Byron's Babbles

Stakeholder Alignment

We are seeing a dramatic amplification that an individual voice can have within a business, organization, educational entity, or local, state, or federal government – bringing with it perspectives on not only what is right for those individuals and the organization or community, but increasingly, what is right for society at large. Thus we need stakeholders to be well informed and stakeholder alignment. In other words, all sections of stakeholders must optimize together.

Last week when I was in Germany with business and education leaders I discussed that modern organizations will need to transform to be ever more in tune to and responsive to the needs of both internal and external constituencies. I even got more specific and talked about this in terms of talent recruitment, acquisition, development, and retention. There needs to be internal talent community as well as an external one. We have reached a time when personalization must occur for those both being served by the organization and those carrying out the work of the organization. In the case of stakeholder alignment for talent (not ‘human resources’ to be exploited) we need to find ways to remain agile in gaining and teaching new skills necessary, create a cycle of learning, improvement and engagement for people, create culture in a world of remote working, and many other individual and societal issues.

Stakeholder alignment means every role has the opportunity to be transformed into a more strategic function. One company shared last week that through artificial intelligence (AI) the production data generated areas of development needed for development. Brilliant! Alignment of our internal and external ecosystems are crucial for success today. We must continue to use the tools available to create an interconnected awareness of our situation as it relates to all stakeholders.

Generation Metaverse

I love learning and I have to say that last week almost put me in overload. It was so great to be back in person, chair, and speak for the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit. Hanging out with really smart and innovative industry leaders from around the world is, well, intoxicating! It is incredible to learn about both new things I’ve never heard of or things I’ve been exposed to, but don’t know much about. One such, related to the latter is the metaverse and generation metaverse. We learned that dollars are going to be shared between live and digital. It is gong to be a blending. the metaverse is virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.

The metaverse is virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X consumers expect to spend between four and five hours a day in the metaverse in the next five years. The metaverse mainly involves gaming right now, but will include immersive shopping, followed by telehealth appointments, education, travel, and socializing in virtual reality (VR) or using augmented reality (AR) will be the most interesting metaverse activities for consumers in the next five years

Moving away from two-dimensional laptops and smartphones to the three-dimensional immersive world of glasses and goggles is one that I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about, but has tremendous possibility. We can move from screens to landscapes, layers, and objects.

Local Is Everywhere

The global pandemic has served as a catalyst to e-commerce (a 39% increase happened last year) and local delivery being here to stay. It is now common practice to build shopping carts into local business websites. This enables us to significantly expand the number of neighbors we get to serve with care, compassion, and a commitment to making these very good times. This past week at the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit, Joachim Hensch reminded us that “local is everywhere.” To further make the point he reminded us that “Coca Cola is everywhere.” Think about it; because of geolocalization, we can connect in ways never possible before. All we have to do is type in, “___________ near me.” Or, I can order whatever I need, to be delivered wherever I need it. Think about all these ways we have to be everywhere:

  • In-person (is now kind of old school)
  • Curbside pickup and messaging
  • Home delivery messaging
  • Text messaging
  • Direct Messaging
  • Live Chat 💬
  • Email 📧
  • Review responses
  • Review requests
  • Phone 📱
  • On-hold phone messaging
  • Virtual meetings
  • Website forms
  • Surveying
  • Social media platforms
  • Post-transactional landing page messaging
  • Call-to-action texting 💬

If we are truly going to operate in a “local is everywhere” mindset then we also need to think “glocalization.” A glocalized product or service is one that is developed and distributed globally but is also adjusted to accommodate the user or consumer in a local market. Cars, for example, need to meet certain regulatory standards or have the steering wheel placed in the correct side for that country. Also, more importantly, cultural adaptations need to be made. In other words, a global product or service, something everyone needs and can get use out of, may be tailored to conform to local laws, customs, or consumer preferences.

Finally, we need to adopt the core value of everything we do being meant to connect people and increase the quality of life in ALL local communities. Our governments need to protect economic and human diversity and we need to do community building by making our towns and cities really fine places to live with accessible goods and services for everybody.

