How Effective Leaders Drive Digital Change

No leader wants his or her team to fail. But, in many digital transformation efforts, creating the conditions in which failure is an acceptable outcome might be key to success. As with Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co., which credits its blockbuster successes to all the storyboards that don’t actually make it onto film, effective digital initiatives often depend on a mix of experimentation, prototyping, and failure.

Creating a culture in which risk-taking is acceptable and giving employees a wide berth to learn from failure (and success) can be difficult challenges for leaders managing change. If the following behaviors aren’t part of your leadership repertoire, you may not be ready to lead a digital transformation.

The importance of these leadership behaviors appeared in a year-long study of a 450-person financial services function within Deloitte Services LP that was implementing a large-scale technology project to streamline reporting, budgeting, and analysis for the entire organization. If successful, many employees in the function would have more time to become trusted advisers to the business, rather than simply focusing on compiling and reporting numbers. The financial services function, however, was risk averse: The entire group was accustomed to complying with fairly stringent regulations and policies but was unaccustomed to voicing their opinions. Becoming advisers by effectively communicating a new way to do business would be a hurdle for much of the staff.

At the end of one year, the research had identified several distinctive characteristics of executives who were most effective at implementing the project: They fostered a culture tolerant of failure and embraced the following four behaviors.

1. Be clear about priorities. Leaders who were clear on shifting priorities and how success would be measured seemed to have much more engaged employees throughout the transition. Goal-setting was an important factor that enabled employees to track their progress and growth. Leaders also frequently reassessed goals and ensured that employees were well aware when priorities and needs shifted. Balancing clear communication of priorities with a willingness to adapt goals when circumstances dictated was important to engaging the workforce during a time of digital transformation.

Before launching the project, executives traveled to local offices to express their vision for the future and set the overarching mission for the finance function. They offered compelling reasons for the technology transformation and gave permission to local site leaders to shift priorities as needed throughout the change. This in-person executive visit was intended to empower local office leaders to tailor the implementation, while also connecting them back to a broader vision of the future.

2. Provide effective two-way feedback. The research findings appear to support the importance of creating psychological safety during check-ins with employees. It may not be enough simply to engage in project report-outs — leaders must also create a culture of psychological safety, giving employees freedom to express concern when things aren’t going right and feel they have the ability to take risks. Doing so allows employees to share new ideas and to believe they are being heard. Leaders in the study who engaged in these types of feedback sessions seemed to be able to get ahead of employee issues before they became a roadblock to the project’s ultimate success.

During the project, frequent pulse surveys were conducted to identify emerging employee pain points. Rather than keep information confidential, pulse survey results were shared broadly across local offices during monthly leadership feedback forums. Leadership teams would also invite team members to participate and provide further feedback on how the project was going. These transparent feedback forums allowed managers and employees to begin collaborating in newfound ways as they focused on overcoming shared challenges, while also identifying shared opportunities for success.

3. Recognize staff and support risk-taking. While extrinsic motivators have their place, we know from behavioral science that intrinsic motivators drive longer-term behavior change. Simply recognizing and acknowledging people for their hard work during times of change can go a long way. However, recognition also typically means sharing the success of a project. Our research found that one way to kill the momentum of a project was for leaders to take all the credit for its success. Leaders who shared responsibility for a project’s success with all levels of staff seemed to achieve much higher levels of employee engagement throughout the project.

One leader brought team members to a high-profile client meeting, allowing employees to see firsthand the impact they were making. Another leader brought their staff to a baseball game and invited the partner of the project to attend as well. As one manager remarked, “I have not only seen changes in my employees’ ability to interact and engage with senior leaders more comfortably, but also in identifying opportunities where they can gain more exposure. And, when they need my help with that exposure, they now ask me for that help.”

4. Engage in frank development conversations. The more effective leaders communicated how change would benefit staff, including how continuous education and training opportunities would help strengthen an employee’s skill set. In addition, these managers did not shy away from transparent conversations on where employees’ efforts were needed in order to move forward. An effective conversation card was developed to help leaders engage in these conversations on a monthly basis with their teams.

Additionally, the more successful project leaders worked with staff to identify development opportunities and engage in conversations beyond the project itself. One manager said, “I used to think if someone made a mistake, it was because they weren’t very strong. I now realize that is part of the learning process and people can change if I am willing to devote the time and attention needed to help their development.” In this manager’s region, employee engagement nearly doubled after leadership instituted monthly development conversations with staff.

Leaders who displayed these four behaviors reaped not only better performance, but greater engagement from their employees throughout the change. Employees were much more likely to report back higher levels of learning and growth, and greater meaning from their work. These four behaviors, which allowed employees to share ideas more freely and embrace taking risks, appeared to lead to higher-performing teams during this digital transformation. This was further evidenced by year-over-year manager effectiveness increases of over 10% once these behaviors became commonplace throughout the regions. Regions that once lagged the organizational average in managerial effectiveness, now led in many of the managerial effectiveness metrics.

