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June 12, 2024 | 82 Mins Read

From Surviving to Thriving to Giving Back: One Woman in Service’s Leadership Journey

June 12, 2024 | 82 Mins Read

From Surviving to Thriving to Giving Back: One Woman in Service’s Leadership Journey

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Episode 269

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro welcomes Corrie Prunuske, former President of CoolSys, for a conversation around her experiences as a woman advancing her career in service, the importance of sponsors and how they differ from mentors, the differences between diverse and inclusive, and much more.

Corrie is an experienced executive general manager and growth leader with a proven track record of delivering exceptional results. With over 28 years of leadership experience at Johnson Controls, she excels in sales and operational strategy execution. Corrie is deeply passionate about developing people to achieve their full potential.

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Full Show Notes

Sarah - 00:00:39:

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 are going to get an inside look at a woman service leader's journey from surviving to thriving to giving back. I'm thrilled to have with me today, Corrie Prunuske, who is the former president of CoolSys. Corrie, welcome to the UNSCRIPTED Podcast.

Corrie - 00:01:17:

Hi, thanks, Sarah. Thanks for having me today. I'm excited to be here.

Sarah - 00:01:21:

So I had the opportunity to hear Corrie speak at this year's Field Service Palm Springs event. I really loved your keynote because you were really just sharing your story, but in a way where you could point back to certain things that people could take something away from. So I really enjoyed it. We're going to sort of re-emphasize some of those points today, but get into some other things as well. So it should be a great chat. But before we get into my questions for you. Can you just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, your background, anything you want to share?

Corrie - 00:01:59:

Oh, thanks, Sarah. Yeah. I mean, like, first of all, I'm a mother of four. My husband and I, we have a blended family. So we have two kids that I got for free when I married him, which was awesome. And then I have mine too. And they are perfect stairsteps. So they're all now adults. The oldest is 21. The youngest is 18. And this fall, we have four kids in collage. So, that's what I do with my personal life is raising those kids together with my husband and their other parents. But I'm also a leader and I've led in large organizations over the years. And I think that, you know, you lead a family, you lead friend groups and you lead at work. And so many roles that I fill, being a mother, number one, but all the other things that I do in my life help me with being a leader.

Sarah - 00:02:49:

Yeah, often you learn things in those different realms of your life that really can help you in the others. There's these lessons that I think particularly with parenting, there's a lot of things you can take and apply to other parts of your life because it forces you to grow so much as a person and, you know, expand your thinking, but also learn new skills and all of that good stuff. Most recently, you were the president of CoolSys, but as you said, you have been a leader in other organizations as well, and we're going to get into some of that. During your presentation at Palm Springs, you broke your story into these three parts. I want to talk a bit about each of those, and the first was getting in and surviving. Can you share a bit about that and tell us a little bit about your early career?

Corrie - 00:03:37:

Thanks, Sarah. I've been 30 years now in the HVAC and R industry. I worked at Johnson Controls for 28 years, and I worked at CoolSys for nearly two years. Gives you kind of perspective on where I am. But when I got out of college, I had an engineering degree, an electrical engineering degree, and I was really just looking for a job. And I was actually getting married. My fiancee already had a job, had been working for a year in Schenectady, New York. I drew a 60-mile circle around that and applied for any job that was in that circle. And actually, Johnson Controls was on campus as a recruiter, and I got the opportunity to meet with them. And they had an office in Albany, New York, which was in that 60-mile radius. I was an application engineer. Actually, I think the first interview as sales engineer, I ended up in an application engineer job. But it was really important to me in that first job to be called an engineer. I worked so hard on my degree, and I just really didn't want to give up the title. I was like, okay, that checks that box. And then the salary was right in the range, that I wanted to be in. And for me, it was get your foot in the door and then see what happens. But I promise you, I never thought that I was going to spend 28 years there. I really just was looking for a job and looking for a way to support myself and be able to do the things that I wanted to do. And I'm thrilled that I actually was lucky enough to get that opportunity and then to make the most of it. So I started in the Albany, New York branch. I was an application engineer. I spent a lot of time on construction sites. In those early years, I would eventually project engineer, which meant even more time on construction sites. And for me, it was a really good experience. I know most people are like, oh, as a woman, you worked on construction sites. That must have been really hard. And I got to tell you, I was treated really, really well in my early career. I really feel like the people that I had around me, I had a mentor, somebody who had been there a long time. He was actually an electrician by trade, but he had moved his way up into a project engineer role. A great mentor, huge fan. I was 21 years old or whatever. It started right. And here's this big guy. And he taught me so much and was so willing to give back to me. And I really appreciated that. And I think it helped really accelerate my ability to learn my new job. And the other thing that was a piece of my early career is that I was very computer literate. I had grown up actually, even for my generation, probably a little bit more computer literate than most because I grew up in a household. My dad was an engineer and we had computers in the household very early before most people did. And so I learned computer skills really early. And so now my kids just make fun of me because I can't even get through my iPhone and figure out how to turn the settings on and off. But back then I was pretty good. And I got to do a lot of things. They would send me to the advanced training on different subjects. So I got an opportunity to meet a lot of people, to get to know what was possible in the organization, which I think I didn't know. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't had those skills. I also applied for a job that had no business applying for about three years into my career. And there was... There's a job called the Area Quality Assurance Manager. And I had met the guy who had filled that role, who was moving on to something else. And he had come by our office and I would always work with him because he was responsible for the LAN, all right, the Local Area Network. And so I would help him out with those things. So I really wanted to do that job. And it was one of those jobs that people don't really know what it was. And in every different area, which is like a geographic distinction, every area, there was one of these folks, but they did it differently. Okay, you're responsible for the technology, you're responsible for training the people, and you're responsible for doing process improvement. And I really wanted the job. And it took me a while to convince them that I was the right person for this job, but eventually I got it. And my husband and I moved to Connecticut to take on that role. And it was really my first big break and really exciting. But what was concerning is I walked, basically said, yes, I'm going to take this job. The guy who hired me called me, I don't even know if it was 48 hours later and said, hey, just want to let you know, I'm leaving. I'm going to Pennsylvania and they're going to bring in somebody else to Connecticut to take on this role. And I was like, oh boy, well, let's see what happens here. And I have to tell you, I got so lucky with that. And it's the thing about luck. I mean, I think about this a lot. And I was really lucky to get this particular leader at this particular time in his career and in my career. But I also worked really, really hard to be prepared for that moment. And so, you know, I think that that's what they say, you know, luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. And this was one of those. So new leader, new to a GM role and really trying to make his mark. And I got the opportunity to be a part of his team and to learn from him. And it was just a fantastic experience.

Sarah - 00:08:28:

Very good. You said in your session that you were always confident, but you adjusted yourself to fit in or assimilate, even if not consciously. Can you share an example of how so?

Corrie - 00:08:39:

Yeah. I mean, look, early on, I think the biggest thing is when you're a woman, I don't even know if this still happens today. I certainly would call it out if I saw it. But everybody seems to feel very comfortable with asking you when you're going to have kids. Like, oh, when are you going to have kids? And I was really conscious about this because I knew that there was a stigma around women leaving the workplace when they had kids. And so I would always say, oh, I'm never going to have kids. That was one thing. In fact, even on a construction site once, I was there with the project manager for the GC and his trailer and with a couple of the guys. And he says, oh, yeah, we had a girl once too, but she had a kid and left. And so I was very conscious of that. But I was also, I fitted well with men. I mean, I always had. I was an engineer in college and I worked on an engineering degree. But really since high school, I'd always had a lot of male friends and had been in STEM classes. So I always got along really well with men, but I really did have a very domestic side to me. But I was very careful about not bringing those things up. And examples of that are my absolute passion in life, if you ask me, is food and cooking. I love to cook. I like to do things that most people didn't do in the 90s, like canning vegetables. I did those things before. That's way before COVID when everybody picked it up. But those types of things, making bread, doing those things, crafting around the house, that type of thing. And I was very careful not to talk about that part of my life. I always talked about other things that I did. Going out for a bike ride, going on a hike, going and doing things that made me just neutral, right? And not reminding them of my differences. And so I think about that a lot. And I don't think I did it... I don't know that I was totally conscious of what I was doing, but I really feel like I was leaving a part of myself behind. Now, anybody that works with me, I mean, they know that my passion is cooking. It's also a passion of many men now. So it's a much different conversation. And I've even several male colleagues over the years, I swap recipes with and all of that. But back then, I was really careful about that. I just didn't want to seem different. And I don't want to remind them that, hey, she's a woman, remember? Like, oh, yeah, she's a girl, right? I don't want them to think that way. I wanted them to think about me as just the same as them.

Sarah - 00:10:54:

Yeah. And so this brought us to a point of the difference between diverse and inclusive, right? And so what do you feel like leaders need to understand about that distinction? And where do you think some today are still getting it wrong?

Corrie - 00:11:12:

Yeah, I still think it's very common today. I think that when you look at successful women, there's probably in most organizations that are male-dominated, you'll find that they have a lot of the same characteristics of successful men. And I say that with a caveat because when you look at successful men, I think they have a wide variety of personality types. And I noticed that like introverted males were doing, did okay in, they could actually get into very high leadership roles and many of them quite successful. But when you looked at women, it was always the extroverted women. Like the introverted women were not, they weren't climbing. There's things that were just not. And I think that still goes on today. I think there is still a lot of women out there who are successful in these male dominated industries that find themselves assimilating rather than really being themselves. And I think that it's encouraged too because the guys feel really comfortable. I mean, when you don't care when they swear and you'll sit down and drink a beer with them, you'll talk about, the football game that just happened, all those things make them comfortable too, which is, I think is part of coming halfway. But I do think that it does limit the actual inclusion. And I think for many people, so this is just a woman's experience, but for people of color, for LGBTQ, they feel like they have to repress a part of themselves. In that case, it's like the core, like there's this core that they're not able to show. And I think that it's very disappointing. And I think that as leaders, we have to be able to recognize that, you know what, I see that person as different. And I know that it's not what I'm used to seeing in a diverse workplace. Maybe they have a lot of piercings or tattoos or blue hair. They're different, right? And maybe we feel like, okay, is that professional? Well, you have to drop that. I think that's where we can get better is allowing people to be more of themselves, still professional looking. I do think that there are standards that have to be in place, but folks should be able to bring their whole selves and be able to be who they are. I had a friend in the LGBTQ community, years ago before anybody even talked about it, right? And stood up in a meeting and introduced himself and everybody had introduced himself. I'm married, I've got four kids and three dogs. And he introduced himself and he said he had a partner and they had dogs. And I thought it was so brave. And I've been friends with this man for a very long time. But in that time, that was a standout thing to do. And I think that that's where we have to be very comfortable so that people can really bring their whole selves to work. You get so much more out of people when you're able to do that.

Sarah - 00:13:41:

Yeah. No, that makes sense. I always say that the focus is often on diversity, but inclusion is the benefit of diversity, right? So the focus needs to be on inclusion, not diversity, because diversity on its own isn't doing anything for anyone if it's not an inclusive environment. That is really important.

Corrie - 00:14:05:

Well, people don't stay. I mean, that's the reality. You can have a diversity program, and I've seen it. You bring them in. You get people in the door. You can set rules around, hey, you have to interview at least one diverse candidate for this role in the final round, or you can make sure that you're going out to places where you would find more diverse people, society, women, engineers, NASB, these organizations where you would find those folks. But if you bring them in and then you don't make an environment where they can be successful, they're going to go somewhere else. And guess what? They're in high demand. And so they'll find a place where they'll fit in. And I just think that that's diversity. Yes, you do have to do some of those things to break some biases. I agree that those are good strategies for breaking biases, but those strategies don't work if you don't have an environment where people feel like they can succeed and where they don't see people that look like them and have their similar backgrounds and that they can relate to.

Sarah - 00:15:00:

Yeah. I think, too, you know, you said they'll go somewhere they can be successful, which is true, but also they'll go somewhere they can be themselves. Right. And it isn't necessarily always about fitting in, but about being welcome. We don't need to have a huge group of people just like us because, again, then we're not working toward the real value of diversity. But we need to create environments where differences are welcome and you don't feel like you have to be like everyone else to be comfortable. I think just

Corrie - 00:15:34:

a little nuance there, I would say to me is, you do have to make some effort to meet people in the middle. I really think that that's important. Like we can't just expect that folks, first of all, understand our perspective at all. And sometimes you have to make effort. And I do feel like that is why I probably made more effort than maybe was necessary or should be necessary, but to meet that middle ground. But I think that we as leaders have a responsibility to recognize when people are doing that and make sure that we're pulling them in and finding out what truly is underneath that person. Yeah. I think that's the key.

Sarah - 00:16:14:

Makes sense. I know you said that you had a really positive. Set of experiences in your early career. But when you think about like the surviving piece, getting in and surviving. Is there anything you would note as what felt most challenging?

Corrie - 00:16:35:

Yeah, I think that for me, it was always a surprise that either I was one, that I had an engineering degree or two, that I was smart. It always made me feel awkward because it's the same thing as saying, oh, you're really good at math for a girl. What does that mean? You know, those were the kinds of things I heard in my childhood. Oh, you're a good at math or a girl. I think that's what was a little bit hard early career wise is that I felt like a bit of a novelty. And some ways I'd benefited from that for sure. I'm not going to deny that because it got me some attention that probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't female. But I do feel like it was, oh, they're always so surprised. There's such low expectations. I think that bothered me. And still today, I find that, you know, reminding people that it shouldn't be a surprise that these people are smart or they know their job or that they've been around for a while or that they have a big career just because they're blonde or just because they're female or they're Black or they're Hispanic. I think that's part of the struggle as someone who is underrepresented in the industries that I've worked in. I think that that's the thing that is most bothersome to me and probably was the most challenging. And I think that as a young person, you come in there like, you know, these guys are going to try and shake you and everything. It is a challenge when you're faced with it and you have to overcome that. And I think as you get older, you start to say, okay, well, my accomplishments speak for myself. Like, I don't need to prove anything now. But it still bothers me when people are surprised that I have a big job or my husband stays home and took care of our kids. Like, that was the way we worked with our family. And it's always a surprise that he would do that and refer to him as lucky, they refer to me as a surprise that I was able to do that.

Sarah - 00:00:39:

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 are going to get an inside look at a woman service leader's journey from surviving to thriving to giving back. I'm thrilled to have with me today, Corrie Prunuske, who is the former president of CoolSys. Corrie, welcome to the UNSCRIPTED Podcast.

Corrie - 00:01:17:

Hi, thanks, Sarah. Thanks for having me today. I'm excited to be here.

Sarah - 00:01:21:

So I had the opportunity to hear Corrie speak at this year's Field Service Palm Springs event. I really loved your keynote because you were really just sharing your story, but in a way where you could point back to certain things that people could take something away from. So I really enjoyed it. We're going to sort of re-emphasize some of those points today, but get into some other things as well. So it should be a great chat. But before we get into my questions for you. Can you just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, your background, anything you want to share?

Corrie - 00:01:59:

Oh, thanks, Sarah. Yeah. I mean, like, first of all, I'm a mother of four. My husband and I, we have a blended family. So we have two kids that I got for free when I married him, which was awesome. And then I have mine too. And they are perfect stairsteps. So they're all now adults. The oldest is 21. The youngest is 18. And this fall, we have four kids in collage. So, that's what I do with my personal life is raising those kids together with my husband and their other parents. But I'm also a leader and I've led in large organizations over the years. And I think that, you know, you lead a family, you lead friend groups and you lead at work. And so many roles that I fill, being a mother, number one, but all the other things that I do in my life help me with being a leader.

Sarah - 00:02:49:

Yeah, often you learn things in those different realms of your life that really can help you in the others. There's these lessons that I think particularly with parenting, there's a lot of things you can take and apply to other parts of your life because it forces you to grow so much as a person and, you know, expand your thinking, but also learn new skills and all of that good stuff. Most recently, you were the president of CoolSys, but as you said, you have been a leader in other organizations as well, and we're going to get into some of that. During your presentation at Palm Springs, you broke your story into these three parts. I want to talk a bit about each of those, and the first was getting in and surviving. Can you share a bit about that and tell us a little bit about your early career?

Corrie - 00:03:37:

Thanks, Sarah. I've been 30 years now in the HVAC and R industry. I worked at Johnson Controls for 28 years, and I worked at CoolSys for nearly two years. Gives you kind of perspective on where I am. But when I got out of college, I had an engineering degree, an electrical engineering degree, and I was really just looking for a job. And I was actually getting married. My fiancee already had a job, had been working for a year in Schenectady, New York. I drew a 60-mile circle around that and applied for any job that was in that circle. And actually, Johnson Controls was on campus as a recruiter, and I got the opportunity to meet with them. And they had an office in Albany, New York, which was in that 60-mile radius. I was an application engineer. Actually, I think the first interview as sales engineer, I ended up in an application engineer job. But it was really important to me in that first job to be called an engineer. I worked so hard on my degree, and I just really didn't want to give up the title. I was like, okay, that checks that box. And then the salary was right in the range, that I wanted to be in. And for me, it was get your foot in the door and then see what happens. But I promise you, I never thought that I was going to spend 28 years there. I really just was looking for a job and looking for a way to support myself and be able to do the things that I wanted to do. And I'm thrilled that I actually was lucky enough to get that opportunity and then to make the most of it. So I started in the Albany, New York branch. I was an application engineer. I spent a lot of time on construction sites. In those early years, I would eventually project engineer, which meant even more time on construction sites. And for me, it was a really good experience. I know most people are like, oh, as a woman, you worked on construction sites. That must have been really hard. And I got to tell you, I was treated really, really well in my early career. I really feel like the people that I had around me, I had a mentor, somebody who had been there a long time. He was actually an electrician by trade, but he had moved his way up into a project engineer role. A great mentor, huge fan. I was 21 years old or whatever. It started right. And here's this big guy. And he taught me so much and was so willing to give back to me. And I really appreciated that. And I think it helped really accelerate my ability to learn my new job. And the other thing that was a piece of my early career is that I was very computer literate. I had grown up actually, even for my generation, probably a little bit more computer literate than most because I grew up in a household. My dad was an engineer and we had computers in the household very early before most people did. And so I learned computer skills really early. And so now my kids just make fun of me because I can't even get through my iPhone and figure out how to turn the settings on and off. But back then I was pretty good. And I got to do a lot of things. They would send me to the advanced training on different subjects. So I got an opportunity to meet a lot of people, to get to know what was possible in the organization, which I think I didn't know. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't had those skills. I also applied for a job that had no business applying for about three years into my career. And there was... There's a job called the Area Quality Assurance Manager. And I had met the guy who had filled that role, who was moving on to something else. And he had come by our office and I would always work with him because he was responsible for the LAN, all right, the Local Area Network. And so I would help him out with those things. So I really wanted to do that job. And it was one of those jobs that people don't really know what it was. And in every different area, which is like a geographic distinction, every area, there was one of these folks, but they did it differently. Okay, you're responsible for the technology, you're responsible for training the people, and you're responsible for doing process improvement. And I really wanted the job. And it took me a while to convince them that I was the right person for this job, but eventually I got it. And my husband and I moved to Connecticut to take on that role. And it was really my first big break and really exciting. But what was concerning is I walked, basically said, yes, I'm going to take this job. The guy who hired me called me, I don't even know if it was 48 hours later and said, hey, just want to let you know, I'm leaving. I'm going to Pennsylvania and they're going to bring in somebody else to Connecticut to take on this role. And I was like, oh boy, well, let's see what happens here. And I have to tell you, I got so lucky with that. And it's the thing about luck. I mean, I think about this a lot. And I was really lucky to get this particular leader at this particular time in his career and in my career. But I also worked really, really hard to be prepared for that moment. And so, you know, I think that that's what they say, you know, luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. And this was one of those. So new leader, new to a GM role and really trying to make his mark. And I got the opportunity to be a part of his team and to learn from him. And it was just a fantastic experience.

Sarah - 00:08:28:

Very good. You said in your session that you were always confident, but you adjusted yourself to fit in or assimilate, even if not consciously. Can you share an example of how so?

Corrie - 00:08:39:

Yeah. I mean, look, early on, I think the biggest thing is when you're a woman, I don't even know if this still happens today. I certainly would call it out if I saw it. But everybody seems to feel very comfortable with asking you when you're going to have kids. Like, oh, when are you going to have kids? And I was really conscious about this because I knew that there was a stigma around women leaving the workplace when they had kids. And so I would always say, oh, I'm never going to have kids. That was one thing. In fact, even on a construction site once, I was there with the project manager for the GC and his trailer and with a couple of the guys. And he says, oh, yeah, we had a girl once too, but she had a kid and left. And so I was very conscious of that. But I was also, I fitted well with men. I mean, I always had. I was an engineer in college and I worked on an engineering degree. But really since high school, I'd always had a lot of male friends and had been in STEM classes. So I always got along really well with men, but I really did have a very domestic side to me. But I was very careful about not bringing those things up. And examples of that are my absolute passion in life, if you ask me, is food and cooking. I love to cook. I like to do things that most people didn't do in the 90s, like canning vegetables. I did those things before. That's way before COVID when everybody picked it up. But those types of things, making bread, doing those things, crafting around the house, that type of thing. And I was very careful not to talk about that part of my life. I always talked about other things that I did. Going out for a bike ride, going on a hike, going and doing things that made me just neutral, right? And not reminding them of my differences. And so I think about that a lot. And I don't think I did it... I don't know that I was totally conscious of what I was doing, but I really feel like I was leaving a part of myself behind. Now, anybody that works with me, I mean, they know that my passion is cooking. It's also a passion of many men now. So it's a much different conversation. And I've even several male colleagues over the years, I swap recipes with and all of that. But back then, I was really careful about that. I just didn't want to seem different. And I don't want to remind them that, hey, she's a woman, remember? Like, oh, yeah, she's a girl, right? I don't want them to think that way. I wanted them to think about me as just the same as them.

Sarah - 00:10:54:

Yeah. And so this brought us to a point of the difference between diverse and inclusive, right? And so what do you feel like leaders need to understand about that distinction? And where do you think some today are still getting it wrong?

Corrie - 00:11:12:

Yeah, I still think it's very common today. I think that when you look at successful women, there's probably in most organizations that are male-dominated, you'll find that they have a lot of the same characteristics of successful men. And I say that with a caveat because when you look at successful men, I think they have a wide variety of personality types. And I noticed that like introverted males were doing, did okay in, they could actually get into very high leadership roles and many of them quite successful. But when you looked at women, it was always the extroverted women. Like the introverted women were not, they weren't climbing. There's things that were just not. And I think that still goes on today. I think there is still a lot of women out there who are successful in these male dominated industries that find themselves assimilating rather than really being themselves. And I think that it's encouraged too because the guys feel really comfortable. I mean, when you don't care when they swear and you'll sit down and drink a beer with them, you'll talk about, the football game that just happened, all those things make them comfortable too, which is, I think is part of coming halfway. But I do think that it does limit the actual inclusion. And I think for many people, so this is just a woman's experience, but for people of color, for LGBTQ, they feel like they have to repress a part of themselves. In that case, it's like the core, like there's this core that they're not able to show. And I think that it's very disappointing. And I think that as leaders, we have to be able to recognize that, you know what, I see that person as different. And I know that it's not what I'm used to seeing in a diverse workplace. Maybe they have a lot of piercings or tattoos or blue hair. They're different, right? And maybe we feel like, okay, is that professional? Well, you have to drop that. I think that's where we can get better is allowing people to be more of themselves, still professional looking. I do think that there are standards that have to be in place, but folks should be able to bring their whole selves and be able to be who they are. I had a friend in the LGBTQ community, years ago before anybody even talked about it, right? And stood up in a meeting and introduced himself and everybody had introduced himself. I'm married, I've got four kids and three dogs. And he introduced himself and he said he had a partner and they had dogs. And I thought it was so brave. And I've been friends with this man for a very long time. But in that time, that was a standout thing to do. And I think that that's where we have to be very comfortable so that people can really bring their whole selves to work. You get so much more out of people when you're able to do that.

Sarah - 00:13:41:

Yeah. No, that makes sense. I always say that the focus is often on diversity, but inclusion is the benefit of diversity, right? So the focus needs to be on inclusion, not diversity, because diversity on its own isn't doing anything for anyone if it's not an inclusive environment. That is really important.

Corrie - 00:14:05:

Well, people don't stay. I mean, that's the reality. You can have a diversity program, and I've seen it. You bring them in. You get people in the door. You can set rules around, hey, you have to interview at least one diverse candidate for this role in the final round, or you can make sure that you're going out to places where you would find more diverse people, society, women, engineers, NASB, these organizations where you would find those folks. But if you bring them in and then you don't make an environment where they can be successful, they're going to go somewhere else. And guess what? They're in high demand. And so they'll find a place where they'll fit in. And I just think that that's diversity. Yes, you do have to do some of those things to break some biases. I agree that those are good strategies for breaking biases, but those strategies don't work if you don't have an environment where people feel like they can succeed and where they don't see people that look like them and have their similar backgrounds and that they can relate to.

Sarah - 00:15:00:

Yeah. I think, too, you know, you said they'll go somewhere they can be successful, which is true, but also they'll go somewhere they can be themselves. Right. And it isn't necessarily always about fitting in, but about being welcome. We don't need to have a huge group of people just like us because, again, then we're not working toward the real value of diversity. But we need to create environments where differences are welcome and you don't feel like you have to be like everyone else to be comfortable. I think just

Corrie - 00:15:34:

a little nuance there, I would say to me is, you do have to make some effort to meet people in the middle. I really think that that's important. Like we can't just expect that folks, first of all, understand our perspective at all. And sometimes you have to make effort. And I do feel like that is why I probably made more effort than maybe was necessary or should be necessary, but to meet that middle ground. But I think that we as leaders have a responsibility to recognize when people are doing that and make sure that we're pulling them in and finding out what truly is underneath that person. Yeah. I think that's the key.

Sarah - 00:16:14:

Makes sense. I know you said that you had a really positive. Set of experiences in your early career. But when you think about like the surviving piece, getting in and surviving. Is there anything you would note as what felt most challenging?

Corrie - 00:16:35:

Yeah, I think that for me, it was always a surprise that either I was one, that I had an engineering degree or two, that I was smart. It always made me feel awkward because it's the same thing as saying, oh, you're really good at math for a girl. What does that mean? You know, those were the kinds of things I heard in my childhood. Oh, you're a good at math or a girl. I think that's what was a little bit hard early career wise is that I felt like a bit of a novelty. And some ways I'd benefited from that for sure. I'm not going to deny that because it got me some attention that probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't female. But I do feel like it was, oh, they're always so surprised. There's such low expectations. I think that bothered me. And still today, I find that, you know, reminding people that it shouldn't be a surprise that these people are smart or they know their job or that they've been around for a while or that they have a big career just because they're blonde or just because they're female or they're Black or they're Hispanic. I think that's part of the struggle as someone who is underrepresented in the industries that I've worked in. I think that that's the thing that is most bothersome to me and probably was the most challenging. And I think that as a young person, you come in there like, you know, these guys are going to try and shake you and everything. It is a challenge when you're faced with it and you have to overcome that. And I think as you get older, you start to say, okay, well, my accomplishments speak for myself. Like, I don't need to prove anything now. But it still bothers me when people are surprised that I have a big job or my husband stays home and took care of our kids. Like, that was the way we worked with our family. And it's always a surprise that he would do that and refer to him as lucky, they refer to me as a surprise that I was able to do that.

Sarah - 00:18:20:

Yeah. And those comments tell a lot. I travel a lot. I get a lot of comments about that. It is interesting the layers of assumptions or gender norms or bias that are really, really deeply embedded that we have to continue to question and push back on. To your point, without being combative, like I get what you're saying about meeting people halfway, but there's a fine line between you don't want to tolerate or exacerbate things that are really outdated, unnecessary, inaccurate. Unfortunately, it's a reality that particularly as a woman, if you stand up to it, then you can be seen as abrasive or argumentative. Do you know what I mean?

Corrie - 00:19:07:

That's right. Oh, I've been caught on those things.

Sarah - 00:19:09:

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. In a lot of ways. And it is tricky. For sure. The next phase that you talked about was your thriving and advancing phase. Talk a bit about that.

Corrie - 00:19:19:

This part of my career is I, you know, I got this big opportunity that I talked about. First promotion. It was a big deal. And I got this new leader. And it just really turned out to be a great experience. And first of all, he was brilliant and just a really excellent, excellent leader. He had proven himself as a sales manager. This was his first time as a general manager. I was new in this role that we got to define really for ourselves. And he really took the opportunity to help and mentor me, not only be my boss, but also to mentor me. He encouraged me to go get my MBA. He was working on his MBA. He said, you know, I should go get an MBA. I think it would really help you. And did that nights and weekends working on my MBA. And then he also he pulled me in to a lot of opportunities that some things that I probably wouldn't have known about. In that role and most of the places that people serve that role. He let me help with the strategy and really help set the strategy for the business, which is still very young. A young person was just an incredible opportunity. He was an incredible boss. He was not there that long. He actually left, didn't leave the company, but moved to her, to the next big role for him. And then we moved apart. I moved to Milwaukee to take on a job here. And he would eventually come to Milwaukee. And actually, I would work for someone who worked for him. And I was working part-time. Little known fact about my career. I actually worked part-time for four years, which was a real novelty at the time when I did it. My kids were little. I worked part-time. And I was ready to come back full-time. Yeah, I was done working on Project Word. I was ready to get back on the train of career advancement. I was ready to get back into things that I love to do. And so I called him up and I said, hey, do you have anything for me? Because I really I'm ready to get back on the track. I'm ready for a director role. And he goes, oh, yeah, yeah, I've got the perfect job for you. I didn't think you know, I didn't think you wanted you were ready to come back. He says, you're ready. I got it. This job is exactly what you did in Albany or in Connecticut. But what I need you to do is for this business, which Connecticut was a $50 million business. And this is $2 billion. So, you know, not a big deal. Just he made it sound really easy. And so I took the job. And again, just a fantastic opportunity. So started with what the job was. And really, it was a tenuous improvement, similar to the quality manager. But I did that for a little while. Built out the program from scratch for our business. And then actually expanded my role to take on more businesses within the company. Working with the Latin America team, which was such a great opportunity. And then he got me mentoring with his VP of Ops. And I spent a lot of time with him. You know, was in meetings. Again, this is where it's so deliberate when you want to. And this is something it's not like it only happens for diverse people or women. I mean, that's what men did for men over the years just naturally, right? Invited them to meetings that they didn't necessarily belong in. Giving them an opportunity to have voice. And that's, again, what both of these men did for me was brought me along to things. Showed me information. Asked me what I would do. Talked about what the steps were. I got the opportunity to really learn what those jobs were. And that job was my next job. I want that VP of Ops job. And that's what happened. And then, you know, continued to move through different parts of the business. Getting opportunities for bigger teams. I was primarily, you know, early career and more of an influencer role. At some points, I had some small teams. But for the most part, I was in just more of an influencer role. And in these jobs, I had real responsibility. Real P&L responsibility. Real large downlines of people who were working for me. And it was wonderful to be able to have that opportunity. And to be able to do so many different jobs at one company. That was the other thing. That was great. But I will tell you, all of those moves, even once my primary sponsor was moved into another business, but still part of the overall leadership team of Johnson Controls, he still sponsored me through those moves. And recommended me. And what helps me today, recommended me. Has recommended me for many jobs. And has provided support as well as I've moved through transitions. When I transitioned out of Johnson Controls, a big change was there to help me through that transition. And really understand what I needed to do to be successful. And I just, that to me was, I say this, I do owe my career to him. I really do. If he hadn't, again, we talked about that intersection of preparation and opportunity. I'm not saying I didn't do hard work or I wasn't smart. Yeah, you can have all of those things. You can work hard. You can be smart. You can have all the right education. You can read all the right books. All of those things. But if you don't have an opportunity that is put in front of you, you won't get there. And he helped to put those opportunities in front of me. And I feel like I made the most of them every single time. I really tried to make the most of it. But he did. He put those opportunities in front of me. And so I say I owe my career to him. And it's not... He would totally deny it. Just so you know. He would say the opposite. But to me, it really takes being really deliberate. And he was super deliberate about what he was doing for me. And I will tell you, he was mentored and sponsored by someone who did that for him. And I wasn't the only person that he did this for. There's a countless number of leaders out in the world. And field services today that owe their careers to this man. Yeah.