Flirting With Technology

I’ve already done several posts reflecting on my learning from the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit, but I just spent a couple of hours during my flight home studying my notes. That study yielded another seven topics for reflection, further study, and a blog post being written. Something that we discuss this week while in Hamburg, Germany was the fact that we are always flirting with technology. There is always some new device, application, updated application, or increase capability for us to “flirt” with. I loved that way of putting it – “flirting.” Because flirting is not committing. Interestingly, the manufacturing industry and education have the same issue here: we flirt too much without making sure what we are flirting with meets our needs, is usable by our stakeholders, or even adds more burden than value. Therefore, we discussed that when flirting with technology there must be a great deal of experimentation.

This flirtation cannot be a speed date! I see this so many times, where someone in a school likes a particular technology, so that becomes the next thing. Probably the biggest areas I hear this in education are with learning management systems. I hear things like “I’m not sure who picked this, but it really isn’t that useful.” We talked a lot about the stakeholder gaps while discussing change management this week. Clearly there are stakeholder gaps in my example here. I get the fact that there needed to be some quick decisions made during the heat of the global pandemic, but we mustn’t forget the experimentation component to flirting with technology.

This experimentation must include using a model like the Vantage Point Model©. The experimentation must include stakeholder representation from the organization related to philosophy, culture, policy, strategy, tactics, logistics, and tasks. I teach this model in all leadership development work I do. I truly believe and have witnessed it to be true that if all seven stakeholder groups are represented, change has a great chance of success. Additionally, I have seen failure, particularly in the area of technology, when the stakeholders involved with tactics, logistics, or tasks are not included in the experimentation.

The list of seemingly necessary IT capabilities continues to grow, and IT spending continues to consume an increasing percentage of their budgets. No one person, committee, or department should be left to make, often by default, the choices that determine the impact of IT on your organization’s business strategy. Beware of chasing elusive benefits (eg. Information to anyone, anytime, anywhere). Choose goals for technology/digitization that match the strategy of your organization. You cannot do it all at once – do it in sprints. We need to consider how our technology can help give us a centralized global perspective, but also maintain individualization on a regional and local level. Involving all stakeholders is again important to the experimentation here.

Bottom-line: Flirting With Technology = Great Deal of Experimentation.

SMART Global Reflections

I love traveling internationally and connecting with people from all over the world. As I fly the last leg of my trip home this evening I am reflecting on how blessed I was to be in Hamburg, Germany 🇩🇪 for the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit. Industry and manufacturing leaders from around the world came together to discuss current issues and promising practices. It was so great to be with Anna Beklemisheva, from Greece 🇬🇷, who is the GIA event manager. The last time I saw Anna in person was in Berlin back in 2018, pre global pandemic. I love working with Anna and will always make myself available to chair and speak at events for her. Every time I am with Anna I learn so much.

It was great to see individuals in person that I had connected with back in 2018. One big difference that we all noted in the discussions from 2018 to 2022 were how people centric the discussions have become. It seems to be a global issue with no industry exempt from having a talent shortage. They were kidding me that in 2018 I kept wanting to talk education and talent with only limited interest. Now in 2022, every speaker and every panel discussion ended up discussing the workforce. And, I loved it when they all agreed that we must be thinking about talent development down into the younger ages/grades of education. This is a passion of mine. We need to be thinking exposure, exploration, and experience much earlier.

It is so critical to have these global interactions and learn from each other. One leader from Poland 🇵🇱 discussed that we are setting ourselves up for failure if we believe that schools and teachers can keep up with changes in technology and other industrial advances to be able to teach effectively. He believes industry needs to step up and provide teachers. I have been advocating for years now that we need to be thinking about do we best put people who have actually done the things they are teaching in front of our scholars. We already do this in many of our career and technical education programs and I believe this is a way to increase our teaching in a relevant context and putting great teachers in front of students every minute of the day. Keep in mind that if we are creative about this a person might only teach one hour a day and be in their industry career the other part of the day. Or it could be someone who has retired from business or industry. This would take some logistical work and partnering between industries and schools, but I believe it could be done.

I am coming home excited that the world is thinking about how we become more people centric. We need to do a better job of talent mapping and development for our young scholars as well as our current employees.

Don’t Be Lazy!🧰Use The Right Tools!

I had the chance to do some work in the barn today. That brings the same joy to me that going to the beach might bring to many of you. My son and I have been doing some cleaning and reorganizing as part of a larger campaign we were calling our “Farm COVID-19 Cleansing.” Now that he is back at college, I am on my own. Today as I was working, I realized that I would get along much better if I would use a different pitchfork. I had the other style in another barn, not 50 yards away. Finally, I told myself, “Don’t be lazy; go over and get the right tool.” I did and finished up the task much quicker and effectively.

Then I began to ponder about all the things going on in education, business, industry, and all our lives due to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic (we are in Day 161, now). We must not get lazy. We need to deploy the right tools to get the right things done effectively. Go the extra yard (in my case it was 50), so to speak, to do things right. This post is not about what those specific tools are, but about, for instance, in education that our students deserve to have the right tools to fit whatever education modality he or she is in – online, blended, or in person.

161 days ago we all said, “Let’s just do the best we can.” That was appropriate 161 days ago. Not now, though. Now, we need to be doing all the right things and using the right tools no matter what industry we are in. Good enough isn’t good enough.

Where Is The “Twin”?

Today I had the opportunity to moderate a great global webinar entitled “Creation of a Digital Twin.” The webinar was put on by GIA SMART Factory League. I am always honored to have the opportunity to work with this organization and it was incredible to be in the [virtual] room with industry representatives from over 36 different countries. And…now that we have learned we can hold these events effectively virtually and learn together apart, we can get together more often and not have the huge travel expense. Talk about holding the whole world in your hands!

I value the opportunity to spend time learning from those in business/industry and manufacturing. It saddens me that many leaders in education talk a big game about wanting to hear from business stakeholders, but most of what happens is lip service. We need more walking the talk. Those in education must stop thinking we know more than those that hire the students we educate. It must be a partnership. There must be a true dialogue of listening to understand.

That’s why I love events like the one today where we can learn together and learn each other’s industry specific languages. Today we were learning about the “digital twin.” The creation of a digital twin enables us to simulate and assess decisions:

  • Before actual assets are built and deployed
  • Before maintenance
  • Before a design change
  • Before complex tasks

A number of industries are creating digital twins, digital replicas of products, and many other things including body parts. Today we saw a digital twin of the heart done by Philips Innovation Services. The heart digital twin performs patient specific adaptation. It was amazing. Imagine the testing of procedures and products for heart repair. Also, think of the possibilities for training and education. Endless!

The digital twin mirrors what it is twinning in bits keeping the bit replica synchronized with the real one. I learned today that just certain parts of an asset can be selected to twin. Thus making it easier to focus in on specific functions or parts. It was pointed out that this could be of incredible use in education and training. In this sense digital twins are a new tool for education: rather than studying on the real thing you can study on its digital representation. Even though in a polling question I asked during my introductory statement today, there were only 7% of participants using digital twin technology for training/development and education, and 27% just starting too, technologies like virtual reality provide new tools for education.

Imagine if we had a digital twin of ourselves. We would still have all the flaws, but some some smart technician might find ways to help us improve. Far fetched? I think not!

Horse Power – What is the Equivalent for Companies? HumanPower

This guest post originally appeared on the Alex Vorobieff Blog

Horse Power – What is the Equivalent for Companies? HumanPower

By Alex Vorobieff

Today, there is a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence, AI, and computers taking over more jobs but as I write this, human beings still provide the essential power to build thriving companies. What is this power we provide? The term “Human Resources” is inadequate. The term “Human Capital” is static. A company’s power comes from its people’s ability to coordinate their efforts. HumanPower is what propels companies. We quantify car engine horse power but what is the equivalent for companies? HumanPower.

What determines whether a company thrives or slowly dies? How well its people use their experience and expertise to coordinate their decisions and actions.

Recent scientific insight has shed light on how our species of humans, homo sapiens, evolved and thrived while other species died out even though we were not the fastest or strongest.  We survived because of our unique competitive advantage; our ability to coordinate our efforts.

Coordinating efforts generates the HumanPower that propels the few companies past the many that struggle, but misaligned HumanPower can also tear companies apart. For example in an Olympic rowing competition, team members rowing at slightly different paces are working against each other and diminishing their HumanPower. Understanding how to harness HumanPower is critical for growing a business successfully.

