanks for coming on.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, my pleasure.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. 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 ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening. 

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December 13, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

5 Tactical Ways to Improve Your Change Management Effectiveness

December 13, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

5 Tactical Ways to Improve Your Change Management Effectiveness

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Here’s what I know about change management:

  • It’s critically important
  • Lacking and/or shoddy efforts are the #1 reason given when change initiatives fail
  • People commonly acknowledge these first two points, yet STILL don’t put the time, energy, or investment into getting it right
  • It doesn’t have to be so hard; you just have to truly understand its importance and prioritize change management as a part of your strategy

If you listen to the podcast, you have probably heard me state how perplexed I am at the immense gap that exists between the “talk” around the importance of change management and the “walk” or action put in to getting it right. The harsh reality is that this must change. There is far too much change happening at far too fast a pace for companies to continue to be able to manage change in reactive versus proactive manner.

Making Change Management More Proactive 

So, with that said, let’s move beyond rant to talk about five ways you could improve your change management effectiveness. These points were inspired by and some of them discussed in my podcast last week with Karin Hamel, Vice President of Services for US Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric. While Karin and I’s conversation centered around what it will take to build the workforce of the future, managing change is a key part of that – because not only is the pace of change not slowing, but the variables playing a part in companies’ initiatives are only growing more complex and interconnected. 

#1: Cut Corporate Speak

Communication around change is no place for sesquipedalian speech. See what I mean? I’m laughing typing this, but the point is valid – the more you focus on concise, relatable communication the better it will be received and digested. Keep in mind that your goal in communicating around change isn’t just getting a point across, but also building rapport and connection.

“Make sure you talk directly to the reader, your technician in this case, the real person, and cut the MBA talk,” says Karin. “That was something that I found I really needed some help with. It was helpful to have someone point that out to me.” And here’s a tip: if you don’t know how your intended audience speaks or what resonates, you aren’t spending enough time with them. 

#2: Focus on Collaboration over Communication

The next tip is to make sure you remember that change cannot be managed with communication alone, it requires collaboration. In fact, when you focus your efforts on collaboration over communication, you may find a good percentage of your change challenges alleviated. 

What I mean by collaboration over communication is that you should not be focused on simply delivering a message – or a mandate – and expecting your workforce to fall in line. Rather, you need to understand the value in collaboration – a bi-directional exchange of points that helps ensure everyone is on the same page, feedback is heard and acknowledged, and change is being not just begrudgingly accepted but embraced. 

#3: Help Employees Visualize Change

This is another great point that came from Karin. She has done some work with the Nour Group to help create a visualization of strategy. This visualization takes a plethora of detailed content, that can be consumed if and when it needs to be and simplifies it into one easy-to-digest graphical page. 

“The Nour Group helped us go through our whole strategy slide deck, that 40-page slide deck that we all have sitting in a desk drawer somewhere, on a thumb drive. We took that and boiled it down to one page, that’s a very visual, graphic document, that really spells everything out, walks your audience through the whole strategy, and takes away that corporate speak,” explains Karin. “We use this visualization, and then print it out on mousepads, use it as a backdrop. Having it in many different places, so that it’s really repeatable, like a drum beat continuously throughout the year. It’s something like a war cry. Everyone can rally around this visualization and identify themselves there.”

#4: Prioritize Ample Training and Upskilling

We know that resistance to change is largely fear-based, and in today’s circumstances where frontline workers may have some valid trepidation around how their roles are evolving, the role of ample training and upskilling in change management cannot be overemphasized. Maybe you’re asking your workforce to use a new technology – you need to ensure you bear the burden of not only selecting a strong solution, but providing however much training, however many types of training, your employees need to feel confident in that tool’s use. 

Perhaps their role itself is evolving, with new service objectives requiring a different approach and therefore different skills. This is a reality for many businesses today, and that causes a lot of overwhelm for your workers. If they know from the beginning that they play an incredibly valuable role in your company’s evolution, and that you are committed to providing them every upskilling opportunity it will take to make them successful, well – they may not fear the change so much. 

#5: Recognize Efforts and Impact

Consider this scenario: Change is introduced, and mandated. Employee accepts that if they want to continue in their career, they must adapt. They work through the change, learning whatever they need to in order to thrive in the “after.” Employer seems to not even notice the emotional, intellectual, and/or physical effort this employee’s change took and continues without so much as a “thanks for your hard work” until the next demand arises. 

I’d argue this is standard practice for many organizations, and the root of its faultiness is that it isn’t all too human. Your employees are people, and for many of our readers, those employees are the frontline worker that you are relying on to spearhead your company’s evolution from its historical incarnation to its modernized identity. Do they not deserve more?