Sarah - 00:24:43:

Can you talk a little bit about what made him such an impactful sponsor and how that would be different than him being a mentor?

Corrie - 00:24:54:

I think of the function of a mentor, like they can help you. Yeah, I talked about Ralph in my early, early career. I mean, he showed me what the job was. He taught me how to do the job. He also helped me with the political landscape of the organization. Mentors can help you with what is your job and how do you do it. They can help you with the political landscape of an organization. They can help you with development planning around how to get to the next role that you want. I think those are probably the primary functions of a mentor. When you think about a sponsor, a sponsor is when you're not in the room, the sponsor's talking about you. That's a totally different thing. That means they have to know your work. If you mentor someone, you can say, yes, I've mentored this person. I see they have a lot of potential. But if you haven't actually seen their work, you haven't actually worked with them, the totally different situation. When you've worked with them and you know what they can do, you have the ability to sponsor them. So I think that what he did for me is he knew my work as well as knew who I was as a person and was able to be that person in the room when I wasn't there. And I've had many of these folks in my life. It wasn't just one, but they were there and they said, hey, I know that she can do this job because I've seen her do this, this, and this. And when people make assumptions, which happens to everyone, but particularly about women, about their ability to relocate, what their obligations are to their children, all of those things that people make assumptions are, well, she's got four kids. And even if that wasn't the case, that's not really a point here. She gets to decide if this is the right job for her or not. We don't decide that for her. So I think that those are some of the things that he did. And he also was realistic with me around what I could do and when it was time and when it wasn't time. And those conversations were harder than the conversations about, hey, this is this great thing that you should go do. There were also conversations like, I know you want it, but you need to do these things before you can have it. And I think that being realistic about that is also super important.

Sarah - 00:26:52:

Yeah. You talked about. That person's impact, when you think about the preparation and the hard work on your side, what do you point to in terms of what within yourself helped you be able to meet that opportunity and continue to progress?

Corrie - 00:27:09:

Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that early career, being willing to do just about anything anybody asks you to do, right? And I think that you do an early career, there's a lot of things that come up. Training, there's opportunities like this quality assurance manager, but then also when we went through the Six Sigma program, I said, well, sign me up. I want to do it. And when I took on the continuous improvement manager role that he helped me with later, I remember talking to one of my colleagues as at the copy machine. I'm like, oh, I think I'm going to take on this role. And he says, oh, it's just a fad. He says, I wouldn't do that. It's just kind of like, well, I don't really have anything to lose, right? So I kind of, you know what? I think I'll take it on. And all of those things over the years, being willing to kind of do things that are maybe a little bit risky and a little bit more uncomfortable is certainly part of my personality. I'm willing to try something new. I like to try new things. That was good. I think also just working hard. I talk to young folks as they're coming out a lot about you've got to put in the hours. I put in a lot of hours. When I was an application engineer, I wasn't paid hourly. I had a salary. But I put in a lot of hours. And I did it for me because I wanted to learn. And I knew I was slow. Like I knew I was new and I needed to learn these things. And I put in a ton of hours. And I put in a lot of hours outside of the office in every job that I've had around reading books around leadership, going through articles, learning more, and bringing something to the table. And I think that those are things and having a voice, too. And I think that that was Sheryl Sandberg and the lean in. And I know there's controversy around that. But what she tells women to do is to speak up when you're in the room. And if you get a seat at the table, say something. Don't just sit there. You know, it's something that I did and that the successful women that saw around me did as well is when you find something. Even if you're not sure if it's relevant, find something to engage in the conversation because you're not there to just sit there. You're there to be a part of the conversation. And I was very bold as a young person. I was very bold about those types of things.

Sarah - 00:29:15:

The third part of your journey that you talked about is giving back. What does this mean to you and what has it looked like so far?

Corrie - 00:29:23:

Yeah, I think the first opportunity for giving back for me was they started a women's resource network at Johnson Controls and they asked for mentors as part of that program. And I was thinking, I need a mentor. And then I'm reading description that says, hey, you have to have 10 years of experience and this is what a mentor looks like. I'm like, wait, well, I have all that. I guess I can be a mentor, right? And it was my first time really formally being somebody's mentor and it was a great experience. I mean, it was more of a, hey, how do you work the political landscape? And it wasn't even how do you do your job? Because this person was in a totally different function than I didn't know. But it was more around, how do I deal with my boss? How do I deal with these challenges that I'm having? Also, how do I balance out my work and my life and all of those things? But it was a great experience for me. And I think realizing sometimes I think we sell ourselves short as women. We don't think about, oh, well, I'm ready to do this, right? We think we need more time. And that was the first opportunity for me to be a mentor. And then people would come up to me and say, hey, you're in this job. Will you help mentor this person? I have a young woman on my team. She's struggling. She needs help. I don't know what to do, right? Male bosses primarily, which meant a lot to me because first of all, they recognize they have a gap in how they're dealing with it and they need support and ask you need to do that. I have mentored many women over the years. And I will tell you sometimes those as you get older, those relationships can reverse too. And I have people that I mentored years ago, that now they act as it's so mutual and always was, but it is now it's more, sometimes I need them. Hey, what do you think about this? Right? I need your mentorship. I had a good friend and colleague, somebody I mentored just, we were texting back and forth last night and it was just exactly what I needed. I was just like, I need a little bit of a boost. And they can provide that as well. For the mentor, you get as much out of it as the mentee. We also, we launched together with several of my other female colleagues and our sponsor, we launched the Women's Field Resource Network, which was new. So Johnson & Jules had it, the headquarters had this resource network, but they didn't have a field, a Women's Field Network. And so we launched that and got that going and worked with those teams. I've done leadership classes for women in the organization. Anytime somebody asked me to come and talk to their team, if it was about my business or it was about my career, I always said yes and found the time. And I do that having opportunities even like this with you. This is meaningful to me. And so that's the kind of thing that I think you have to give back. You also have to be deliberate too about recognizing women and pulling them up. I also did that. And sometimes people look at you like, well, wait, how did that happen? Because I thought, wait, well, she's been getting ready for this job for years. We've been working together and getting her ready. It's like the most logical step, right? Those things, being very deliberate about that and pulling other women up, other people of color, a very big part of what I've done over the years. Now, look, I will tell you, it's not enough. I wish that I could do more. And I've made mistakes along the way too. I mean, I don't think that I've always recognized the abilities of every person that you see. I'm not as imperfect as anyone else. It is a very important part of who I am.

Sarah - 00:32:38:

Yeah. No, I love that. And I think it's good to acknowledge that it hasn't been enough, but also those, I don't want to say small acts because they're not small, but those individual efforts, if everyone's doing them collectively add up to something big. And the second thing is, I think it's also very humble to own that you haven't been perfect in your mission to give back. One, that's human, but two, I mean, doing it imperfectly is better than not doing it at all.

Corrie - 00:33:09:

And being able to recognize

Sarah - 00:33:11:

when you have fumbled and learn from it and fix it and do better the next time is all anyone could ask. I think that's great.

Corrie - 00:33:21:

One of those things, you don't even necessarily have to fully act. Just being there sometimes is enough. And I talked about that in my speech as well, the power of representation. Sometimes just being there and being good at your job is enough for someone to say, wow, I can do that, because I see that there's a woman there that is doing the job that I want. And I didn't think that was possible because over the years, all I've ever seen is bad. So the power of representation, I think it's just a really important part of that. You don't have to necessarily act to be representative, right? You can just be really good at your job and it does help for people to see that there's someone who can do it too.

Sarah - 00:34:02:

Yeah, absolutely. You said, ask for what you want. And when you get it, make the most of it and give back along the way. I love that statement. And my question is, what advice do you have for people, specifically women, on how best to ask for what you want?

Corrie - 00:34:19:

I will tell you, I learned this from my father. My father used to say, if you don't ask, you don't get. But he would always say that to me. You need to go ask for this. It can be off-putting to people sometimes, right? It's like, whoa, wait. And I remember this was in college. I was working in the computer labs and I wanted to be a supervisor in the computer lab. They had an opening. And I went to my boss and I said, I really would like to be a supervisor in lab. And he goes. Oh, he says, well, I guess I would have preferred to ask you to be a supervisor in the lab rather than you ask and say, well, my dad always said, you don't ask, you don't get, right? I always remember that. And I try not to make that a limit me. I think you have to ask for it. I asked for the first promotion. I asked for a job I had no business applying for, found a path to get there. I asked to get out of the game. I asked to get back in the game. And I would say up until probably, I would say, you know, getting into like that first VP of ops role, every one of those was an ask. Everything that I got was an ask. And then I asked to do something more. And then we found something out in a different part of the business that I got to go do, which was really cool. And I think when you hear about the careers of others, sometimes it's like, well, I never asked for a thing. I just got recognized and pulled up. I really think if you are underrepresented in the organization, you're going to have to ask and you can't expect to be just recognized and pulled up. It will happen, for some people, it will. I might, as a woman, I might recognize another woman that I see has potential. Or as a man, I might see that. Or if you're African-American, you might say, okay, well, I see that person. But you might not see the people across. And so I just think that it's important that we ask for what we want. And then once you get it, you can't regret what you asked for. You got to be there. You got to show up and you got to perform. And that's how you show, hey, this was the right decision. And I'm not saying it always has to work out perfectly. But you have to make the effort. It's not if you're given an opportunity, ask for an opportunity, you're given an opportunity, you've earned it. Now you've got to continue to earn it along the way.

Sarah - 00:36:19:

That's what I was thinking when you were saying that. I was thinking, we don't have time to get into, some of the things that I'm appreciating so much about what you're saying, because it's reminding me of points in my own journey that I have been bold and outspoken and I've asked for what I wanted or needed or felt was fair and have had really hard conversations. And I think the one thing is, I think that it's not always welcome, but I think that there is a growing percentage of individuals and cultures where it is welcome. One, it's okay to be uncomfortable. Like, it might not be welcome, but to your point, when he said that to you and you said, well, my dad said the moment of discomfort that ultimately got you where you wanted to go, right? So that's one. But the second thing is, I think if you really hit a wall, go somewhere else. That's not the only path. And there are more and more people that are understanding that it's important to speak up and speak out. And advocate for yourself. That being said, I was going to say the point you made, which is. Don't ask for things you can't handle or aren't ready for or aren't willing to take on because-

Corrie - 00:37:35:

That's right.

Sarah - 00:37:35:

That's when you make a fool of yourself. Like you said, doesn't need to be perfect. Doesn't mean you have it all figured out. It doesn't mean that you are 1000% qualified, et cetera, et cetera. But it means that. If you're going to take that risk, be ready to back it up with the work that is going to prove that you were worth it. What would you say about the importance of authenticity?

Corrie - 00:38:00:

Well, I think that goes back to that assimilation versus, you know, really true inclusion and being your authentic self is a part of that. But I think it's also like you can't be somewhat different at work than you are at home. Some people do. I mean, I know people who do this. They're very different at work than they are at home. But it's not you're never going to be as effective as somebody who is who they are at work or at home. And I have many friends that cross that work boundary right over the years. And I am the same person. You always have a filter when you're at work. You have to have a filter, right, of some of the things that you can and can't do. But I mean, I am that same person I am at home and took time. It wasn't on day one. I told you I assimilated, right? I am that person. And people know who I really am. And that's the power of what you can do to lead a team that believes that you are telling them the truth and believes you're being authentic is super powerful. They will follow you. They will follow you anywhere. The biggest compliment that I've ever received is that I was an authentic leader and that I made a difference because of that, because I care. I am who I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am absolutely feel that you have to truly care for the people that work for you in order for your business to be successful. And to me, that is authenticity for me. Are there things that I would do if I wasn't in corporate America? I don't know. I mean, would I dye my hair blue? I might. Would I dress like a rocker? I don't know. But I think for the most part, I'm a pretty authentic person. And I think that people need to need to understand that if they do that. People will follow them and will listen to them and will believe even if they aren't sure. It helps to take the uncertainty out because, look, if she's telling me this, I know she truly believes it and she cares enough that she's going to have my back. And I think that's probably the second biggest compliment I ever got as a leader was when one of my employees told me that I felt like I had the freedom to fail when I worked for you because I knew you had my back. And of course, didn't fail because she's amazing. But she felt she was willing to take risks. And I will tell you, that's how I was as well as I knew that I had someone who was going to be there if I needed support or I needed help, I could go and ask, right? And it wasn't going to be embarrassment or like I wasn't doing my job. And that is powerful stuff. It really is. And to have experienced it and to give it back is powerful stuff.

Sarah - 00:40:34:

Yeah. Speaking of powerful stuff, what about the power of saying no?

Corrie - 00:40:39:

Look, there are things that, you know, in the world of ask, and sometimes you get asked to do things. There are times that I talked a lot about being willing to take risks and do things that maybe other people weren't interested in. There are some times where you get asked to do a job and it is not right for you. And this happened to me mid-career. I had a leader, very well-respected leader, asked me to do a job on his team. I had just finished our accelerated leader development program. I was, you know, ready for the next move. And that move was not right for me. And I appreciated him asking me. He had kind of heard, hey, I was good. I don't know exactly why he thought I would be good at that particular job, but it just wasn't the right move for me. It wasn't, first of all, it wasn't on the right path. And it also wasn't something that, it wasn't something that helped me to build out any part of my skill set that I didn't already have. And it probably wasn't in a strength area where I could have really like blown it out of the water right I didn't really feel like it was that that's how much of a disconnect there was to the point that I was even questioning did he read my resume you know and it was an honor to be asked I mean such a great leader and I still tons of respect for him today but it wasn't right for me and I said no and I talked to my friend in HR and I said hey you know I told him no and she looked at me said are you crazy? She said, nobody's ever told him no before. And I said well, It wasn't right for me. I appreciate the opportunity, but it wasn't right for me. Now, those things, sometimes saying no to the wrong opportunity, yeah, can have implications. But if it did, like you said, you just go somewhere else, right? I mean, there's always a place that wants you.

Sarah - 00:42:14:

It's part of being authentic, right? Because you're being true to yourself. You know that it's not right. You're not going to do something just because of X, Y, or Z reasons. You're going to stay true to who you are. And I think the other thing, at least I've found, again, not universally, but there are people who have always been told yes, that when they have someone willing to respectfully and with reason say no, they respect that more because they're not often challenged. And I think whether it's a job offer or. Something you're working on strategy-wise or whatever it is, if you can get comfortable enough in your skin to speak your mind, to your point, that's where people start to notice your value, right? If you sit back and say like, oh, well, no one tells him no, so I'll just nod my head and smile. He might've been taking a bath, but he was like, good for her.

Corrie - 00:43:12:

And I think the other thing is like, you talked about make sure you have the capacity to do whatever you ask to do, right? Also, if you say yes to everything and then you're not effective at anything, that's really bad too. And I think that you have to think about that and things that you're doing inside and outside of work is how much can you really handle and be really good at? Because if you're kind of good at 10 things at a time, that might not be quite as good as being really super good at these three high priorities. And so I think that's a part of learning how to say no, which is really, really hard when you want to make your mark.

Sarah - 00:43:50:

I want to close with one final question, but two parts to it. Okay, so I want you to close with your best piece of advice. Number one, for a person just starting out in their career, particularly someone who is in any minority group, the advice you would give them. And then the second would be for a leader looking to have a more positive impact on the talent coming into their organization, particularly as it relates to inclusiveness and sponsorship and things like that that we've talked about today.

Corrie - 00:44:25:

Yeah, I think for up-and-coming people, my advice has been pretty much the same throughout my career. I mean, the first thing is that you have to work hard. And I know that sounds simple or maybe even a little bit patronized, but it's true. Like you have to put the work in. You have got to work hard, got to spend the hours. You've got to take the time and you're going to be out of balance early career. For most people, this is a good time to be out of balance because you don't have as many responsibilities as you do as you get into mid-career. Early on, you've got to put in the work and you have to put in the work. Not only you have to put in the work on the work that you do, but you have to put in the work on the social aspect of work as well. You have to meet people. You have to put yourself out there. You have to get involved in things that might be a little bit outside of what your core competency is when you came out of school. You've got to do those things. And if you do that and you take a little bit of risk, then you're going to get to that intersection of luck and opportunity. I really believe that. If you put yourself out there, you get to know more people. If you know more people, there's more opportunity for those folks to cross your path and help you with your career.

Sarah - 00:45:31:

If I reflect back on my younger years, also do the work on yourself, right? So while you're doing the work, learn from it. What lights you up? What makes you excited? What do you feel you're doing where you are proud of the impact you're making? What things stress you out in a way that isn't normal stress, but maybe an inclination that this isn't something that is going to fulfill me? Or what are you confident about what do you need to build confidence in? Things like that, right? Because in those early phases, you're learning about the environment and you're learning about how to progress, but you're also in, you're learning so much about who you are as a person and what your unique value is. And the more you can... Take note of those things to hone in on what... Unique skills and qualities you bring, the more success you can have, you know, looking for those opportunities to be bold and to ask for what you want with confidence.

Corrie - 00:46:36:

Yeah, I think that's, and I, you know, talked about early being computer savvy. I mean, when I first walked to the office at Albany, my boss would type up a memo in what was called WordPad before Microsoft Word, right? He'd type up this memo and then he would print it out and give it to the admin and she would type it on letterhead. It was on the computer. It could have been printed on letterhead, but it was like, it was one of those things, or they could, she, we had email. He could have emailed it. He could have walked it over with a disc. Like there were so many different ways you could have done this other than, you know, something that was complete. And those were the kinds of things that I thought, well. That was obvious to me, but it was something I could bring to the table and help to get that office to be more efficient. So I do think that's important, even those little learnings help you. And I did do a lot of, and I'm sure you did too early on, is you do a lot of reading and a lot of classes, the cubby classes and those types of things that really help you get a little bit more introspective about yourself and being willing to have 360s and take the feedback and know who you are. I certainly know what my key weaknesses were when I started and what I've worked on, and what anchors I've gotten in my boat on those things, and what things I still have to every day be conscious about, right? Because we're all human.

Sarah - 00:47:50:

Yeah. Great.

Corrie - 00:47:51:

We asked about readers and what they can do. And I think the biggest act of being very deliberate is, and this is people of color, women, but also men or people who just have a little different personality style. You've got more than likely the people you've surrounded yourself with are super smart. But typically when you're in a meeting with say, 6 to 10 people, there's probably the boss and maybe two other people that are really contributing to the conversation. And as a leader, pulling the rest of the team out and into the conversation and being very deliberate about that. And also recognizing when someone is getting stepped on and they're not being heard, right? And if you really want to create an inclusive environment overall for all of your employees, regardless of what their status is or what their background is. Is really making sure that you're pulling people out and it takes effort and it is exhausting sometimes because you're trying to get through something. You're trying to get to an, you want to get to the end, right? You're in this meeting. You want to get to the end. You want to get to the conclusion and you've got all these things on your plate that you're trying to work through, but you've got to do that. And if you can't do it, you need to tell one of those people that's always speaking up in the room to help you with it. And that will help as well. I've actually had people do that for me to say, hey, can you make sure that we're drawing? So-and-so, because I know they have something to say. And so to me, if I had to give like, I mean, if it was one thing that you could do differently today that you're not doing, it's that it's really pulling people in. And when you see it happening, if you're a peer or a leader, make sure that you're saying, hey, wait a second. I think that person had something to say, or I think, you know, you cut them off.

Sarah - 00:49:30:

Or just what do you think, right? You know, maybe they're not getting cut off, but they're fearful of speaking up and you can encourage that. Yeah.

Corrie - 00:49:38:

Yeah.

Sarah - 00:49:38:

Really good advice. Corrie, thank you so much. This is been wonderful. I really appreciate you coming and sharing more about your personal journey, but also extracting some of those insights that others can take and learn from. Thank you so much for spending some time with me.

Corrie - 00:49:55:

Well, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to chatting again. I want to hear your story too.

Sarah - 00:50:00:

That would be great.

Corrie - 00:50:01:

All right. All right. Take care.

Sarah - 00:50:03:

Yeah. And those comments tell a lot. I travel a lot. I get a lot of comments about that. It is interesting the layers of assumptions or gender norms or bias that are really, really deeply embedded that we have to continue to question and push back on. To your point, without being combative, like I get what you're saying about meeting people halfway, but there's a fine line between you don't want to tolerate or exacerbate things that are really outdated, unnecessary, inaccurate. Unfortunately, it's a reality that particularly as a woman, if you stand up to it, then you can be seen as abrasive or argumentative. Do you know what I mean?

Corrie - 00:19:07:

That's right. Oh, I've been caught on those things.

Sarah - 00:19:09:

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. In a lot of ways. And it is tricky. For sure. The next phase that you talked about was your thriving and advancing phase. Talk a bit about that.

Corrie - 00:19:19:

This part of my career is I, you know, I got this big opportunity that I talked about. First promotion. It was a big deal. And I got this new leader. And it just really turned out to be a great experience. And first of all, he was brilliant and just a really excellent, excellent leader. He had proven himself as a sales manager. This was his first time as a general manager. I was new in this role that we got to define really for ourselves. And he really took the opportunity to help and mentor me, not only be my boss, but also to mentor me. He encouraged me to go get my MBA. He was working on his MBA. He said, you know, I should go get an MBA. I think it would really help you. And did that nights and weekends working on my MBA. And then he also he pulled me in to a lot of opportunities that some things that I probably wouldn't have known about. In that role and most of the places that people serve that role. He let me help with the strategy and really help set the strategy for the business, which is still very young. A young person was just an incredible opportunity. He was an incredible boss. He was not there that long. He actually left, didn't leave the company, but moved to her, to the next big role for him. And then we moved apart. I moved to Milwaukee to take on a job here. And he would eventually come to Milwaukee. And actually, I would work for someone who worked for him. And I was working part-time. Little known fact about my career. I actually worked part-time for four years, which was a real novelty at the time when I did it. My kids were little. I worked part-time. And I was ready to come back full-time. Yeah, I was done working on Project Word. I was ready to get back on the train of career advancement. I was ready to get back into things that I love to do. And so I called him up and I said, hey, do you have anything for me? Because I really I'm ready to get back on the track. I'm ready for a director role. And he goes, oh, yeah, yeah, I've got the perfect job for you. I didn't think you know, I didn't think you wanted you were ready to come back. He says, you're ready. I got it. This job is exactly what you did in Albany or in Connecticut. But what I need you to do is for this business, which Connecticut was a $50 million business. And this is $2 billion. So, you know, not a big deal. Just he made it sound really easy. And so I took the job. And again, just a fantastic opportunity. So started with what the job was. And really, it was a tenuous improvement, similar to the quality manager. But I did that for a little while. Built out the program from scratch for our business. And then actually expanded my role to take on more businesses within the company. Working with the Latin America team, which was such a great opportunity. And then he got me mentoring with his VP of Ops. And I spent a lot of time with him. You know, was in meetings. Again, this is where it's so deliberate when you want to. And this is something it's not like it only happens for diverse people or women. I mean, that's what men did for men over the years just naturally, right? Invited them to meetings that they didn't necessarily belong in. Giving them an opportunity to have voice. And that's, again, what both of these men did for me was brought me along to things. Showed me information. Asked me what I would do. Talked about what the steps were. I got the opportunity to really learn what those jobs were. And that job was my next job. I want that VP of Ops job. And that's what happened. And then, you know, continued to move through different parts of the business. Getting opportunities for bigger teams. I was primarily, you know, early career and more of an influencer role. At some points, I had some small teams. But for the most part, I was in just more of an influencer role. And in these jobs, I had real responsibility. Real P&L responsibility. Real large downlines of people who were working for me. And it was wonderful to be able to have that opportunity. And to be able to do so many different jobs at one company. That was the other thing. That was great. But I will tell you, all of those moves, even once my primary sponsor was moved into another business, but still part of the overall leadership team of Johnson Controls, he still sponsored me through those moves. And recommended me. And what helps me today, recommended me. Has recommended me for many jobs. And has provided support as well as I've moved through transitions. When I transitioned out of Johnson Controls, a big change was there to help me through that transition. And really understand what I needed to do to be successful. And I just, that to me was, I say this, I do owe my career to him. I really do. If he hadn't, again, we talked about that intersection of preparation and opportunity. I'm not saying I didn't do hard work or I wasn't smart. Yeah, you can have all of those things. You can work hard. You can be smart. You can have all the right education. You can read all the right books. All of those things. But if you don't have an opportunity that is put in front of you, you won't get there. And he helped to put those opportunities in front of me. And I feel like I made the most of them every single time. I really tried to make the most of it. But he did. He put those opportunities in front of me. And so I say I owe my career to him. And it's not... He would totally deny it. Just so you know. He would say the opposite. But to me, it really takes being really deliberate. And he was super deliberate about what he was doing for me. And I will tell you, he was mentored and sponsored by someone who did that for him. And I wasn't the only person that he did this for. There's a countless number of leaders out in the world. And field services today that owe their careers to this man. Yeah.

Sarah - 00:24:43:

Can you talk a little bit about what made him such an impactful sponsor and how that would be different than him being a mentor?

Corrie - 00:24:54:

I think of the function of a mentor, like they can help you. Yeah, I talked about Ralph in my early, early career. I mean, he showed me what the job was. He taught me how to do the job. He also helped me with the political landscape of the organization. Mentors can help you with what is your job and how do you do it. They can help you with the political landscape of an organization. They can help you with development planning around how to get to the next role that you want. I think those are probably the primary functions of a mentor. When you think about a sponsor, a sponsor is when you're not in the room, the sponsor's talking about you. That's a totally different thing. That means they have to know your work. If you mentor someone, you can say, yes, I've mentored this person. I see they have a lot of potential. But if you haven't actually seen their work, you haven't actually worked with them, the totally different situation. When you've worked with them and you know what they can do, you have the ability to sponsor them. So I think that what he did for me is he knew my work as well as knew who I was as a person and was able to be that person in the room when I wasn't there. And I've had many of these folks in my life. It wasn't just one, but they were there and they said, hey, I know that she can do this job because I've seen her do this, this, and this. And when people make assumptions, which happens to everyone, but particularly about women, about their ability to relocate, what their obligations are to their children, all of those things that people make assumptions are, well, she's got four kids. And even if that wasn't the case, that's not really a point here. She gets to decide if this is the right job for her or not. We don't decide that for her. So I think that those are some of the things that he did. And he also was realistic with me around what I could do and when it was time and when it wasn't time. And those conversations were harder than the conversations about, hey, this is this great thing that you should go do. There were also conversations like, I know you want it, but you need to do these things before you can have it. And I think that being realistic about that is also super important.

Sarah - 00:26:52:

Yeah. You talked about. That person's impact, when you think about the preparation and the hard work on your side, what do you point to in terms of what within yourself helped you be able to meet that opportunity and continue to progress?

Corrie - 00:27:09:

Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that early career, being willing to do just about anything anybody asks you to do, right? And I think that you do an early career, there's a lot of things that come up. Training, there's opportunities like this quality assurance manager, but then also when we went through the Six Sigma program, I said, well, sign me up. I want to do it. And when I took on the continuous improvement manager role that he helped me with later, I remember talking to one of my colleagues as at the copy machine. I'm like, oh, I think I'm going to take on this role. And he says, oh, it's just a fad. He says, I wouldn't do that. It's just kind of like, well, I don't really have anything to lose, right? So I kind of, you know what? I think I'll take it on. And all of those things over the years, being willing to kind of do things that are maybe a little bit risky and a little bit more uncomfortable is certainly part of my personality. I'm willing to try something new. I like to try new things. That was good. I think also just working hard. I talk to young folks as they're coming out a lot about you've got to put in the hours. I put in a lot of hours. When I was an application engineer, I wasn't paid hourly. I had a salary. But I put in a lot of hours. And I did it for me because I wanted to learn. And I knew I was slow. Like I knew I was new and I needed to learn these things. And I put in a ton of hours. And I put in a lot of hours outside of the office in every job that I've had around reading books around leadership, going through articles, learning more, and bringing something to the table. And I think that those are things and having a voice, too. And I think that that was Sheryl Sandberg and the lean in. And I know there's controversy around that. But what she tells women to do is to speak up when you're in the room. And if you get a seat at the table, say something. Don't just sit there. You know, it's something that I did and that the successful women that saw around me did as well is when you find something. Even if you're not sure if it's relevant, find something to engage in the conversation because you're not there to just sit there. You're there to be a part of the conversation. And I was very bold as a young person. I was very bold about those types of things.

Sarah - 00:29:15:

The third part of your journey that you talked about is giving back. What does this mean to you and what has it looked like so far?

Corrie - 00:29:23:

Yeah, I think the first opportunity for giving back for me was they started a women's resource network at Johnson Controls and they asked for mentors as part of that program. And I was thinking, I need a mentor. And then I'm reading description that says, hey, you have to have 10 years of experience and this is what a mentor looks like. I'm like, wait, well, I have all that. I guess I can be a mentor, right? And it was my first time really formally being somebody's mentor and it was a great experience. I mean, it was more of a, hey, how do you work the political landscape? And it wasn't even how do you do your job? Because this person was in a totally different function than I didn't know. But it was more around, how do I deal with my boss? How do I deal with these challenges that I'm having? Also, how do I balance out my work and my life and all of those things? But it was a great experience for me. And I think realizing sometimes I think we sell ourselves short as women. We don't think about, oh, well, I'm ready to do this, right? We think we need more time. And that was the first opportunity for me to be a mentor. And then people would come up to me and say, hey, you're in this job. Will you help mentor this person? I have a young woman on my team. She's struggling. She needs help. I don't know what to do, right? Male bosses primarily, which meant a lot to me because first of all, they recognize they have a gap in how they're dealing with it and they need support and ask you need to do that. I have mentored many women over the years. And I will tell you sometimes those as you get older, those relationships can reverse too. And I have people that I mentored years ago, that now they act as it's so mutual and always was, but it is now it's more, sometimes I need them. Hey, what do you think about this? Right? I need your mentorship. I had a good friend and colleague, somebody I mentored just, we were texting back and forth last night and it was just exactly what I needed. I was just like, I need a little bit of a boost. And they can provide that as well. For the mentor, you get as much out of it as the mentee. We also, we launched together with several of my other female colleagues and our sponsor, we launched the Women's Field Resource Network, which was new. So Johnson & Jules had it, the headquarters had this resource network, but they didn't have a field, a Women's Field Network. And so we launched that and got that going and worked with those teams. I've done leadership classes for women in the organization. Anytime somebody asked me to come and talk to their team, if it was about my business or it was about my career, I always said yes and found the time. And I do that having opportunities even like this with you. This is meaningful to me. And so that's the kind of thing that I think you have to give back. You also have to be deliberate too about recognizing women and pulling them up. I also did that. And sometimes people look at you like, well, wait, how did that happen? Because I thought, wait, well, she's been getting ready for this job for years. We've been working together and getting her ready. It's like the most logical step, right? Those things, being very deliberate about that and pulling other women up, other people of color, a very big part of what I've done over the years. Now, look, I will tell you, it's not enough. I wish that I could do more. And I've made mistakes along the way too. I mean, I don't think that I've always recognized the abilities of every person that you see. I'm not as imperfect as anyone else. It is a very important part of who I am.

