By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
I spent last week in sunny Palm Springs, California for the 20th anniversary of WBR’s Field Service event. Despite wracking my brain to remember which year was my first, I am not quite sure if it was 2009 or 2010. What I do know is that this year’s event looked a lot different from my first – we’ve come a long way. I’ll share more of my thoughts from the event, as well as a look into the keynote I delivered, on this week’s podcast. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a bit of one of the sessions from day one that resonated.
Darren Elmore, GM, Service at RICOH traveled from New Zealand to Palm Springs to talk about RICOH’s approach to adopting a remote-first service model. I am not going to get into any details around that story because I am hoping Darren will soon share it himself on the podcast, but in his presentation, he began with talking a bit about how service organizations need to embrace innovation. I couldn’t agree more (as you probably know!) and the point was reinforced throughout the remainder of last week’s event – what was once a fairly stagnant industry has changed immensely, and that change is only snowballing. Companies who get comfortable getting uncomfortable will be those who make the highest profits, attract and retain the best talent, and create impactful customer loyalty.
But as we know, change is hard. In Darren’s presentation, he shared five reasons he hears for not innovating (aka excuses):
#1: We’re successful today. As he said, “Success today doesn’t guarantee success tomorrow.” Yes, it can be hard to choose to disrupt successful smooth sailing with innovation, but the alternative is to remain in your comfort zone until disruption finds you – and creating disruption versus reacting to it is a better position to be in.
#2: We’re too busy. Everyone is busy in some way; that’s no reason not to take a strategic view of your business. Staying focused only on today’s fires ensures you’ll be surpassed by competition that does the necessary work of determining how to balance the needs of today’s business with creating the business of the future.
#3: Customers aren’t asking for it. Darren shared the famous Henry Ford statement about customers asking for a faster horse, not a car. Innovative organizations don’t wait until innovation is requested or demanded, they look for ways to create new value that customers will be excited about – and appreciate not having to ask for.
#4: We tried it before, it didn’t work. Efforts of innovation rarely succeed on the first try; failure is part of the cycle. This mentality is fear-based, and a fear-based culture is at odds with innovation. What you tried before is irrelevant beyond what you can learn from that failure and it’s certainly no reason to avoid trying again. And again.
#5: Innovation is risky. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “no risk, no reward.” And it’s true. Playing it safe will get you mediocre results, at best. Risk is necessary at times, particularly when it’s calculated and intentional. And one point Darren made here that I love is that this isn’t just about the risk of innovation to a business, but the personal risk of innovation to the leader spearheading it. But we need to shift our thinking around risk to not being perceived as only a negative but also a potential opportunity.
I’m looking forward to hopefully having Darren come share with you all more of his story of personal risk in the journey RICOH is on in remote-first service, and I’m also looking forward to sharing more with you on Wednesday’s podcast about last week’s event. Stay tuned!