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May 22, 2024 | 29 Mins Read

Innovating Advanced Services & Delivering on Servitization

May 22, 2024 | 29 Mins Read

Innovating Advanced Services & Delivering on Servitization


Episode 266

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro welcomes Dr. Kawal Kapoor, Research Manager at the Advanced Services Group of Aston Business School and Co-Author of the new book and related Playbook, Servitization Strategy: Delivering Customer-Centric Outcomes Through Business-Model Innovation to share her insights on the state of Servitization, the potential that still exists, and what resources companies can expect from the new book and Playbook.

Kawal oversees research for the Advanced Services Partnership, focusing on publishing in top peer-reviewed journals and creating executive workshops and mini-guides on servitization. Her expertise includes service-oriented value networks, platform ecosystems, force field analysis, service business models, and the diffusion of product and service innovations. In her book, Servitization Strategy, Kawal explores outcome-based business models, known as Advanced Services Business Models, offering practical guidance on how firms can innovate these services through servitization.

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The Show Notes

Kawal: The key is customers are more interested in why a service matters, not just how it works. So if you hear firms saying, we offer condition monitoring or we offer digital services, well, it's technical to a customer. It's not to say that they don't understand. They obviously do because, you know, their function, their business is in this space. But it's still not really clear what is it from that condition monitoring or from those digital services. What is the benefit that they are getting? And we've always said servitization is about putting customers first, right? So if you think of it in a way, you wouldn't buy a product unless it made your life easier, right?

Sarah: Hello, welcome to the UNSCRIPTED Podcast, where you'll find discussions on what matters most in service, leadership, and business transformation. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Let's jump in. Welcome to the UNSCRIPTED Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be talking about innovating advanced services and delivering on the promise of servitization. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Dr. Kawal Kapoor, who is the Research Manager of the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School and the co-author of the new book, Servitization Strategy: Delivering Customer-Centric Outcomes Through Business Model Innovation. Kawal, welcome to the Unscripted Podcast.

Kawal: Thank you very much, Sarah. Happy to be here today.

Sarah: Happy to have you. So some of you that have been following the podcast back when it was even called Future Field Service Podcast, which I almost just said, which is why I paused, you may remember Professor Tim Baines has been on the podcast. Andreas Schroeder has been on the podcast. And I think a few other folks from the Advanced Services Group. So if you've been a long-time listener, you are familiar with the Advanced Services Group, but we are a big fan of the work that they do around servitization. And so I'm excited to talk with you today about the work you do in part of that organization and the new book and the playbook that comes along with it. So we're going to get into a lot. But before we do that, just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself. And for those who may not already be familiar with the Advanced Services Group, can you also just give an overview of the work that you do?

Kawal: Yeah, yeah, happy to. So as you said, I'm the research manager for the Advanced Services Group. And we are a specialist research-based group focused on servitization. And I take on the responsibility of developing and maintaining our research IP, basically, and also managing our research activities. So I'm out there making sure all of our research is rigorous, it's ethical, it's of the highest standards. And as a group, if I have to tell you more, we work closely with manufacturing organizations, so various manufacturing organizations. We work with established multinationals, but we also work with SMEs and innovative SMEs. And we're always trying to understand the unique challenges and the opportunities that they face when it comes to the adoption of services. And as a group, we all share this mission to directly increase the adoption of servitization within industry. And over the years, we've worked to bring together an international research community from leading businesses around this very challenge, how to increase the adoption of servitization. So if I have to explain it on the one end, we have all our learnings and these are being continuously informed by, you know, cutting edge research that we conduct, that others are doing, all the new research that's emerging on the topic. And on the other end, we are receiving all of these rich insights from working with practitioners. So, you know, people in the trenches who are facing these servitization wars on a daily basis and they're coming out stronger. So what we do is we bring these two worlds together. So research and practice together. And with all of our learning, we are helping manufacturing firms. Transform their business model and develop service-led strategies. That makes sense.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, one of the reasons that I've been such a big fan of the work that ASG does is because of that blend of academic and practitioner-led, you know, strategy. We obviously are, I'm engaging mostly with practitioners, right? Leaders within manufacturing organizations, and service-based businesses. And, you know, sometimes there can be a scepticism of pure research organizations because they just don't get it, right? So it's, you know, all of these theories and the practitioners can say, but in the real world, right? And the thing that's great about the work you do is you are blending those worlds. So you're doing the research, you're providing these people with really valuable insights, but you're also, you know, understanding what that does look like, in the real world, right? So it's really good blend. Now, you and your co-authors recently released the book. So again, Servitization Strategy: Delivering Customer-Centric Outcomes Through Business Model Innovation. And that can be paired with the playbook, which is what we're going to talk a bit about today. So before we get into some of those specifics, can you just share a bit, sort of the catalyst for creating these resources, and maybe talk about how they fit together?