Sarah - 00:32:38:

Yeah. No, I love that. And I think it's good to acknowledge that it hasn't been enough, but also those, I don't want to say small acts because they're not small, but those individual efforts, if everyone's doing them collectively add up to something big. And the second thing is, I think it's also very humble to own that you haven't been perfect in your mission to give back. One, that's human, but two, I mean, doing it imperfectly is better than not doing it at all.

Corrie - 00:33:09:

And being able to recognize

Sarah - 00:33:11:

when you have fumbled and learn from it and fix it and do better the next time is all anyone could ask. I think that's great.

Corrie - 00:33:21:

One of those things, you don't even necessarily have to fully act. Just being there sometimes is enough. And I talked about that in my speech as well, the power of representation. Sometimes just being there and being good at your job is enough for someone to say, wow, I can do that, because I see that there's a woman there that is doing the job that I want. And I didn't think that was possible because over the years, all I've ever seen is bad. So the power of representation, I think it's just a really important part of that. You don't have to necessarily act to be representative, right? You can just be really good at your job and it does help for people to see that there's someone who can do it too.

Sarah - 00:34:02:

Yeah, absolutely. You said, ask for what you want. And when you get it, make the most of it and give back along the way. I love that statement. And my question is, what advice do you have for people, specifically women, on how best to ask for what you want?

Corrie - 00:34:19:

I will tell you, I learned this from my father. My father used to say, if you don't ask, you don't get. But he would always say that to me. You need to go ask for this. It can be off-putting to people sometimes, right? It's like, whoa, wait. And I remember this was in college. I was working in the computer labs and I wanted to be a supervisor in the computer lab. They had an opening. And I went to my boss and I said, I really would like to be a supervisor in lab. And he goes. Oh, he says, well, I guess I would have preferred to ask you to be a supervisor in the lab rather than you ask and say, well, my dad always said, you don't ask, you don't get, right? I always remember that. And I try not to make that a limit me. I think you have to ask for it. I asked for the first promotion. I asked for a job I had no business applying for, found a path to get there. I asked to get out of the game. I asked to get back in the game. And I would say up until probably, I would say, you know, getting into like that first VP of ops role, every one of those was an ask. Everything that I got was an ask. And then I asked to do something more. And then we found something out in a different part of the business that I got to go do, which was really cool. And I think when you hear about the careers of others, sometimes it's like, well, I never asked for a thing. I just got recognized and pulled up. I really think if you are underrepresented in the organization, you're going to have to ask and you can't expect to be just recognized and pulled up. It will happen, for some people, it will. I might, as a woman, I might recognize another woman that I see has potential. Or as a man, I might see that. Or if you're African-American, you might say, okay, well, I see that person. But you might not see the people across. And so I just think that it's important that we ask for what we want. And then once you get it, you can't regret what you asked for. You got to be there. You got to show up and you got to perform. And that's how you show, hey, this was the right decision. And I'm not saying it always has to work out perfectly. But you have to make the effort. It's not if you're given an opportunity, ask for an opportunity, you're given an opportunity, you've earned it. Now you've got to continue to earn it along the way.

Sarah - 00:36:19:

That's what I was thinking when you were saying that. I was thinking, we don't have time to get into, some of the things that I'm appreciating so much about what you're saying, because it's reminding me of points in my own journey that I have been bold and outspoken and I've asked for what I wanted or needed or felt was fair and have had really hard conversations. And I think the one thing is, I think that it's not always welcome, but I think that there is a growing percentage of individuals and cultures where it is welcome. One, it's okay to be uncomfortable. Like, it might not be welcome, but to your point, when he said that to you and you said, well, my dad said the moment of discomfort that ultimately got you where you wanted to go, right? So that's one. But the second thing is, I think if you really hit a wall, go somewhere else. That's not the only path. And there are more and more people that are understanding that it's important to speak up and speak out. And advocate for yourself. That being said, I was going to say the point you made, which is. Don't ask for things you can't handle or aren't ready for or aren't willing to take on because-

Corrie - 00:37:35:

That's right.

Sarah - 00:37:35:

That's when you make a fool of yourself. Like you said, doesn't need to be perfect. Doesn't mean you have it all figured out. It doesn't mean that you are 1000% qualified, et cetera, et cetera. But it means that. If you're going to take that risk, be ready to back it up with the work that is going to prove that you were worth it. What would you say about the importance of authenticity?

Corrie - 00:38:00:

Well, I think that goes back to that assimilation versus, you know, really true inclusion and being your authentic self is a part of that. But I think it's also like you can't be somewhat different at work than you are at home. Some people do. I mean, I know people who do this. They're very different at work than they are at home. But it's not you're never going to be as effective as somebody who is who they are at work or at home. And I have many friends that cross that work boundary right over the years. And I am the same person. You always have a filter when you're at work. You have to have a filter, right, of some of the things that you can and can't do. But I mean, I am that same person I am at home and took time. It wasn't on day one. I told you I assimilated, right? I am that person. And people know who I really am. And that's the power of what you can do to lead a team that believes that you are telling them the truth and believes you're being authentic is super powerful. They will follow you. They will follow you anywhere. The biggest compliment that I've ever received is that I was an authentic leader and that I made a difference because of that, because I care. I am who I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am absolutely feel that you have to truly care for the people that work for you in order for your business to be successful. And to me, that is authenticity for me. Are there things that I would do if I wasn't in corporate America? I don't know. I mean, would I dye my hair blue? I might. Would I dress like a rocker? I don't know. But I think for the most part, I'm a pretty authentic person. And I think that people need to need to understand that if they do that. People will follow them and will listen to them and will believe even if they aren't sure. It helps to take the uncertainty out because, look, if she's telling me this, I know she truly believes it and she cares enough that she's going to have my back. And I think that's probably the second biggest compliment I ever got as a leader was when one of my employees told me that I felt like I had the freedom to fail when I worked for you because I knew you had my back. And of course, didn't fail because she's amazing. But she felt she was willing to take risks. And I will tell you, that's how I was as well as I knew that I had someone who was going to be there if I needed support or I needed help, I could go and ask, right? And it wasn't going to be embarrassment or like I wasn't doing my job. And that is powerful stuff. It really is. And to have experienced it and to give it back is powerful stuff.

Sarah - 00:40:34:

Yeah. Speaking of powerful stuff, what about the power of saying no?

Corrie - 00:40:39:

Look, there are things that, you know, in the world of ask, and sometimes you get asked to do things. There are times that I talked a lot about being willing to take risks and do things that maybe other people weren't interested in. There are some times where you get asked to do a job and it is not right for you. And this happened to me mid-career. I had a leader, very well-respected leader, asked me to do a job on his team. I had just finished our accelerated leader development program. I was, you know, ready for the next move. And that move was not right for me. And I appreciated him asking me. He had kind of heard, hey, I was good. I don't know exactly why he thought I would be good at that particular job, but it just wasn't the right move for me. It wasn't, first of all, it wasn't on the right path. And it also wasn't something that, it wasn't something that helped me to build out any part of my skill set that I didn't already have. And it probably wasn't in a strength area where I could have really like blown it out of the water right I didn't really feel like it was that that's how much of a disconnect there was to the point that I was even questioning did he read my resume you know and it was an honor to be asked I mean such a great leader and I still tons of respect for him today but it wasn't right for me and I said no and I talked to my friend in HR and I said hey you know I told him no and she looked at me said are you crazy? She said, nobody's ever told him no before. And I said well, It wasn't right for me. I appreciate the opportunity, but it wasn't right for me. Now, those things, sometimes saying no to the wrong opportunity, yeah, can have implications. But if it did, like you said, you just go somewhere else, right? I mean, there's always a place that wants you.

Sarah - 00:42:14:

It's part of being authentic, right? Because you're being true to yourself. You know that it's not right. You're not going to do something just because of X, Y, or Z reasons. You're going to stay true to who you are. And I think the other thing, at least I've found, again, not universally, but there are people who have always been told yes, that when they have someone willing to respectfully and with reason say no, they respect that more because they're not often challenged. And I think whether it's a job offer or. Something you're working on strategy-wise or whatever it is, if you can get comfortable enough in your skin to speak your mind, to your point, that's where people start to notice your value, right? If you sit back and say like, oh, well, no one tells him no, so I'll just nod my head and smile. He might've been taking a bath, but he was like, good for her.

Corrie - 00:43:12:

And I think the other thing is like, you talked about make sure you have the capacity to do whatever you ask to do, right? Also, if you say yes to everything and then you're not effective at anything, that's really bad too. And I think that you have to think about that and things that you're doing inside and outside of work is how much can you really handle and be really good at? Because if you're kind of good at 10 things at a time, that might not be quite as good as being really super good at these three high priorities. And so I think that's a part of learning how to say no, which is really, really hard when you want to make your mark.

Sarah - 00:43:50:

I want to close with one final question, but two parts to it. Okay, so I want you to close with your best piece of advice. Number one, for a person just starting out in their career, particularly someone who is in any minority group, the advice you would give them. And then the second would be for a leader looking to have a more positive impact on the talent coming into their organization, particularly as it relates to inclusiveness and sponsorship and things like that that we've talked about today.

Corrie - 00:44:25:

Yeah, I think for up-and-coming people, my advice has been pretty much the same throughout my career. I mean, the first thing is that you have to work hard. And I know that sounds simple or maybe even a little bit patronized, but it's true. Like you have to put the work in. You have got to work hard, got to spend the hours. You've got to take the time and you're going to be out of balance early career. For most people, this is a good time to be out of balance because you don't have as many responsibilities as you do as you get into mid-career. Early on, you've got to put in the work and you have to put in the work. Not only you have to put in the work on the work that you do, but you have to put in the work on the social aspect of work as well. You have to meet people. You have to put yourself out there. You have to get involved in things that might be a little bit outside of what your core competency is when you came out of school. You've got to do those things. And if you do that and you take a little bit of risk, then you're going to get to that intersection of luck and opportunity. I really believe that. If you put yourself out there, you get to know more people. If you know more people, there's more opportunity for those folks to cross your path and help you with your career.

Sarah - 00:45:31:

If I reflect back on my younger years, also do the work on yourself, right? So while you're doing the work, learn from it. What lights you up? What makes you excited? What do you feel you're doing where you are proud of the impact you're making? What things stress you out in a way that isn't normal stress, but maybe an inclination that this isn't something that is going to fulfill me? Or what are you confident about what do you need to build confidence in? Things like that, right? Because in those early phases, you're learning about the environment and you're learning about how to progress, but you're also in, you're learning so much about who you are as a person and what your unique value is. And the more you can... Take note of those things to hone in on what... Unique skills and qualities you bring, the more success you can have, you know, looking for those opportunities to be bold and to ask for what you want with confidence.

Corrie - 00:46:36:

Yeah, I think that's, and I, you know, talked about early being computer savvy. I mean, when I first walked to the office at Albany, my boss would type up a memo in what was called WordPad before Microsoft Word, right? He'd type up this memo and then he would print it out and give it to the admin and she would type it on letterhead. It was on the computer. It could have been printed on letterhead, but it was like, it was one of those things, or they could, she, we had email. He could have emailed it. He could have walked it over with a disc. Like there were so many different ways you could have done this other than, you know, something that was complete. And those were the kinds of things that I thought, well. That was obvious to me, but it was something I could bring to the table and help to get that office to be more efficient. So I do think that's important, even those little learnings help you. And I did do a lot of, and I'm sure you did too early on, is you do a lot of reading and a lot of classes, the cubby classes and those types of things that really help you get a little bit more introspective about yourself and being willing to have 360s and take the feedback and know who you are. I certainly know what my key weaknesses were when I started and what I've worked on, and what anchors I've gotten in my boat on those things, and what things I still have to every day be conscious about, right? Because we're all human.

Sarah - 00:47:50:

Yeah. Great.

Corrie - 00:47:51:

We asked about readers and what they can do. And I think the biggest act of being very deliberate is, and this is people of color, women, but also men or people who just have a little different personality style. You've got more than likely the people you've surrounded yourself with are super smart. But typically when you're in a meeting with say, 6 to 10 people, there's probably the boss and maybe two other people that are really contributing to the conversation. And as a leader, pulling the rest of the team out and into the conversation and being very deliberate about that. And also recognizing when someone is getting stepped on and they're not being heard, right? And if you really want to create an inclusive environment overall for all of your employees, regardless of what their status is or what their background is. Is really making sure that you're pulling people out and it takes effort and it is exhausting sometimes because you're trying to get through something. You're trying to get to an, you want to get to the end, right? You're in this meeting. You want to get to the end. You want to get to the conclusion and you've got all these things on your plate that you're trying to work through, but you've got to do that. And if you can't do it, you need to tell one of those people that's always speaking up in the room to help you with it. And that will help as well. I've actually had people do that for me to say, hey, can you make sure that we're drawing? So-and-so, because I know they have something to say. And so to me, if I had to give like, I mean, if it was one thing that you could do differently today that you're not doing, it's that it's really pulling people in. And when you see it happening, if you're a peer or a leader, make sure that you're saying, hey, wait a second. I think that person had something to say, or I think, you know, you cut them off.

Sarah - 00:49:30:

Or just what do you think, right? You know, maybe they're not getting cut off, but they're fearful of speaking up and you can encourage that. Yeah.

Corrie - 00:49:38:

Yeah.

Sarah - 00:49:38:

Really good advice. Corrie, thank you so much. This is been wonderful. I really appreciate you coming and sharing more about your personal journey, but also extracting some of those insights that others can take and learn from. Thank you so much for spending some time with me.

Corrie - 00:49:55:

Well, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to chatting again. I want to hear your story too.

Sarah - 00:50:00:

That would be great.

Corrie - 00:50:01:

All right. All right. Take care.

Sarah - 00:50:03:

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

June 5, 2024 | 10 Mins Read

Future of Field Service Live: Stockholm Highlights

June 5, 2024 | 10 Mins Read

Future of Field Service Live: Stockholm Highlights

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Episode 268

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro shares an overview of the first Future of Field Service Live event of 2024, which took place in Stockholm on May 21st. Sarah talks about her interviews with Frank Gregoire from Miele, Roy Dockery, author of The Art of Leading, and Darian Ari. The main subjects of the conversations included the evolving role of service in organizations, field service leadership, technology, and change management.

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Sarah: When you think about all sorts of things that make people unique, whether it's age or background or area of specialty, etc., there are different preferences in communication and different communication styles that we need to consider. And from a leadership perspective, how do we make sure that we're being effective in our leadership? With so much sort of variety in what works for people.

Sarah: Welcome to the UNSCRIPTED Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. As you can tell, I am solo today. We just wrapped the Future of Field Service live event in Stockholm. It was the first event in the series this year, and it went really, really well, I thought I would record a solo episode today and give you all a summary of what was discussed at the event, some of the highlights, et cetera.

So the event took place at Volvo Studios in the center of Stockholm. And ever since we started doing these events in 2022, we've always tried to select venues that are a little bit unique, a different setting than you might expect for a thought leadership event or a conference, that sort of thing, and we do that because we want people to have a day away from the norm. We try and pick spaces that have a little bit of creativity, and can help inspire people to feel energized and excited to connect with one another. And Volvo Studio didn't disappoint. The team always does a wonderful job of finding really neat venues in every city that we visit. This is our third Future of Field live event, in Stockholm. So it's a challenge for them when we've already used some of the cool venues in a city to keep finding them. But they did a wonderful job. It was a really unique setting and a very nice space. It worked really well for the structure of the event.

So we had three speakers for the Stockholm event that were participating in interview-based sessions. So we started the day with an introduction and me providing sort of state of the industry. So some of the major themes, macro themes that I see in my conversations with people on daily, weekly basis, some of the things that seem to be coming up from leaders across industries in different areas of the world. So I talked about five trends that I see and just sort of gave my overview of those. And then we had our first interview session, which was with Frank Gregoire, who is with Miele. And Frank is in his role with Miele currently, but he's worked for other organizations in service leadership roles for quite a long time. So he has a lot of experience looking at some of the shifts that have taken place, not only from the perspective of his current role, but the perspective of some of the other organizations he's been a part of. So what we talked about is sort of his reflection on the role services playing in organizations and what that means in terms of as a leader needing to balance meeting demands of today's business while knowing that he has a responsibility to be shaping the future of the company today. So we talked about some of the changes he's anticipating in use of technology, in how service is delivered, in what that means in terms of what the skill set needs to be of the frontline workforce, and how he needs to be both taking care of what needs to happen in each of those areas for the way the business is structured today, while also working toward the plan and taking steps toward the plan of what that will look like, because so many of those areas are significantly different. So it was an interesting conversation. And I think it's one that is very important because most service leaders can appreciate that need for balance. But one of the things we talked about is that it is really challenging to continue to protect the time, and energy that you need to do sort of the forward-thinking or the strategic planning and not just get consumed by the day-to-day needs of the business in the moment. So, he talked about how he does that and acknowledged that it is a challenge, but talked about how he sort of tries to protect his time and make sure that he continues to prioritize that forward-thinking strategic view because it is so incredibly important.

So that was our morning interview session. We then broke out into groups for some roundtable discussions. And actually before we did that, we had an icebreaker session. Where everyone in the room had an opportunity to introduce themselves and answer to one of a few questions that sparked some interesting tidbits of information about the folks that we were in attendance with. Then we broke out into roundtable discussions. We had lunch. In the afternoon, we had two additional interviews. So some of you, if you listen to the podcast regularly or have read our content, or attend other industry events in the United States. You would likely be familiar with Roy Dockery, who recently wrote the book, The Art of Leading and has served in different service leadership roles himself in the industry, most recently with Flock Safety. Roy joined us for the Stockholm event and shared with the audience some of the principles of leadership that he wrote about in the book, The Art of Leading. So we talked about the role of love in leadership. We talked about authenticity, empathy. But we also had him give some examples of how those principles are used in ways that can be challenging. So we talked about some examples of having hard conversations and what that looks like through the lens of empathy and authenticity, etc. So how those things can be applied even when you're doing things that are very difficult, like letting someone go. So he talked through some real-world examples around that. We talked a bit about concepts around needing to change the way a lot of organizations think about and conduct their recruiting and hiring practices. Obviously, also from a retention standpoint, how we nurture talent and how we help talent move into leadership roles and progress through their careers. So Roy shared a lot of great insights around those topics. We also touched a bit on diversity and inclusion, specifically the inclusion piece and the criticality of that and some of maybe the missteps that leaders or organizations can fall into.

So that was a great discussion. And then we were joined by our next interview was with Darian Ari, who is leading the Nordics business for Global Connect. And Darian has actually shared that he's 26. So he's been put into a senior leadership position at a very young age, there was an opportunity where they had some turnover was in the business, and they asked him to step up. And he shared a bit about what it is like to be a young leader and be bringing certainly a fresh perspective to things in terms of company decisions. And things like that. But also, I guess some of the pros and cons for him that come along with that. He also shared that when he took that role, he needed to recruit his frontline workforce. And so he took a different approach than the company had historically, we talked about the fact that if we're hiring based on experience, the talent is getting harder and harder to find if we're only looking for experienced folks. So, he talked about how he got very involved in the recruiting process and did a lot of the reviewing of CVs himself. And he met with a lot of candidates that the company may not have historically considered. And he, as he put it, took some bets on his team, giving people an opportunity where he saw something within them from a behavior standpoint or a skill standpoint, even though they didn't necessarily have the experience or even the educational background, that the company would have typically sought for those roles. And so he talked about sort of, the way that those employees have responded in, in terms of really, feeling committed to helping him succeed, because he was willing to give them a chance. And it was a really interesting conversation. We also talked about the importance of onboarding and enablement with that workforce because they were brought into the business in a way that hadn't been the traditional approach. We talked about empowerment and we talked about the importance of execution in service and some of the aspects that are important in executing. So we talked about the use of technology. We talked about, the onboarding, the training, how the one-on-one relationship with team members and mentoring has factored in, and things like that. So it was really interesting to hear his perspective and to have that conversation.

We broke out again into roundtables. And I think looking back on the roundtable sessions that I participated in, both in the morning and the afternoon, there were quite a few different conversations that sort of... Came up. One of the themes seemed to be around the importance of communication and also understanding that as we are able to grow a more and more diverse workforce, when you think about all sorts of things that make people unique, whether it's age or background or area of specialty, et cetera, that there are different preferences in communication and different communication styles that we need to consider. And from a leadership perspective, how do we make sure that we're being effective in our leadership? With so much sort of variety in what works for people. Another theme that came up was around change management, which always is a topic. But we had a lot of conversations about with the increase in use of technologies that are automating manual processes that are, whether that's more early stage automation or whether that's more advanced use cases incorporating AI and things like that, anytime we're doing that, there's a response. There can be resistance. There can be fear of that change. And we talked about different strategies for overcoming that, different ways to get teams on board, different things that have worked when we are introducing new technology or continually innovating with the technology we have like we need to be in today's landscape. So that was another theme. Those were some of the things that stand out.

There were some great discussions that happened throughout the day. At the end, we had sort of a summary session where we looked back. We actually had a live illustrator documenting the themes that were discussed throughout the day. So we shared that graphic. We talked about some of the key highlights. And I shared some of the things that stood out to me. Some of the other folks shared some of the things that stood out to them. And then we ended the day with a nice networking session. It's always one of my favorite parts of the day, not only because my stage work is done and I can sort of take a deep breath, but more so because it's really fulfilling to see the different people in the room that are local to the area we're in that haven't met before. But are so excited to become connected with one another. So there were people exchanging business cards, connecting on LinkedIn, exchanging phone numbers who are excited about the opportunity that they have after the event to, continue to help each other navigate some the challenges and opportunities that they're working through. So there was an attendee who I had been in touch with prior to the event. And she said, I'm so glad I came because I really felt like a lot of the challenges I'm having were unique to us. And now I see that everyone in the room is somewhere in the journey also and sharing in a lot of those challenges. And that sounds very simple, but it's something that. I think can be really powerful about having these events is people can come and certainly get inspired with different ideas and have these nuggets of information they can take back and put to work within their organizations. But also that feeling of recognizing that no one has it all figured out and everyone's somewhere in the journey, I think, can be really comforting for people. And that always makes me happy when that's a piece of feedback. So it was a great day.

We have our next event coming up on June 13th in Cologne, Germany. So if you are in or near that area and you would like to join us, the agenda for that event, we have four interview sessions, also the roundtables taking place. And I think it will be a wonderful event. So we'd love to see you there if that is a possibility. You can find all of the information that you would need to find to view the agenda and register to join us at futureoffieldservice.com. These events are free to attend because they are sponsored by IFS, which makes it possible for us to do this without charging people to come and participate. So we're able to offer a day of connection and community and some really wonderful content without a ticket for admission. So that's an amazing thing. So have a look at the website and register to join us if you can. As always, the podcast is sponsored by IFS. And you can find more at ifs.com. Thank you for listening.

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May 29, 2024 | 34 Mins Read

Building Mental Strength as a Leader

May 29, 2024 | 34 Mins Read

Building Mental Strength as a Leader

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Episode 267

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro welcomes Scott Mautz, author of The Mentally Strong Leader and founder and CEO of Profound Performance, a keynote, training, and coaching company. Scott is a former Procter & Gamble executive who successfully ran four of the company’s largest multi-billion dollar businesses. He has been named a "CEO Thought-leader" by The Chief Executives Guild and a "Top 50 Leadership Innovator" by Inc.com.

Scott shares his strategies for building mental strength and overcoming challenges as a leader. He also explores topics such as self-regulation, the "static trap," self-doubt, imposter syndrome, navigating stress, as well as the importance of creating habits that support mental strength, providing tools and frameworks for building resilience.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Also, subscribe to our newsletter right here.

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Full Show Notes

Scott: When you have a title like the mentally strong leader, I've found that people hear the combination of the words mentally and strongly like, oh, that's interesting. I haven't heard that combination of words. What does that mean? What exactly does mental strength mean? Well, here's what it means. Mental strength is the ability to regulate your emotions, your thoughts, and your behaviors productively. Despite circumstances, even in the face of adversity. As I like to say, it's how you manage internally, Sarah, so that you can lead externally. And here's the thing. I think your listeners would intuitively understand that if they want to succeed at work and in life, you have to be able to self-regulate emotions and thoughts and behaviors, productive outcomes. We know that, but the thing is, Sarah, it's really hard to do that. It's really hard to do that. But if you can build the habits that increase your mental strength, which we're going to talk more about, I have learned over time that it's actually how you train your brain for achievement.

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 are going to be talking about building mental strength as a leader. May, as you probably know, is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I'm excited for this conversation today and to be talking about such an important topic. I'm thrilled to welcome to the podcast Scott Mautz, who is the author of The Mentally Strong Leader. Scott is the founder and CEO of Profound Performance, a keynote training and coaching company. He is a former Procter & Gamble executive who successfully ran four of the company's largest multi-billion dollar businesses. Also the multiple award-winning author of three other books, it looks like, and has been named CEO Thought Leader by the Chief Executives Guild and a top 50 leadership innovator by Inc.com. That's a mouthful, Scott. Welcome to the podcast.

Scott: Glad to be here. That guy sounds kind of cool. I can't wait to meet him.

Sarah: Yeah, I'm looking forward to talking with him. Wonderful. So that was obviously quite the bio. But before we dig into today's topic, Scott, just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself in your own words.

Scott: Yeah, sure. I grew up in corporate America, spent over three decades there. And it was the constant study of me watching what makes great leaders great and why achievers achieve that led me to talk about what we're going to have a nice chat about today that really led me to say, you know, I really have to share what I've learned with the world. And even so much so that I ultimately decided to take the leap of faith and leave the corporate world to, you know, broaden my platform for making a difference with the written and the spoken word and to become a researcher and author. And it's kind of led me to where I am today at the pinnacle of being able to talk to you here today.

Sarah: Yeah, well, that's excellent. Okay, so you say that mentally strong leader pushes their team and themselves to something exceptional, through something challenging in a way that makes everyone feel something special and that mental strength is the leadership superpower of our time. So can you talk a bit about those statements and how that thinking prompted you to write this new book?

Scott: Yeah, I will. I'll even dip a little bit into some research behind the book too, briefly, if that'll be of service to you, Sarah, and your listeners. So I'll start just, you know, with a really crisp definition, if you will. You know, when you have a title like The Mentally Strong Leader, I found that people hear the combination of the words mentally and strongly like, oh, that's interesting. I haven't heard that combination of words. What does that mean? What exactly does mental strength mean? Well, here's what it means. Mental strength is the ability to regulate your emotions, your thoughts, and your behaviors productively, despite circumstances, even in the face of adversity. As I like to say, it's how you manage internally, Sarah, so that you can lead externally. And here's the thing. I think your listeners would intuitively understand that if they want to succeed at work and in life, you have to be able to self-regulate emotions and thoughts and behaviors, productive outcomes. We know that, but the thing is, Sarah, it's really hard to do that. It's really hard to do that. But if you can build the habits that increase your mental strength, which we're going to talk more about, I have learned over time that it's actually how you train your brain for achievement. And I'll explain with a quick piece of research and tell you how that leads to the superpower statement you're asking about. I've been doing research on this for a very, very long time. One piece of research that really stuck out that I conducted, I asked over 3,000 executives, Sarah, one central question in one particular study. Thinking of the highest achieving organizations you've ever been a part of that overcame the most obstacles, what were the attributes of the key leader in that organization at that time? And over 91% of respondents, 91.3, I think it was, to be precise, all had the same response, Sarah. They described, even though they didn't know that they were describing this at the time. They described mentally strong leaders that flex six mental muscles in particular, fortitude, confidence, boldness, decision-making, goal-focusing, the ability to stay, you know, focused on your goals, and the ability to message positively to the troops, not getting drawn down into negative garble and keeping a presence to your intent and quality and integrity to being in the moment. And I really started to understand, Sarah, looking back myself on all the organizations, that I was in that achieved the most despite all the obstacles we went through, it really became clear to me that, wow, mental strength is the differentiator. It's the secret sauce. It's the cheat code to achievement. It's what led me to really believe that, especially in today's chaotic work world, where there's so much opportunity to be distracted and to have doubt creep into your life. It's what makes me believe right down to the core of my fiber that mental strength is the leadership superpower of our time.

Sarah: Mm-hmm. Okay. All right. I'm excited to hear more. Now, there's a term that I saw that I'm hoping you can explain to everyone and talk a little bit about why it's important to avoid, which is the static trap.

Scott: Ah, yes. The static trap, it has to do with the fortitude muscle, right? And I think if you and I sat down, Sarah, and brainstormed all the things you need to do and the habits you need to build to be able to build up your fortitude muscle, we could come up with a lot of pretty obvious things. One thing that's not so obvious that's in the book, The Mentally Strong Leader, a tool that you can build, is to avoid the static trap, which is this. It has to do with problem-solving. And if you think about it, you have to be able to solve problems really well. It's inherent in being resilient because the very nature of having to be resilient, you have to overcome problems. But there's a big problem in problem-solving called the static trap, which is this. Our research has shown us that people can tend to be static, first of all, meaning they deny that a problem exists. They push it off on someone else. They do nothing about it. They say, oh, that's not really an issue. Until what? Until the problem can no longer be ignored. Then they move from being static to creating static around the problem, denying even then that, okay, but it's not really that big of an issue. I didn't really cause it. Making excuses for why the problem exists, and pointing fingers at other people. So even though they've admitted the problem exists, they move to the third phase of the trap, which is they were being static, then they're creating static around the problem. Now they remain static by not doing still, not moving fast enough, and getting into action mode to take action and do something about the problem that exists. And you overcome that, of course, by being able to recognize the signs of problem denial and moving quickly to admission in action mode instead. And I go into depth in The Mentally Strong Leader about how exactly to do that. But avoiding the static trap is not something that we often think of or even know that it exists, but it's very, very real. And it gets in the way of us building our fortitude muscle.

Sarah: Now, what do you think it is that causes that initial static?

Scott: Yeah, I think it's, we are so busy, we're so inundated. And as I say, I think it's not just that I think, you know, I have the data that shows us there's more and more opportunity than ever, Sarah, for us to feel distracted. And, you know, ever since the invention of devices, that doesn't help any, right? And then all the chaos that's happening in the world and the amount of self-doubt that creeps into our lives now and into our work world, into our personal world, it creates this paralysis in us where sometimes it's easier to default to being static than to actually tackle the problem from the beginning. And psychology shows us, we make the incorrect conclusion that our resilience will increase by ignoring a problem. Because we don't have to face it. The energy doesn't go to trying to face it. So we're going to reserve that energy for when things get really bad. But of course, what happens, the problem gets blown out of proportion. And by the time you move past being static about it, the amount of energy you actually have to put into addressing it has exponentially increased. And it actually rapidly decreases your fortitude and resilience. I think that's really why we remain static for far too long.

Sarah: Yeah. I wonder too, if part of it is fear.

Scott: Oh, sure.

Sarah: Yeah. That's interesting. Now let's talk about, you know, you mentioned self-doubt.

Scott: Yeah.

Sarah: Can we talk about how leaders can work on eliminating negative self-talk or that inner chatter and the need for approval-seeking?