Okay Vorobieff, how do we coordinate the efforts of our people? By answering key questions that provide guidance for people within the company to make big and small decisions such as:

Why does the company exist?

• What are we really selling? (What problem are we solving for our customer?)

• Who is our core customer?

• What is essential for the company to survive and thrive?

• What are the core values essential for keeping our unique culture?

• Who is responsible for what?

• When things don’t go according to plan, how do we get back on track?

• What is the number one priority for the company?

These questions do not answer themselves. If answered, the answers are easily forgotten, or often not communicated to new team members.  Most companies do not have clear answers to these questions. Over time, differing and conflicting answers evolve generating conflicting decisions and efforts or worse DeadPayroll.

How can you measure HumanPower? There is no Dynamometer to hook people up to measure a company’s horsepower. It’s easier to measure the drag than the force. Start with measuring your DeadPayroll.

You can also measure HumanPower by using the most powerful tool humans’ possess, questions. Start asking the key questions listed above to your leadership team. Let them answer separately and see if your people are headed in the same direction or are pulling the company in different directions.

Coordinating decisions and actions was the competitive advantage our ancestors used to survive and thrive in a harsh environment where survival was not guaranteed, and the same coordination will determine whether your company thrives in a competitive environment where long-term survival is not guaranteed.

******************************

About Alex Vorobieff

Founder and CEO of The Vorobieff Company, Alex Vorobieff is a business turnaround specialist, working to implement Business Alignment Tools for their specific needs. Alex has served as clean-up CFO and president of companies in telecommunications, aviation, aerospace, and real estate development, leading successful turnarounds in as little as three months. He shares his how-tos and techniques through Confident ROi magazine and his latest book, Transform Your Company: Escape Frustration, Align Your Business, and Get Your Life Back.

Employers Need To Know What To Expect

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 4.43.46 PMIn meetings this past week a theme developed: Employers need to know what to expect. This was referring to the fact that employers need to know what to expect that students coming to work for them will know. As I have continued my work, as an Indiana State Board of Education member and Chair of the Indiana Graduation Pathways, I am spending a great deal of time with employers, learning the employee skill needs. It is abundantly clear there is a skills gap, but I do not believe it is insurmountable. I believe the answer is to identify those transferable skills and competencies that every student needs. Additionally, the transferable skills and competencies needed for specific trades need to be identified.

Even though the study dealt with college students, The Chronicle For Higher Education reported on a study that dealt with the question of “The Thing Employers Look For When Hiring Recent Graduates.” What the study found was that employers really value experiences outside of academics: Internships, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars. I have to believe this would also apply to high school graduates. From the many employers I have visited with, I would have to say that these things do apply to high school students. Maybe even more!

Below is the graph of the results from what employers want:

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 4.03.54 PM

One of the pieces of our Indiana Graduation Pathways we were very explicit about was the need for Work Based Learning and Project Based Learning. Just so we are on the same page, Work Based Learning is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life and real-world work experiences where they can apply academic and technical skills and develop their employability skills in a relevant context. Work-based learning encompasses a wide array of learning experiences, from exposing high school students to careers through activities like job shadowing, to providing incumbent workers with specialized training. Work-based learning extends into the workplace through on-the-job training, mentoring, and other supports in a continuum of lifelong learning and skill development. I really want to highlight the point of lifelong learning. We really need to get out of the fixed mindset that the pathway everyone should take is to graduate high school and go straight to a four year college/university. This is not for everyone and Work Based Learning can help provide an avenue for our students.

Work Based Learning is at its most powerful when experiences advance along a sequential, purposeful continuum. Experiences along the continuum are increasingly personalized and aligned with specific industries and occupations, providing participants with opportunities to contextualize what they learn and build their skills and knowledge. This also can provide the employer with a pipeline of employees that have been trained in their own environment and on their own equipment. In this setting employers know exactly what they are getting.