Kawal: We're very exciting times. So both the book and the servitization playbook are now released. And I have both of them here on my desk. So, you know, really good feeling. So here's the playbook. In terms of the catalysts, I think there have been multiple things that are out. So which have really led to the development of both of these resources. I think first off, it was Tim's earlier book on servitization. So Tim Baines is the lead author of the book. And his book, Made to Serve, that was released 10, 11 years ago now. And that described servitization. It explained advanced services. And it picked out some of the key practices and technologies. And what happened or what has happened over the past decade is just we've accumulated tremendous amounts of knowledge and insights from working with manufacturers. And even the research on the topic has significantly evolved. And we were just ready for the next book. Another catalyst was the fact that there are just tons of articles and research that will all tell you about the benefits of servitization from a service provider's perspective, you know, why it works out for them. And there's really very little on how to actually make it work. It sometimes just felt like most of the research in this space. Many of the articles were more or less saying the same thing, but nobody was answering the real questions. What lies behind a successful servitization strategy? What have businesses that have had, you know, some success or even much success with servitization, what have they done within their firms? And. To me, these were very exciting questions. And then Tim comes along. And he goes, should we write a book to address these questions? And then there was just no looking back.

Sarah: The rest is history.

Kawal: Yeah, the rest is history. I've got it right here. And there's just so much, so much evidence. We couldn't overlook all of the evidence that was telling us that the time is now to look at all things services, servitization, and service innovation, so many compelling statistics for suggesting servitization is the new revenue stream for manufacturers. Services are a significant part of the world economy. I'm talking stats like... Services are generating two-thirds of the world's GDP. That's significant. Or stats that were saying that come 2040, services will make up for nearly one-third of the world's trade. That's big. And you look at all of these... Big firms, you look at Rolls-Royce, GE Power, and their annual reports. They were all reporting increased revenues from services, increased productivity, to some extent, increased profitability. And we were receiving a lot of evidence from different sites telling us that this would be a good time to create a book from the playbook. And you asked about how the two fit together. Well, the playbook, it's a guide. It's specifically designed with executives in industrial firms in mind. And these executives who are well into the servitization thinking and they want to execute a servitization program. So, you know, it's something that executives can pick, flick through it, get a sense of it, and almost immediately apply within their organization with a certain degree of confidence. Because this is not something that's been pulled out of a hat. It doesn't solely rely on research, as you were saying. There are some sceptics' around us. This is coming from experience in the real world. This is coming or is informed by what's happened with firms in the real world. It's a perfect complement to the book in the sense that the book describes, amongst many other things, what a successful servitization strategy looks like. So it's descriptive, the book. But the playbook, it's highly prescriptive. It tells you what to do when. It will also tell you what not to. And why you shouldn't. But, you know, it doesn't go into the details. What we do in the playbook is we break down the servitization program into tasks. We specify when to do these tasks, and what you're trying to achieve with these tasks. There are many tips and tricks involved. We recommend different tools at different stages of the book. So it has concise steps, and we don't justify any of these steps in the playbook. It's one, two, three, four. We don't explain any of the underpinning research we've done with the world-leading companies. For that, you go back to the book. So that's how they sit next to each other.

Sarah: Yeah. And I think just, you know, thinking about basically interviewing people in this space for the last 15, 16 years, right? Like thinking about 11 years ago when Tim wrote Made to Serve, it was very much why? Why is this relevant? Why does this matter? Why would a company think about differentiation through service or think about, you know, this sort of path? And, you know, I think by and large, just thinking about, you know, attending so many conferences, having so many conversations with service leaders, you know, there's a very wide degree of acceptance of the why at this point, but there still remains a lot of ambiguity on, okay, but how, right? So that's kind of where you are now is let's take the insights that we've gleaned both from the research and also from the companies that have sort of, led the way in doing this over the last decade-plus, and let's help people figure out how to do this, right? So I think that's really exciting. Okay, so there are, we're not going to go through this in detail, but there are five sections in the playbook. So can you just kind of walk us through how it's formatted? And then I'll get into some of my specific questions that come up in some of the sections.