Scott: Yeah, let's talk about that on a couple of fronts. In The Mentally Strong Leader, there's a whole chapter on building your confidence muscle, remembering that you know, the six mental muscles of mental strength are fortitude, confidence, boldness, decision-making, goal-focusing, and the ability to positively message to the troops. And in the chapter, I go deep on the confidence muscle. And I talk about two really important tools, two things we need to do, which are, first of all, monitor your relationship with doubt, and then also monitor your relationship with yourself. And I'll explain both of those because they get to what you're talking about, Sarah. Think about those words for a second. I'm asking the listener to monitor their relationship with doubt. That assumes that a relationship must exist. And I can guarantee you, regardless of the listener out there, Sarah, it does exist. The definition of confidence is not the absence of doubt. We all have doubt in our heads. And even the most confident people that I interviewed for this book could tell me... It's not that doubt doesn't exist. They've just gotten very good at managing their relationship with doubt. And I talk in the book about the doubt continuum, how you can go all the way from actually being overconfident on one end of the continuum, which isn't great, all the way over to being paralyzed by fear, to your point earlier, Sarah, which isn't great. And in between, the truth lies in trying to, you know, really try to be perfectly confident or at least embrace healthy doubt along the way by knowing that you're never going to know everything. And that you have to believe in your ability to figure things out along the way as you go. Now, as you must also monitor your relationship with doubt, you have to monitor your relationship with yourself. There's also a tool in The Mentally Strong Leader called the self-acceptance scale. It goes all the way from being self-accepting completely, self-love, self-worth, and self-appreciation, all the way to the other side, which is imposter syndrome, which isn't good. And then there are all kinds of variations in between where our confidence slowly wanes as our self-regulation of our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors wanes and our confidence starts to decrease. So we start from a place of, you know, self-accepting, and then we can start to seek approval, chasing approval instead of authenticity. Then it gets a little bit worse. Then we start comparing to others, forgetting that the only comparison that matters is to who we were yesterday, whether or not we're becoming a better version of ourselves. Slowly, self-regulation breaks down more. We move farther to the right of the scale, where our self-acceptance just collides even more. And we're starting to engage in negative inner chatter, which I'll come back to in just a second. It gets even worse. Then we could start to move along that scale towards where we actually believe we're not enough. And I want to ensure your listeners, if you're watching this anywhere on YouTube, or if you're just listening, I want you to look into the camera right now and hear me when I say this. You are enough. You don't have to take on everything by yourself. And we can continue to move along that self-accepted scale in the negative side all the way to imposter syndrome. And to your question, where I find in that scale, you know, we want to be self-accepting. That's the idea. Self-regulate our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and stop the degradation of our confidence along that scale. Where a lot of people sit happens to be right in the middle, which is negative inner chatter. And you're asking about that. I always encourage people, and I talk about this as one of the over 50 plus tools in the book, The Mentally Strong Leader, to help you build habits to become mentally stronger. I talk about one tool called taking a self-compassion break tool, which is simply this. It's three steps with a pre-step. When you find yourself beating yourself up, first of all, you have to get better at catching yourself in the moment when you're doing that, which is something I still work on. You know, I teach this stuff, Sarah, and I still have to work at catching myself when I'm beating myself up. Then you go into step one, which is just in that moment you catch yourself doing it, stop beating yourself up for beating yourself up. Step two. Instead, in that moment, talk to yourself like a friend in need. If a friend came up to you and clearly needed compassion and was telling you a story where they're clearly looking for compassion, you wouldn't interrupt them five minutes in and say, hey, I've heard your story and I've come to the conclusion that you're a complete loser, right? You wouldn't talk to your friend in need that way. So how would you talk to yourself that way? And then the third step in that self-compassion break is to remember the 90-10 rule, which is simply this. 90-10 is a ratio, a formula for how you should value yourself, which should be 90% based on self-worth, self-appreciation, self-love, 10% on assigned worth, and what other people think of you. And people often say to me, but Scott, you'd be teaching the 100-0 rule, that 100% of how you value yourself should be based only on what you think and never on what anyone else thinks. I think that's an interesting theory, but in concept, it doesn't really work. We all need that occasional slice, Sarah, of external validation to tell us that we're worthy and worthwhile, valued and valuable. The problem arises when we allow that 10% to become 70, 80, 90, 100% of how we value ourselves. The problem arises when we begin to chase approval instead of authenticity when we focus on winning love rather than giving love.

Sarah: So you mentioned on that continuum, the far end is imposter syndrome.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: So can you talk about, you know, we know that's real and can be really tough. Can you talk about what can be done when someone's at that extreme to kind of, you know, get out of that thinking and, you know, shift the focus back to somewhere more positive?

Scott: Yeah, imposter syndrome, so we're all on the same page, Sarah. It's when you downplay your accomplishments and your worth, you doubt your intellect and your skills, and you can even discount, totally, your expertise and your experience. And in The Mentally Strong Leader, one of the 50 tools I talk about there helps you to stop imposter syndrome with multiple steps. And I'll share very quickly a few of the key steps. One, one of the most important things is you first have to, and this is the obvious one, you have to own your accomplishments. You really have to ask yourself, where am I underestimating and underappreciating myself? Where, if I'm honest, am I assigning too much credit to other things, to luck, to external factors? You can play defense attorney here, meaning imagine you were on trial to defend why you are where you are today. What would your lawyer say in defense of you of how you got there? That's what you have to do in this first step, you know, is really own your accomplishments. You know, I've learned over the years studying this, though, that that could still produce the yeah, but the response, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sarah: It can also be really hard.

Scott: It could be.

Sarah: I mean, I'm really bad at this.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: I'm not even sure. I mean, you know, I have some ideas, right? But we won't get into all of that. But I find that very difficult for myself. I find it difficult to be objective. I find it difficult to articulate.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: You know, even when there are areas I can identify like it's really challenging for me to kind of, you know, put those into proper thoughts, words, et cetera.

Scott: Yes. And that's why it doesn't stop at step one, because you're absolutely right, sir. That difficulty leads you to say quite often, yeah, but. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Yes. I did accomplish this, but fill in the blank with a thousand other reasons why we might convince ourselves we don't deserve what we're getting. So you can also move to step two, which is to be open to imposter discomfort, but absolutely closed to imposter thoughts. And here's what I mean by that. It's called acceptance in psychology circles. It's the best way I can put it is to say like, so let's say you're about to take on, you're going to lead a team. You've just been promoted and you're going to lead a team now, you know, somewhere within the service business. You know, you've been blessed with the opportunity to lead a new service team. You're brand new in the role. And you're starting to feel imposter syndrome kicking in. Well, rather than having doubts about whether or not you can really lead the team, you have to be okay with just letting that doubt sit in the background, allowing you to focus on how to do that job best, not if you can do that job. And at the same time, so that's that imposter discomfort. You learn to be okay with letting it sit there because it's okay. It all happens to all of us. But the difference is you don't let imposter thoughts take over. Discomfort is one thing. Thoughts is another thing. You think of them almost as a detached bubble from your brain sitting out there and you know that. You can imagine they came from somebody else, an unfair critic. And you know that those thoughts are not trying to help you in your life. So why would you take them seriously? This takes you into the third step where you can think of your value and your values rather than your valuation. And here's what I mean. First of all, especially when you're struggling, Sarah, with owning your accomplishments, it's really helpful sometimes to reach out and talk to people and find out what am I really good at. What value do I really bring to the earth? And they can be a confirming source for you. And even for you to say really, truly. What unique skills, strengths, perspectives, and values do I bring to the earth? Number one, and not focus on valuation. What other people are thinking that you bring to the pile? Then the second part, half of that, also goes back to your values. What do you stand for? What's important to you? Are you living those values every day? And if you're not, can you increase that? And the important part about that is when impostor feelings are booing you from the cheap seats, your values are sitting right in the front row cheering you on in your life, reminding you that no matter what anyone thinks about what you've accomplished including yourself. If you're staying true to your values you're living true to what matters to you and that's an accomplishment that is really worth something. And I've found that that can also help people get past the very, very difficult thing called imposter syndrome.

Sarah: Yeah. Now, I don't have any research on this handy, but I feel like there is research that indicates that imposter syndrome is more common in women than men.

Scott: Yeah.

Sarah: Do you know if that's true?

Scott: It is.

Sarah: Yeah.

Scott: That is true.

Sarah: So it's interesting because obviously I said, you know, I've struggled with that myself. But what's interesting is when I interview leaders on the podcast, it's become very apparent to me that men are more likely to take credit for their accomplishments openly, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not saying they shouldn't. But when I ask women about their accomplishments, their career progression, et cetera. Almost, always, they will point to something outside of themselves, some external luck.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: I've been fortunate. I had a really good support system. I owe it all to, you know, this person who saw something in me, et cetera. And it's been very interesting to observe that. I bring this up because I think that it's something it would be helpful for everyone to be aware of that man or woman. I mean, it doesn't matter. I'm just pointing out the fact that I see it more on women. You know, when you notice someone doing that, don't underestimate the importance of stopping them and saying, well, yeah, you know, I'm sure that your boss was really supportive, but I think you're doing yourself a discredit by not owning what it took for you to do X or Y or Z. It's actually been really interesting because I've started framing the question when I ask women. And instead of saying, what do you think helped get you from here to here or helped you do this thing? I will say what internal characteristics helped you, and what external factors helped you. Then it forces them to reflect and own, you know, that. And so, you know, I think it's just really interesting that those thought processes exist and can be stronger in some people than others. But also to think about, just as human beings, how we can help one another, you know, focus on, like you said, not our valuation. It's not me saying what I think of what you've done, but how can we encourage people to reflect on their value and, you know, what they bring into the world?

Scott: Yeah, that's a fantastic point, Sarah. And I want to build on it very briefly if I can. I do something similar as well, the kind of internal-external thing. I phrased that question a little bit differently, but I do the same type of spirit, not only with women but with anybody that I know is disproportionately suffering from imposter syndrome. And to the spirit of what you're saying, another question that I use as a prompt when I spot someone doing that to themselves, really distancing themselves from what they've really done. I found a very powerful question, and I encourage you to try it and see how it works when you challenge other people. I'll stop them and I'll say, hold on, I want you to really think about this hard. What simply would not have happened if it were not for you? And you really force them to separate what they're imagining in their mind their success came from. And what's helpful about that foil is if they imagine the absence of their existence, if they had to be truthful, it becomes easier to say, well, I know if I wasn't here that that wouldn't happen. And then it becomes easier to draw a tie to the unique value that they brought to the table and it starts to get them out of the mode of assigning credit for everything that happened to external factors. So try that as well. That might be of service to you. I found that to be very helpful.

Sarah: Yeah, I like that. All right. Let's talk about limiting beliefs. So how do these factor into mental strength and how can leaders reframe limiting beliefs?

Scott: Yes. And of course, you know, in The Mentally Strong Leader, one of the core muscles that we've learned exists as part of mental strength is the boldness muscle. And one of the things that holds us back from being bold, of course, is limiting beliefs that pop up that we grab onto. And they can be deadly, right? Because when you have a limiting belief, they soon become truths, which affects our emotions, our thoughts, and our behaviors. Those behaviors become actions. Those actions become beliefs. Those principles, you know, those beliefs become principles that we act on every day. So you have to break the cycle. And, you know, I encourage people in The Mentally Strong Leader to conduct what I call a belief exchange, where you first of all have to uncover the beliefs holding you back. You know, what resistance are you feeling inside when you think about achieving a goal that you're going after that's important to you? And why do you think that goal is too difficult? You know, uncover the beliefs. You know, what global assumptions are you making? You know, I... I am... Life is... People are... Things like this... What are the global assumptions that you're making that are converting into limiting beliefs? What stories are you telling yourself? What labels are you applying to yourself that aren't true? And I encourage people to just spend some reflective time with those prompts, those questions, and list out their limiting beliefs, and then create an exchange. Then you have to just replace the beliefs holding you back. You know, how did I form this limiting belief once you've identified it? Would people who know you question the validity of that limiting belief? Would super achievers question the validity of your belief, the thing that's holding you back? Was there a time when you didn't believe that limiting belief? You know, what are the consequences if you stick with that limiting belief? These are all prompt questions that can help you to then do an exchange. And it sounds simple, Sarah, but I can't even tell you, I've done workshops where I've seen people being brought to tears by the simple exercise of writing down, using the prompt questions I was just talking about, and I talk about The Mentally Strong Leader, uncovering their limiting beliefs, and then being forced to exchange those beliefs and then write them down on the same index card, draw an arrow and say, I'm no longer going to use that belief. I'm going to exchange it for this empowering belief. And I've seen people brought to tears with just the power of self-awareness and moving closer to self-acceptance when they do that.

Sarah: Yeah, you know, I was second-guessing myself on bringing this up, but see if you can follow me here. And when you started describing that and you said, you know, I am...., life is... that led me to think about internal locus of control versus external locus of control.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: Which I have to imagine plays a part here in the sense of the mentally strong leader, right? Because in a lot of ways, we're talking about perspective, right? And we've talked some on this podcast about how perspective is the only real difference of whether you're looking at a problem or an opportunity, right? And so, you know, I'm just thinking about people that get stuck in the habit of the external locus of control. You know, this is happening to me.

Scott: Yes.

Sarah: I'm trying to lead change, but I'm in an environment that just, you know, it feels like a lost cause, you know, versus, you know, I can't control all of my external environment, but I can control this. I am able to do this. So is there a sort of a correlation there?

Scott: I think they're 100% is. And just to show, just to build on the specific example you're talking about, Sarah, in one of my keynotes, I do quite a bit of work in the change management space. And one of the most powerful moments in the keynote is when I stop and, you know, we're talking about change and the process of change and why it's so difficult for us. And I stop and I pause and I ask the audience, you know, you have what's called The Change Choice to Make. Are you going to choose to see change as happening to you or for you? And then I have them do an exercise where they list out, when you're acting like change is happening to you, what does that look like? What do those behaviors look like? Okay, great. Well, when I act like that, I catastrophize how bad it's going to be. I worry about how I'll lose part of myself with a change. Okay, now, what happens when change happens to you? And the transformation you see in behaviors and outlook is the epitome of a shift from an external focus to this thing happening to me to an internal lens where it's like, oh, wait a minute. I own how I'm going to think and feel about change. And wouldn't it be so much easier to lead change and thrive with change and live with change if I switched gears to that internal locus? That is a huge part of mental strength, Sarah. So excellent point and an excellent question, especially if mental strength is regulating your emotions, your thoughts, and behaviors to produce productive outcomes. You cannot do that by giving all power to the external factor. It's the opposite in the definition of mental strength.

Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense.

Scott: Excellent point. Excellent point.

Sarah: Thank you. Okay, so I'm going to ask this question from two different perspectives. So, you know, we're talking about these muscles, right, that you cover in the book. And, you know, this idea of building mental strength and navigating negative emotions, maintaining a positive outlook, etc. My first version of the question here is, you know, I understand the importance. There's also a lot, like you mentioned at the beginning, a lot going on in today's landscape, right? So these leaders have, you know, obviously, they have personal lives and there can be any number of things happening there. But even just from the landscape of the work world, you know, there's a ton of change, you know, there's competing priorities, there's demands on demands on demands, et. cetera. So what is your advice on, you know, working on this mental strength in the face of a lot of stress and, you know, competing priorities, et. cetera?

Scott: Yes, there's a tool in The Mentally Strong Leader in the messaging chapter, the messaging muscle, which again is your ability as a leader to not get drawn into negativity, not get sucked into negative environments, and let your temper run away with you or your emotions run away so that you send the wrong negative message to troops. It's about maintaining positivity because people are always watching you as a leader. It's absolutely essential if you want to be mentally strong that you can control that flow of emotions. There's a tool in the book that gets at what you were talking about, Sarah. I call it the redirect rhythm. It really works because it's simple. It's based on a core psychological philosophy of how to control emotions in negative moments. Here's how it works. It's four steps, but once you start to practice it, Sarah, it happens instantaneously. It has to be because this is a tool to help you navigate negative emotions in the moment. Here's how it works, four super easy steps. First, you have to create space and this is what I think most of us intuitively know. It's the old adage of you have to step back and take a breath. We all know that, but here's the psychology of why that's so important because when you step back and take a breath in that moment, when you can feel your heat rising and you say, all right, give me a second to cool down, you take a breath. Psychologically, what happens is you're creating distance from the intensity of that emotion. You're breaking the gravitation pull of that emotion that's dragging you somewhere that you do not want to be. That's why we take a breath. Then when you take a breath, you quickly move into the next step, which is to name the emotion. Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? When you can name it, you begin to distance yourself from that emotion. It's not you. It's that thing you're feeling, and it begins to lose its hold over you. So for example, let's say you and I are having a discussion, Sarah, and I'm getting very angry with you, although I can't imagine. You see such a lovely person, but I'm getting angry. I don't know because you don't agree with me. And I step back and I say, oh, okay, take a breath. What am I feeling right now? I'm feeling anger. You go to the next, the final two steps where you reassess and you redirect. You reassess. Okay, I'm feeling angry, but what's really happening? What's really happening is that Sarah just has a different point of view than me. She's not right. I'm not right. I need to back off being so passionate about my point of view, and I'm going to redirect. That's the final stage. What's next? What am I going to do about what I'm feeling and how I'm about to react to Sarah? What happens is over time, it becomes automatic. You create space. You name the emotion. You reassess. You redirect quickly, and it becomes a very powerful self-regulation tool to keep you from losing your cool in pretty negative moments.

Sarah: Yeah. Okay. So here's the piece I'm struggling a little bit with if I'm being honest. Okay. So I've been pretty open in my content on the podcast, et cetera, about my own mental health journey. So I have complex PTSD, which can surface in depression, anxiety, ADHD, et cetera. So, you know, there's these principles, applying these principles within, you know, the challenges of, we'll say, normal stress, right?

Scott: Yes, sure.

Sarah: But then, you know, how does this content apply for people that have, you know, some mental health challenges that could make the application of these things more challenging?

Scott: Yeah, here's what I think can help. And, you know, I do want to, you know, state up front that by no means am I, you know, a mental health certified expert. You know, I focus on mental strike. For folks that are really, really, you know, struggling, they should go get the help, need, care, and attention that they deserve and that they need. But I do want to point out that what I know can help anybody who's struggling in any sense of this is it comes back to the fact that it's often the habits that we can create that make some of these behaviors more automatic for us so we don't have to think about it and struggle with it. And I'll give you a few examples. In the book, there's a reason why the subtitle is what it is. And for those of you that can see at home here, you know, it's build the habits to productively regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. In The Mentally Strong Leader, I build habit-building science for the exact reason you're talking about, Sarah, to help make it for people who are really struggling with a variety of mental strength issues. And I build habit-building science in three ways. First of all, you have to understand, and everybody knows this intuitively, that to build a habit, you need repetitions, right? Repetitions come from systems and frameworks that once you ingrain them, it helps make the helpful behavior, you don't have to think about it as much. It becomes more automatic if you will. And that's why all the tools in the book are built on systems or frameworks. Habit-building science rule number one. Rule number two is we often don't start the habits that we really need to help ourselves from a mental strength perspective because we don't know the first small step to take. So for every of the 50 tools in The Mentally Strong Leader, there's a section titled Your First Small Step, as well as a section that gets to the third point of habit-building science, which is what do you do in moments of weakness? So especially for folks who are really having a hard time with some of the aspects of mental strength, there are sections for each tool that tell you when you can feel, for example, your confidence breaking down, or your confidence muscle weakening. You may generally be confident, but you get out of that meeting with a boss and you just don't feel good about yourself because of something they said. What do you do in moments of weakness to get back on track? There's a section for every tool built-in on that as well. So that's a long way to answer your question, which I think could come back to the more you can habitualize behaviors that are really going to help and that you don't have to think about it. They become part of your daily routine. I think it's going to give you a greater and greater chance to truly become mentally stronger.

Sarah: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And I wanted to ask that question, just because I think it's important to acknowledge that, you know, practices that might be pretty straightforward and simple for some folks could be a lot more challenging for others. But I think part of it too, is, you know, the goal is progress, not perfection, right? So to your point, you know, not only what do you do in a moment of weakness, but, you know, there might be periods where someone's struggling. And, you know, some of the steps or, you know, the advice just feels too much at the moment, and that's fine, but you can come back to it, right? It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing mentality. It could be something that, you know, you're able to focus on when you can and take a break from, you know if you have a period where it's too challenging. But, you know, to your point, it sounds like so many of the concepts here are really, really helpful. And so I think they could apply to anyone. It's just, that I wanted to be respectful of bringing up the fact that, you know, sometimes there are other factors that could make it harder for people to apply certain principles than others.

Scott: Yeah. And I want to build on that in two ways very quickly, because it's a very important point, Sarah, and thank you for bringing it up, which is I do want your listeners to understand that the opposite of mentally strong is not mentally weak. We all have a baseline of mental strength to work from. We all do. In fact, in the Mentally Strong Leader, there's even a mental strength self-assessment that you take to determine, okay, what's my overall mental strength score? And then you also get a score by muscle, which is your fortitude, confidence, confidence, boldness, decision-making, goal focus, and messaging scores. And then it also helps you to figure out, okay, well, which muscles are right for you to work on? Which tools in the book will help you to work on those muscles? And I think that's important, Sarah because it helps you create a customized mental strength training program that's right for you. So you don't have to feel overwhelmed with, wait a minute, is this guy telling me that I got to go in and work on six muscles all the time?

Sarah: And all 50 tools at once.

Scott: All, like absolutely not. You know, when you go to the gym to work on your muscles, I don't think you're going to be able to go in with a plan every day, Sarah, to say, okay, today we got to hit every muscle in the body. I'm going to be here for 12 hours. Wednesday is back day, and Thursday is leg day. So you can create your own customized mental strength training program to pull the levers that are right for you that you need to work on. And again, to remember that the opposite of mentally strong is not mentally weak. We all have a baseline that we can build from.

Sarah: Yeah. And I would imagine too, there could also be, you know, scenarios, situations, circumstances where you might come back and need to focus on a different area, you know, because you're dealing with this certain situation or, you know, maybe you're leading a certain kind of person that is making you feel more challenged with a specific muscle than another, you know? So when you get the book and you look at your baseline, you know, that gives you some context, but you might find yourself in situations where it could be helpful to come back to a different piece and dig into one of the other muscles or some of the other tools.

Scott: Yeah, that's right. It's a menu of options. And I say right up front in the book, there's no expectation you use all the over 50 plus habit muscle-building tools in here. That would be ridiculous. You create your own program. And my dream is to see people, you know, I see them in the airport reading my book and I see about a thousand different stickies coming out the side pages of the parts that are most important to them. And I think that's what you'll be able to do.

Sarah: Yeah. Well, I think it's great that you're passionate about this. I think it's great you've created this resource. You know, we have had different folks come on the podcast and talk about burnout and talk about some of the struggles, right? And I think that to your point, mental strength is not only important but a superpower, right? And I think, you know, to me, I think about not only can it help you be more effective, but I think it's really important to consider the impact that it can have on a work-life blend, right? And being able to get better at navigating these things so that you're not taking it home, or you're not burdened by some unnecessary emotional weight, you know, that you could work on not carrying, right? Because it's more so, you know, just building those muscles and being more confident. So I think any tool that people can leverage to help them feel more confident and feel more adept at navigating these different circumstances it takes ultimately stress away, right? It helps them feel more productive, not just in their impact, but in how they conduct themselves. You know, I like the point you said, it's not about the valuation. It's not about getting good at this so you can give more to the company that you are impacting the bottom line for. It's the value, right? Get good at this so that, you know, being a leader is less taxing on you as a human being, I think that is a good way to look at it.

Scott: Very well said, Sarah. And, you know, I really do believe this. I mean, I really do believe this from the bottom of my heart. All the years I've spent studying mental strength, all the studies that I've done, I could have just put advice in a book and then said, okay, follow the advice and you'll be fine. But I recognize how difficult becoming mentally stronger can be. And it's why I spent the same amount of time understanding how we build habits. And that is the secret sauce in the book, I believe, because if you can habitualize the behaviors that you know in your mind are like, yeah, that makes sense. I should do that. But I don't. If you know how to create those habits, it's like your buddy, your partner right on your side with his or her arm around you, helping you along the way.

Sarah: Absolutely. Scott, can you let folks know where they can find the book so that they can check it out and learn more?

Scott: You can go to scottmautz.com, S-C-O-T-T-M-A-U-T-Z.com to learn about the book, my workshop that goes with it, the keynotes that I give, and all that. And also, I put together a gift for your listeners today, Sarah. If they go to scottmautz.com/mentallystronggift, they can download a free 60-page PDF that includes that mental strength self-assessment that I was talking about. If they want to get started on that, determine the baseline, remembering that we all have a healthy baseline to start from. But you can get that along with a whole bunch of questions and prompts that help you get the most out of the book. You can get that again at scottmautz.com/mentallystronggift, your free 60-page PDF.

Sarah: Excellent. Well, thank you, Scott. We'll make sure that we link both of those things in the show notes so everyone can easily find them. Really appreciate you coming and having this conversation. Enjoyed it and appreciate your insight. Thank you.

Scott: Thank you. Thank you so much. And thanks for your great questions and insight is very helpful for me too. Thank you.

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

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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

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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.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Also, subscribe to our newsletter right here.

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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 servitizationstrategy.com. 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, Kobo.com. We also have the digital version of the playbook. Again, if you go to servitizationstrategy.com, 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 futureoffieldservice.com. The podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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May 16, 2024 | 33 Mins Read

Smashing Stigma Around Mental Health & Prioritizing Well-Being at Work

May 16, 2024 | 33 Mins Read

Smashing Stigma Around Mental Health & Prioritizing Well-Being at Work

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Episode 265

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro is joined by Rob Stephenson, TEDx Speaker, Mental Health Campaigner, Keynote Speaker, CEO of FormScore®, and Founder of the InsideOut LeaderBoard® for an important conversation during Mental Health Awareness month.

Rob shares his motivation for evangelizing mental well-being and gives advice on how companies can make progress in normalizing mental health topics and promoting well-being at work. Trigger Warning: this episode includes a range of mental illness-related topics that may be sensitive for some listeners, including suicide.

Rob is deeply committed to mental health awareness and actively participates in efforts to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental ill-health in the workplace. He has managed bipolar disorder throughout his personal and professional life and shares his experiences and strategies for change through public speaking engagements.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Also, subscribe to our newsletter right here.

Rob: You've articulated the number one point very well there, which is listen. It's talk to your employees and really understand what's going on for them. Because we can often sit at the center in large organizations and make assumptions about what will work for our well-being without asking the people that we're trying to help. So I think ask your employees what's going on at the team level and gathering that information is really important. I think if you would take this seriously, there's a concept of psychological safety that I think is really important to think about. And psychological safety, as championed by Amy Edmondson of Harvard, talks about the belief you won't be held back, punished for speaking out, and missing a mistake. Or coming up with an idea.

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 having an important discussion around smashing stigma around mental health and prioritizing well-being at work. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a topic that is important to me personally, and I think important for all of our podcast listeners in thinking about how they prioritize their own mental health and support their teams in doing the same. So I'm thrilled to welcome today Rob Stephenson, who is a TEDx speaker, mental health campaigner, keynote speaker, CEO of FormScore, and Founder of The InsideOut Leaderboard. Rob, welcome to the podcast.

Rob: Sarah, thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

Sarah: Thank you for being here. I'm excited as well. I found Rob on LinkedIn, and it was clear that this is a big part of your life. And I'm so excited to hear what you have to share with us today. So before we get into the conversation, we're going to talk about what FormScore is. We're going to talk about what the Inside Out Leaderboard is. We're going to talk about a lot of other things. But before we get into that, just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, your journey, and what you do.

Rob: Sure. Sarah, thank you for that very kind introduction. I'd describe my mission as helping to inspire the creation of mentally healthy workplaces. And this mission really came out of me coming to terms with my personal challenges of living and working with bipolar disorder. And for those that don't know, bipolar is a mood disorder and is characterized by extremes of mood. So I will experience periods of hypomania, where I can take risks, make bad financial decisions, and spend money compulsively. And then I'll also experience periods of depression. And actually, I'm just coming out the other side of a pretty dark period of depression over the last few weeks for me. But I also experience kind of everything in between and periods of creativity, a drive, an ability to challenge the status quo. And I think it's important to recognize that if we can manage some of the challenges we experience with our mental health, we can then enjoy the strengths and the positives of our mental differences. So for the last eight years, I've been on this mission of trying to make change in the workplace by public speaking with the various other things that I do. Prior to that, I've been a CPA, and a chartered accountant. I have been a head hunter in the recruitment sector. And I've also been a long-time DJ and bar owner in my 30s. So I've had quite a varied career, but I actually think that as a campaigner, I've really found my purpose and my mission to help change how we perceive mental health.

Sarah: Yeah. It's such an important topic. And I think I still remember, I will never forget, there was a time when none of this was discussed, right? Openly in any way, right? And it's just, so we've already come a long way in the stigma. There's a long way left to go. All right. But I just want to say, I remember when, boy, I don't remember how many years ago this was, maybe 15 or so. Before social media as well, there were so many downsides of social media. But one of the things that I really like about it for me personally, like I follow on Instagram a lot of content related to complex PTSD because I have that. And. It's such a great, it can be such a great way to understand these topics better, to connect with other people, other content creators who have gone through this, and to feel less alone in that journey. Before social media, though, and in a time where this wasn't discussed as much, there’s a woman, Glennon Doyle, who wrote a book called Carry On, Warrior. And I remember finishing that book on a flight to California and just sobbing. But in a way where I just, words had been put to so many things I had felt for so long that like, I truly did not know there were other people that felt those things. So having these discussions, and doing the work you do is so incredibly important, just for people, for humans, right? But then obviously thinking about how much time we all spend at work and how we bring that humanity into the workplace and really think about how do we allow people to be themselves and help them be their best selves instead of that isolation of feeling like maybe I'm the only one that struggles with this thing or what have you. So such an important thing. And like I said, we've come a long way, but there is still so much stigma to smash. And so can you talk about why that's so important to you and just to the broader world, really?

Rob: Yeah, really happy to do so. And I think linked to that. What you were just saying resonates for me as well. When we experience a challenge to our mental health, because of the stigma, because it's not that widely talked about in society, and certainly a few years ago, it wasn't talked about at all. We feel we're alone. We feel that this really strange stuff that we don't even understand until we start to seek medical help we don't even have a label for, and we feel that this is a problem with us. And I had a similar experience. Somebody gave me a book, I think it was by Elizabeth Wurtzel, if I remember correctly, but it was her experiences with depression. I'm like, wow, there's somebody else out there that experiences this, that I'm struggling to even come to terms with a name. And I think the reason that it's so important to smash the stigma and challenge these misconceptions is at the most extreme end, it's costing lives. People are not getting the help and support they need. They're not comfortable asking for help. And we're losing lives to suicide. But I think, actually, as I mentioned, if we can start to receive help and understand what is driving mental ill health and start to manage that, whether that's with medication or whether it's with exercise, via social connections, whatever it might be, we can then just tap into those strengths that come with being human. But I think if we feel that we can't seek help and we can't talk about this stuff, many of us then spend unnecessary years where we're lost effectively because we're not moving forward. We're stuck and defined by our mental illness. I've made so many questionable decisions in my kind of 20s and 30s that if I'd have come to terms with my mental health challenge earlier, I might have made better decisions. And I think that is changing. We are seeing people being more open. The generations coming through are much more open about their mental health. You're right. Social media is a platform in many cases to spread awareness. We mentioned Mental Health Awareness Month, and that's great for, again, getting people talking. But you're right in that there's so much work still to do. And I think it's a good question to ask employees, do you feel confident in discussing a mental health challenge with your line manager? And that is still an overwhelming no for many people in the workplace. And I like to draw examples with something like cancer. And cancer used to be very much more stigmatized than it is. People would talk about the big C in hushed tones. Whereas now people feel much more comfortable talking about that diagnosis if they're experiencing that terrible condition. They receive the help that they need. They get help as quickly as possible. And they are supported by people. Now we're not there with mental ill health yet, which is why conversations like this, Mental Health Awareness Month, and activities in workplaces are so important. Because ultimately, what is the goal here? It's to help humans thrive as much as possible. And we can't thrive if we don't feel comfortable talking about a challenge.