They do. Change management would be far more successful if we focused on expressing appreciation for our employees’ efforts – if we showed empathy around how hard change is and recognized them for not only their willingness to grow and evolve with the business but for their efforts to learn and succeed in whatever the new normal is we’re introducing. 

You can take notes from Schneider’s approach. “We built up a recognition program around this strategy visualization document and our Hero program. As a technician, I can identify how I can contribute to our overall business ambitions by this kind of map. Then we have peer-to-peer nominations so that as employees contribute or deliver on one of the key outcomes, they can be recognized,” explains Karin. “We have a woman that runs this program for us, and we have great internal communication around it. We keep it all connected to our strategy and it runs throughout the whole year, and we’ve found it has been a great accelerant to create the kind of movement in the culture that we want.”

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December 10, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

The True Cost of Operational Success

December 10, 2021 | 2 Mins Read

The True Cost of Operational Success

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By Tom Paquin

We prattle on and on about the power of service optimization here, the invisible “service bucks” saved from mitigating truck rolls and streamlining technician performance. And these are all valuable things, certainly, but more and more businesses, to justify upgrades of their service systems and the development of new tools, are seeking to understand the total cost of service operations for their business. 

Putting numbers behind these functions is not new, but it has required a number of assumptions. And getting those costs together remains an integral component in allocation budgets, managing headcount, and crucially, setting service prices. So what are some tips on doing this with as few assumptions as possible, to provide as accurate a picture as possible of the total cost of service? Here are some thoughts:

You Can’t Measure Cost Until You Learn to Measure Service
Here’s the deal: Service software can, under many circumstances, turn data into an asset, and leveraging that data intelligently can go a long way to understanding how service processes fit together. Nevertheless, there’s two major caveats to this: Technical blind spots and human error (both of which are actually human error of course).

You can avoid technical blind spots by building a set of service tools that is as all-encompassing as possible. This means putting optimization, customer experience, enterprise planning, and human capital systems all under a single roof. Is this perfect? Of course not. One major consideration is where your software is coming from. If it’s all from a single vendor, then great, assuming that the ‘boil-the-ocean’ approach hasn’t limited functionality in any meaningful way. If it’s from a core vendor and a series of APIs, what’s the data “exchange rate”? Are your systems on comparable version numbers? Are they adequately calibrated to all new processes? These are all important considerations to ensure that service is being run correctly.

On the “human error” side, you need to ensure that you’re avoiding (as best as you can) bias in your technical criteria. It’s very easy to lean into things that make your business or your technicians look better. While that might be great for marketing, it limits the ability to price accurately, and it also impede the ability to benchmark service improvements accurately. 

Wait, Should We Actually Care About Any of This?
I’ll end by saying that while saving a service buck is nice in the immediate, the true value of service optimization comes from what you can pass onto your customer. Those savings, sometimes intangible, help retain customers, encourage upsells, and spurn new business. And at the end of the day, every dollar saved is worth half as much as a dollar of new revenue. 

So don’t forget who it is that you are optimizing your services processes for.

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December 8, 2021 | 25 Mins Read

5 Areas of Focus to Create the Frontline Workforce of the Future

December 8, 2021 | 25 Mins Read

5 Areas of Focus to Create the Frontline Workforce of the Future

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Karin Hamel, Vice President of Services for US Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric, joins Sarah to share five areas she’s focused on when it comes to creating the frontline workforce of the future.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are going to be talking about five areas of focus when you are thinking about creating the frontline workforce of the future. I'm excited to be joined today by Karin Hamel, who is the Vice President of Services for US Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric. Karin, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Karin Hamel: Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, thank you. So Karin and I were fortunate enough to catch up in-person in September in Chicago at the Service Council Symposium. She had a few sessions there that were wonderful, talking about some of her areas of focus at Schneider. We had a good chat, and came up with some things that we wanted to discuss with you all today on the podcast. So before we dig into the nitty gritty, Karin, why don't you tell our listeners a bit about yourself.

Karin Hamel: Sure. So Karin Hamel, and I'm coming to you live from Chicago land. Although I am not originally from here, I'm originally from the east coast, from Rhode Island. That's where I started my career back in the day with American Power Conversion. That's how I got into this sort of IT tech field, energy management. Along the way, APC was acquired by Schneider Electric. I took a little time off in between, but I've been with Schneider for the past 11 years. I have four children. To be honest, thinking about my career path, what gives me the most energy and passion, it is truly all around services. So I'm really glad to be able to be here talking with you about that.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. So you all know that I'm a mom of two, and I'm very passionate about power to the working mama, and shutting down any sort of narrative that says we can't do all of the things. So I admire the fact that you are equally passionate ab out your children, and being a mom, and also your career, and services, and all of the great work that you do at Schneider. So I love that about you. Cool. Okay. So we talked a lot on future of field service, and you and I at the event, about how the role of the frontline worker is changing.