Kawal: Sure. Yeah, it's a 50-pager. I like this thing. Very, very concise. Yeah, in the first part of the book, we cover the basics. So it's a bit of a crash course, if you like, of all of the critical terminologies and concepts, all in about two to three pages. Then in the second part of the book, we look at five absolutely key enablers of servitization. So, you know, it's just a page each for each enabler and it's explaining what each enabler means for servitization or how these will help a firm, a servitizing firm. And it also gets into what to do if a firm doesn't have access to, you know, these enablers. How can you, it's perhaps a new firm, but it's, you know, not as strong. So what can you do to build these enablers and so on and so forth? In the third part of the playbook, we give practitioners, and readers, an overview of the process to follow, and an overview of how will you implement servitization within your firm. And we've been able to capture the how to apply part of this entire process. As a one-page guide. And it's called the Servitization Route Plan, a guide in the playbook. Personally, very fond of this illustration. It's sharp, it's concise, it cleverly packs everything in one place. So basically everything that you're telling you, you know, split across 50 pages in the playbook, you can see it coming to life in that one page. The fourth part, which is I think the heart of this playbook, is where we go through this process in detail. This is where we break up the servitization process into four tasks and we go when, you know, is the right time to get on a specific task? Why or what should you expect when you are performing this task when the firm is getting into it? And when will the firm know that that task is actually complete so they can move on to the next one? So, you know, it's those specifics. Then when we get to part five, that's, you know, far end of the book, we point the readers to other learning resources that, maybe helpful for them. So these are some of the mini guides that ASG has developed. But at the same time, we also point out, you know, some of the other existing resources that may be useful, that, you know, firms might find useful when on that transformation journey. Another thing that we've done is throughout the playbook, at different points, we set out simple games, you know, just to test readers' understanding, because these are like really quick pages, right? You get from one through to the next. So it's just like a simple test and the questions and the answers, all you have to do is, you know, match the answers to the questions. There are obviously answers at the back of the book as well, but it's just to get our readers into the whole testing process. So yeah, that's what we've done in the playbook.

Sarah: Okay, great. So on the terminology piece, my first question is, what aspect around the terminology of servitization do you feel gets misconstrued or confuses people most often?

Kawal: Yeah, that's a really, really nice question. And if it's okay, I'm going to answer it slightly from a slightly different perspective. So many of the executives, right, they are not yet fluent with the language and the concepts of servitization. So what happens is they struggle to describe or articulate their product service offering, for instance. And what tends to happen is you'll see a disconnect between how a firm is describing its servitized offerings and how it would truly resonate with a customer, you, me, you know. But in this instance, because, you know, the book is around manufacturing firms, obviously, how would it resonate with a B2B customer? So often the focus gets muddled in the details of how the service is being delivered, perhaps, or the revenue model is being used in that particular instance, or maybe the technical approach they're taking. So a lot happens. But really, the key is customers are more interested in why are service matters, not just how it works. So you hear firms saying, we offer condition monitoring, or we offer digital services. And it's technical to a customer. It's not to say that they don't understand. They obviously do because, you know, their function, their business is in this space. But it's still not really clear what is it from that condition monitoring or from those digital services, what is the benefit that they are getting? And you've always said servitization is about putting customers first, right? So if you think of it in a way, you wouldn't buy a product unless it made your life easier, right? And the same goes for servitized offerings. Customers need to understand that value proposition, that very clear benefit they are going to receive. So for example, instead of saying, we offer condition monitoring, a better way of articulating the value proposition would be, we'll monitor your machine's health and we'll alert you if there are any potential issues because, at this point, we want to prevent breakdowns for you, the customer, and we want your operations running smoothly. So now the focus is on the customer's game. You know, it's avoiding that downtime. It's ensuring that their operations run smoothly and so on and so forth. But what you see, and the other way of doing this is, you know, They get fixated on revenue models. You'll see companies going, we offer pay-as-you-go services. Everyone's heard that. And here's where you get the revenue model mixed up with value to customer. But this separation is important. If you look at revenue models like pay-as-you-go, they're important for the business, but they're not a selling point for the customer. It's a revenue model is not a service offering. Condition monitoring, it isn't an offering either. It's a technical approach. So the true offering is the customer benefit. And in this case, it's the expert advice on the machine's health, preventing costly breakdowns. That's the value proposition. And if we get firms to a point where it's basic, right? For anybody listening, it might just seem like, oh, this is so basic. But this is where a lot of firms don't get it right. And it's so important to clearly communicate the value proposition because then you can avoid customer confusion. Because if the customer is confused, you'll slow down the sale for yourself. Right. You want to accelerate the sale. And it's important to remember that it's about solving customers' problems, not just describing the technical details or explaining the revenue model. It's on clearly articulating the value proposition. So I think that this is where I see a lot of mix-up in terminology and things not being used clearly.