Sarah: Yeah. You know, the other thing I'm thinking about, so obviously the name of the show is UNSCRIPTED, so here I go. But now that we're talking, right? And I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I think the other thing to think about when it comes to stigma is there's a, I think, a continuum of accepted topics, okay? And so like I this is just my observation. I think anxiety has become a pretty accepted topic of mental health. Maybe depression is slightly less so, but pretty normal, okay? I think bipolar, you're inching further into that continuum where people may react differently to that. And then I was just listening yesterday to my personal favorite podcast other than my own Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. And he had on someone who is diagnosed sociopath. And she is a PhD. She does a lot of work around sociopathy and understanding it better and to the degree, but that's sort of then further along, right? And it was eye-opening to me because considering myself someone who's very open-minded and accepting, it was just interesting to hear her speak about the journey of being a child who had sociopathy, didn't know it at the time, but like what it was like to grapple with that. And then what the response has been to that in the world and think, wow. That it is something where you need to constantly be learning and understanding and challenging your own perceptions and biases as well. So what are your thoughts on there's almost like a stigma continuum that we have to work through?

Rob: I 100% agree. And if you start talking about more stigmatized conditions or challenges, schizophrenia would be another one. And I think... Yeah, depression and anxiety are probably easier for people to get their heads around. And even then, unless you've experienced them, you don't know what they're like. But people would equate anxiety to being overly worried about stuff. People would equate depression to feeling low or sad. For those that experience this stuff regularly, it's much more serious. But it's also much more common. And people are talking much more openly. There's a stat that over a billion people experience anxiety. But I think stigma itself comes from fear. It comes from a fear of what would I do if someone said to me, I'm schizophrenic or I've got a borderline personality disorder. And fears are often countered by knowledge. So the idea of educating ourselves about these conditions is really important. And I think people immediately talk about, if you say mental ill health or mental illness, it's depression and anxiety that this scene is more acceptable. So you're absolutely right. I think this all comes from, though, the way mental illness has been portrayed over the years. It's Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the Lunatic Asylum, all of these words that have come into common vernacular. And we've got to break all of that down. Yeah, we're human, right? We're human. We're all individuals. We're all unique. We're all on a continuum of something, whether it's neurodiversity, whether it's mental health, whether it's well-being, whether it's opportunity, whether it's privilege. And some of us are just more extreme. That's not wrong. It's just human. And I think as we accept the differences in society, then that comes with understanding. Understanding comes with education and awareness.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. That's such a good point about how things have been portrayed. And when you start to shift your perspective to think about, what we've all probably encountered in our daily lives, if we're not someone who struggles with this ourselves, we've encountered someone who does, that you wouldn't know. They're showing up in life in a way that a lot of times. So yeah, really interesting.

Rob: I think that's really good because it's an invisible illness, right? I did a panel facilitation. The topic was financial well-being. It was a few days ago. And I looked like I do now. I was a confident man. I was asking good questions. I'm quite good at facilitation. I've done a lot of it. But I made a point to the audience that actually I was experiencing pretty bad depression. And I like to make that point when I am because we never know what's going on behind the scenes because we all put this mask on. And for me as a campaigner, that's one very nice way of challenging those perceptions of people. Because in the workplace, you have to put a mask on. We need to change that. But at the moment, you have to put a mask on because it's still not completely acceptable to be 100% yourself, particularly about your mental health.

Sarah: It's a really good point. My older son has type 1 diabetes, and he was diagnosed when he was three and a half. And if he has his insulin pump and his CGM somewhere that you can't see them, it's also very much invisible. People see him as a healthy, energetic, happy boy. And he is, right? But at any given moment, there's a completely different side of that that people don't understand. And I think I've shared about that before as well. And that's why I think it's so important to be open and honest the way you said you were that day because that's how we help people understand, right? We don't, we're not helping people understand by just hiding behind that mask and pretending we're okay when we're not okay.

Rob: For sure. And I think there's another important point to this as well, that the weight of pretending to be something you're not is a heavy one. It's heavier when that's something you're pretending to be as well as buoyant when you're experiencing something like depression. And what I've found since I've been more open in the last kind of eight, 10 years is actually that if we can lift that weight by being ourselves. So me being able to be open in that situation actually meant the weight I was carrying was lower because even though it was virtual, I was still connected with people and I knew that they knew where I'm at right now. I'm not trying to carry this pressure of being something I'm not. And I think back to the workplace. That's what we want. We want people to be themselves. And we can't do that if people are fearful of being themselves in any environment.

Sarah: Yeah. What you're saying makes me think of when Robin Williams committed suicide, the response to that, because he was someone who was so charismatic and seemingly so happy. And the way people reacted to that was almost amplified because that was his persona, and people that say, I just I can't imagine. And it's well, that's really good that you can't imagine, right? A lot of people can. And I think, you know, to your point, having to pretend that you're not experiencing something like that is a lot of a burden, right? So if you can ease that part, that gives people the space to allow themselves to get the help they need to feel better.

Rob: Yeah, I think that's right, you know. The question I often get asked by people is, what about if someone says that they are struggling to me? What should I do? The loved one, a colleague. And we're fearful of that as well, because as humans, particularly in the workplace, our jobs are generally to fix things, right? You can't fix someone who comes and says, I'm experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD, or whatever. There are professionals that can help to do that over time to manage and to come to terms with. But as a friend, a boss, or a loved one, you can't immediately solve that problem, and nor should you try. And I often say that we're not qualified to fix people, but we are qualified to listen as a human being. And sometimes knowing that person is there to listen unconditionally and you can be yourself with that person, that's a huge benefit when we're struggling. And it's these little simple things that make the burden easier to carry.

Sarah: Yeah. You think about someone who is, you know, in an executive position, and I know we're going to talk about the InsideOut LeaderBoard, but there is a weight of that as well, of the more prominent you are in the business, the more responsibility you hold, the more people you lead. Let's talk about, you do a lot of work with organizations on making mental health and well-being a priority and helping them understand why and how, etc. So we're going to talk about some of those things. But what do you see in terms of the differences among company cultures that are doing work in this area versus those who are avoiding it or refuse to believe that it's relevant for them to take on or aren't for some reason?

Rob: It's a good question. And I think we're seeing another sort of continuum there of organizations that are not doing anything, organizations that are ticking or checking a box. And then organizations that truly value the well-being of employees. So I like to visualize companies being on a kind of journey through the foothills, and we've got Mount Everest up there. And I think the most forward-thinking organizations are probably just starting to climb the mountain. Some haven't started the trek. Most are somewhere trekking through the foothills, approaching base camp. And I think that's okay that we're all at different stages. What I don't like to see are organizations that are understanding for their employer brand that we've got to do something about well-being. So we'll get an employee assistance program. We'll maybe have a few awareness sessions. We'll have some benefits, and that's well-being done. I think the difference between organizations that are doing that and those that truly get it, the organizations that get it really understand that well-being is not just a benefits issue. It's not just something to offer people when they're struggling. Let's work everybody to the bone, but it's okay because we've got some well-being resources we can give to people. So I think organizations that really understand the work that needs to be done here understand that actually it's about ways of working. It's about fairness. It's about belonging. It's about inclusion. It's about unrealistic work demands. It's about psychological safety. All of these things are not going to get fixed by a gym membership, an app, or anything else. Now, all of those things are useful as part of a wider strategy. But most people-oriented organizations, somewhere in their marketing materials, you'll see people are our greatest asset. So why do we invest more time servicing the photocopier in certain cases, right? It's about thinking, what is the objective of our organization? Now, most organizations, again, will have some objective around the creation of shareholder value, which is right because that's how these organizations are owned. But what about the creation of value for employees beyond the financial? Is coming to that workplace a life-enhancing experience? If not, why not? Because it should be. And this isn't just me preaching and being very woo-woo about things. If we get this right, then those employees will be higher performing. There's a whole bunch of research coming out of Oxford University and other organizations that categorically show that a well-engaged workforce will perform better. It leads to higher personal performance, team performance, even company and stock market performance. So if we get it right, the other performance aspects will follow. But we've got to choose to get it right for the right reasons that we want employees to have that experience, not just to check a box to say we've done well-being.

Sarah: Yeah. I'm thinking of an interview that I did recently with Marco Hugo Gutierrez from Tetra Pak on well-being. Now, he leads a field force, a group of field technicians, I think about 1,100 of them in Europe and around different regions. And they undertook a big effort not too long ago to really try and understand where their field technician engagement was at and where they needed to improve. And they asked, I thought, some really great questions like, what makes you happy at work? What makes you feel proud? What's your biggest struggle? Those sorts of things. And the number one thing that came out of it was isolation. These are employees who are out doing work at customer sites. They're not connected to their colleagues on a regular basis, etc. And they took some really practical steps to change that. So one of the things that they did was take an effort to free up the manager's time to spend more time with those employees. They focused on looking at how they could communicate differently the way those employees' efforts tied into the company's objectives to make sure it was clear to them how they were contributing to the purpose. They worked on reward and recognition to make sure that those employees felt valued, those sorts of things. And it was such a good example of obviously understanding that it mattered and wanting to do that for the right reasons, but also some really practical steps, at least related to our audience, that had an impact. So can you talk a little bit about, let's say you have someone who's beginning the track.  They do understand the importance, but they're really unsure on how to go about it. So what's important? What works? Those sorts of things.

Rob: Yeah, sure. And I think you've articulated the number one point very well there, which is, listen, it's talk to your employees and really understand what's going on for them. Because we can often sit at the center in large organizations and make assumptions with what will work for their well-being without asking the people that we're trying to help. So I think asking your employees what's going on at the team level and gathering that information is really important. I think if you really want to take this seriously, there's a concept of psychological safety that I think is really important to think about. Psychological safety, as championed by Amy Edmondson of Harvard, talks about the belief you won't be held back, punished for speaking out, admitting a mistake, or coming up with an idea. But actually, where our well-being is concerned, I think it's really interesting to understand whether employees feel comfortable in saying, my work demands are negatively affecting my health right now. What can we do about it? And I think if we can get to a culture where that is seen as safe in doing so, I think that's a really good starting point. And the way we create psychological safety is actually by the leader of that team being a little bit vulnerable. Can the leader talk about, it doesn't need to be a mental health challenge, can the leader talk about a time when they've needed to prioritize their own well-being at work? What have they done to do that? Can the leader talk about their well-being non-negotiables? What are the two or three things each week they need to do to stay well? If we start doing that at the team level and asking others what are their non-negotiables, then you're normalizing the well-being conversation. You're giving people permission. You can tell that some of my first bits of listening, getting involved at the team level and creating a culture that is conducive to well-being before we even start thinking about what benefits are required and what solutions are there. Because I think mostly the ways of working and work itself will be the big detractors of well-being within FormScore, which we'll talk about. We ask people what their well-being is with a score out of 10, but we ask what's driving it. The common themes is the negative drivers, workload, work stress, and distractions. The workload and work stress. That's never going to go away. We can talk about resourcing and properly staffing up teams. But so it's ways of working that generally mean people don't take breaks of the day or exercise or have proper family time. Might even skip their vacations or be under pressure to work through the weekend, whatever it might be. These are the things that we can actually influence as leaders and as workplaces, much more so than the genetic makeup as a person and whether they have a particular mental health challenge or not. We can influence work and work culture. But it takes a long time to do so. It's not like a two-year project to change the culture of an organization. So for me, it's starting that process at the team level to understand what's going on, create psychological safety, and bring a culture of permission and well-being into the teams.

Sarah: Yeah, I like the point you made about it. It's it takes time because I wanted to say when you shared those examples about a leader starting to get comfortable, being more vulnerable, talking more openly about how they're prioritizing their own well-being. What I wanted to say is just a reminder that particularly if it's new to your culture, don't expect to share once and a floodgate to open of people sharing back, right? You need to make that a regular practice and give people time to understand that it's genuine, that you're being authentic, that you're open, and it can take time for people to feel safe to share back, right? But. Yeah.

Rob: Yeah. But I think there's also a distinction we really need to make here between well-being, and mental health, okay? So we all have mental health. We all exist on a continuum. Some of us will experience a mental health challenge or a diagnosable mental illness. Everybody will experience mental ill health from time to time, excess stress or difficulty sleeping or whatever it might be. And then we all have well-being and we can all prioritise our well-being. So well-being is a subset of our mental health. So, and again, mental health would be one aspect of our well-being alongside physical well-being, spiritual well-being, et cetera. So often the conversation, particularly with leaders is well, I don't feel comfortable talking about my mental health. Well, that's fine. But recognize that you will do things as a leader to maintain good mental health or positive well-being. You'll prioritize sleep. You'll maybe exercise. You might think about your nutrition. You might socialize with friends. You have time with family. All of these things nourish us, right? So for the leaders that might be a bit uncertain about even speaking out on this topic, you're actually doing it already, but by talking about it, it normalizes it in the teams. So then we're not asking people to share back how they're feeling about any mental health challenge. We're saying, what do you need to do to stay well? Which is why we use the word form at form school, or rather mental health or well-being. Is it taking your lunch away from your desk? Is it putting a micro break in the day? Is it going to the gym? Is it that soccer match? Is it book club? Whatever. We all do different things to look after ourselves, but if we can get people talking about this, then that sends a strong message in the team that it's not only, you don't have permission, but you are encouraged to go and do this.

Sarah: Yeah. I'm also thinking this is a specific thing that comes to mind for me, but I go to therapy once a week for an hour and it's over my lunch break, but I'm driving. And so it's a break in the day. And obviously, you get into different roles, different schedules, et cetera, but even allowing people the time to do things like that as well. Right. And making that normalized is something that can help with reducing stigma and just giving people the space they need to take care of themselves in the ways that they need to take care of themselves.

Rob: Yeah. And look, most people wouldn't, I'm generalizing here, but most people wouldn't feel too uncomfortable putting a doctor's appointment on their schedule. Many more people would feel less comfortable putting therapy on their schedule. And again, if you see a leader putting therapy in their diary, in an open diary, that sends a strong message. And I love to hear CEOs talk about using a therapist, and going to therapy. Because I go to therapy once a week as well, and it's just a wonderful time where you've got somebody that is a qualified, non-judgmental listener who will give you space to work stuff out. And for me, therapy, I don't talk about bipolar too much in my therapy these days. It's more about how I'm showing up in the world as a parent or a business challenge I might be facing or whatever. It's a space for me to talk about what's on my mind, and I think everyone should do therapy.

Sarah: And exactly. And that's what I was going to say is it's not something that is only helpful in a time of well, with mental illness or in a time of mental health challenge. It's it can be a proactive way to prioritize your mental well-being, right? Especially when you're someone that has a lot of pressure, that's busy, that oftentimes, it's the only time I have to process my feelings about things that have happened because I don't slow down enough, you know, in a day to day to do that. So I need that space to think like, okay, well, yeah, I probably didn't react as well to that as I could. Or now that we're talking about it, I should think about things this way or what have you. So absolutely, that's I think an important example of something that to your point, seeing CEOs and executives do that sends a really strong message.

Rob: You used the word space there, right? And I think that's important because we've got to a way of working with very little space for reflection, space for thinking, space for creativity, space for well-being, space for hobbies. And I think the pandemic, whilst has created more flexibility in hybrid working, has also created a more transactional way of working. We'll jump on a Zoom, you're straight into an agenda, you're onto the next Zoom, limited breaks of the day. When we were in the office previously, at least we had to go to a client premises or walk between a meeting room. We're now super intense in the way that we're working. And so therefore, I think as humans, we need to be intentional about grabbing that space back. And therapy is obviously a protected hour in both of our diaries that we have each week. But I think in the day we can do the same. We can build in time for thinking, for reflection, for even just reviewing how things are going. But if we don't be intentional about it, our diaries tend to get filled up for us.

Sarah: For sure. I think that's a good point. And I think for those leaders within our audience, that's probably realistic. I am also conscious that a lot of people are thinking about how to improve well-being for teams that are on really specific schedules because they're providing service. There are a couple examples of that as well. And I've shared this one before, but there's a gentleman that spoke at a conference that we held last year in Birmingham from Bosch. And, I'm sorry, it was from Mighty. And he talked about how they've implemented IFS's planning and scheduling optimization, which just improves the automation of scheduling. So there's a company benefit to that, of course. But what they did was give back to the employees by allowing them, because it will auto-schedule everything, to set their own start and end time every day. And so some people wanted to do school drop-offs, so they wanted to start later. They want to get done earlier, et cetera. So it was a nice way to give back some autonomy to the workforce and allow them a little bit better balance. So I think my point is just there are certain roles where there's a lot more constriction. But I think if companies are committed to this, there's always ways to get creative to make some positive change that works within those constrictions.

Rob: Yeah, I think you're right. And I think there'll be more opportunities as technology plays a role. My hope is that we don't just fill the time with the human.

Sarah: Exactly.

Rob: There's another point. I did a keynote yesterday for one of the world's leading law firms. So a super demanding, high-performance workplace. And I was talking about resilience. But I think a lot of the misconception about well-being is we need to allocate huge chunks of time to receive the benefits. We don't need to go to exercise for an hour to receive benefits from exercise. We can do a 10-minute walk or some squats while we're boiling the kettle. That has a great benefit on our minds and our mood. Similarly, a five-minute break between stressful events, whatever that might be. I've seen brain scans, total relaxation of the autonomic nervous system. So it doesn't need to be big, grand gestures. It can be little micro steps that have a huge benefit on well-being. And those can always be built in if there is a will.

Sarah: Yeah. You mentioned resilience. So I want to touch on that briefly because I loved what you said about resilience, that people misperceive resilience as strength. So talk about why that's a misperception.

Rob: Yeah. So people think that to be resilient, it's strength, it's pulling the all-nighter, it's working 24-7, it's skipping vacations. It's not. And it's whilst some of us will have more innate resilience capacity than others, resilience is, I like to think of it more as a reserve. So the actual definition is flexibility or the ability to bounce back or forward after a challenge that work or life is throwing at us. So again, if we use my law firm as an example. Lawyers will have to work on transactions, and they could work pretty onerous hours through those transactions that will tap into their reserves and they will use their resilience to get through that. But then their kind of reserves will be depleted. Now, after that transaction, there needs to be some time to build up those reserves again. So then when the next busy piece of work comes, there again, they've got the energy and the capacity to handle that. If we go from one back-to-back transaction to the next, that's where we're getting the problem of burnout. So resilience isn't your ability to withstand that transaction. Resilience is actually how you've built up your reserves to be able to do so. And how do we do that? It's by prioritizing our well-being. It's doing the things that nourish us. It's exercise. It's sleep. It's good nutrition. It's social connections. It's stress management. So if we can do all of this, then we've got a reserve. So think of your battery being topped up. Then when that busy period comes, we're eating into that battery. We're then going to top it up again. And then if we do that regularly, actually what we can do is build a bigger battery. So we've got more resilience capacity. We can handle more stress without overload, exhaustion, and burnout. But people think it's toughness, right? And that's why I think burnout is on the rise globally in many industries. Because people, we're trying to do more with less. We're pushing employees. People are responding, but actually they're left with little in the tank and no opportunity to rebuild that resilience. Flexibility, bounce back ability. But it's something for me that we've got to feed and nourish to give us those reserves to then have them when we need them.

Sarah: Yeah, I like that point. So going back to companies that are prioritizing this. So that's in and of itself a great thing. What would you say to those who have the right commitment to this? They're genuine in their commitment. What's the biggest misstep people are making?

Rob: I think treating well-being as a benefits issue is probably the wrong place to start. And I think doing that from the center without that listening I was mentioning earlier. Often we'll see huge investment in well-being programs and benefits that are then underutilized and often will be underutilized because of poor communication, but mainly because people feel they don't have the time or the permission or the psychological safety to do so. And you see a lot of memes out there, you can't meditate your way out of burnout or a 16-hour day, which is true. Benefits have their role, but I think you've actually got to start with ways of working. They're really looking at, are we putting people under appropriate amounts of pressure? Do we have appropriate resources for this job in hand or for this particular team? Do people feel safe in their workplace? Do they feel like they've got a sense of belonging? Can they be themselves? Are we creating an environment that creates a social connection with our workplaces, particularly if we're doing more stuff over Zoom or we've got people on the road, right? Your example was beautiful because you've got to work hard in certain job types to give people that social connection. So I think just treat it like a benefits issue and a discretionary benefit that we can cut when times are tough is probably the biggest mistake I see. Let's start the hard work, which is looking at culture, looking at teams, looking at psychological safety, looking at what's really going on for people.

Sarah: Yeah. Now, I know we said most companies have started the trek, but for those who remain sceptical, cynical, are ignoring the importance of this, what would you say to those folks?

Rob: So it's interesting, isn't it? I think that some organizations still feel that well-being is a soft issue. And they feel that it's something to focus on only when people become ill. I think for the cynics, I'd point them to the research. So indeed, the jobs board have got a great study going on. They've got a happiness index. It's run by Oxford University and they've collected basically about 20 million data points of people ranking their companies on well-being. And what Oxford University have done is taken that data and mapped that against the stock market. And for the top 100 companies on well-being, they significantly outperform the markets, whether it's a ball bear or volatile market. So I think for the real cynics out there, understand that the data will tell you that if you get well-being right, you will outperform your peers at the stock market level. For our big telecom, British Telecom company over here, it's been causally shown that well-being and performance are linked by looking at their call centers, where you can obviously measure output and you can measure well-being. Call centers with higher well-being on average were 13% more efficient, more productive. So all the data will tell you that well-being isn't a soft and fluffy benefits issue. It is an essential component of performance, and it is certainly an essential component of sustainable performance. Now, in a market where there is a war for talent and employees, certainly good markets, will walk on their feet, ignore well-being at your peril. So if you don't believe it's morally the right thing to do and you have a duty of care to create a culture conducive to wellness, understand that actually you're missing a really big performance opportunity by ignoring well-being.

Sarah: Yeah, that's such a powerful message. And I think ignoring that evidence brings us back to stigma, like feeling that it's soft or that it's not everyone's responsibility is faulty thinking. Okay, can you talk a little bit about FormScore and InsideOut?

Rob: Yeah, sure. So the InsideOut LeaderBoard is a not-for-profit that I developed here in the UK. Its mission of smashing the stigma in the workplace. And we do that by showcasing business leaders who are open about the fact they have a mental health challenge. So we've published with over 400 executives and leaders who are publicly open about the fact they've got a challenge. You mentioned Robin Williams. We've got Robin's son, Zach, on there, who's a fantastic campaigner. But we've got CFOs, CEOs, partners in the professions. And the mechanism there is to say, look, if our leaders are talking about this stuff, there's a ripple effect within the organization and in broader society to say it is okay to speak out when we're struggling and therefore seek help. And I'm very proud of that because that was my contribution to get the ball rolling in smashing stigma. We've got a number of US leaders on there as well. It's had a contribution in smashing stigma for sure.

Sarah: Absolutely. So powerful.

Rob: Yeah. And look, our leaders are our role models, right? So if you've got your CEO talking about the fact that they might have had a challenge, then actually you'll feel a little bit safer in disclosing your own. FormScore is a tool that we've developed from a concept given to me by a therapist many years ago who suggested that I track my well-being using a score out of 10 and then just note down what were the things driving it. So today I'm probably a 7 out of 10. I'm coming out of this low period where I've been a 4, 5, and 6 with depression. And for me, what's the positive? Well, I'm feeling a strong sense of purpose. I'm feeling motivated. Music is certainly fuelling my creativity right now. I've got a physical health challenge in long COVID that I'm managing. And I've got a few family relationship issues to sort out, particularly with my children. Nothing serious, but just trying to be a better father. So that's probably pulling me down a little bit. And I could probably do with a little bit better sleep than I had last night. So we've evolved that into a tool that gives line managers an ability to get that information anonymously, very quickly in a survey that we aggregate at the company level. So the team will do a check-in. The manager will understand what's going on for their team and will then, aggregate that up to the work.

Sarah: Yeah, and it's such an interesting tool. I know you have your number on LinkedIn, I think in your email signature. And I was just thinking, what a wonderful way to know when you're about to get into a meeting with someone. If you see a certain number, just to think, oh, yes, we should always be being kind and we should always be giving people grace. But sometimes you don't think about that. You just get into it and it's boom, right? But just taking that beat or seeing an eight or a nine and thinking, all right, let's get shit done today. You know what I mean? I love the idea of that visual and just the way that it could help people remember that we are all human. We all have things going on outside of work. And some days we need to honor ourselves more than we do our productivity. And other days, the circumstances are great, for us to go full steam ahead. So I absolutely love that.

Rob: Yeah. And that's what we find in practice that with companies using this at the team level, they end up talking about it verbally. And I'm a seven today, I'm an eight. Why is that? And then you can often have a very different discussion if someone is struggling. I mean, it opens the door to a bit of peer support or at least a bit of understanding. So it's a simple concept that's very powerful in practice.

Sarah: I love it. Rob, is there any one thing we haven't touched on yet today that you feel is important for people to understand, keep in mind, etc.?

Rob: The other thing that I focus a lot of my time on is the intersection between music and our mental health. As a DJ and music producer in my spare time, I've really started to look into the impact of music on cognitive function, ability to sleep, exercise performance, and ability to manage pain. There's lots of good stuff in the research about how music can impact our brains. And I think music's a really interesting way to engage with our well-being a little bit because we all tend to have a relationship with music. And I think if we can start to use music a little bit more intentionally. What are the tracks that get you going when you're feeling a little bit lethargic? What are the tracks that help you calm if you're feeling a little bit stressed or anxious? What are the tracks that can help you sleep before going to bed? We start using music in this way. It's a beautiful way of engaging in our well-being from a different perspective. So I've got a show that I take into workplaces where it combines public speaking, live DJing, audience interaction. It gets people thinking differently about their well-being through music. So I'd encourage people to think about their relationship with music in respect of different moods.

Sarah: I love that. Rob, thank you so, so much for spending time with me today. I truly appreciate it. It's been an honor to have you on and to have this discussion with you. I love all of the work you're doing. We will go through and link things in the show notes so people can find the resources and find you as well. And I hope you'll come back again at some point.

Rob: Absolutely. I've really enjoyed our time. Thank you for having me.

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

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May 8, 2024 | 30 Mins Read

ABB’s Use of AR and AI to Modernize Field Service and Transform CX

May 8, 2024 | 30 Mins Read

ABB’s Use of AR and AI to Modernize Field Service and Transform CX

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Episode 264

Join host Sarah Nicastro in an unscripted podcast conversation with Stuart Thompson, President of Electrification service division at ABB, as they discuss how ABB is using augmented reality and artificial intelligence to revolutionize field service and enhance the customer experience. Discover how ABB adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, improved their AR and AI tools based on feedback, and their vision for the future of field service.

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Watch the podcast video here:

[00:00:06] Sarah: Welcome to the unscripted podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are going to get an inside look at how a BB is using augmented reality and artificial intelligence to modernise field service and transform the customer experience. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Stuart Thompson, who is the president for the Electrification service division at a BB Stewart, Welcome to the future of Field Service podcast.

[00:00:36] Stuart: Hey, Sarah. Nice to be here. Thank you.

[00:00:38] Sarah: Thanks for coming. So before we get into our topic for today, can you just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself? Your role? A BB? Anything you want to share?

[00:00:48] Stuart: Sure. Well, uh, you know, I'm AAA family man with, uh, with four kids, but, uh, at the same time, I lead electrification service for a BB. Uh, I've worked across four major, uh, global companies in the electrification industry. Um, probably the largest three were Alstom in France and the UK, uh, with GE. I was here in Australia, uh, China for quite a while and in the US. And for the last five years, I've been with a BB, um, electrification service. Uh, it's a a global organisation. we have nearly 3000 field engineers spread across 50 countries. Uh, we look after all kinds of electrification infrastructure from residential up to power plant. Um, from a customer segment standpoint, um, utilities and oil and gas are the largest customer group that we look after. We have the infrastructure also around mining, um, other critical infrastructures, data centres, and food and beverages growing quite quickly for us from a service perspective, Um, for a BB, uh, we're a large engineering firm. Uh, that looks after, you know, four key areas of business in electrification and automation. Uh, it's divided into four business areas of robotics. We're we're well known for robotics. Uh, we're known in the process automation industries in what we call motion, which is motors and drives primarily. And electrification is about half of a BB, uh, which is where we reside and and look after.

[00:02:28] Sarah: Hey. Excellent. You mentioned being a family man. Um, and that made me think I should share, uh, in case it becomes relevant that because of our time difference, it is evening here, which means my Children are home. So if any listeners hear any, um, you know, little boy energy in the background. I apologise in advance. Um so great, Stuart. So we're going to talk about, um, some of the ways that a BB is leveraging modern technology to really evolve service delivery, continue to modernise the customer, experience those sorts of things. But before we talk about how you're doing that, can you just sort of set the stage with a little bit of why you are doing that? So the factors that have led you to the point of, you know, the the journey that you're on today?

[00:03:21] Stuart: Yeah, Well, um, for us, everything really starts with the customer and the need around our customers in the field. Uh, I think we all experience that, uh, with digitization. There's a growing demand of instant support and faster support and, um, being closer to their sites and their assets, and in many cases, physically, that that's almost impossible. Um, so that that was one aspect. But the second aspect was I think many firms around the world are finding a labour shortage and and skills shortage, particularly in the electrical industry. With all this modernization of, um, electrification around the world, the growth in electrical industry versus oil and gas and others is significant, Um, especially as companies are trying to, uh, drive a more sustainable outcome. So you're seeing big movements in electrification. You're seeing extra demands in EV charging and other things around infrastructure, renewables, growth. So all of that is driving pressure on the industry and the growth in, um, you know, human power and capability to go and work in these areas. So customers are demanding more from us, but industry providing less and less workforce capability to go and serve that. So we had to look for alternatives A to help our workforce progress and grow, um, but also meet the needs and the expectations of customers. So they were the main two drivers, I would say that have helped us evolve and deploy our investments where we feel can achieve those results for us and our customers going for

[00:05:09] Sarah: Yeah, you know, it's an interesting, um, sort of dynamic of you have increased demand, but along with that, it's like you said, also increased expectations. You know, it's faster. It's more knowledge. It's, you know, all of these things, right? All while companies are struggling with, um, you know, finding talent but also the the redefining of what those roles look like, right. And in today's landscape. And, um, so, you know, fortunately, the technology is is, um you know, uh, sophisticated. Um, enough today to really play play a role here, but that's not to minimise. Um, the effort that comes in with, you know, changing the business processes accordingly, and and the offerings and then managing change and all of those things as well, which I'm sure we'll get into some of that. So you've sort of set the stage for, um What? Some of the the key variables are in where you are today. Can you tell us a little bit about you know, how you are turning to technologies like augmented reality and artificial intelligence to, you know, transform how you deliver a service?