Even beyond the Work Based Learning, however, employers need to know what to expect from the students that will become their future employees. We need to partner with employers to develop transferable skills and competencies that all students need to know. We really need to take a step back and fully develop what every high school needs to know when he/she graduates. Make no mistake, I am not saying students do not need math, English, and the other cores we always discuss, but that there is more. Employers need to know what to expect from the future employees, that are our students. We need to listen and make sure what employers expect is what employers get. Furthermore we must also make sure our students know what to expect they will be expected to know when entering the workplace.

 

Leadership Traits Of A Farmer

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 8.39.13 PMLast week was one of my favorite times of the year. It was the week of our county fair, Besides loving helping my son prepare his dairy show cows for the 4H and open shows, I love visiting with community members. My favorite visits, though, are with former students. It is like a big reunion. All of my former students are special, but I have one former student that always schedules some time to sit and have a very quality visit. I end up blogging about our visit every year. I value this time because I learn so much. He always wants to know about what is going on in my life. This year, like every year, he had advice, words of wisdom, and encouragement that I will use in my professional life. Click here to read last year’s post entitled I Have Paid For An Education With My Mistakes about Andy Clark. Andy easily makes it to the top of my list of most respected students. He has truly become an outstanding agricultural leader.

IMG_3330During our visit this year I became even more proud of Andy than I already was. He has done an outstanding job of improving, expanding, and innovating his family farming operation. As we visited I realized what a great leader Andy had developed into. The impressive part to me is that he continues to develop himself and grow professionally. He does not settle for status quo. We had the chance to visit for about five hours sitting at our cattle stalls and I picked up on six leadership traits that Andy has really developed and honed that would make many CEOs jealous. I’d like to share these traits with you here:

  1. Innovating – Innovation is a very important leadership trait. Andy has created different paths for producing for markets with specific needs. These specific needs offer a better chance at evening out the peaks and valleys of commodity marketing. Amazingly, once he has innovated in one area, he is already looking for the next.
  2. Resourcefulness/Adaptation – Andy clearly has a handle on looking for ways to improve efficiency, make use of byproducts, and reformulating to keep the farming operation on a progressive track.
  3. Managing Time and Leading People – I was so impressed when Andy was describing his plans he had recently put in place to retain and develop his employees. His wage/compensation plan has made it possible for him to retain and attract employees and have them where they need to be, at the time they are needed. A large part of his operation is in forage making for dairies. Anyone who has ever made hay or chopped silage knows you must harvest when the crop is right. Andy has developed his leadership skills for maximum employee efficiency. He understands that the achievements of our workforce are crucial to the successful delivery of strategy.
  4. Financial Management – Every dollar saved in expenses is a dollar that directly benefits the bottom line. While expense control is time consuming and tedious, great farmers spend the time to reap the benefit. Living expenses, equipment and machinery purchases, decisions related to using contracted services (like custom chopping of silage), spending habits, areas where can you cut back, and investments that aren’t the best ideas today. These can be the differences between breaking even, losing money or just eking out a profit. Andy knows to the exact penny what it costs to produce a bushel of grain or ton of forage.
  5. Attention To Detail – During our visit, Andy pulled out his cell phone and began to give me a tutorial lesson on JDLink™. This allows Andy to see critical and timely information about his machines, online, and better yet, on his cell phone. By using the MyMaintenance™ app, he is able to move data to and from his machines – easily, securely, and wirelessly. This enables Andy to support his machines and employees, thus keeping the operation running smoothly and efficiently. We talk a lot about SMART Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, but this is truly Agriculture 4.0. Andy is on the pioneering side of using it.maxresdefault
  6. Growing Professionally – I don’t think I know anyone who is constantly learning to the extent that Andy Clark does. He was like that in high school – always studying something and thinking about the next thing he might want to do. He’s like the farmer version of Curious George®. Andy stays connected to knowledgeable sources of the latest information and innovations. He is very interested right now in robotics and wants to be a pioneer in the use of robotic equipment. The bottom line is that Andy is motivated to learn – a characteristic of a great leader.

As you can see, Andy Clark has developed into quite farmer and leader. Every year when I visit with him I become prouder of him and more impressed with him. We are planning to get together before another year passes and I hope we do because I learn and grow every time I have the opportunity and sit and visit with Andy. Do you have leadership traits that you need to develop and hone?