Sarah: I was smiling because I just wrote an article last week about, I think it was six common missteps in storytelling, right? Me, storytelling is a big piece of selling the value, right? But this is one of the things I wrote about. It's using outside-in terminology instead of inside-out terminology. Like you're using the technical terms or sometimes even the internal value of what you're offering externally, rather than speaking in the language of the person that you are communicating with. To your point, it sounds super simple, but I think you are absolutely spot on that. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people because they live in their own universe. So they don't, it's not intuitive that they're not speaking a language that is going to resonate best with the customer and getting in that mindset of, you know, like you said, customer first. But also speaking the customer's language is so important for success. So it's just interesting that that's what you point to because I've seen that time and time again. Okay. So in the next section, you're talking about enablers. So my question here is what enabler is most often a barrier for companies? Like, is there one that is causing the most challenge?

Kawal: Yeah, so just to give our listeners a bit of context, right? In the playbook, we talk about five enablers, like you've said. So one's leadership empathy for services. And it's simple. It's about having the support of just a few senior executives who are going to be open-minded about the idea of services who see it as a competitive business model. The other is the benefits of having a service function and partners. So you know where some form of service is already being offered in the firm in some capacity. So a level of affinity towards services already exists in the firm. And this is always helpful for market intelligence and all such. Then we've got customer relationships and intelligence. It's unanimous, isn't it? It's about knowing and understanding your customer and their business environments. But you run deep into this with serviceization. Then we brought proficiency in digital innovations. And that's... A level of understanding of technical innovations and how they're going to be relevant for services and what opportunities they're going to bring for services. And then we have the enabler of capacity for innovation. So this is about having sufficient resources, and reliable business platforms for service innovation. Of all of them, I think the one that trips companies up the most and my extended team might think differently, but to me, I think it is the capacity for innovation. If you think about it, manufacturing firms are used to doing things a certain way. They've always built their success around selling products and servitization is asking them to flip the script. It's telling them to focus on services, to build new relationships with customers and also to look into investing in some new technology. So it's a big ask. It's a big change and it's a challenging one. And it's, how do I say it? It's a mind-shift marathon, you know, moving from sell the product to now solve the customer's problem through services. This requires a whole new way of thinking across the company. Your marketing team needs to understand the customer needs differently. Your sales team, they're required to pitch the value propositions instead of, they're so used to talking about product features and they can't do that anymore. They have to talk about value propositions. If you look at the operation side of things, they'll have to adapt themselves for the delivery of, you know, services. So it's a full-blown marathon, not a sprint to, you know, get everybody on board with this new strategy. And... It's a big reality check in terms of resources. Any innovation, it's often going to come with a price tag. There's no two ways about it. Especially with servitization, you need new technology to monitor equipment, to deliver services remotely. With all of these new digital technologies for your firm to be able to leverage them properly, there might be some additional training required for the staff. So there are costs associated with that. And service expertise is not inherent to a manufacturing organization. So you need new skills, which would mean hiring new people. So there's that. And let's say a company is already stretched thin, then finding these resources to invest in servitization will be a real, real barrier. And I think while we're at the topic, we should also touch upon the internal hurdles with, you know. With this conversation, if you're being entirely honest, sometimes, most times, change is met with resistance. And we've witnessed this across most of the firms that we've worked with. People in established departments are very comfortable doing what they do and how they do it. And with services. There's this fear of the unknown or concern that servitization will take them away from their existing roles. And really addressing these concerns and getting everyone aligned with that new services vision of the firm is absolutely critical for any success in this servitization context. So I think while all the five enablers are important capacity for innovation, in my mind, is often the bigger hurdle. It takes a strong commitment from leadership. It's, you know, the willingness to invest. You need a plan. The firm needs a plan put in place to navigate any form of internal resistance. But if a company can overcome these challenges, then the rewards of servitization can be quite significant.

Sarah: I think it's interesting in the way you described all of that, the distinction between capacity for innovation versus capability for innovation, because I think there's a big difference, right? Like firms are capable of it. It's more so, you know, the capacity, I think, like not to minimize any of the real considerations. But a lot of it is the mindset shift. Like. It's the belief in the vision. It's the belief in it being the right fit for the organization. I think that's the hurdle. I think if the decision is made and then the commitment is made, companies are capable of this. It's the capacity that comes in like, are you ready and willing to imagine a different future for the organization versus its history? And to your point, it's a huge thing. It's a huge thing. It's multi-layered. It's complex. And so, you know, it makes sense why that would be, you know, the biggest hurdle. But I think it's, you know, I just want to kind of clarify that. You know, it isn't, it's definitely possible. You know, you have plenty of examples of that, right? So it's about really the decision and the commitment versus, you know, the capability. So very interesting. Now, when you get to the execution piece, it's broken into explore, engage, exploit, and expand. So my question here, again, is your take on what is sort of the hardest phase for companies and why?

Kawal: Yeah, I think, yeah, if you spoke to different people at ASG, they'll all have different answers. But I think we'll all be converging at one point. I'll get to it. So, again, to add a bit of context, right, to the listeners, in the playbook, we split the implementation of servitization into four tasks. So the first task is the explore task. As the name goes, you... Build the case for servitization, you work towards securing the resources. The second is the engage task, is where you focus on understanding your customers' needs. You co-create with them. You work on developing service offerings that would be of value to them. Then we've got the third task, which is the expand task. And this is where the firm develops the capabilities to deliver services commercially. And then we've got the fourth task, that's the exploit. And here the firm has basically made a decision about its future with services. So it's all being well. It will work towards integrating those services with the existing business model portfolio that they have, how they should be adjusting the resources, how they can optimize for success. So all of that happens in the exploit task. And if we have to speak about the hardest phase or task, I think it's very unique to a film. It's... Really depends how ready or embracing they are of the idea of servitization. Because if they're not, then we've seen firms which even find the very first stage of explore extremely challenging. And to the extent that in cases, even just maintaining momentum with a select few members within the firm, it can get really difficult for firms. Having said that, and I think most of my team would agree, I think the expand phase, task number three, is really hard for firms. Because if you think of it, you've designed this fantastic new service, you've hypothesized value propositions, you've tested these value propositions, but now we get unreal. We're not talking about... Ideas anymore. We are not talking about hypotheses anymore. We are looking at resources and most of the resources that would be needed to take this new service offering to the market will have to be drawn from the firm. So you're looking at big investments. You're looking at big financial commitments from the firm. And there might be disagreements within the company about how much to spend. And this is where we've seen business cases being challenged, priorities being challenged. And this is task number three, and you might just end up going back to square one. So that's the level of challenge. Things get really political. And new service models, they often require changes to processes, any existing process. They call for changes. And some people might resist these changes because by this point in your servitization journey, it's no longer about just innovating the business model. You'll see challenges around organizational change. So imagine a team used to selling, like we were just talking a minute ago, they're used to selling products and suddenly they have to learn about how to deliver services. So there's tensions, there's pushback, not everything goes according to plan. So usually when we look at this space, we see the person that's championing the servitization initiative in the firm, they have to make the toughest choices, very difficult decisions to the extent that they might be looking at even scaling the service spring momentarily. Or adapting it based on real world experience. So it can be really, really frustrating for the team, especially... The initial team that we call the coalition that's come around championing the service idea in the first instance. Worst case scenario, we see people leave firms. Team members, it's just not getting out of the servitization initiative. They've left the company. But then again, despite these challenges, like you iterated on earlier, a firm can successfully navigate through these hurdles. And once it does, it'll be well on its way to integrating services with the existing model. And then you're looking at achieving that long-term success that we've always said comes with servitization.

Sarah: No, that makes perfect sense. Now, you've been with Advanced Services Group since 2018, leading the research. And I'm curious, you know, in your time in this space, what have you found most surprising about the world of servitization?

Kawal: So, okay, one surprising thing about the world of servitization is how embedded the idea of ownership is in our minds. I can't get over it. We, you know, it's, I don't know how it's with you, but, you know, we often think I need to buy this product. But really, you need to buy the product because you're after the benefit that that product offers, right? And that need to buy the product, that's what servitization is challenging. It's challenging that assumption. And as consumers, what we're really interested in is the use of the product, the value it brings to our lives. So, you know, it's that experience of a fresh cup of coffee from a fancy, fresh machine, all the better, or a perfectly organized workspace, you know, with the right furniture for my home office. But I'm not necessarily after owning that machine or, you know, having owning this furniture itself, although I would like to own that machine. But, you know, you know where I'm getting. The shift in thinking for me is really amusing. We get so attached to the idea of ownership, especially for certain products. And there's an emotional connection sometimes, and I completely understand that. But for the majority of the things, and especially if you're talking about B2B level of, you know, offerings, where the cost of ownership of an equipment is so high. Or costs of breakdown are so high. Servitization makes, you know, it makes complete sense. So for most of the things, the benefit truly comes from the use and the outcome it delivers. And servitization is allowing firms to tap into that desire for value and outcomes rather than just selling the physical product. But I think the irony here is it's all a bit amusing to me. In a lot of cases, consumers and our mindset around ownership, we stand in our own way. We are the hurdle to be getting more value from a product because we are so, you know, we just cling to the idea of ownership. But servitization offers a different way to access what we truly want. You know, the benefit of using something and not necessarily. The burden of owning it. So, you know, there we are. What's it for you, Sarah? Do you think you brought that mindset shift with you or is it still ownership matters?

Sarah: Yeah, no, that's a really good question. I mean, I was thinking about that. So what came to mind is, you know, for a very long time, I bought cars, and then eventually I ended up leasing, right? So similar idea, you know, and it just made sense at the time, because it, it was the easier path, but it was a mental hurdle to overcome of, you know, I was just kind of taught that that was a waste of money, you know, to pay for the outcome versus to acquire a thing, right? But I think it's interesting, like, I do think there's a shift in that mentality, you know, of people wanting, feeling less tied to obtaining things, right? And more willing, maybe to reflect on what does it matter? And where does the value come from? So but it definitely, you know, we've, I've interviewed people that you've worked with, you know, like, I think of Alec from Koolmill, you know, and him talking about, like, working in such a historical, traditional industry where, you know, those beliefs are very set. So it's, I think, it is really interesting to me, all of the mindset shift around it. And going back to the point that we touched on earlier, the narrative, like, how do you not only understand, because when companies do this right, like the mutual benefit is just so impressive, right? But getting that balance right can be challenging. So understanding it, but then being able to articulate it well on both sides, I just think is super interesting because it, you know, that really factors in all of that mindset shift. Like you have to understand all of the complexity of change to get to the point where you can articulate well, the benefits of the customer, the benefit to the organization in a way that gets people on board. So it is super interesting. Okay, so I asked you ahead of time if it was okay to ask a personal question, which is, you know, this came to mind when we were speaking, you know, because you have two male co-authors on this book, you are in servitization, which is a space that is, you know, very male dominated. Today, I've had my own experiences. I mean, it's shifted a bit, but still, you know, showing up in places where I'm one of very few women. And I'm just curious if you could share a bit, you know, what that experience has been like for you, because I think people, you know, hearing folks stories and understanding what that's like is just a great way to expand awareness and ultimately continue to drive positive change.