[00:06:36] Stuart: Yeah, well, let me let me maybe go back a few years to a a time where, um covid was impacting a lot of the world, right? And we run a a global network of field service engineers. And one of the immediate challenges we had were getting people home as borders, closed flights, reduced et cetera, Uh, the first thing was the safety of our employees and getting them back home. But then the same challenge was happening for our customers that they need a global support. Some of these are multinational firms with facilities in the US, China and Europe, and they needed that support on a daily basis. Today we have about 100 engineers in the sky at any moment flying. Um, a lot of the work is domestically done, but we have international experts that travel in for very specialised application. And some of that challenge is keeping that know-how and knowledge, but also having a good work life balance for those field engineers. So they do get to spend time with their families at home. But we can also take that knowledge and scale that knowledge around the world. So during the times of covid, um, we had to a protect our people and get them home. Um, but they continue that service level to customers, and we've been working on augmented reality for a period of time. Uh, particularly in Europe, we've been doing design work. We've been doing factory acceptance tests of devices and products, uh, for customers which couldn't fly in internationally. Well, you had time constraints around visas and flight times and and travel. Um, so we've been doing it in a in a, um, in a in a safe sort of manufacturing environment. But not in the in the field. And we had a very large customer with a big commissioning project taking place in China. And obviously, that was one of the last countries people wanted to travel to during covid. Um, but also within China, there were a lot of restrictions as well. Um, so we took what was, uh, uh a a safe environment. And we deployed that to the field, and we went out to numerous vendors to find wearable devices and that that were applicable for field engineers to to wear that didn't get in the way, freed up their hands and their visual capabilities, but could also provide them with support and real time data and information at the site. Um, because there's a lot of pressure on that field engineer that the customer's demanding action. Um, and there's a lot of variabilities, but to have a team around you and supporting you while you're on that site, uh, was super important. Um, so we couldn't bring a lot of people in. We could ship assets and equipment. And so we were able to ship that in this case to China, and the Chinese engineers were already trained in basic electrical infrastructure and systems. However, they might not have had the deep domain expertise on the particular piece of equipment they were working on. And when they went in, we could then through, um, wearable devices, we could project onto the equipment and we could have engineers sitting in the US, in this case guiding them verbally and visually on the priorities and what to do and what not to do. Um, and they were able to communicate in English and that then the tools were translating into Chinese for the field engineers. So we weren't getting things also lost in interpretation and language. So we've been working on this for several years, but the acceleration that did for so many things even like the tools we're using today, um, it really gave us opportunity in the field. So we took that opportunity from the field and said, OK, could we use this more? And we ended up with another case with a mine down in Chile within a month after that exercise, and we were able to deploy it there. But this time it was between Germany and and, uh, Santiago that were doing that work. So we found a lot of functionality. People were open to using it because they had no other choice at that point in time. And we usually find in times of crisis like this, technology can move extremely quickly and people become much more open and adapt to using it. And customers become more friendly to the to the choice of the application. Because there was there was no other choice at that point. And as your infrastructure's down and not operating and you're losing millions of dollars a day in the chilly mine case, um, it was it was just absolutely essential to get it running but taken in by the customer and then even deployed by the customer later on with their own people, uh, to connect into us so that that was sort of around the evolution of it, where it came about. And then we've been evolving that over time because you get a lot of feed. I've got hundreds of engineers trying these tools and systems what they like, what they don't like. And like you said, the culture of change, there's there's less urgency for it now. Um, but some people have drifted back to traditional models, but there are a lot of advantages for us to use these tools and provide support in the field. Yeah,

[00:12:10] Sarah: so it's interesting. So you were sort of tiptoeing into it Covid happened and gave you the opportunity to dive in. Um, and it is interesting what you say. Um, because it it echoes some of what other people have said. But I read this article, Um, not too too long ago, and I'm not gonna remember where it came from or what exactly the the headline was that hooked me in. But essentially, you know, what they were saying is, um, the impact that covid had on companies in terms of them, you know, really recognising what they're capable of in leveraging these tools and in changing, um as quickly as they need to or being more agile. Or you know, all of the things that that companies had to do when things settle back down. Companies have gone in one of two directions. They have either let that fuel them and make them more passionate about what they're capable of. And they're innovating faster than ever before because it proved that they could do more than they thought was possible. Or they have fallen back into the warm embrace of complacency and then very happy that things went back to, you know, not having that urgency. And so, you know, some of the points you brought up, you know, without those restrictions and without the necessity of it, I've heard a lot of companies say, you know, yeah, we were using augmented reality. But, you know, our technicians just don't really want to do it anymore. Um, or our customers were open to different measures when it was the only option. But now they just really want someone on site. So I'm just curious how you've navigated those things. I think they're very real, um, challenges to expect. But also I think the companies that just concede and say, Oh, yeah, it's just too hard for them or our customers just don't want it, um, are going to fall behind the companies that push harder to keep on the journey. If that makes sense, And so I'm just curious. You know, how you've sort of helped keep things moving along, even if it isn't at the run pace. It had to be during covid.

[00:14:44] Stuart: Yeah, so an interesting point. So, behind the scenes, I would say, um, a a few years ago, our R and D spending in service activity, uh, was about half where it is today. And we're working on things that we'll deploy to the field in 2 to 3 years time. What? We got a lot of feedback on in the field during the crisis, Let's say, were certain features or functions that field engineers didn't like about it, you know, it was too cumbersome. Uh, you know, there was too much information. Oh, I couldn't get internet connection. You know, things were customers didn't had a cybersecurity risk on their site. So we've taken all of that feedback, and then we've doubled our R and D expenditure. We've now created entire lines of R and D expenditure in this place, um, in developing with third parties to make sure that the wearables are wearable and not something too cumbersome to start with. We've also looked at practical tools that help the engineer, Probably more from a safety perspective, because every engineer wants to be safe. All right, um and so we looked at those kind of aspects that help, um, drive adoption and, um, let's say easing the engineers into things like augmented reality. So I'll I'll comment a bit more on that in a minute. But we we've doubled down, right? Um, and and one of it is the front end tool. The others are the backend tools and the data. A lot of our data in Legacy services are on devices that were built 1020 30 years ago that field engineers are working on, and all that data is sitting on paper or if I show my age, microfiche or or other things in in datas and warehouses and things. So we're digitising a lot of that data and information today to make it more usable and usable friendly. So a field engineer could call up a drawing that typically sat in a factory archive somewhere, but it's readily available, and they can call it up. So the and functionality in the augmented reality is, uh, is realised if you like, and it wasn't back then um so there's a There's a back end of cleaning all the data and the information up to make it more usable at the front end. But there's also the aspect of, um, barriers to entry to the market and people wanting to use it and trying basic things. Most companies accept the safety aspect, right? And so wearable devices are the most basic kind. Um, could be like a watch that they're wearing, and it's detecting voltage. So as the person moves towards it, I Is it safe? Is it switched off? No, it's not. And I'd say a lot of electrical incidents are in place where people haven't done the right thing in switching things off and checking and double checking. So having it sort of like as a a safety reminder, like you're sensing in your car when you reverse it and the building you wearing it. And some of the most experienced people still forget to do stuff, and it will vibrate, and they're like, Oh, wow, it saved my life. So then they're more open to let's try something else and let's add something else. So you're not just trying to change the way I do my work. You're trying to make it better for me. So there's a personal factor in there and for customers as well. They don't want a safety issue or risk on their side, so they tend to adopt it. So last month we launched an augmented reality tool that actually shows you your arc incident level as you're walking towards the equipment and a little thing pops up on the goggle or on the glasses and it shows the person, Hey, you should have this safety equipment on before you get to the device and it's just a reminder it's held them. It's not changing what they do, but it be instead of the way they work. It supports them in their work, so we've done developments in that space. But, Sarah, we've we've gone that that double down. But a lot of it is in the background, developing the right products that we can then test in the field with the engineers and then deploy on cybersecurity. Um, we've also worked on, um, tools and systems just to create separation from from site localization of data and information. Um, so we've listened. We've taken the feedback, and then we've invested the money to find that, uh, softest route I would say to adoption.

[00:19:32] Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense. And I mean, there's a couple of points you made that I think are important. And the biggest is that you listened, right? I think that's something, too, that you know, the first generation of something that you, you know, put in place in the middle of a pandemic where it's absolutely critical to being able to conduct business might not be the perfect iteration, right? So being open to the fact of OK, so what do you like? What don't you like what works, what doesn't work and then continuing to evolve that The other thing, though, is you know, you mentioned at one point like, um the you know, I have to imagine there's certain pockets that have far more acceptance than others. For instance, I'm thinking of those international experts that, you know, if you're now able to give them the option to not be on that aeroplane all the time, because they can do this this way, right? That has to add tremendous value to them. And so I think another thing for companies is, you know, maybe try to not get stuck on the pockets of resistance. And instead look for the use cases or the applications within the business where you are getting positive. Traction focus there first, while the other pieces of it sort of come along and mature. You know, I think that's the other thing. Sometimes you know, at the first inclination of challenge or resistance. You know, it's just well, this isn't working, you know, and and maybe just, um, looking at it a bit differently.

[00:21:10] Stuart: Yeah, I think if you think about your field engineering, work it, it's hard work, right. There's a lot of travel. There's a lot of heavy equipment that you're lifting and out in the field. But some of the best field engineers we've got are nearing retirement, right, and so travel becomes more difficult. But the knowledge is there, and for them to be able to impart and share that knowledge with 20 people in a day instead of one when they're travelling to a site is much more attractive, right? And as the tools have become more intuitive that you can just talk instead of typing, You know, if I look at a 64 year old field engineer. They're usually not the best computer literate type is necessarily depending on their background. Um, but for them just to have conversation and talk like we are and the computer or the device in the background taking care of everything else, um, it becomes a lot more natural for them and helps them out. But from a customer's viewpoint as well, I can have, Um Well, we we have different levels of service support. I can have a level four technical, uh, expert from the factory online with you in minutes. Or if you wait a week, I can have them at your site. So they're taking it on. And depending on their sense of urgency, Yeah, they'd love to have the person at the site, but if they're losing a million dollars an hour with oil barrels, not rolling off the production line, very happy to have someone online and guiding them as well. And the other aspect here too. Sarah is, um, the companies themselves helping themselves so us giving them tools so they don't even need to wait for the ab engineer to get there. That, in the case of, um of the the chile mine that they they had technicians that knew that their site and knew their equipment. They could provide them with guided support and get themselves back up. And, yes, we could then schedule in a week or two, the ADB expert to be there. But we also knew a lot more before we got to the site so we could come more prepared. We could have the right equipment there. We weren't going into the unknown we were entering and becoming much more. Um, so as we gave those examples and we share those types of stories with other customers, they become more open. Um, but again, we have to be scalable. Um, some people don't want any data leaving a site. They worried, especially our data centre customers. They're extremely conservative. Even though they provide all this capability, them themselves are conservative. So we had to address that the wearability because back in 2019, these devices were like gaming devices. You know something? A kid would sit in a bedroom with, um, like my eldest son and, you know, and and play on computer games. They were too big, too cumbersome. But now We've got devices that are friendly. They're wearable. They're industrialised. They have features on them with a button instead of, you know, little tiny buttons to to operate. So some vendors have got some really good versatile products to go and work with. And we've had to adapt around them. Yeah.

[00:24:35] Sarah: Can you expand a bit on the artificial intelligence piece and how that weaves into this conversation?

[00:24:43] Stuart: Yeah. Um, so for me there there's really two types of artificial intelligence, and I think artificial intelligence today, uh, is getting a AAA mixed wrap in the market and in communications. Um, there was an article in Wall Street Journal that I commented on a couple of weeks ago, um, around artificial intelligence and how much energy it's consuming in Data centre, right? There's a lot of potential, you know, consumption of power that's going on. But at the same time, it can be a huge productivity material, uh, device for customers and for companies, uh, in the field. Um, so for us, there's there's two types of artificial intelligence. There's generative A I and, um, you know, there's, uh, around data and statistical a right using huge amounts of data to make decisions where we're using artificial intelligence on the generative side is helping pull together reports and information from the field for a customer again. That is in a, uh, a good format for the customer. And we can store the data and the information once we've done a site visit so the wearable device could be taking images or video of what's actually happened. Um, the report can be written the A. I can help write that report. The field engineer ticks some certain items. The A. I also looks into the user manuals and the application that we're applying it to and can also act as a safety device or as a quality inspection. So it's reminding the field engineer Oh, did you check this? Did you check that because you didn't check it off in your in your inspection report? Um, so it follows them up as well, and then it writes the report for the customer based on what the field engineer puts in it checks if they've left something out and then it stores and logs the data and information, whether it's the photos, the videos, the technical, uh, recording information that we do uh, the performance of the asset that we've been working on and then logs that information into the service database. So both we and the customer can pull that information up in the future. Um, but the A I can take care of that and help facilitate that. We looked at it for our fleet of field engineers alone and for field engineers. We were saving between 2 to 3 hours a week of report writing and systems. So just for us alone, that was $30 million a year, right?

[00:27:23] Sarah: And then it's probably something they hated doing. Or at least most people you know. It's like the number one complaint is the paperwork

[00:27:32] Stuart: When you're reporting when you travel, Um, the last thing you want to do when you leave the site at eight o'clock at night is you want to get home with your family or get back to the hotel and rest. And it became also an aspect of work life balance for people, right? So I could either monetize that in, um, savings for the company, or I could give that time back to the field engineer to do something else or training or you know, even even having downtime and and time off instead of working overtime, right? So it it gave us options around productivity. The other area around a I, um, is around self-service and support for the customer. So some of us have seen those annoying, you know, phone support systems, and, you know, uh, chat bots and stuff, but the the technology is getting much better. Um, and the amount of times our field engineers get called out for the most basic thing, and and we're charging the customers hundreds of dollars an hour. We drive all that way and just find it simple switch or something like that. So we're using a I now to do a self guided support for the customer, but then also enable the customer to upgrade that support to things like augmented reality, an online support person, a call out or a service rate to come to the site. So the A I manages that in the background it helps guide them. The third area we're using it through is for optimisation, so we have field engineers that are very well trained across the globe. You might have one in America and one in Europe and one in Asia, all working on the same types of equipment. Um, we have standard operating processes, but maybe the the person in Europe's found a different way of doing something on the person in the US is using a better tool. The A. I can sit in the background and monitor that from, uh, the augmented reality and then help us try to optimise and give us feedback and say, Hey, this may be a better way of doing it and we can optimise our processes going through so it makes the environment interactive, but it also has a learning aspect. Do it in the background, and it's not just the machine that's learning. It's the processes that we use. The last area of A I is around predictability around assets. So as we do the service on the on the asset, it's starting to predict when the next service needs to be done, because when we design a product and put it to the field, it's it's in a what I would consider a laboratory type environment. But if it's in a humid environment or a dry climate or environment, low temperature, high temperature, the behaviour of those assets varies quite a bit. So we're able to help model that with the different service. And we can that the greasing of the years needs to be done more in one environment versus another. And over multiple years we're creating models and algorithms to then go back to customers and provide them service recommendations and based on real data and not on theoretical data. So a I for us has been busy since, uh, 2014. We've been working on it, but we're applying it in many different areas across services.

[00:31:03] Sarah: Yeah, you know it. It's really useful to hear those specific, um, examples because I think, you know, you mentioned the article you contributed to and the energy consumption, uh, within the data centres that you know a I is is causing. I think there's also a mental energy expenditure that is happening because of all of the buzz that it's getting. And I think you know, there's this challenge of separating out what's buzz from what is a good business case? And I think companies sometimes get really caught up in OK, well, it's in all of these headlines or it's everywhere so we need to be doing all of it when in reality, you know, you have to really look at you know, some of those specific points you, me, you mentioned, um, you know, are just surfaced by really examining the processes and thinking about, you know, not Can we get rid of all of our technicians with a I But what can we offload from their plates? That is, you know, monotonous. That is, You know, um, duplicative, et cetera, et cetera. And, you know, leverage the technology to really free them up to, um, like you said, have more time, have better work, life balance, have less stress, you know, whatever the the things are, Um, and then in turn, the benefit that brings the business. But I think there's a lot of distraction. Um, that is coming with with all of the buzz as well that people need to be conscious of.

[00:32:43] Stuart: Yeah, I think, um, a I is used in a very broad term. Um, a lot of people, um, tack a I on to everything that they talk about, whether it is real or not. And I also feel that with a I, um, it's a little bit of the unknown at the moment, so people are apprehensive. They're scared. What is this going to do? But the way that we've approached it, like you said, is look at things that are our pain points, things that we have trouble resolving or fulfilling. And we do these engagement surveys with our field engineers every year there. There's two things we do for our field engineers. Every year we have an engagement survey, so we hear from them around. What's their challenge at site and what's going on? I couldn't hire three more people this year. I. I don't have enough capacity. How do we get more capacity? So that's a common one, and the the one is the safety stand downs we do every January. We bring all our field that we train them. But that training's changed now that training has gone into different directions to help them understand that, Yeah, you can talk to it instead of typing to it, and we did the same with electric vehicles. You can drive the or drive the standard combustion engine and you can see what's going on, and we can apply these, you know, greener options in some areas, Um, but because they are viable now, but we we can't apply it in every area for sure. But we have to be practical and pragmatic about it. And I think with a I, um it's a a conscious investment, and I think data and managing our data and information has been a, uh I would say within the industry has been a poor thing. A lot of things were on paper and, you know, handwrit and stuff. And now we're collecting that to make better decisions and provide better outcomes for customers at the end of the day. So we have to embrace it.

[00:34:43] Sarah: And to your point about all that background work that you're doing with the data piece, you know, that isn't the the sexy part that gets the headlines. But you can't do any of those bits without doing that work right. And I and I think that's another misconception. Companies think that somehow it's magic or somehow they can skip that, and you're absolutely right. I don't You know, I don't think there's, um you know, many companies that have their data, you know, cleaned and structured in a way that they could just, you know, get to it, right? There's this arduous process of, um, you know, getting things, uh, put together in a way that allows you to do, you know, the things that you're doing. So that's another kind of real side to it that doesn't get discussed enough. Yeah,

[00:35:37] Stuart: there's a huge amount of money spent on doing that and maintaining that and having it in a usable format. And we've seen companies like Google and Amazon just live off data and data management and leverage it extremely hard. Traditional industrial firms didn't manage it very well, and, uh, we we are not perfect. Do not get me wrong. We are spending a lot of time and a lot of money, but a lot of these people are. The true heroes are putting this data in the right format because when you're in the field, to be able to access that information very quickly and have that before you walk in is very powerful for both the individual at the site, but all so to the customer that we can talk because no longer can you just have a field engineer sitting there 24 7 out of sight working at the same site. We don't have enough people to do all of that for the growth in the industry, but to empower them and enable them, they have the confidence. They know what they're getting into. They can be prepared for it. And the customer sees that value. So that investment is a long term investment for us. Yeah,

[00:36:47] Sarah: absolutely. So, um, I'm curious. You know what you envision when you think about where this will be in 3 to 5 years. So all of the work you have done, you are doing, you know, you mentioned that you are are working now to develop, uh, you know, the tools that will be in place in 2 to 3 years, et cetera. So, you know, what do you envision in 3 to 5 years when it comes to how a BB will be leveraging these tools and potentially others?

[00:37:24] Stuart: Yeah, I think in in in 3 to 5 years, the, um, it'll be a real interactive process with the field engineer. The field engineer will be at site, uh, with a whole network of people behind them. Um, in the factories in the offices, um, providing them support. Um, I think in 3 to 5 years, a lot of the field service work, um, will be divided between an interactive approach with the customer doing work and us doing work as well. The most basic work will be done by the customer, and we'll empower and enable them to do that. Um, and we will be able to provide that higher level of support. I expect that things like breakdown call outs and that will be reduced dramatically. I expect longer term service agreements and contracts to be the norm. Um, and people will buy, uh, various levels of service support. Um, and they will be using, you know, handheld devices to call people in and do it from an A BB perspective. I think we are pushing towards predictability. Um, a lot more around predictability people using the term predictability for years now. Um, but I would say 90% of companies are either time based maintenance, support or or breakdown type support. Um, going forward and true benefits of this will come with data and information about the assets on the site. And so I think we'll be more proactively going to customers with real examples and information to support it to say, Hey, your equipment can keep running. We don't need to have a service intervention for another 2 to 3 years. Now, um, keep it going. Um, And then we will then be providing you support when it is needed or in reverse. Uh, we only had a shutdown two months ago, but we're already seeing issues, and we can be more so a much more proactive and interactive approach with customers, uh, going forward. I think, for the field engineer themselves, um, there'll be a lot more wearable devices that they will wear. You know, we've seen, um, you know, even in, uh, police forces people wearing body cams and stuff like that, I think for field engineers, similar type things will be available. Um, but again, I think people will be a lot more open to these devices as they become, uh, supporting them and and supporting their environment to make them better. I think things will be a lot more verbal and communicated verbally and then documented, uh, in in database systems. So we're excited about it. I think, um uh, we're hiring a a real good young generation of engineers we're trying to take, uh, the knowledge and the know how of those truly experienced engineers into account as well and trying to keep the balance in their in the life cycle of a field engineer, uh, into into support as well. So, um, the technology is wonderful. Um, it's how do we apply it? How do we make it easy and again, you're still gonna have some parts of the industry that will be very traditional, But we will learn from those that aren't. And I think probably the last thing is sustainability is going to become a much stronger push. You know, between the the leading cases around the Paris Climate agreement, the European directives, the Inflation Reduction Act in the US is driving huge investment. I think companies are gonna look for their service support to have a lower carbon footprint. But service is also gonna be called in to help transition sites and upgrade facilities so that they have that greener footprint and in five years time, that is gonna be a huge driver rather than just keeping operations running. How do you keep it running longer? How do you greeny that operations? How do you integrate new things into that operations going forward. And all of that's gonna give you more data and more information that can then help the field engineer or help the company deploy things

[00:41:52] Sarah: better. Yeah, absolutely. It is exciting. Um, my last question, Stuart is Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone listening that, you know, maybe has had their fits and starts? Or has, you know, been struggling to determine where and how some of these more advanced capabilities fit into their business? Any words of wisdom on you know how to look at it, how to get started? Um, mindset approach. You know anything there?

[00:42:26] Stuart: OK, so first thing is, it's It's a long journey, right? It's not something you and it will be up and running. Um, second thing is, find your early adopters. Um, there are companies out there that are willing to try things and do things, and it's usually based on their pain points. So those that are struggling for support or those that don't have enough of their own resources to do the work are probably more open. Talk to the person on the site and get their buy in It's not just the C suite, and sometimes the C suite have their objectives. Um, but it it goes against the the the site manager or the person at the site, and you need to help bridge that relationship going forward. So it it is long term. Find your early adopters, look at customer pain points and start implementing their to those early adopters, um, and then start that journey going forward. But as you also mentioned Sarah, it's not just about the front end tool if you don't have the tools to feed the front end tool, so you need to do both right. There's no point in putting in a halo lens at the front. If you've got no data in the background, um, it becomes a toy, um, so build it and then focus it in a particular area in a particular industry, a particular customer base and a particular problem and then build. From there. Our focus point started from covid right and and we had a problem. We moved on. We listened, we took it, and then we moved forward from there. So I think, um, yeah, it's, uh, it's an interesting journey. Um, there's a lot of different opportunities out there. There's still very traditional customers that we want to look after. Um, but a lot of young talent that we have coming in are super interested in these technologies, and it helps us attract people to the industry as well trying out these new

[00:44:22] Sarah: things. Yeah. No, it is interesting. Sort of this in between, you know, people that are more traditional, more resistant people that are, um, you know, talent and customers who are more innovative, who want to try these different things. And I think, you know, there will be this period of time where you need to serve both, uh, parties and keep working toward you know, where things are heading. Um, and so really appreciate you coming and and sharing all of your insights, Uh, enjoyed the conversation. And it's been wonderful information. So thank you, Stuart.

[00:44:59] Stuart: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Sarah. It's been great.

[00:45:02] Sarah: You can find more by visiting the home of unscripted at future of Field service.com. The podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at Ifs.com, as always. Thank you for listening.

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May 1, 2024 | 25 Mins Read

What Are Savvy Consumers of Outcomes-Based Services Seeking?

May 1, 2024 | 25 Mins Read

What Are Savvy Consumers of Outcomes-Based Services Seeking?

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Episode 263

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro welcomes Alastair Winner, Partner and Co-Founder of Mossrake Group, for an in-depth conversation about what service providers need to consider in successfully positioning outcomes-based services.

Alastair is an entrepreneur, consultant, and business leader with vast experience in enhancing management across the service value chain. Skilled in leveraging best practices, Alastair effectively drives business outcomes through services, digital technology, and strategic management in sales, marketing, and communications.

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Watch the Podcast Video here:

Alastair: It's in the service provider's interest to go in with a starting point. And to think also about what we would term a system of record, because typically the outcomes of KPI needs to be reliably measured. And there needs to be a single point where both the customer and the service provider can go to to say, well, we agree that this is actually the outcome and we've measured it in a consistent way. So it's not just about coming up with the outcome KPI itself. It's also about how you're going to measure it.

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 have a conversation around what savvy consumers of outcomes-based services are seeking. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Alastair Winner, who is the partner and co-founder of Mossrake Group, which is a consulting firm that helps organizations bring advanced services solutions to market. Alastair thank you for joining us today.

Alastair: My pleasure, Sarah. Glad to be with you.

Sarah: Yeah, so before we get into our conversation of the day, just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself.

Alastair: Sure, I'd be glad to. You did a great introduction from a business perspective. Mossrake has been around for six or so years now, and we've had the opportunity to help a number of product technology companies really think about their services business and evolve their thinking around as a service and outcome. So that's really where our specialism lies and where we spend most of our time. Prior to Mossrake, I worked at Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and I had the great opportunity to do a number of roles there at a country, a regional, and a global level, both in technical roles and in management roles. And the role that I ended up doing there was actually services product management at a global level. I spent nine years working in Houston, Texas, doing that. And as part of that journey, we developed a very significant outcomes-based business for HPE, which is now known as HPE GreenLake. So that was a fantastic milestone in my career. And I've really enjoyed being able to take what we've learned from that and apply it to other technology disciplines. So yeah, I'm based in the UK and really looking forward to the discussion.

Sarah: You don't want to stay in Houston.

Alastair: I would have loved to have stayed in Houston, actually. We really enjoyed our time there. We actually went for two years and ended up staying for nine. And we became grandparents. So that was the reason that we came back. It was personal, but we loved the American lifestyle or the Texas lifestyle. It was great.

Sarah: Okay, good. All right. So for the sake of the conversation we're going to have today, can you just share with everyone how you define outcomes-based service?

Alastair: Yes, of course. Thank you for the opportunity to do that. What I would say is this term outcomes or as a service, it's a very popular term that you see cropping up a lot. It's one of those buzzwords that tend to get used a lot. But when but when you actually sort of scratch beneath the surface, very often you'll find quite different experiences and solutions. And in Trudeau consulting style, we decided to define what we meant by outcomes. And that's really the grounding that we give our customers. So there are four really key steps to how we would see outcomes defined. So firstly, it's this combination of products and services that are presented to the customer as a service. That's first and foremost. Secondly, where the value of that outcome is described in a language that the customer really understands. Typically, in technology, there's a technical language that gets used. And that may be something that the customer is very familiar with, and that's fine. Or it may be in business terms, in business language. The third point is that we need to measure the outcome. And there we need what we call an outcomes KPI, something that really describes the outcome in a way that both the service provider and the customer agrees is applicable. And the fourth point is that the service provider is responsible for ensuring that the outcome is delivered over the time specified in the service contract. So essentially, the customer is able to take their hands off the wheel and enable the service provider to essentially manage the how the other service is being provided. And they can focus on maximizing the value, which is ultimately the outcome. So that's how we think about it. Yeah, what we have seen very often is that product companies will sort of take their traditional products and services, combine them together in a similar way, but present that through some sort of leasing mechanism. Which certainly has some value for sure. But in the end, it still has all of the operational overheads and risks that you would associate with any other purchasing model.

Sarah: And I think we could probably have five or 10 different discussions today, you know, about some of the things you just mentioned. And perhaps we'll have another in the future, but... what we're going to kind of focus on today, and I think we'll come back to some of the points you just made, is talking about what savvy consumers of outcomes-based services are looking for. Now... we chatted about this question of, well, how savvy are today's consumers of outcomes-based services? And what has that progression looked like? I have some thoughts, but before I get to those, how would you describe where we are today with the savviness of buyers and what does that mean for our service providers?

Alastair: It's a great question. So, of course, I mean, first and foremost, you'll find varying levels of knowledge and experience in any business domain. And really, this is no different. You have to sort of distil it down to the individual. And what I would say, actually, is that in my experience, it's very often easier for a service provider to work at the extremes of savviness. So either with someone that really has no experience of this at all or someone that has a great deal of experience. With someone with little experience, you can educate and coach them and really inform them around the way that you think about outcomes. And for someone that's got a lot of experience, you can really get down to the details really quickly and shorten the sales cycle. It's the people that are somewhere in the middle who sort of think they know about it, but really don't, that can be the hardest to move. And you have to do some level of recalibration there, which... can be somewhat of a challenge. What I would say is that, and what we do observe, is that different segments are more savvy than others. So maybe I'll give you a couple of examples there. So really this concept of as a service emerged from IT. And in that domain, in that technology domain, this is pervasive really through the introduction of cloud. You know, that business model is very familiar. And IT went through all of the sort of gestation cycles that we would typically expect to see. So infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, software as a service, and ultimately to true and full outcomes. So anybody that operates in that technology domain is very likely to be savvy, to be more on the savvy scale. Other technology segments really haven't moved as fast. And I think that's possibly to do with the technology lifecycle that you see. In IT, things are changing constantly. You buy a server, it's out of date by the time it's delivered. It moves very, very quick. Many other technology sectors don't move as fast. So they've been slower to move, basically. And I've had the opportunity to work with... Secure power and cooling companies, tester measurement companies, and companies that are supplying products into the operational technology space, the OT space. And it's nascent. They're all very early into this concept. And of course, because they're not really adopting, there's people that are much less aware and less savvy. But what we have seen is as these sort of technology sectors converge and certainly IT and OT, we've seen that a lot. You start to get people that are crossing over and companies that are becoming far more curious about this as a concept, how they could apply IT to the solutions that they're using. So if you encounter someone that's maybe come from an IT background that's now working, and they're much more likely to be.

Sarah: I was going to bring that up as a point to be aware of. You see more and more cross-pollination of IT used to be someone started in an industry and pretty much focused on growing their career in that industry. But in services, because these themes and these trends are, you know, becoming more applicable across the board, you have companies that are in all sorts of different manufacturing type environments that will seek service leadership from. The IT space that has more experience with this to bring in to help them on this journey. So you have to kind of also keep in mind the background of whomever IT is you're dealing with as well. So that makes sense. So I think for the purpose of today's conversation, you know, we want to keep in mind that As outcomes-based service takes hold across more and more industries, that savviness is progressing, right? But we're going to kind of talk about these things today from the perspective of if you're working with a savvy customer. Here's what to bear in mind. However, if you're working with someone who isn't, we want to kind of call attention to the opportunity that exists then for service providers to be well-versed and adapt at helping them navigate that journey. Because obviously, doing that well can be a competitive advantage, right? So let's talk first about personas. So what personas are typically part of an outcomes-based service? Purchase. And is there one or that are more likely to be savvy personas versus some that might be more likely to be less so.

Alastair: Yeah, sure. So let me address the second question first. And that is really, in my experience, there isn't really a persona or a stakeholder group that's any more or less savvy than others. Again, it's really based on sort of the individual's level of experience and exposure to the business model. It's really based on the company that you're dealing with and their level of experience, too, as to who you're likely to encounter. I would say most of the work that we've done is where we're introducing this as sort of a new business model, a new concept. And wherever you're introducing something new into a customer. It's going to require you to talk to more people than you would have typically otherwise have done if you were continuing to sell in a more traditional way. And there are five personas that we would typically engage with. And those would be the operational owner, someone that historically has taken responsibility for the technology domain or area that your service is going to address. They'll be overseeing the operation, doing lifecycle management activities, coordination of all that work. So they'll be the primary, I would say, and probably most likely the entry point that most service providers will have to the customer because you have a relationship there. It's a more ongoing type relationship. That would be the first one. Second would be the manager of that individual or manager's manager of that individual. Because again, it's something new, they're going to be likely engaged in the dialogue. And part of the value of these services is to liberate resources. So rather than having your own employees focused on doing some of these activities, the service provider is going to be doing that work. And that releases capacity that can be reused and that manager is likely to benefit from that. And also trying to demonstrate a level of stability. It's going to be a reliable service and the financials are highly predictable too. So that's the second group that you're likely to engage in. Third would be finance. So again, any sort of financial change is going to require finance review. And this is absolutely no different. And in fact, I'm sure as we'll go on to explore. This is one of the stakeholder groups that you really need to get to early because their opinion will matter significantly as to whether or not a company is going to accept this sort of natural shift from CapEx to OpEx. And we've had some experience there where you've gone all the way through the sales cycle, got very excited. You put it in front of finance and they've said, no, we're not doing that. That's the third group. And then sort of on the more periphery, you'd find procurement and legal. Any buying, if a company has a procurement team, they're going to be involved. This will likely be something quite new, so you need to spend some time recalibrating. That group. And legal, of course, this is likely to have a new set of terms and conditions, a new scope of work. Legal departments will have templates typically that they like to use with their suppliers. And I can guarantee that this is likely not to fit with any of the templates that they have today. So procurement and legal will likely be involved in the negotiation and crafting the final terms and conditions. They're the five personas that we would typically encounter in a as a service or outcomes-based deal.

Sarah: Okay, good. So the next thing I want to talk about is if you're dealing with savvy customers, they are going to know that a true outcomes-based service structure is going to require risk sharing. So what should this prompt a service provider to consider and prepare for?

Alastair: It's a great question. And that's what I guess that's one of the big differences between this model and a traditional model. You know, when you sell a customer a product. The accountability and the risk for the value that that product creates immediately transfers to the customer. And in this model, there is an onus on the service provider to deliver that value. So it's probably worthwhile me spending a minute just recapping on the perceived risks and benefits of this model for both parties, because that sort of underpins some of the thinking that we'll go on to explore. So if I think about this from a customer perspective. Some of the risks that they're going to be thinking about are the fact that this is likely going to be a long-term services commitment. So they're going to be signing up to something that's multiple years. They're going to be handing over operational control and that in itself can be quite, people can be quite apprehensive about doing that. And also, because it's a long service agreement, they could feel like they're locked in. And what happens if the business needs change over that long period of time? Can I get out? Can I adapt? Can I change the service? So, then there's sort of the risk things that a customer is likely to be considering. The benefit, of course. Is that they'll get this agreed outcome. It'll liberate some capacity for them. They'll get to work ideally with a trusted brand who are providing this curated experience at a predictable cost. It really simplifies their operation, allows them to go focus on their core activities while the service provider deals with this sort of critical non-core type of work. If I look at it from a service provider perspective, they're likely to have to make some sort of upfront investment in technology, hardware, or software. And probably, they're going to have to think about putting capacity ahead of demand, especially if they're able to provide some level of flexibility to the customer. So the customer is not making an upfront investment, but the service provider is. So that's a risk. And of course, then they've got to think about all of the lifecycle activities to sustain the service and deliver the outcome over the contractual period, which could be many, many years, up to 10 years. So when you think about all of the updates and changes and recalibrations and replacements that have to go on over that period, you've really got to be thinking about what does that look like and costing it accordingly. And of course, the benefits for the service provider are they get a long-term annuity stream with almost certainly a higher rate of return. Over that contractual period, I mean, they're going to get service on everything over a very long time, and they're going to end up with a very loyal customer. So when we think about risks, sort of risk and reward, those are the things that are going through both the customer and the supplier's mind. In terms of preparing for this sort of discussion, really the service provider needs to go into these discussions with... a number of levers that they can use to help balance the risk and reward to ensure it's achieved and both parties feel like they end up in a good place. And in our experience, there are three elements that service providers will typically use. So one will be simply the initial contract term. And so how long are you going to lock a customer in for? And does that give you enough time to recover the upfront investment that you've made? So there's a sort of initial term. There's what we call minimum commitments. So there's the service provider and customer will agree, is there a minimum number of units or services that are going to be consumed over that initial contractual period that will provide the service provider with a guaranteed income? And that's very important. I mean, we have encountered customers who basically would like to be able to flex this outcome-based service to nothing. So if the business ends, I'd like to flex it to nothing. Which is really nice in theory, but doesn't really work in practice. It creates a huge risk to the service provider. And there is a premium. I mean, we always say there's a premium for flexibility. So that would be the building in a minimum commitment. That's an important lever. And then the final one is exit fees. So in the event that a customer chooses to leave the agreement early, or even at the point at which the initial contract term ends, you can build in this concept of... exit fees, which lowers the monthly fee, but leaves the customer with like a balloon payment at the end, should they decide to leave. And ideally, and in most cases, if the service is well designed, they'll just continue, you know, so the balloon payment risk will disappear, will dissipate over time. So those are three key levers I think a service provider needs to consider. I'd also say that one of the other things to consider is the as-is state inside the customer. So it's very, very rare that you're going to encounter a customer which is a complete greenfield. They're going to have some sort of technology either from yourselves or from a competitor that exists today that's somewhere in the lifecycle. And you need to think about how can you ensure the customer maximizes the value from what they've already invested in, because they'll see that as a risk. And if you sort of roll in and say, well, we need to replace everything, everything's going to move to this model. It's likely to create quite a negative reaction. Service providers need to really think about how this is going to be perceived by the customer. Have some levers that you can adjust and tune, some dials that you can tune to ensure the risk reward ends up in. A good place. And I think the other thing is just know your limits. At the end of the day, there will be a point where this won't work for a service. But you need to know where that is, because you do not want to be stuck in a bad deal. If you sign up for a customer for 10 years, and it's 10 years of a bad deal, that's not a good thing.

Sarah: Yeah, those are really good points and a really good sort of analysis of the risk topic. Again, this is an area we could get off into some side conversations and we don't have time. But I think, you know, just to point out a couple of things. You know, we're talking today about navigating these topics with customers, right? So that's operating under the assumption that the company has already decided to offer outcomes-based service, right? But I do want to make sure we call attention to the fact that this topic of sharing risk. Is really the crux between truly offering outcomes-based services and repackaging things in a way that you are saying you are offering outcomes-based services, but it's not true to the model. And so to your point. Maybe that's okay, right? Companies have to make their own decisions. But this is just, I bring this up like there's a huge conversation and decision-making process ahead of anything you're doing externally that has to happen. And this, I think, is the point. That a lot of companies get hung up on, right? Because they panic when they get to the risk sharing piece and then they kind of want to go into outcomes-based services without taking on risk. And it's just not that in its true form. And so I also want to point out, for listeners that are newer to the podcast, we've done some really great episodes with companies that have truly embraced this. And. We've had conversations specifically about why they felt the risk was worth it and how they balanced the risk and how it's paid off. Kaer, K-A-E-R is one, Koolmill, K-O-O-L-M-I-L-L is another, and there are some others. I would go back and listen to those episodes to dive a bit more into this piece. If you are a listener who's still reconciling internally, what does this look like for us? So tied to the risk sharing piece is the development then of the outcomes-based KPIs. So... You mentioned this a bit in your shaping how you define outcomes-based services. But a savvy buyer is going to expect these KPIs be geared toward their business challenges and really developed in their business language, right? So what do they need to consider to create these KPIs well? Because to your point, a lot of companies get stuck in their internal language. And that can be a barrier when you're working with customers who are expecting to create this in their business language.

Alastair: Very often this is one of the hardest. Topics to reconcile both as a service provider trying to come to terms with how do you present what we deliver as an outcome and also actually for a customer to really think about what is it I really do want as an outcome. It can take quite some effort and time. And I think one of the things that's really important, I think, for a service provider is to develop a starting point. At least do some collaboration, co-creation work with some trusted customers, especially in the early stages of service development to really understand. How the customer is thinking about the value of the service, how Key Performance Indicator might emerge from that. As I said in my sort of intro around outcomes, this can very often be described actually in technology language. Many customers are very familiar with and comfortable actually continuing to use technology language. So the unit of measure is in some sort of technology terms, but others are really looking for something that truly aligns with their business. But the point is, it's in the service provider's interest to go in with a starting point. And to think also about what we would term a system of record, because typically the outcomes KPI needs to be reliably measured and there needs to be a single point where both the customer and the service provider can go to to say, well, we agree that this is actually the outcome and we've measured it in a consistent way. So it's not just about coming up with the outcome KPI itself, it's also about how you're going to measure it. And we've done a lot of work to build solutions that enable there to be a single system of record, because then that's almost certainly going to connect in with things like billing, SLAs and billing. So you have a starting point, which is being developed with your early adopter or pilot customers. And then it's really important for that to be the starting point for a discussion. You shouldn't try and impose that on a customer. It's really, in many ways, just an example to get their cogs going. So don't impose it. Use it as a means to help them understand and then refine for the customer to meet their needs. So that would really be my advice. It takes time. And I mean, the whole selling process for a solution like this is going to be longer than a traditional product sale. And this is one of the areas where you're likely to spend maybe a little bit more time than you would typically to get this right. And to ensure that the customer really understands. I think the other thing I would say is that almost in every case, there will be dependencies on the customer in order for the service provider to ultimately deliver. So it's very important that those are understood and called out in the contract. So that's extremely important. And also there is a danger that a service provider can get sort of get pushed into a KPI where they really don't have. Ultimate control. So as a provider, you really need to ensure that you can deliver the outcome that you're agreeing to and that some of these dependencies are so far out of your control that you have no chance of delivering and you can get dinged for something that really wasn't your fault. We've seen this actually in a number of examples, again, in the OT space where the KPIs can be quite advanced and the customer is trying to push the provider to take on some accountability and some liability even and to take on risk that. Really outside the scope of the service that's being provided. So there's a big red flag there. It's great to have the discussion, but again, you've got to know your limits. And it's about managing and balancing risk.

Sarah: That's a good point, kind of coming back to the risk conversation to understand that Shared risk is fundamental to the business model. However, that doesn't mean just signing up for anything and everything that the customer demands. It doesn't mean going beyond your limits. It means finding that mutually beneficial. Balance that everyone can agree is a win-win. And going back to the examples I mentioned, when Companies can reach that point, it really is mutually beneficial. There is risk on both sides, but there is reward on both sides. And you can see that prove out, right? But as you have artfully outlined in our conversation thus far, there's a lot of points where this can go awry and that mutual benefit can get thrown off, right? So these are all things to be aware of. Okay, so can we talk about some of the common objections? That a service provider should be prepared for. And if there are, you know, if these originate with a certain persona, let us know. But basically, when you think about objections in the sales cycle, what comes to mind?

Alastair: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I would sort of think about this from a persona perspective, because each persona or stakeholder will have a slightly different view of the value and risk for the service, and they'll have their own, typically their own objections. I'd highlight, and sort of going back to that list of five personas that we talked about earlier in our discussion. From an operations perspective, I think one of the big objections and things to watch out for is the fact that very often it's the individual that you're talking to or their team who is going to be disrupted by the introduction of the service. So you could be very eloquently talking about the value proposition of your outcomes-based service to a guy or gal who is thinking, well, this is going to take away my job. So you have to be very conscious of who it is you're talking to and the implications of what it is you're proposing to the individual that you're dealing with. So, you know, pitching it at the right level is often, you know, a good way to avoid that. But ultimately, I would say, look, you just need to reframe that and say, look, this is going to create a unique opportunity for you and your team to go focus on something that's core to the business. It's going to deliver far more business value. That's really the way that you can overcome that. But be very sensitive to what are the implications for the team that you're pitching to, especially operations who are likely to be in some way displaced. I think linked to that, the management team are going to be really trying to understand, help me quantify what this, how many cycles are going to be created? What else can I go focus on? So those two things are somewhat linked. From a finance perspective they're just going to be looking, how is the spend going to change? How do we move potentially from CapEx to OpEx? And is that something that is acceptable and beneficial for the company? As I sort of indicated earlier, we have had some experience of getting to very late stages of trying to position a deal only for the finance team to say, well, this simply won't work because actually, there's some advantage for us holding capital on our balance sheet. It makes our company valuation look more positive. I wouldn't second guess the objections that might emerge from finance. The key is to get it in front of finance as early as you can to seek an opinion. And don't leave it till the last minute because that can be very painful. From a procurement perspective, very often when they're presented with an outcomes-based model, they'll find it hard actually to find alternatives in the market to do their typical comparison, three suppliers, do an RFI, RFP, especially if early into the adoption or positioning of outcomes, this is going to look very confusing and throw the procurement team off, which can create an objection. What I would say there is that it makes sense to build in some headroom for a commercial negotiation, either some level of discount that will pacify procurement, allow them to demonstrate value back to their business and allow you to move on. So that could be a bit of a stumbling block. And the objection there is, well, I can't really follow my process. I haven't got three suppliers that are delivering this. You guys are the only people in the market that are offering it right now. What do I do? That could be challenging. And then as I sort of indicated earlier around legal, the legal team will have some templates and every company will have a scope of work that they've agreed, which is how they would like to buy. Hardware, software, and services, all of the elements typically that you'll find in an outcomes-based model of the bill of materials. Level and they don't work. Well, we've attempted to modify these things to get them to a place where they might work in an outcomes-based model. And there's so much rework that has to be done. It's too hard. So as a service provider, we would encourage them to create their own terms and conditions, scope of work terms and conditions. So it's on the supplier paper, not the customer paper. And just be very clear which of the different sections and clauses are likely to be ones that are in the domain of legal. And again, it's about knowing your limits. To ensure that you end up in a good place as regards to risk and reward. All I'd say is, again, based on the familiarity with the business model and the savviness of the legal representative you might be working with, you just need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of time there and expect there to be some back and forth as the contract ends up taking shape. So those are the sort of the key things I would highlight, Sarah, based on my experience.

Sarah: Yeah. Okay. Okay. So Alastair this has been wonderful. I just want to reiterate for folks in certain industries, in certain situations, you know, you are going to encounter people that have had experience with outcomes that know what they're looking for and you need to be prepared to respond adequately. But for those of you who are in industries where this is newer and you're really helping them navigate these conversations and this journey for the first time, understanding some of these intricacies and doing your homework and preparing for those conversations can really help put you in a position where you're building trust and you're building that relationship because you're helping them work through this and you're being perceived as a knowledgeable partner. So Alastair, any final comments that you would add to the conversation before we conclude?

Alastair: No, I mean, I've really enjoyed the discussion, Sarah. Appreciate the opportunity. I think to summarize, I'd say, look, find a stakeholder in the customer that understands the concept and is prepared to advocate this business model internally. You've got to be prepared to present the solution multiple times before it sticks. So you're going to have to rinse and repeat. Finally, what I would say is that you can invest a lot of time doing this positioning. And in the end, the customer will still decide to buy in a traditional way. And I think that's okay. Don't be disheartened. Talking about this, if you've got the right solution, is always a positive experience. And it will deliver results in the end. That's basically what I'd close with.

Sarah: Very good. Well, I appreciate it. This was a great conversation and really, really, really good insights. So anyone that would like to, you can find Alastair Winner on LinkedIn. And if you have questions or want to connect, you can do so there. You can find more information on outcomes-based service and all sorts of other things by visiting the home of the UNSCRIPTED podcast at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find UNSCRIPTED on your favorite podcast platform. The podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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April 24, 2024 | 22 Mins Read

Service Transformation: Lessons Learned and Opportunities Ahead

April 24, 2024 | 22 Mins Read

Service Transformation: Lessons Learned and Opportunities Ahead

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Episode 262

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro is joined by Ralf Bootz, Services and Solution Delivery Lead for International Markets at Philips, to discuss what he has learned over his 24+ year career with the company about how organizations and leaders must constantly reinvent themselves to remain relevant.

Ralf is a Change and Transformation Manager, a certified Six Sigma Program Manager, and a Lean Master who has effectively led major performance and change initiatives, enhancing customer satisfaction, revenue, and profit margins. His experience includes managing large teams through strategic leadership, strong interpersonal communication, and relationship-building skills.

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Ralf: And you need to build that trust there because that's a different relationship you are engaging yourself with a customer. So it's not transactional, you know, we do the service or the break, fix, and see you next time into more relationship building and, you know, a different partnership. And there needs to be trust if you go that direction that you together can do something because it's never, you know, something that we can do on our own. Maybe we need stakeholder A or stakeholder B to work with us. We change something in there, and, yeah, it's a different type of service that we need to offer and also a different way of engaging with the customer.

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 joined by a service leader who has been in the business for 24 years, and we're going to talk about some of the things that he's seen in that time, what that means in terms of what today's landscape looks like, and also what the future might hold. So welcome to the podcast, Ralf Bootz, who is Philips Services and Solution Delivery Lead for International Markets. Ralf welcome, and thanks for joining.

Ralf: Yeah, welcome. Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah: Absolutely. It's great to have you here. So before we get into the conversation, just tell everyone a little bit more about yourself, your background, anything you want to share.

Ralf: Yeah, my name is Ralf Bootz I'm Dutch, living in the Netherlands, working for Philips. 24 years. Before that, I worked in supply chain and smaller companies. And I have a master's in supply chain. Now, the world is service delivery and solution delivery in the international region. So those are all the markets besides China and North America. And we are mainly in the healthcare sector. So servicing hospital and hospital equipment and do as service. So there's a selling part and there's a delivery part. So that's a little bit about myself.

Sarah: Yeah, excellent. So I always say when I have folks join that have been with a company for, you know, 15, 20, 25 years, it's interesting because today you don't always see that, right? And I think it's always indicative of usually a good company culture and a place where, you know, you've felt you can thrive. Otherwise, you may not have been there for 24 years. And also usually it's, if you look through people's progressions, you know, they've had an opportunity to continue to learn and develop and grow within that business, right? Otherwise, again, people might not stay put for that amount of time. So that being said, 24 years at Philips, is a major accomplishment. I have to imagine you've learned a lot and the service landscape has changed tremendously in that amount of time. So can you share some observations of just, you know, the evolution of service over your career at Philips and, you know, anything that you take note of that stands out to you over that timeframe?

Ralf: Yeah, I never thought about that in that way. But in that sense, it was never a boring place. It's always something new to innovate or procure. Hands-on and make things better. 24-year-old Philips was always in the healthcare industry. And if you see the healthcare industry changed over that period, and of course we changed with that. Now in the past, we were kind of pioneers with a few other companies and medical devices to put them out there. And these were high-tech, complex machines in a healthcare environment. So service was sort of a given that people needed to do service. And at the time, it was easier, if you will. And I remember the days when I started, we did three big things a year. So these are the top priorities, these three. And we nailed them and we improved. And we did that year after year. Now, 24 years forward, it seems like we have so many priorities and the healthcare industry. It's much more professional than it was at that time. Moved around, including new competition, more demanding customers, more pressure on the whole healthcare system. So that pressure comes also into our company, where we need to deliver and step up to the plate. So from break-fix 24 years ago to still break-fix, but then with more digitalization and more professional services, it's a fast track, putting things forward. Still, we have all the time better improvements, and we still have a way to go. But there are still opportunities to increase the business and increase even our profits to reinvest in better healthcare.

Sarah: Yeah. You know, you said that I've never thought of it that way looking back. And I think sometimes that's a factor of a type of person who spends less time retrospective and more time just what's next, what's next, right? Which is something I can identify with. So what you were saying about, you know, the three priorities each year and how that shifted to today's landscape, you know, it's an illustration of and maybe interesting to reflect in that way of just how complex things have gotten, right? So, it's, you know, the amount of information, the amount of demands, the amount of possibilities, you know, a lot of those things are great, but it's just the pace of information, the pace of change, you know, it's just very complex today. And so, obviously, organizations like Philips have to figure out how to contend with that and how to simplify as much of that complexity as you can for your customers, right? Because often that's what they're looking for you to do.

Ralf: Maybe one additional thing is that in the past, service was these guys from service, you know, somehow in a corner. And I'm saying guys, because at the time it was male-oriented, you know, these guys in the corner. You know, well, now service is kind of, you know, hot and it's a differentiator. So that gives also the pressure of, you know, more stakeholders to manage in a way and more pressure because service is a differentiator. And in the past, it was kind of a more hygiene factor. So that makes also a huge difference in the positioning where you are in the organization.

Sarah: Yeah, no, that's a really good point. Yeah. You know, slowly, but surely we're working on it. Yeah. So, you know, that's a good point as service has become a differentiator. You know, it does put more pressure on the frontline talent, on the business, on delivery, execution, all of those things, right? It's not this, as you said, it was sort of a given, but it was a given in a way where it was just there in the background. It happened when it needed to, but there wasn't a lot of emphasis put on it. And that has changed, which is really exciting, but also to your point, brings a lot of pressure with it. So when you think about where we are today and what today's landscape looks like, can you comment on sort of two things, they may be different sides of the same coin, or they might be some different points, but what do you see as the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities?

Ralf: Things that stay the same, and that's still the biggest challenge, is our people and services and people business. So how do we keep the people, keep the people motivated, and keep the people customer-centric? I think that is still the biggest challenge that we need to manage. Now, besides managing customer demand, that is much more challenging. So I would say customers, people, and then internally too, you know, based on what I said earlier, is to align all these stakeholders and manage them too, and still get the right attention in the company to do things like remote investment, you know, like training capacity, etc. To make sure we keep, you know, running the business as such. So I would describe them in these three buckets as the biggest areas or the biggest things, we were working on.

Sarah: Now, what about the other side of that? So like, what do you see as the biggest opportunities?

Ralf: Yes, in our case, it's still driving productivity with remote and working with customers on more data-driven insights and services to enhance their operation. So basically get closer to the customer by just doing a service. You can buy our service, here you are, in more output-driven services. So we get closer to our customers to understand their pain points and see how we could develop services to help with that. And then internally, it's more this switch to the more proactive remote, where we learn to trust these signals and act upon that and get better at that.

Sarah: Yeah. I like that you bring up the people part. That's kind of what I've in many ways built a career talking about because it's almost always the answer to what's the hardest piece or what's the most challenging piece. You know, it's, there's a lot of headlines that get given to the technology, but that's never really the sticking point. You know, the sticking point with it is how it's put in place and how people feel about it. And, you know, that sort of piece, not necessarily those pieces themselves. And I think there's a lot to what you're saying with the people part that has come into play. You know, it's, you know, you mentioned, how do you keep your people customer-centric? How do you keep them engaged? But also as service has become more of a differentiator, the expectations we have of the people and what we need to look for in the people has also shifted a bit, right? So it's, you know, there's a lot of layers to that piece of the conversation. Also, you know, getting closer to the customer, understanding their business in a way that you can develop new service offerings that are appealing to them. Sounds very simple, right? To just say in a conversation, but I mean, you know, that actually doing that, building the skills to do that, building the relationships to do that, taking that insight and taking it back in the business and innovating with it. I mean, there's a whole lot that goes into that. So.

Ralf: Yeah, no, and especially, you know, that's what does the engineer or the field service engineer of the future look like? And technology plays a big part of that. And you can dream about the glasses and all these features that come in, or artificial intelligence and AI. But at the essence, it's still people's business. People do business with people. So how do we train our engineers today? And are all these people like that? I mean, some people like, give me a complex issue, fix it, and I'm moving out. Now, with the digitalization, the information that we have, so, yeah, we see also a generation split in sort of engineers, the new generation coming in and the older generation, and how to deal with that. Yeah, we have a lot of engineers still in our company. And that is basically part of our product that we sell as a service.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. Can you talk a little bit more about the transition to, you know, more data-driven outcomes, the digitalization of service? What are, you know, the things that you're doing today to look for how to create those new value streams, to look for ways to use service to contribute, you know, new revenue streams, et cetera?

Ralf: Yeah, and there's not a one-size-fits-all. If you think about our customer base, they have different needs. Think about a university hospital versus a private government hospital. There are different ways of working and different needs. The trick is more to connect to what are they looking for. What is their improvement? So where are their pain points or where are their opportunities? And connect our services to that. So if you have a university hospital, maybe they just want very good-quality pictures and not looking for throughput. And another hospital, they're having a waiting list and they're looking for throughput. So then the throughput KPI is something that we can work on. How can we help you to scan more patients with the same quality, with less dose, or something like that, as an example? So it's basically around cost, speed, and quality, where we try to develop services and link them to customer needs. That is the transition we are making. But not every hospital is open for our customers. I'm open to that. But there we see kind of a trend moving into output-driven KPIs and services. And put some skin in the game for ourselves to say, hey, we can help you with that. Let's take that risk or that opportunity together. But that's a new area in which we need to define the rules of the games. In terms of how we do things, how we make those agreements and measure the success. You need to build that trust there because that's a different relationship you are engaging yourself with, with a customer. So it's not transactional, you know, we do the service or the break, fix, and see you next time into more relationship building and, you know, a different partnership. And there needs to be trust if you go in that direction that you together can do something because it's never something that we can do on our own. Maybe we need stakeholder A or stakeholder B to work with us. We change something in there. And yeah, it's a different type of service that we need to offer and also a different way of engaging with the customer.

Sarah: Now, it's interesting you bring up trust. Incredibly important. I think also, though, what I wanted to talk about next, and it's a good segue into that, is the role of trust among your teams and as a leader, right? So this whole evolution of service and where the business is headed requires, not only engaged, but empowered, you know, team members and strong change leadership, change management, right? It's this, you know, we talked earlier about the complexity, that complexity means that we're almost always today in a state of change. You know, we're continually improving, we're continually evolving. And while that's good in many ways, and also just is what it is, you know, there's no escaping it. If you don't have that good cultural foundation, you don't have strong leadership, it can really fall apart internally, right? So can you talk a little bit about company culture, empowerment, leadership, and how that comes into play with keeping everyone on board with where things are going?

Ralf: Yeah, and culture is important, and we take that very seriously because we are in a healthcare environment. So we want to drive patient safety and quality and all of that. And we're proud that we can contribute to that healthcare industry. But then on the flip side, yeah, how do you – and we have many thousand engineers. So how do we make sure that we drive that culture down to them because these are the people that are most of the time with the customer? It's not the account manager. It's the service person who is all the time in front of the customer, representing the company. So how do we engage with them to convey that culture and that trust? And, yeah, we have different programs in going to that culture and these culture elements and these behaviors and what we want to do. So, yeah, we're pretty strong on that. And, of course, we've got a great history as a 130-year-old company. But you need to reinvent yourself all the time in that one and, yeah, drive that culture through. So it's also... Dealing with the world is different cultures. So you get your Philips culture that we have, you know, company culture, but then you need to mingle that with the local culture. Now, that's an interesting mix that we need to stitch together, and then the local people need to drive that, you know, towards engineers. But, yeah, are we listening to them? Are we taking their concerns seriously? Are we equipping them with the right things? And, you know, how do we also, in a way, drive that whole Philips skill for what do we want to be and how do we, you know, kind of work together to solve issues, teaming up, etc. So we got a whole booklet and training and all of that. But at the end comes also down in how the local managers in the different markets are, you know, kind of conveying that and work with their teams. And also show what we say that that is true. Because, yeah, if the first occasion comes and, you know, we throw all these things out of the window and just go to the old ways of working or whatever we can do to stress out people.

Sarah: Yeah, if your booklet is just a booklet that somebody reads and then their experience is completely different from that, you know, it means nothing, right? And it's, yeah, the execution of that and how the managers show up day after day. And that's how, you know, going back to the point of trust, that's how that trust gets built. It's important to have those philosophies as a company, but then the trust comes into how are they displayed day in and day out.

Ralf: And we have these metrics that we measure and the engagement survey, and a lot of them are also linked to that culture. Now, to measure that and to react to that. And, of course, the field people are the biggest population. So we take that seriously and see, okay, what are those people telling us and what do we need to do different? Although I still have great ideas and things that we didn't implement we still need to do. And it's also our duty to make sure that these people, the field people, the service people are being seen in the company. Because typically the sales guy gets the big buffet and the biggest guy. But the people in front of the customer, that helping the customer, those are also the heroes in there. And I say it wrong. It should not be hero. It should be consistent. Really bad. People that do a good job informing the customer time after time.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I think that recognition is very, very important. So you mentioned something you said, when it comes to company culture, we continually have to be reinventing ourselves, right? Do you feel like that's also true as an individual leader?

Ralf: For sure. I mean, we need to see what's the situation, you know, what our customers asking for us, what is the company asking for us and what are our employees asking for us and fit into that picture. So what worked, you know, many years ago doesn't work. And, you know, think only about hierarchy. I mean, in the past, it was much more, you know, there was a hierarchy and now it's much more flat. People want to go much faster, you know, don't recognize that hierarchy anymore, are more inspired by vision and, you know, kind of want to change things instead of making a ladder, career ladder. So, yeah, you need to reinvent yourself and your leadership team also. So diversity is an important topic. How do we bring in, you know, not only male, female, different cultures, like I mentioned, you know, how do we bring that together? But also different opinions. So if you get a team of only people that think the same or are the same, then you kind of get the same outcome.

Sarah: Yeah.

Ralf: So create that diversity, you know, in your team setting. So to answer your question, 100%, you need to stay open and stay close and what's happening around you and adjust to that.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. So Ralf when you think about, you know, the future, I know no one can predict the future, but what do you think are the biggest shifts we'll see in the next one to three years?

Ralf: I think it's more continuation of what we see now or the world they do. You know, with whatever circumstances that happen. So, for now, I see that we are more outcome-driven, that we connect ourselves more to customer outcomes, and that we drive more digitalization in whatever we do. So that is, you know, portals, getting customers, you know, digitally connected. More remote in that way, more software, you know, upgrades, updates via that remote. So less field work, but more remote and more the outcomes as a service so that we switch on some business models and drive more services. So I see things going to services and software, if you will, as a pivot point going forward. I think that's the change we're seeing going forward, which we need to adjust to. Now, then the engagement with the customer. So that's a customer engagement that we more, yeah, help the customers, especially in the healthcare industry, to also transition to their needs. Because the customers have, you know, the healthcare industry is struggling with the aging population, their staff. You know, higher cost. So how do we connect ourselves to these issues and develop services around that, if that makes sense.

Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense. After 24 years with Philips, what makes you still excited to come to work? I won't say every day because we're all human and some days we just, you know, maybe won't be, but most days.

Ralf: Yeah, first of all, the industry. I think the healthcare industry is a nice industry to work in. And this evolution that is still every day, every year, it's not that, okay, we're bored. There's always something new that you can put your... Your hands are gone to make that happen. And in my place, it's also the diversity, you know, with the different cultures that we work with, the different regions, you know, the different opportunities. So that basically always made me, you know, come to work and never think, okay, I'm bored with what we were doing. There's always something to improve. Still, I thought that would, when I started Philips, I thought, okay, now maybe at a certain moment you plateau, but it doesn't seem like that. So that makes me every time stay. And of course, the opportunity you get to do all these things and to change that and to put your own, thinking in there and the freedom that you can execute that. So it's not a given that comes from the top and say, okay, you need to go here and here, but it's also we can develop that ourselves in a way. So that's also a nice opportunity for me to be very creative and think ahead about what we need to do and where we should focus. Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. I think that it sounds really good. I mean, you have, you know, you mentioned being in the healthcare space and I think that, you know, we talk often about how younger talent, especially wants to feel that sense of purpose. And so in the industry, you're in, it's really easy to connect what you're doing every day to things that really, truly matter and make a really big difference. And, you know, then you're in a, it just sounds like you have such a good mindset about enjoying the process of learning, taking things in, you know, encountering different opinions, different situations, and then to your point, sort of creating from that, you know, and I think that sounds really good.