Digital transformation may not be easy, but effective leadership can help bolster the chance of success. There is typically so much emphasis on the technology itself, establishing implementation road maps marked with important milestones, that the people part can easily be overlooked. Yet, we know from research that people are the lynchpin to a digital transformation’s success. Leaders who are able to actively engage their people are much more likely to experience not just success — but greater satisfaction throughout the change.


MIT Sloan Management Review

Intuitive Networks Drive Digital Success

Today, having the right IT network is more critical than ever, as it has become the cornerstone of business digital success or failure.  Without a strong, secure network foundation, businesses don’t have the agility or security required to compete in today’s rapidly changing business environment. The Cisco Visual Networking Index shows how that there are […]
IoT – Cisco Blog

Uber to buy thousands of Volvo autonomous drive compatible cars

Uber has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Volvo Cars to buy tens of thousands of self-driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021.

The Uber-Volvo Cars strategic partnership announced in August 2016 has been further enhanced with the new agreement, according to which Volvo Cars will supply an undisclosed number of XC90 premium SUVs to the ride sharing company. Engineers from both the companies worked together to formulate the car equipped with all required safety and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for the ride sharing company to add its own self-driving technology.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption. Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”

Talking about the partnership, Uber’s head of auto alliances Jeff Miller said: “We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Volvo. This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”

Elsewhere, Lyft is looking to raise another $ 500 million, which the ride sharing company says is an extension of the recent $ 1 billion round led by CaptialG. As reported by TechCrunch, the additional $ 500 million funding will help Lyft to invest more capital into its passenger and driver products. The funding would come at a crucial time as Lyft is all ready to make its maiden move outside the US by entering the Canadian market in December.

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Tools and Knowledge Sharing to Drive IoT Success

Despite strong expertise in their particular focus application areas, engineers understandably often have limited know-how when it comes to tackling the unfamiliar hardware and software development needed to bring the exciting benefits and possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) to their specific products or systems.

IoT tools to speed and ease deployment

Platforms and tools such as ON Semiconductor’s multifaceted IoT Development Kit (IDK), are pivotal in helping accelerate and ease the deployment of IoT capabilities to designs in diverse sectors. The modular platform supports evaluation, prototyping, and eventual IoT system delivery by giving engineers access to a wide variety of different sensing, processing, connectivity and actuation options through a range of shields/daughter cards that attach to the kit’s mother board.

Platforms and tools such as ON Semiconductor’s multifaceted IoT Development Kit (IDK), are pivotal in helping accelerate and ease the deployment of IoT capabilities to designs in diverse sectors..

ON Semiconductor will be demonstrating two new shields at stand #407 at the IoT Tech Expo, featuring Bluetooth® 5/low energy technology communication capabilities and the provision for energy harvesting Smart Passive Sensor (SPS) functionality. The BLE shield features the recently launched RSL10, a Bluetooth 5 certified radio System-on-Chip (SoC), and the SPS shield simplifies and enhances the usability of ON Semiconductor’s battery-free SPS sensors that can measure temperature, moisture and pressure.

Imaging in the IoT mix

Image sensing is also becoming an important aspect of IoT implementations in many sectors. In addition to exhibiting its IDK, ON Semiconductor will also be demonstrating its imaging portfolio with the AR0521 CMOS device.  Targeted at end applications such as security and surveillance, action cameras and in-car DVR, the sensor produces extraordinarily clear, sharp digital pictures and video in challenging bright, poor, and mixed light conditions.

Sharing knowledge

ON Semiconductor’s Wiren Perera will be speaking at the IoT Tech Expo North America and participating in a morning keynote panel discussion on November 29th titled, ‘The Future of IoT Development.’ The panel will provide insight into the latest technologies, platforms and solutions for the IoT, as well as discuss the opportunities and challenges impacting potential growth in various sectors.

In addition, I will be giving a presentation called ‘Innovations in Designing Energy Efficient IoT Devices.’ This will take place at 2:10 pm on November 29th within the IoT Innovations & Technologies conference track. I will explore innovations in the IoT elements of computing, connectivity, sensing, actuation and power management. I will also examine how the ability to rapidly prototype hardware-to-cloud is indispensable in helping achieve the desired autonomy of IoT solutions.

For engineers getting to grips with the IoT, ON Semicondutor’s booth, demos and expert speakers at the IoT Tech Expo in Santa Clara, November 29-30, will provide valuable insight, knowledge and guidance regarding the tools to help realize the potential of the Internet of Things.

(c) istockphoto.com/ elen11

The post Tools and Knowledge Sharing to Drive IoT Success appeared first on IoT Tech Expo.

IoT Tech Expo

Three Ways Electric Cars Are Changing More Than The Way We Drive

Part 1 of the “Future of Transportation and the Internet of Things” series

The world is moving away from cars based on the internal combustion engine (ICEs). The future is electric. With Tesla leading the way on what’s possible with electric vehicles, more traditional auto manufacturers are following suit.