Sarah Nicastro: So as service organizations innovate, and advance their offerings, and move toward this idea of delivering outcomes as technology continues to mature and become more sophisticated, the characteristics that you all are looking for in a frontline worker are different than they were two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, right? They're sort of continually evolving. So there are a number of things that you and Schneider are doing to sort of take action and respond to these changes.

Sarah Nicastro: So that's what we're going to talk about here today. We're going to talk about five key areas, and the first is shifting the perception of the frontline worker. So can we talk a little bit, Karin, about how would you describe the historical perception of what that role is? How that perception needs to change to reflect really what the role has evolved to be and is continuing to evolve to be?

Karin Hamel: Yeah. Well, I think the historical perception, and certainly the one that I have in my head when you asked that question is your typical Maytag repairman. The man that comes up with the toolbox, and the uniform, and comes into your home or your place of business, and he's there to use the tools out of his toolbox to fix whatever has recently broken.

Karin Hamel: That is not necessarily enough anymore, because now we know what the advancements have happened with technology, with data, analytics, and those types of insights. We can actually arm those technicians with these digital tools. Their toolbox is now more of a virtual toolbox in many ways. So if you think about the skillsets required today to really serve our customers the best that we can, they've enhanced. We have to really think about, how do we train up and skill those legacy workers to be able to be more well-rounded, but as well as look for those traits upon hiring and entry into the workforce?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I was doing a presentation a couple of weeks ago, also in Chicago, different event, but another Chicago trip. It was talking about some of the things that are necessary in today's landscape when it comes to modernizing our recruiting and hiring practices, right? Because as the workforce evolves, companies can't expect to continue hiring the same way that they were five years ago. It's just not realistic, right? I was co-presenting with one of my colleagues. When he sent me the initial draft of the slide deck, the title slide was a picture of two really dirty hands. I was like, "We can't use this. I'm not saying that's never a part of the job. But I'm saying, it's reinforcing a perception that is quite outdated."

Sarah Nicastro: It's very interesting how in many ways the role of the frontline is shifting from that very hands-on, mechanical, dirty work type job to more of a knowledge worker and a relationship builder. There is a lot of things that come along with that change that would be a podcast for another day. But you're absolutely right that the perception many have in their minds is not truly representative of the work that's being accomplished today, and how that will continue to change. So from a company's perspective, I think that's super important, because if we continue to have that outdated perception, then are we treating our employees in those roles the way that the type of people with the skillsets we want in those roles want to be treated?

Sarah Nicastro: I think it's also important from kind of an external perspective that we work as an industry at large to modernize that perception, because that's part of the key to being able to get folks interested in these types of jobs, right? One of the things that we talked about briefly at the event, Karin, was I love that you said this. You said, "So salespeople have things like president's club. Why aren't service workers rewarded in the same way?" Right? So tell me a little bit more about your thought process there.

Karin Hamel: Well, no one needs to be like the redheaded stepchild. I feel like we've done that to our field service personnel largely, as a trend in the past. We've overlooked them or taken them for granted. They are doing the dirty work, oftentimes. While we can enable them with technology, at the end of the day there are still plenty of dirty job sites that they have to go and help us resolve. So I do think that we have an opportunity to highlight the work that they've done, and celebrate the hard work that really, a salesperson, they do an amazing job of securing an order, right? Securing that relationship upfront with the customer, giving us work to perform.

Karin Hamel: But at the end of the day, that salesperson is selling the value that that technician is going to deliver. We are nothing without that side of the equation. So it's really important that we wrap our arms around the technicians, empower them, celebrate them, recognize what they're doing. When we see that internally, it catches on. Right? Then we create this movement across the organization, and especially when it's peer-to-peer recognition, and the salespeople recognizing the technicians, we create a much better culture where we work. That's a place we want to stay, too. It's a place people want to be hired into.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So sure, there is this ongoing conversation about the fact that in many industries, post-sale, the frontline technicians are the only person that interacts with the customer face-to-face, right? So there is a lot of responsibility of not just getting the job done, but reinforcing the company brand, and building and nurturing those relationships, and looking for different opportunities to serve customers, and weighing in on innovation, and all sorts of different things. So I agree 100%.

Karin Hamel: Yeah, I think about that technician is walking into that customer's site, and there are different sites every day of the week. They're wearing the company logo, is wearing Schneider Electric. They are bringing a piece of our company to that customer, physically, representing, every day, it's so important that we support those people.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. For sure. Okay. So the second key area is around increasing diversity. So we're talking about all sorts of diversity here, differences in thought, opinion, ideas that are so valuable for companies that are really looking to evolve and innovate. So it's important, but you and I both sat back at the event in Chicago, and kind of said, "Hmm, there is still not many women here." There is even fewer people of color, right? So we really haven't ... We've made progress, but we're not anywhere near where we need to be in terms of being a diverse space. How is Schneider Electric working to change that?