Ralf: One thing on the future, maybe going back now that we talk, how do we get talent, you know, kind of in this whole game with us? So I can be excited, but you know what?

Sarah: How do you get them excited? Right. Yeah.

Ralf: But how do we get the talent following us in that way and get them on that journey also? And I think developing talent, that talent stay, you know, and let them also think about and give them that freedom in which I was talking about. Because they got different needs. Maybe they get being different ways to have different expectations. And I think that's why we also need to be open and work with. So what's the next generation of leaders we need to get in service?

Sarah: Yeah. It seems like you have a really good mindset and approach to that though. Even earlier when you were explaining, you know, that in today's landscape, there's far less of a hierarchy. You know, I think there's this sense of ego that makes that really hard for certain leaders to accept because the mentality would be, no, I've been here for 24 years. I know this, I've had this experience. So you listen to me, right? I mean, I'm generalizing, but, as you stated, that is truly not the way we work today. And it's not just about what the next generation wants in their roles. It's also about the complexity of problems we're trying to solve and the fact that it isn't realistic anymore for someone or someone to be the knower of all, right? We really have to bring together those different, skills, experiences, and opinions in order to solve the challenges at hand today. So it seems like you have a really good mindset of being open to that and, you know, not feeling stuck in exercising authority or, you know, trying to fit people into certain levels or roles, but rather looking at... What can we all do together? And I think that is a key to being able to develop those next leaders because you're not forcing them into a structure that they're not going to be comfortable in. You're sort of open to how do we create together? How do we learn from each other? You know, how do we solve these problems together? And I think that that's, it's just a really positive way of looking at it.

Ralf: It's not easy.

Sarah: No, not at all.

Ralf: I can say it very nicely, but it's still a challenge to get that working and to listen to these people. Because you see that bridge between the older generation and the newer generation. How do you keep those two together?

Sarah: Yeah. And I think, you know, it's a good point that it's not easy. I remember an interview I did a while back with a woman in Copenhagen who leads a logistics company, Trina. And, you know, she said, it's very humbling. Its leadership today is very humbling because it's not the way it used to be. And you really have to reconcile that, like, you know, it just requires a different mindset and a different level of acceptance. So it's not easy, but I think as long as you're open to it, right, and you're not closed off to, you know, that's where so many people get stuck. I think today is they're really yearning for the way it always was rather than being open to, you know, okay, so what are today's criteria and how do I reconcile that? It doesn't have to be easy. You don't have to like all of it, right? But when you can just keep your mind open, instead of closing yourself off, I think it just, you know, really helps not only maintain relevance, but, you know. Give yourself the opportunity to build that. Future talent pool and to, you know, set things up well. So last question, Ralf you know, is just, I can imagine you have so many and it's probably going to be hard to narrow it down, but if you just sort of think about, you know, your career journey so far, what would you say is the biggest lesson or lessons that you've learned as a leader?

Ralf: Yeah, that's a difficult question. I would say teamwork is dream work if you will. So you cannot do it alone. So you need to work with a team but also have a vision and a shared direction for where you want to go. I think maybe I came with this illusion in the company, you know, from school that you say, okay, now I'm, you know, highly educated. I can I know the stuff, you know, I can do stuff and, you know, I can bring that. Yeah, but at the end, it's people working. You know, that's somehow that you need to work together. And I think that's the most rewarding if you achieve something with a team, set out what you want to do, and achieve that. And I think that gives also a great feeling of recognition and, you know, colorful in people's minds. If you talk to people, you know, over the years, what was a good thing or, you know, what we achieved there, what we did there. I think that's the biggest learning in making. And of course, you go into this habit of, you know, give me this and I will run with it and I will fix it. But, you know, to step back, to inspire, to take people along the journey. I think, yeah, for me, that's the biggest learning that pops into my mind right now. Maybe there are many others, but I would say that's the biggest learning.

Sarah: Yeah, I love it. Ralf thank you so much for coming and talking with me and sharing your insights and experiences. I really appreciate it.

Ralf: Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah: You can find more by visiting the home of the UNSCRIPTED podcast at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, Apple, Spotify, any others. Be sure to subscribe so that you don't miss any episodes. The UNSCRIPTED podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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April 17, 2024 | 26 Mins Read

Creating CX That Fuels Business Growth

April 17, 2024 | 26 Mins Read

Creating CX That Fuels Business Growth

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Episode 261

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro is joined by Joseph Michelli, Professor of Service Excellence at Campbellsville University and New York Times #1 Bestselling Author, to talk about how service organizations can achieve success in creating differentiation through customer experience.

Joseph is a globally renowned speaker, author, and consultant known for sharing expert business practices to create joyful and productive work environments with a focus on customer experiences. He is also a Certified Customer Experience Professional and CEO of The Michelli Experience.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Also, subscribe to our newsletter right here.

Watch the Podcast Video here:

Joseph: I think we hear so much about transformative leadership and this digital transformation. And so people really do think it's just going to blow everything up. Transformation has a sense of whatever it was turns into something phenomenally different. And that is one way to do it, obviously. And the speed of change in digital definitely predicts a need to not just be incremental about things. But I think the biggest thing is to figure out what's working and to improve on it today over what you did yesterday. It's how we leverage strengths and step into opportunities from that SWOT analysis. But I love people who are willing to get on the leading edge of technology and innovation, but not all of us should do that. I think the really great place is to be a fast follower of the things that work. So you don't have all those upfront costs and all of the learning curve problems that the early adopters have.

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 are going to be having a conversation about how to create customer experiences that will help fuel business growth. I'm excited to welcome to the podcast today, Joseph Michelli, who is the Professor of Service Excellence at Campbellsville University, as well as a New York Times bestselling author, certified customer experience professional, and CEO of the Michelli Experience, where he helps companies create outstanding customer experiences. Joseph, you told me before we started that you've written 12 books on this topic.

Joseph: Yeah, I think I'm going to finally get it right one of these days. But I keep approximating the world of customer experience excellence for sure.

Sarah: Well, what I think is just you're learning a lot. And as you go and you learn new things, there's more things to share with people. So I think that's incredible.

Joseph: Well, and I think that speaks to customer experience. Just for all that are joining us, this is a journey, not a destination. If you think that you arrived today, holla, aloha, we've got it now, you don't understand this.

Sarah: The game has changed tomorrow, right? Yeah, so there's always opportunities to learn and evolve. And yeah, I think that's great. So tell everyone a little bit more about yourself.

Joseph: Yeah, I've been doing this before we called a customer experience in the days when in a hospital setting, we were trying to come up with consistent service delivery. And we even had scripted service. And so it's been a journey for me and an evolution and fortunate to get a PhD in organizational development that gave me context. But really getting in the game is important with this and really making all the mistakes necessary to understand how to use people, process and technology to make craveable experiences that cause those customers to keep coming back and spending more and telling their business friends to do the same.

Sarah: Yeah, I was sharing with you before we started how this topic applies to field service is really interesting because I've been doing this for quite a long time. And when I started, the conversation was never around something like customer experience. It was always around how do we cut costs? How do we eliminate headcount? How do we maximize productivity to the nth degree? And while companies obviously still have to pay attention to those things, as organizations began to realize the power that service holds in impacting the customer experience and customer loyalty, and the differentiation of their brand, it's been really fun to have a lot more opportunities to talk about this topic through the lens of service and to really expand the conversation beyond some of those really specific operational things to this bigger world. So. I'm really excited to have you here to talk about it.

Joseph: I love the evolution. Just if I can put a pin in that for a second. I think it's a natural evolution for businesses to go from more of a commoditized view of the service phase of a customer journey to one where this is a value creation and really an important flywheel back into the sales cycle. I love that evolution and I've seen it now across industries, whether it's automotive or even contact centers, rethinking the contact center. It's exciting to see it in field service.

Sarah: Absolutely. So one of the things that I thought was really interesting is this piece of research from Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, which says that in the U.S., 80% of companies think their customer service is going well. Only 8% of customers agree. That is a massive, a massive disparity there. Where does that disconnect come from?

Joseph: All of us think our kids are above average and that we have great senses of humor, right? Unfortunately, other people get to weigh in on the opinion on that to validate the perception. I think that what happens here in organizations is we want to believe that our customers love us and that we are creating a lovable experience. While we're thinking about things like how to cut costs at this turn, how to use automation instead of people, we're doing all these things and wanting to believe that there's zero negative impact to these decisions. And really using the voice of the customer to guide our decision-making is the true north for most organizations today. And that not only are they giving you the voice, but they're also giving you their behavior. So tracking the behavior of purchase intent, repurchases, stickiness of your offerings. So I think people are sobering up to that and they're starting to look at where the perceptions that matter are. And I think it was Drucker who said that we're not in business to make a profit, we're in business to make a customer. And so it's through customers that profits come. So who cares what we think, really? Who cares what the 80% thinks? The opportunity lives in how do we take that 8% up and make sure all our decisions are guided.

Sarah: Absolutely. When reading that stat, I'm sure people would have different reactions, right? My initial reaction was, boy, what an opportunity, right? If you think about if some of that 80% started putting real focus on bringing that 8% up, how much impact that would have. How would you describe that opportunity to listeners in terms of going back to our title of this conversation? How can... Getting honest about those numbers and putting appropriate focus here really helped them grow their business.

Joseph: Well, yeah, getting honest is everything except you have to then execute. So we have a lot of businesses today that appreciate that they need to do better on the customer experience. It's a strategic priority for more than 50% of all businesses. So I think people get it. Now the execution of it is a whole different thing. So we've got a lot of money going into trying to improve customer experiences. And yet the American Customer Satisfaction Index a couple, about a year ago, was at its lowest point in 17 years. So we, knowing that it's important and executing are two different things. So the opportunity lives in figuring out how to execute an experience that's resonant for your customers. Using the technologies that you need at the moments that matter most. Having people available when people need to opt in to humans to deliver the experience. Training your people to not let your technology down by the attitude they bring to the service call. When all the technologies have notified people and they've got all the smart, intelligent technologies to have the right products on their vehicle as they're coming out to the job. And all the IoT has given them all the diagnostics that they need. All the wonderful technologies can be let down by an attitudinal problem on behalf of the person who's representing all that technology. So I think that's where the challenge is. How do we go from 8% to 50% because we have really put the people, process, and technology in the right place. And we have the right people to deliver against those processes and technologies.

Sarah: Yeah. It's interesting what I'm thinking about in my mind is you're saying that more than 50% of companies have this as a strategic priority. Which makes sense. But it's one of those things where. We talk about these different buzzword categories as it would be crazy for any board or CEO to say, yeah, we don't really care about customer experience. They know it has to be a priority. But I wonder if the amount of intent that turns into action is correlated to the recognition of what you said in the quote earlier, or the belief, I should say, that profits come from customers, right? Because there's this whole sort of philosophy around the chicken and the egg, or what should come first, right? If we... Focus on the numbers versus focusing on the customer experience and letting that drive the results. Does that make sense?

Joseph: Yeah, Michael Tushman at Harvard says we do a lot of and or thinking when it is a both. I think that's where we are with a lot of this. You've got to drive numbers. You've got to have tight margins. You've got to operate efficiently. There is no pass for sloppy work and really loving people. That does not get you where you need to be. On the other hand, tracking all those KPIs on the here and now sales and then not investing enough in the technologies in the service side or in the people development side so that humans have an experience that keeps you sticky is not particularly sound. I worked for a long time in the automotive industry. I wrote a book about Mercedes. And, you know, a lot of money goes into trying to get people to sell cars. But the car sales margin is fairly thin. And the way that manufacturers make a living is getting people to come back to their dealership for service. And having a positive service experience that then causes them to have a relationship with that dealership for the purposes of the next car purchase. And in the B2B, it's even more substantial in terms of fleet sales. So I think it is appreciating how do we make sure that that service team is a part of the sales team, that that field service group understands their role in revenue generation over the long term. And some of that is efficiency driven. But a lot of it is understanding how do we create more value in our service calls, the anticipatory value, the need not to call me again because we've taken care of things that would be routine service annoyances. That the service team thinks more about the equity you have in this product more than the person does because they're tracking on your behalf the maintenance and the regular performance of the product. So those are really big shifts, I think. And the brands that do that well are the ones that I think are going to hit the numbers and also capture hearts of the people that they serve.

Sarah: Yeah. And to your point, it comes back to getting honest, right? Which requires you to understand not what do we as a business think is important to our customers, but what are they telling us is important to them? And then figuring out how you create the value proposition around your ability to impact that. Okay.

Joseph: And what do you know? What do you know that they don't know that you can create value that they don't even realize they need for?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I'm thinking about, you just said, that's a lot of change, right? And so there's different reasons, some conscious, some subconscious, that companies fear innovation when they think of doing whatever would be different than doing the status quo, especially when the status quo is working okay. Is it possible for companies to improve customer experience, make a positive impact here without disrupting things at a large scale or not?

Joseph: Yeah, I mean, I think we hear so much about transformative leadership and this digital transformation. And so people really do think it's just going to blow everything up. Transformation has a sense of whatever it was turns into something phenomenally different. And that is one way to do it, obviously. And the speed of change in digital definitely predicts a need to not just be incremental about things. But I think the biggest thing is to figure out what's working and to improve on it today over what you did yesterday. It's how we leverage strengths and step into opportunities from that SWOT analysis. But I love people who are willing to get on the leading edge of technology and innovation, but not all of us should do that. I think the really great place is to be a fast follower of the things that work. So you don't have all those upfront costs and all of the learning curve problems that the early adopters have. Now, if you're incredibly huge and you have a lot of money, and I'm sure there are a lot of people in the field space, the field service space who are in that, you can be there. But for the rest of us who aren't really willing to gamble at all, or gamble, given that we don't have as big of a pot, then we just have to really be aware of who are our customers and what's working. And I just released a book called Customer Magic, and that's one of their superpowers, to be really honest. There's a company I work with out of Australia, and they do these study tours. So they're based out of Australia. Sometimes they're coming to the United States a lot. They're going to the UK a lot, and they're looking at what's working in those markets. And then they're going back and saying, let's look at the use case here in Australia. That'll work for a country of shopkeepers in England, but it won't, work for us given the geography of our clientele. So they're constantly looking the horizon for what is everybody on the cutting edge doing, and then saying, oh, data centers, that could be a good idea. So some 10, 15 years ago, they started to get into building data centers, which has been incredible for them.

Sarah: So they can learn a lot and have that curious mindset, but then pick and choose what applies to them. Based on a variety of different criteria.

Joseph: Yeah. And it's not as disruptive for them under that scenario to go back to your original question.

Sarah: Yeah. And I think that's also, I talked about how in service we've seen this shift toward focusing on customer experience over the past decade plus. But along with that has come the need to look outside of your own competitive set. Like you shouldn't be looking for those best practices or that what can work only from the companies that are your direct competitors. You need to really be assessing trends across different types of industries and see what could apply or what could work. So I love that they're using that exercise to be learning and evaluating different ideas and different concepts.

Joseph: I have lots of clients, you know, in areas like field service who are studying a Ritz-Carlton. And my goodness, that's a completely different model, right? Ritz-Carlton is a hospitality brand. It's all about nurturance. It's all about anticipating needs and really strangely personal ways. But the idea of anticipating needs in a Ritz-Carlton is something you want to take into field service. It really is a part of we want to service you today, but we want to anticipate what you're going to need up ahead. Both for our cost savings elements of our service delivery, but also for you to see us as a trusted partner in your long-term journey with these products.

Sarah: Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. So when we think about looking at customer experience in helping drive business growth. What do companies need to get right to make that connection?

Joseph: Yeah, well, growth is an interesting question. For me, growth isn't necessarily opening up another brick and mortar somewhere. And a lot of companies gauge on that. For me, it really is a growth of your market share and relevance to the markets that you're attempting to attract. It's looking at once we've really got a foothold on that beachhead, how do we get our adjacencies? So most of all, that starts with understanding who your customer is, what they value, what your products can bring to market and have value to. It's always trying to understand what catches their eyeballs and their attention when you are marketing those things. So it's really a lot about customer analytics and customer design. So designing from the customer outward and your people process and technology and knowing what are your target markets for that growth plan.

Sarah: So when we go back to that divide between the 8% and the 80%, where are most people getting this wrong?

Joseph: Most people are getting it wrong because they want to be everything to everybody, first and foremost. So they don't really have a tight understanding of the psychographics and demographics of their core customer segments. That's part of where they get it wrong. I also think that they get it wrong because they talk about it, but the discipline of it requires only taking on a few things at a time. So what are those three or four moments of truth we have to absolutely execute on every single time, every customer, no excuses. And I don't think a lot of people have that. I don't think they know beyond the practical benefits of their product and service, what are the emotional benefits of the experience that we want to deliver. We want to be known as the nurturing brand if we're the Ritz-Carlton, right? That's a very different value proposition than if you call Zappos where they want to create this personal emotional connection called a peck, right? And they want you to leave feeling like you've had a fun personal moment. It's not understanding the emotional dynamics and creating an experience that both hits all the operational drivers at the key moments of truth, but also the emotional drivers as well.

Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense. And I like that you bring up that piece, especially for companies that we're talking about that are in the B2B space, because they might not naturally think about the emotional in addition to the operational or the product deliverables. And I think that is an important part of why customers, whether they're individuals or organizations, are loyal and feel a certain way about the relationship they have with a provider, et cetera.

Joseph: Let me just, I'll take that for you really quickly. In Mercedes, we define that as delight. We said we wanted customers to experience their service journey with delight. So when we would do that pulse survey, like we're accustomed to doing after a service interaction, and one of the questions was, to what degree do we delight you today? Maybe one question or two questions. How likely are you to recommend and to what degree do we delight you today? On a scale of zero to 10, we got a lot of zeros early on, right? But what we started to communicate to service professionals is that your job is to create delight. In addition to resolve the problem, anticipate future problems, you're to create delight. And what might you do today during the service call that would increase the likelihood this person would give you a score as a 9 or 10 on delight. It's important to help people understand what the final product looks like. At the human level besides the operational excellence on the execution of the service technique.

Sarah: Yeah. So I have a question related to that. Would you say getting this right, so delighting customers, is it more art or more science?

Joseph: Oh, it's both. There is definitely art to it. And it also takes a certain disposition and a willingness to engage because humans are challenging. But there are certain processes if we impose consistently on the raw material called human beings, increases the probability that they will leave an experience delighted. And those things involve listening. It involves proactive communication. It involves a lot of the emotional intelligence components like empathy. All those things are absolutely scientifically proven to increase the likelihood of this. And there are trainable skill sets. But then there's also some nuances to know when not to do certain things because Sarah likes it done differently. She has an invisible sign that's telling me something different than John who follows her in the next service call.

Sarah: Yeah. So, part of why I wanted to ask that question is because when I think about customer experience, I think about NPS. That's one of the first measurements that comes to mind. And I think you can share your opinion on whether that's a valuable tool. But I think to me, it seems like when it becomes not so is when two things happen. One, it's not paired with any sort of anecdotal insight. There's no listening customer sentiment, like you can rate us. But what does that rating mean? Tell me more. What would you like to see? What would delight you, etc. And then the second issue is when people ask those questions and do absolutely nothing with the feedback, because obviously that's going to frustrate people. So I was thinking about art and science also from the perspective of more quantitative measurement tools and then also like more of the qualitative. Methods of engaging and listening and to your point, empathy, et cetera. So how do you see those things?

Joseph : Well, I'm a fan of NPS at a relational level. NPS is a transactional tool. The jury's still out a little bit for me in terms of, you know, I just had an interaction. I'm much more interested in the satisfaction, whether or not it resolved to the completion. I'm looking more for how was the experience in the moment, in the now. I'm looking for some of those as predictors of relational strength as measured by NPS or customer effort score, other relational metrics. But to get to your point, I think just having any quant number like seven, well, thank you so much for the seven. And now what do I am supposed to do with it? I know it's not as good as a 9 or 10. And I know you supposedly would love me and tell your friends if it was a nine or 10. But a seven, what do I do with that? And you may be, for you, a seven may be a nine or 10 for the average person like, that was a rock my world kind of thing. And for someone else, a seven is really like, oh my gosh. I wanted to give you a zero, but I'm too nice. Unless you have some qualitative ability to read that data, it's pretty hard to do much more than looking at trends. Are we better or are we worse than we used to be?

Sarah: Yeah.

Joseph: As an aggregate. So I do think the only valuable information is a combination of transactional pulse surveys that have quantum qual and longer term surveys that have some quantum qual. And then you have to just use your big data analytics as well as your intuition and nuances to move those things forward with actual solutions.

Sarah: That makes sense. What is the advice around creating a culture that delivers those delightful experiences? So let's say we have a company who has this as a strategic objective and means it. How does that permeate down through into creating a culture that collectively wants to put focus on this and move the needle forward?

Joseph: I think you have to look at yourself in the mirror, leader. The culture starts with you. I wrote a book about a fish market where the owner said, fish smells from the head. I still don't know what that means, but I think it implies the likelihood that if it's not working at the top, it's probably not going to work throughout the organization. So it starts with how are you treating the people you serve? Because if they're not being treated well, then the people they serve are probably not going to do too much better. I think it really is a fundamental understanding. We're creating human experiences, not customer experiences. Customer experience is just a label for one group of humans who actually pay the money, but everybody else in the supply chain is pretty important. So I think that's the beginning point. I think you have to be very clear about what you value. You can't be all things to everybody. You have to have a set of values, and then you have to live by those values. And you have to tell those values to people who are prospects, and you have to determine whether or not they have the basic ability to execute against those values in the way you really interview them. And once you have that, then you have to celebrate the stories of the people who do the things that are mission and value consistent. And you have to really invest in storytelling is one more pitch to the group that on the recent book, they do an incredible job of having a department that actually collects stories and shares those stories back. And links those stories to values and constantly narrates, this is who we are here. This is how we roll. I used to say in the Michelli household, I had a certain set of values that included sitting down to dinner together. And when my kids would say, Dad, this is the lamest thing other kids don't have to do this stupid stuff. I said, that's how we roll here. That's how we screw up Michellis for future generations. They have to sit and watch their parents eat. And until the other people are willing to take you on as a project, you're going to be contaminated with that set of values. And I think that's the way we should think about business. We really are trying to behave so consistently. That's how we roll here. And if it fits you and we can do great things together, you're part of the fold. And if not, find a company whose values align more with you and enjoy your journey on your career.

Sarah: Okay, so we're looking at that from the perspective of sort of the workforce. What about the, it was referenced as the way we serve statement. What about how, to your point, when you think about, let's say a company has a long way to go between closing that 8% gap, right? They're not going to be able to do everything at once. You already said that one of the keys is you have to focus on making some improvements and having success before you move on to the next thing, et cetera. So how do you sort of articulate your customer experience ethos to your customers? Like what they should expect? Or how do you communicate when there's feedback that you can't address at that particular time, et cetera?

Joseph: Well, there's two pieces to that. First off, I think you have to start by taking your values and flipping them around. So oftentimes we talk about we are going to, integrity is our value. Well, if that is our value, then what would the customer experience if we had it? They would trust us. So our job is to create trust that we're in the trust creating business. Integrity is our buzzword as a value. And so you think if you're always looking through the lens of what is the customer going to experience if we live our values, and then you define that. And that is what the way we serve statement is to me. It's like articulating our values in reverse from the customer's vantage point. That being said, then we have to communicate something to customers. I would not communicate our most aspirational deliverable to them until we're executing it with enough consistency, because otherwise it's just fluffy language and it doesn't execute. So I would say, here's our service standards and we're going to execute against those. We're going to make sure there's a little cushion so we are consistently there. We don't want to make the cushion so big that we were basically underselling what we're going to deliver. And people are going to go, well, big deal. You're going to get back to me in two weeks. Great service standard. So I think you have to find that sweet spot that is reasonable where you can execute every single time. And then you have to over deliver against that. In instances where people want something that you can't deliver, it really is a conversation to say, this is what we can and to define whether or not there's a roadmap for you to be able to get to that place. And if enough people want it, it better be on your roadmap, irrespective of whatever you think your technology advanced romance are going to be. You got to really define where you want this business to go to meet where the customer is going. So that's my nutshell answer to I kind of think a three pronged, an effort at a three pronged answer anyway.

Sarah: Yeah. And I think it is interesting to me how challenging it is for people to really truly embrace that outside in perspective. It's not always about, oh, yeah, customer experience is important, but it's not even people that believe it and have the intent default to that inside out perspective so often. And I think that really is just fundamental to this whole thing is being able to think through the eyes of the customer. Like you said, if this is what our values are, this is what we're doing, delivering, et cetera, what are they experiencing? It sounds super simple, but I'm just thinking about how incredibly challenging that can be.

Joseph: I think it's the secret sauce. You just want to put it in a nutshell for the podcast. It is to continually force yourself outside of the way you do things. I'll give you an example of how we do it. We created something called the customer walk. And literally, the employees had to walk from the parking lot as if they were a customer, make sure no signs were mowed down during the night that they might not have seen because they parked in a different parking lot, stand in line, listen to what customers were saying, look at the condiment area, fix that because that was in their purview. If there had been a sign knocked out, tell a supervisor so that gets escalated. The point is, when you're on that side of the interaction, you see the smudges on the glass before you see the pastry. When you're on the other side, the glass is a long way away from your view. And it's just the way to get an advantage and to create that into your process, as opposed to just add talk about stepping into the shoes of your customer.

Sarah: Yeah. So let's talk about that a little bit. Maybe you can talk some about how you put that into process by sharing a bit of the story from the new book. So the new book, the latest book is Customer Magic, and it's talking about a story of an Australian company that has taken sort of a revolutionary approach to customer experience. So tell us a little bit about what makes them interesting.

Joseph: Yeah, and a formative. Well, first off, when I first got a contact saying that they'd read my book about Ritz-Carlton and their telecom and they're in Australia and their world-class customer experience journey, I thought it was a prank phone call because who in the telecommunications world really cared about that? But they did, and they got their market share in the mid-market B2B, so mid-sized to large companies, B2B. They went up against the government-owned behemoth telephone company just as AT&T got dissolved in the U.S., so they were a few years behind in Australia doing the same. And they had no capital, but they focused on one thing. We are going to create value for markets that are overpriced and underserved. And so I think as long as you constantly are looking for that space and if part of the value proposition is a better understanding of what your people need and filling those gaps, that's how you take on the Goliath businesses and get more and more market share. And for them, it's sometimes just as simple as saying, let's make your bill readable. Let's make it so that this is not in technology ease, but it's really made easy for you to understand. And that mindset and that over-the-top and using NPS very effectively to our earlier conversation and leveraging it as a way of getting. Another level down to understanding how can we make it better, constantly evolving, just allow them, along with other things we've talked about, non-disruptively looking for trend data that fit their, what they knew about their customers, and then making offerings in those spaces. That's how they did it. And really, they are a story worth learning about. And unlike most of my books, whether it's Ritz-Carlton or Mercedes or Zappos or some name that everybody knows, I think the beauty of this particular example is that a lot of us are not going to have books written after us. And yet we're doing some pretty amazing things that we can learn from each other. So that's the hope that people will take when they look inside Customer Magic.

Sarah: Yeah, it's also interesting that it's, like you said, you thought it was a prank call because it's a telephone company in Australia. But it shows the way that this focus has become important in every industry, in every application. Any other... Thoughts or advice around how to do this right or what people commonly get wrong.

Joseph: I think the greatest one is to say, keep listening to Sarah. And I mean that in the ultimate sense of continuing to be growth-oriented. Just as we suggested, there is no destination to this. People are coming up with some pretty exciting ideas. I think it is a lonely journey to continue to make a better experience for people and testing your ideas, being part of community, looking for resources that have curated content to people who are actually doing this. I do this for a living every day. I have lots of scars to show for all the things that we try to make customers' lives better to drive more engagement, to drive more referrals, to drive increased repeat business. The KPIs are how we live and die. And it takes a lot of trial and error, experiential design, thinking, iterative design work. And so being party to communities like this, I think, is the biggest thing you can do to have an advantage over those who are trudging alone without looking up to see what's happening.

Sarah: Yeah. And to your point, when you can connect with people that are on similar journeys, it's less lonely, right? You know that we have live events that we do in different cities across the globe. And one of my favorite pieces of feedback is always, I feel so much less isolated. I feel reassured, too, that we're not the only company that doesn't have this all figured out, right? So there is a lot of benefit in that. And also learning as...

Joseph: I think of it as...

Sarah: Right, like the new book.

Joseph: Yeah, I think it's a lot of being in a maze. And so you need some people who might have already been through that path of the maze who can tell you, no, there's no cheese down this end. Or we really got some momentum and traction over here. So attending those live events, listening to podcasts, being a lifelong learner, all those things make a difference.

Sarah: Absolutely. Joseph, can you tell everyone where they can find you, find the book? Where can they learn more?

Joseph: Well, readcustomermagic.com is the website for the book. You can find me anywhere and everywhere if you have my name. I'm mercilessly Joseph Michelli at LinkedIn and Joseph A. Michelli at TikTok. If you have my name, you're going to be able to search for me and find me, I'm sure.

Sarah: Okay, excellent. Well, Joseph, thank you so much for coming and spending some time with us today. I really appreciate it.

Joseph: My pleasure, Sarah. Thank you for having me.

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

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April 10, 2024 | 2 Mins Read

A Data-Driven Approach to Field Service Success

April 10, 2024 | 2 Mins Read

A Data-Driven Approach to Field Service Success

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Episode 260

In this episode of the Unscripted podcast, host Sarah Nicastro is joined by Ken Marsh, Manager of National Service at Marmon Foodservice Technologies, for a discussion around her favorite topic: data. Ken shares what KPIs are most important for service today, advice for what makes data most impactful, and thoughts about AI’s impact.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Also, subscribe to our newsletter right here.

Episode Highlights:

  • [04:30] - Dara is a powerful tool for service organizations, providing essential insights that guide focus and improvement strategies. By identifying key performance areas and pinpointing opportunities, data allows you to establish a baseline, measure success, and address shortcomings effectively. Making the most out of data goes down to selecting the right metrics and integrating them with other business processes and leadership skills. A good practice is to start with a clear problem statement, use data to inform decisions, and continually refine approaches based on feedback and results to help your business stay competitive and responsive to customer needs.
  • [10:12] - To effectively use data, start with a clear understanding of your problem or goal rather than getting lost in the sea of available information. Think of it as storytelling: just as a story evolves from its plot, data should serve to illustrate where you were, where you are, and where you aim to be. Much like the principle of continuous improvement seen in Lean Methodologies and Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality, this approach highlights getting slightly better each day.
  • [15:53] - Use data thoughtfully to identify and address the root causes of service issues rather than simply penalizing underperformance. By digging deeper into why certain KPIs aren't met, businesses can collaboratively solve problems, leading to more meaningful improvements and reasons to celebrate success. Resolution is crucial in in-service incidents, as it directly affects customer satisfaction, as well as the total cost of ownership and the frequency of service calls when evaluating equipment from a service perspective. The point is to adapt KPIs to fit the specific context of a business to better articulate value to customers and stress the importance of maintaining good relationships with partners.
  • [32:22] - AI's potential to enhance data use and introduce greater automation is exciting, promising more detailed insights and efficiency in processing information. However, it's essential to maintain a personal touch. This human element remains vital for customer interaction and storytelling, ensuring that AI tools complement rather than replace the complex human connections that are valued across generations. As AI evolves, it should enhance our capabilities and free up time for critical thinking and personal interactions, ensuring we leverage technology to its fullest while preserving the essential human aspects of business.

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