Kawal: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I agree with you. I'm happy to talk about it. Yeah. So this thing, this question, I hadn't really considered too much of this before I started working with ASG, if I have to be completely honest with you. Coming from an academic background, it wasn't something that was always at the forefront of my mind. You don't think of gender or any inequality or any such thing. It just wasn't pre-ASG, I think. But being heavily involved in manufacturing space, it's undeniable the gender imbalance. It's quite obvious, having said that, there are so many layers to this. And it's been fascinating to experience them all. So if I have to start with my own team, right, I'm incredibly fortunate. I have to say that we value each other's expertise and experiences and not gender. And I'm not saying this because I'm going to upset people back at work. Not at all. They're all lovely. But the book has been a journey. And I think for me, just this book, it's been a testament to that. My co-authors... I'm the third author on the book, right? I'm here. But my, timidly they've never treated me any differently, and the order of authorship hasn't mattered and the credit for the book is shared equally, and it's a true collaboration. And this positive dynamic is really important to me, however outside of our immediate circle, righ? There are moments, I'm not going to lie about it, there are moments where I can feel the bias, and I want to believe that it's an unconscious bias. Maybe something I say doesn't have the same impact as a male colleague. It's a societal hurdle we still face, you know, there's no two ways about it And I think. All you can do is at that point is to navigate that situation gracefully, understanding that it's not a personal attack on you. And it's definitely not unique to me. You and I have spoken about it. Many women in manufacturing, I know, share similar experiences, you know, feeling a bit like. Minority or subtle, unintentional, unconscious biases exist, you know, being interrupted or having ideas dismissed. But I don't want to just look at one side of the coin. There's also been a lot of positive change happening. We're seeing more women in leadership roles. And it's just so, it's a feel-good feeling, isn't it? It's just by openly discussing these issues like we're doing now by, we are exposing these biases and conversations like this one, plant seeds. Maybe someone who hadn't considered it before will now become aware and that fairness can lead to change, or at least that's the hope. I do see a lot of women now climbing up positions within manufacturing. We're not there, but we're getting there. It's inspiring for me. It's inspiring for future generations. And all of these women, or most of these women, they're lovely and they've said that the important thing is to focus on the skills and expertise and let your work speak for itself. And I fully agree. It's what matters the most. But there's, and I was thinking about it, you know, because you told me earlier that we'd speak about this during our podcast. And, you know, there's another interesting layer I've recently become more aware of. Something I noticed happened just the other day. So, you know, with the rise of all women empowerment movements, there's a lot of focus on the topic and that's fantastic. But it also needs introspection, I think. Could an occasional setback at work be because your ideas were just not good enough in the room that day or, you know, and it had nothing to do with gender, you know? Maybe there was just a natural dynamic in the room, a more senior person whose experience is just more valued than yours. Is it always about gender? Are there other factors, you know, at play? I think what I'm getting at with this is because we are so exposed now more than ever to the gender conversation. Do we perhaps sometimes conveniently use it to cover our own shortcomings at times? And without realizing, because, you know, now our brains just link everything that's happening to gender. So I think it's important to be mindful of that nuance as well. Overall, and there's no other way to say this, it is a complex issue. But by being open, sharing experiences, and, you know, fostering some sort of awareness, we are moving that needle towards a more inclusive future, like you said, you know, for everyone. And I'm so very glad to be a part of it. So thank you for asking me about this today.

Sarah: Yeah, you're welcome. And thank you for sharing. I think the point about self-awareness is really good. And I think, you know, trying to be honest with ourselves and then, you know, looking for the opportunities to speak about these things is important because I think that, you know, to your point, hopefully, a lot of it is unconscious. And I think one of the challenges is, you know, there are people that are in groups, this sort of thing doesn't happen to that maybe think like it's 2024, we're well beyond this. So that's why I think it's important to talk about it because we aren't, you know, to your point, there's progress, but it does still happen. So I think it's important to talk about that, but also important to own, you know, like you said, the self-awareness of, okay, well, was it or wasn't it right? If it wasn't, maybe I need to accept that if it was, you know, is there a way for me to speak up or speak out in an appropriate manner to help? You know, create that awareness. So you're right. It's definitely complex, but I appreciate you sharing. And I know we're just about out of time. I want, before we go, I want you to let listeners know where they can find the book and the playbook.

Kawal: Yeah. So if you do a quick Google search, so Servitization Strategy, that's the name of the book, and SpringerLink, that's the publisher. So it will take you directly to the book's page. We also have a dedicated website, so you could alternatively just head to You'll find links to purchase both the book and the playbook. It's also available on Amazon. If you'd rather have an eBook version, then it's on Amazon's Kindle store, Google Play, We also have the digital version of the playbook. Again, if you go to, and scroll right to the bottom, it'll take you to the ASG shop where you can find the link to buy the copy of the playbook. And for those in the UK, the book is also available at Waterstones and WHSmith locations.

Sarah: Okay, wonderful. And we'll make sure we link in the show notes as well. So.

Kawal: Lovely. Thank you.

Sarah: Kawal, well, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

Kawal: Thank you. It was lovely speaking with you, Sarah.

Sarah: You too. You can find more by visiting the home of UNSCRIPTED at The podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.