Karin Hamel: Yeah. I'm very proud of the programs that Schneider has been driving over the past few years regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think we do a really good job internally with our core values being, driving the right types of behavior that we want to see with our people, and making sure it's a safe, inclusive environment for everyone to perform at their best. When I think about the work that remains to be done, it will be all about enticing that talent, that diverse talent to come into Schneider Electric. If we think about the makeup and look and feel of that Maytag repairman persona, and the workforce that we've had historically, think about the why. Why has it traditionally been white males of a certain age, certain decade that they were born in, perhaps?

Karin Hamel: Well, it's really, the excuse that I've heard or the reason I do think that this is substantiated is we didn't have STEM programs for women or minorities. It was really, these electrical engineering programs, we traditionally didn't have that persona enrolled in those programs. But today, we do. We know that. I remember, being a mom of a 15 year old, seeing STEM as part of the curriculum at her school. I was like, what is STEM? I didn't, I had not been familiar with that term growing up. Now, we have, we can't ignore it, and we should be embracing it and leveraging it. So what we're doing is trying to find opportunities to create more entry level roles to get that talent in as soon as possible. Having programs like university recruit programs, apprenticeship programs, great onboarding and training to attract and retain that talent. So that's a big focus right now for us.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So it's interesting, it goes hand-in-hand with the first point around perception, right? Because to get younger folks more interested in these roles, we need to do a better job, like I said, of sort of ... I don't want to say making field service sexy. It can only be so sexy, I guess. But there are, I think, aspects of the job that are innately appealing. Then there is also a lot of things companies are doing and can do to make sure that you're thinking about what the younger generation wants out of its career, and finding ways to get creative and provide some of those things. There is this need to make sure you're communicating in a modern way what the opportunities are, why they're compelling, all of those things.

Sarah Nicastro: But to your point, it's also around not just looking to hire white, male technicians that have 15 years of experience, right? So how do you look for those ways, to your point, of bringing talent in sooner, where they're not already set on a specific path. But maybe they're open to different ideas and opportunities. Really, I call it farming some of that talent, right? But creating programs where you can give really, really skilled and good fit folks the opportunity to come to Schneider and progress in a variety of different ways, versus just looking for the people that have already done that elsewhere. I think that's a really important point. Certainly, a way to focus not only on the issue of the talent gap, but specifically on increasing diversity in the talent that you're bringing in.

Karin Hamel: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's a super important way.

Karin Hamel: By no means do I ever want to ostracize the white, male audience, right? We need them. They're important. It's not anyone's fault. It is the situation that we're in. What can we do, because we know, now, that a more diverse collective group of people will be more highly engaged, and ultimately provide a better experience for our customers and all the other employees that they work with. So I think it's important to say that. We want everyone.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Karin Hamel: There is a place for everyone.

Sarah Nicastro: That's exactly right. It's not about reducing or eliminating that in any way. It's just about augmenting it, and adding to it, and making sure that anyone and everyone that has the desire to explore these type of career opportunities is made aware of them, and given the chance to explore those skills. So you're absolutely right. I don't mean it that way either. I've been in this space for 15 years, and I have relationships with so many people that fit that characteristic, and they're fantastic people. So many of them share the desire to bring the industry to its next iteration. So it's all a collaborative process. I think that everyone recognizes that it's important for us to bring all sorts of different folks into the mix. That's how we all are going to get better. Cool.

Sarah Nicastro: All right, so the third key that I want to talk about is moving from communication to collaboration. Okay? So when we think about the frontline worker, I think we've made strides here, but we've come from a place where we have folks that are happy to show up for work, punch a clock, see what the directive is, and oftentimes are just very happy to carry out the duties that they've been given, and do their work, provide the service to the customers, and be happy with that. I think what companies have realized is that with the immense amount of change that's underway, due to a variety of reasons, the idea of communication with the frontline becomes more important, because we need to not just direct, but bring them into some of the goings on of the organization.

Sarah Nicastro: But I think the point here is to take that a step further, which is the frontline actually holds a wealth of knowledge, and opinions, and insights that can really drive that change. So rather than just communicating, how do we collaborate? Right? So I know with some of the work that you've been doing on Schneider's strategy, you all have done a very good job of really, truly valuing the frontline input, and making sure that you're getting that. Thinking about some of the ways that you are communicating and collaborating, to make sure that you are really being impactful and effective. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Karin Hamel: Yeah. So I have a background in marketing and internal communications. I started in field service, I was responsible for driving communication programs for our frontline. It was eye opening to me, and extremely challenging to try to figure out, okay, how do I effectively do that? Because these are not people that are sitting behind a computer all day. It really was down to the working environment, and identifying that persona, white collar versus blue collar, and what does that look and feel like in the day-to-day?

Karin Hamel: So first and foremost, understanding how someone that's a service field worker, what their day looks like. A lot of windshields time, up in the morning, long drives, going to a different site every single day. Oftentimes, not using their laptop, using their mobile device instead. Not tethered to their Microsoft Outlook email inbox. Receive most of their information from their directing manager or supervisor. So with all of that said and done, your traditional newsletter that you do for communications is not going to cut it. That will not be read.

Karin Hamel: I have tried many things throughout the years, tried things like actually snail mailing a hard copy newsletter, we've done podcasts, we've done focus groups. But something that we've done very recently that I'm very excited about is we started doing strategy visualization. What does that really mean? Well, we started working with a vendor called The Nour Group. They helped us go through the whole strategy slide deck, that 40 page slide deck that we all have sitting in a desk drawer somewhere, on a thumb drive. Taking that, and boiling it down to one page, that's a very visual, graphic document, that really spells everything out, walks the reader or whoever is your audience through the whole strategy, and takes away that corporate speak. It really gives you that talk directly to the reader, your technician in this case, the real person, cut the MBA talk. That was something that I found I really needed some help with. It was nice to have someone point that out to me.

Karin Hamel: So using this visualization, and then printing it out on mousepad, using it as a backdrop for something else. Having it in many different places, so that it's really repeatable, the drum beat continuously throughout the year. It's something, like a war cry. Everyone can rally around this visualization and identify themselves there. I know what the things that I'm going to do in my day-to-day when I'm out onsite with customers. They're going to ultimately drive our ambitions for the year. So that's something that I will definitely be deploying for the unforeseeable future. I think I've cracked the code here, with all these other things I've tried.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So just a couple of comments I want to make on this, because this was one of the sessions at the Service Council event. You and the Nour Group did this sort of live, right? So you showed how you took this huge PowerPoint, and made it into this one visual that everyone can refer back to. The reality is not everyone in the organization is going to look through a 40 slide PowerPoint. I mean, who would want to?

Sarah Nicastro: So again, I think a lot of the impactful change that companies are making today, and this is a really good example, is just breaking out of habits. Right? So you create strategy, you put it into the corporate deck, you put it on the drive, you send out an email and say, "Everyone, make sure you look at this. Let us know if you have questions." Whatever. Right? It's not bad. It's just the way it's been done. But these are the opportunities to really reflect and say, "Hmm. So far technicians are spending X amount of hours in their vehicle each day. If they're only accessing their laptop maybe, I don't know, two to three times a week, is this a realistic expectation? If not, what opportunity are we missing to communicate the information in this deck to them in a more relatable way?"

Sarah Nicastro: So I'm just saying that for all of you listening that weren't there to see this, it was really powerful to see how the key points of the overall strategy were put into this one page visual. I think that the idea of eliminating corporate speak, super important. The idea of putting in the context of why does this matter to me, whomever you're communicating it to, is super important. How do I fit into this strategy is super important. The idea of it being repeatable, and seen in different places, so that there is an opportunity to catch it, and there is an opportunity to catch it over and over again. The other big point, to me, that this drove home, seeing it on a big screen, is you mentioned that oftentimes the frontline is getting the strategy message from their direct supervisor, right?

Sarah Nicastro: One of the things we've seen challenges with in, I'm not saying Schneider at all, but in different businesses throughout the years I've been doing interviews is you have a really good vision, mission, strategy, at the top, and it doesn't quite get to the frontline. It's kind of like, what's the old telephone game, where it just gets lost in translation. Sometimes, unfortunately, and this is another area that companies need to really understand, why does this happen?

Sarah Nicastro: But sometimes it's that level above, that middle management level that's managing the frontline that is the most disconnected, and maybe frustrated. So they don't share the passion of the people that created this strategy in communicating it. So what I liked about this visual is it's a very important reference point to make sure that everyone in the organization sees the same thing, and is on the same page. So you're not relying on that manager to communicate some synopsis of a 40 page PowerPoint. You're putting it out there in a way that everyone sees the same thing. So you minimize the risk of that breakdown in communication, which I also think is super important.

Karin Hamel: Yeah. So two things to follow up on that. So one, David Nour, he had the funniest statement. He was like, "What's the main radio station everyone is listening to? WIIFM, what's in it for me?" You get my point. So with these documents, how do you get through to the frontline? Show them what's in it for them. So if they can identify their contributions to the end goal in this visualization, and with what you're communicating. Then the other is I think what worked for us, and I mentioned it early on, was recognition. So we built up a recognition program around this strategy visualization doc and our Hero program. So if I'm a technician, and I can identify how I can contribute to our overall business ambitions by this kind of map, this resonates. Well, every time I do contribute or am delivering on one of those key outcomes, someone is going to recognize that behavior.

Karin Hamel: That's where we put in this peer-to-peer nomination. Anyone can go and say, "I'm going to catch you at doing something great. I'm going to encapsulate that in the form of a recognition." We have a woman that runs this program for us, and we have great internal communication. So people might not want to open up an email, or read some lengthy newsletter. But when they see their name in lights, they're certainly going to read that, or when they recognize a peer for doing something great. "Hey, he or she just got those accolades. I want to read that." So if we kind of keep it all connected, and this runs throughout the whole year, that has been a great accelerant to kind of create that movement in the culture that we want.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. For sure. We're going to talk a little bit more about that in a moment. Before we do, I want to talk about the fourth area, which is shifting the focus from purely effectiveness to empowerment with the frontline. So this is a huge thing. When I started covering this space, every single conversation was around how do we drive productivity? How do we make technicians more effective? How do we get to one more visit? How do we drive, drive, drive, cut, cut, cut, right? Obviously, every organization needs to maximize utilization, and make sure that technicians are effective, and productive. So that's not to take away from that.

Sarah Nicastro: But I think this idea of empowerment is very important, because we've better recognized the value of the frontline worker and all of the areas of the business that they can impact. It's not just about making sure they're effective. But it's really digging into what do they need from the company to be not just effective, but empowered, right? To have all of the insights they need on the job. To be able to make good decisions in real time. All of those things. As well as one of the things we talked about earlier, which is the idea of career development. Right? Giving people paths within the business to expand and continue their journey instead of looking elsewhere. So can you talk a little bit about the work that Schneider has done related to really empowering the frontline worker, to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful?

Karin Hamel: Yeah. Well, I think it starts with getting their feedback. So we have a survey that we do, a company-wide survey once a year. We say everyone is over surveyed these years. So the promise is once a year, if there was one survey that you had to take, take this one, because we want to hear your voice. As a result of getting that feedback, we put action plans in place to say, "What are the key drivers that are really influencing our employee's day? Are they happy?" Because happy people make happy customer. We really want to make sure they feel happy to show up to work every day. So first and foremost is listening to them. Gathering their feedback, and then creating those meaningful action plans that are going to enhance their day, their life at work. Sometimes, it's a matter of the right tooling and outfitting from a physical standpoint. Sometimes it's, we know that people say they don't want to do paperwork.

Karin Hamel: So how can we create efficiencies in terms of process or systems that we can free up their time, and give them their energy back to go and face that customer, and deliver an outstanding service experience? Other times, and you mentioned it, is, yeah, career path. Let's make sure that they see, if they have ambitions to go do something else, make sure that they feel like they can voice that to their manager, first of all, and show them a path. Then I think the last is mentorship. So creating a space for them to be able to talk about other things with someone maybe more senior than them, and matching them up, like a buddy system.

Karin Hamel: We have amazing internal training programs at Schneider, so if you decide that you'd like to go practice a different trade, or get into leadership, all the tools are at your disposal. So let's make sure we give them time in their day, in their week, to go invest that back. So this time of year, people are typically figuring out their utilization targets for next year. So if you're in control of that, think about how you might add a few hours back into their lives to give them time for that development.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think it's this recognition that the recognition of the frontline as talent, not just for their contribution. Right? So the historical view is just output, output, output. Right? But we've started to realize, what are we putting in to sustain that output? And expand that output, as the role changes, what more do our workers need from us to be able to expand, evolve in their own careers, and to your point, be happy? It's not just about what all can we get out of them. Then you're going to have a retention problem. So it's really also about what do they need? Even the visualization thing. There is this idea, I think, tied to empowerment is feeling invested in the story, and the company's mission. So not just throwing that out there and hoping they find it. But making sure it resonates, and making sure they feel a part of the whole Schneider story.

Karin Hamel: Right. 

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. So the final area I want to come back to is around recognition. So you touched on the Hero program and what you're doing there. Again, I want to emphasize that as the workforce changes, the end all and be all is not just financial reward. Obviously, employees want to be fairly paid, and everyone should be fairly paid. But I think the point here is that these workers lack historically in being acknowledged and recognized for the important contributions they make. So again, just talk a little bit more about, so the Hero program. You mentioned it's a peer-to-peer nomination. This is, I think, a really important step toward making sure that these folks feel seen and valued for the hard work that they're doing.

Karin Hamel: Yeah. I mean, ultimately, so for me, leading services for the business unit. I'm responsible for setting the ultimate direction and the strategy, and then everything backing up into, okay, well, what do we need to do today to get there? What does the current situation look like? So I ask myself, what are the outcomes that I want to deliver? Then you back your way into, well, what are the behaviors and actions that I need the people to drive to create those outcomes? So then if we can map out those types of behaviors and actions for every persona in the organization, and specifically for field services here, that's how we started and arrived at that strategy visualization document. So that every technician could look at that and identify themselves, and say, "All right, this is clear. Simple roadmap. I need to do X, Y, and Z to plug into the overall direction and ambition of the group. Okay."

Karin Hamel: So we started, created a survey link. We've got some cash bonuses in place for those that are being strategically recognized. In the past, we have done president's club trip for these people. So picking one name at the end of the year for various reasons, and sending them on that sales president's club trip. That was very well received, as you might imagine. Another cool thing that came out of this was one of our monthly spotlight heroes, he was a technician out of Philadelphia, he felt so glad that he had been seen, and once we could tap into him, he had so many great ideas for how to improve the culture and the workforce.

Karin Hamel: He actually volunteered, he said, "Can we do a podcast?" So of course, let's try it. So great idea. If that's what you think is going to resonate with these folks. So giving them something. He's like, "There is only so many radio stations and satellite radio I can listen to. Let's give us something else, and let's talk shop on this podcast." So we've been trying that out lately. But it was nice to see, you know what? If we hadn't had this recognition program in place, I don't think we would have had the vehicle to get that idea out of Gary in Philadelphia. So you never know what can spin off from these types of programs.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. It's such a good point. Like I said, you want to create an environment where he is not just sitting on that thought, or that idea, or that feedback. You want him to feel engaged and valued so that he'll speak up. Right? You also want to create a space where it's okay if every idea isn't the best idea. But how do you get more dialogue around those things? Because that's how you're going to find the really cool, innovative things. It's funny, when you were talking about windshield time, the first thing I thought was podcast, because it just ... It is a really good use of that vehicle time for them to have an opportunity, whatever, that could take a ton of different paths, right? So I think it's really cool that you're doing that. Good job, Gary, for coming up with the idea. That's awesome.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so Karin, in summary, is there any other insights, opinions, comments you have on this topic and how the industry needs to rise up to meet the needs of the workforce of the future?

Karin Hamel: So I think for me, it's three points. One is invest in technology that is going to catapult you into the modern day experience that customers expect. So when you get those ... I'm speaking firsthand. When you get those emails from vendors that say, "Hey, notice you downloaded a white paper. Can I get some of your time? Hey, I saw you were speaking at this event, can I do a demo with you?" If you're like me, you're bombarded with those type of things, and you usually delete them. Take the time to entertain one here or there, and listen to what the industry is doing. Give it some attention. It will pay off.

Karin Hamel: Number two, invest in programs for your people. So what can you do? Listen to their feedback, and what can you do to free up their time, create a better workplace for them? Number three is just keep it real. Stay close to the frontline. Find opportunities to get out in the field, go onsite with your technicians, see the day-to-day firsthand, because that's really going to keep you honest and connected. You remember that corporate speak, MBA speak versus real talk? Never lose sight of just keeping it real.

Sarah Nicastro: That's a really good point, Karin. I think the investment of leadership's time in hands-on, face-to-face time with the frontline, right? I mean, I think that is an investment that pays dividends, both in being able to have an opportunity to hear some of their thoughts and ideas firsthand. But also, what it says to them, and shows them about how you value their contribution, right? It's easy to sit back behind your laptop and, "Oh, good job." It's a totally different thing to go sit in the truck all day, visit customers with them, and make them feel that you're present, you see them, you value them. I think that's a very, very, very good point. So good.

Sarah Nicastro: Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing today. I'm excited to stay tuned on the Hero program, and all of the other things that you all are doing. I believe, for those listening, I believe that the service council sessions are available on demand. So if you have an opportunity to go back to that archive and take a look at the session that Karin and David Nour did on strategy visualization, it's a really, really good session. So I highly recommend you do that. I appreciate your time today, Karin.

Karin Hamel: Yeah. Thanks, Sarah. It was my pleasure.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. Thank you. All right, you can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. 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 IFS.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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December 6, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

Speed: The Characteristic That is Both Critical and Detrimental to Fruitful Innovation

December 6, 2021 | 5 Mins Read

Speed: The Characteristic That is Both Critical and Detrimental to Fruitful Innovation

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

The market, technological, and environmental factors that create disruption to drive innovation are quite intense in today’s landscape. This puts pressure on business leaders to evolve and transform at a pace that allows them to remain relevant, keep competitive, and create differentiation. This pressure is not simply perceived – it is real, no doubt. But how that pressure causes leaders and companies to respond is quite interesting, and I think begs an exploration of the differences between urgency and haste.  

On last week’s podcast, I welcomed Eduardo Bonefont, VP of Life Sciences Technical Services at BD for an insightful discussion around the conundrum of balancing short-term priorities and long-term success. He shares the story of how, in 2017, he was asked to take his current position to transform the service experience across BD Life Sciences globally because customer feedback wasn’t stellar, and he had a proven track record of aiding underperforming regions in transformation to better performance. He worked with leadership to create a transformation plan, which included investments in people, processes, and tools. 

As he dug in, he realized that the mission to invest in new technology was in many ways at odds with the parallel mission to improve the employee experience – which he knew would equate to a better customer experience. In a nutshell, he and other leaders learned in their firsthand listening of frontline employees that the last thing teams wanted was investment in new technology – they wanted issues with their current systems that were causing daily struggles addressed first. 

“It turned out that the cost to fix all the issues that they had, and there was a big list, was equal to the investments that we were going to make on new technology,” explains Eduardo. “Myself and the entire leadership team decided quickly that we needed to pivot our goal to refocus our efforts on fixing these issues to create a better experience for our associates. That became our “pause year” when we used everything that we had available to us in order for us to fix the old stuff before we began with new.”

The idea of BD’s “pause year” is so intriguing to me, for a few reasons. First, I think the pressure companies are under to innovate causes them to race – often past foundational issues that will ultimately inhibit their success. Second, it illustrates BD’s recognition of the very critical fact that employee experience is tied directly to customer experience. If your frontline service workers are frustrated, experiencing daily challenges, or disconnected from your strategy and roadmap for innovation, it’s almost impossible to accomplish your objectives. They are an essential aspect of your company’s differentiation, and ignoring their feedback, desires, or feelings – no matter how challenging to address – compromises the most important resource you depend upon to deliver the customer experience you’re striving for. Finally, it shows restraint in considering not just the short-term objectives or problems but in factoring in how the capacity for longer-term victory grows with a relatively short investment of time. 

Set Sail for Service Success

“I am a sailor and in boating, if all of a sudden you run aground, there’s a sand dune or something, and you cannot move forward, the majority of boaters have an instinct to plow right ahead,” explains Eduardo. “They put the engine in full force, thinking ‘I’m going to get out of this. It’s not supposed to be here.’ But that can create damage to your boat, that can create damage to yourselves too. And it’s a very expensive proposal to go do that when the right answer along all along could have been, why don’t I just reverse? I already had a path behind me that’s working. If I take reverse, it’s the easiest way to get out of a sand dune when you’re stuck in order so you can move forward effectively.”

Eduardo and his team applied this analogy to the Life Sciences business and the overall objectives they had. Yes, they were trying to move ahead in improving customer experience. And yes, they believed that the incorporation of new technology was imperative to that mission. But they hit a sand dune when they uncovered the fact that their frontline workforce had some real issues they needed addressed. Rather than plow through those and risk damaging the business, they hit reverse and took the time to fix those issues so that the sail ahead would be safer, smoother, and with a higher likelihood of success. “Applying that analogy to the business, if you plow head, if you push forward, you could create a significant amount of damage and distrust that is just really hard to overcome in future years. At the end, you’re not going to get that continuous improvement if you don’t take the workforce into consideration.”

Knowing When to Hit the Gas vs. Hit the Brake

Eduardo was clear to point out that this pause year didn’t mean the entire business came to a halt while BD addressed employee concerns. They kept on with the day to day, and with focusing on improvements. But the brake was applied in terms of layering new technology investments on top of the tools the workforce felt weren’t working properly. 

It can be challenging to determine when to apply gas versus when to hit the brake, particularly because pressures are high. While there’s no cut-and-dry formula for making the best decision, here are a few questions I think it helps to ask yourself and your team:

  • Are we balancing short-term pressures with long-term objectives and potential?
  • Will this decision harm us at all in reaching our longer-term goals?
  • Are we listening to and prioritizing what our customers want and need?
  • Are we taking into consideration, genuinely, the feedback of our employees and the realities of their experience?
  • Are we slowing down based on facts or fear?
  • Are we promoting employee creativity and employee voice enough, knowing that’s where many great innovative ideas come from?
  • Do we have technologies in place that we are keeping based on outdated criteria rather than a true consensus that they serve our current, and future, needs?

There are of course many more factors – if you have input on how you balance a proper sense of urgency with avoiding the risk of haste, I’d love to hear from you. And if you haven’t yet listened to Eduardo’s podcast episode, I urge you to do so – I really respect the balance he and his team have struck between prioritizing the employee experience and making progress on business outcomes. 

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