Volvo has announced that all of its cars will have electric motors by 2019. Aston Martin is planning the same by 2025. General Motors plans to have at least 20 electric vehicles (EVs) by 2023. The list goes on.

Much of the pressure is coming from countries banning ICE sales in the not-too-distant future (The Netherlands by 2025; ChinaIndia, and Germany by 2030; France and the UK by 2040). Industry and consumers, however, want electric as well.

When everybody wants something, it tends to happen. The question is, what will be the ramifications? One safe bet is that the market for your ICE-based car will be drying up quickly – so think about selling now. But beyond concerns for personal finance, we can also expect EVs to have a dramatic impact in a number of areas including climate conditions in cities, the automotive industry in general, and energy distribution worldwide.

Lower emissions

The obvious benefit of electric cars – the reason countries, industries, and individuals everywhere are pushing for them – is lower emissions. One of the cities most concerned about emissions is Beijing. Back in 2015, the notoriously thick smog of the city disappeared quickly when authorities banned driving for two weeks in preparation for a World War II commemoration parade. The day after driving resumed, the smog returned.

Today, Beijing is planning to replace the city’s nearly 70,000 taxis with EVs. Doubtless, this is a step in the right direction. Yet, while Beijing tends to get the lion’s share of press coverage when it comes to smog, other cities face similar challenges. From Paris to Mexico City and all around the world, lower emissions from electric vehicles will help to improve health for citizens locally and fight climate change globally.

Industry change

The automotive industry is not just General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, and the rest. It’s also made up of countless suppliers of parts and components. But when you move from a traditional ICE to the electric engine, you lose about 90% of the parts. Electric engines are just simpler.

This means that for companies in the automotive supplier ecosystem, much of the market is going away soon. The simplicity of electric engines will also be felt further down the value chain. Service centers, for example, will feel the hit. Many of these centers – particularly the large chains – use the inexpensive 3,000-mile oil change as a loss-leader to upsell customers on needed maintenance. But without oil in the electric engine – and without as much need for maintenance – many of these chains will have to rethink their business models to survive.

New energy horizons

One of the most significant impacts of EVs will be on the way energy is distributed – because in addition to being modes of transportation, EVs will also act as energy sources that can plug directly into the grid.

This will help address the challenge of “demand response.” The problem to solve here is one of grid stability in the era of renewable energy. Traditionally, large, centrally located energy generation plants – coal, gas, and nuclear – have churned out a steady supply of energy that results in a fairly stable grid.

However, the renewable energy paradigm – based mostly on solar and wind – is neither centralized nor steady. Rather it is distributed across rooftops, solar farms, and mountain tops. And it is variable according to weather conditions.

With renewables, in other words, utilities have less control over the supply side of the equation – meaning how and when energy is generated. This has the potential to lead to instability on the electricity grid. If you can’t manage the supply, then you have to use demand-side management, also known as demand response. This can be done through incentives, and the technology is advancing such that, increasingly, the process is becoming automated.

By providing a storage mechanism that can both take energy in and send it out, car batteries on EVs can act as frequency regulators for the grid. This is a big deal that has the potential to change energy distribution forever.

At night, say, when the wind is blowing, a car battery can store energy generated by wind turbines. Or, in the middle of the afternoon when everybody wants air conditioning on a hot day, the same batteries can distribute some of their energy. This leads to improved grid stability.

Industry convergence

Let’s just note, however, that the entities with the closest relationships to the owners of the batteries so critical to grid stability would not be the utilities but EV manufacturers. What’s stopping Elon Musk from enticing Tesla customers from sharing their batteries? Tesla could enable its customers to provide energy from their batteries – and then sell it on the grid for a profit. Customers make money. Tesla makes money. Utility companies make money. Everybody is happy.

This transforms the automobile industry into an energy industry. At SAP we talk a lot about digital transformation as a response to digital disruption. This is disruption at its most dramatic.

Elon Musk aims to make 500,000 Teslas in 2018. Let’s say he falls disastrously short and only hits half his target. Let’s also assume an average 80 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery size in the EVs. (Tesla cars today have battery sizes ranging from 60 -110 kWh.) That’s 250,000 cars x 80 kWh – and you’ll see that this fleet would have the capacity of 20 gigawatt hours of storage. For comparison, a gigawatt is roughly the output of a nuclear power plant. So, Tesla will be producing the equivalent of 20 nuclear power plants worth of storage, at least, per year.

Electric vehicle manufacturers will be able to aggregate the energy on their networks and sell access to their “virtual power plants.” It is a whole new world.

Stay tuned for more on how the transportation industry is changing forever.

To meet the market’s expectations for increasingly fast, responsive, and personalized service, speed of business will be everything. Find out how innovative processes can enable your business to remain successful in this evolving landscape. Learn more and download the IDC paper “Realizing IoT’s Value – Connecting Things to People and Processes.”

This blog was first posted on TomRaftery.com and has been re-posted with permission.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine