Future of Work: Leading Disruption through Talent Solutions
In today’s world, socioeconomic changes are happening at an increasing rate, which means manufacturing organizations must constantly adapt to keep up.
Hyobin Sung, Director of Learning Solutions at STANLEY X. Their work revolves around innovating for the future of work, including developing solutions to attract, retain, and empower the maker’s workforce.
In this episode, she explains what her team does, why innovation is so important, and how organizations can attract more diverse talent.
- The mission and verticals of STANLEY X
- What businesses can do to attract more diverse talent
- Innovations launched by the Talent Solutions team
- Misconceptions about skilled trades
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Check out the full episode below:
00:00:00] Hyobin Sung: We do need to focus on going back to where our workers are, where the workforce is. We have to expand where we look, how we look, and how we show up frankly.
[00:00:20] Josh Santo: Welcome to Conquering Chaos, the show for manufacturing leaders. In each episode, we are connecting you to the manufacturing leaders of today who are driving the innovations needed to futureproof the operations of tomorrow. If you feel like your time is spent fighting fires and trying to control the everyday chaos, this show is the show for you. My name is Josh Santo, I’ll be your host.
Hey y’all, it’s Josh. Before we get into this episode, I wanted to put this into your ear. If you like the types of conversations we’re having, you’ll enjoy the content that we share through our mailing list. Go to parsable.com/podcast, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up to get more insightful content delivered directly to your inbox. Okay. Onto the show.
Welcome back to another episode of Conquering Chaos. Our next guest is Korean-American and on a mission to amplify real-life experiences of people to facilitate dynamic learning and new innovations in business. In fact, she’s an architect of learning communities across the entrepreneur ecosystems in both public and private sector companies within the US and China.
Her dynamic career includes founding her own business in sustainable fashion while simultaneously building the first international women’s business network in Chengdu China. She’s currently serving as the Director of Learning Solutions at Stanley X which is the innovation business of Stanley Black & Decker where she oversees the development of new products and services and external partnerships that facilitate workforce development and future of work in trades. Please, welcome to the show, Hyobin Sung. Thank you so much for being with us today.
[00:02:17] Hyobin: Hi, Josh. Thank you so much for having me. Very excited to be here.
[00:02:21] Josh: Yes. We’re excited to have you and pick your brain about some of the work that you’ve been doing as well as some of your background. In fact, we’re going to get into a lot of different topics today, but before we do, we like to start the show with asking our guests the same question, what does a day-to-day look like within your role?
[00:02:41] Hyobin: What a great question. I have listened to some of your previous guest podcasts so I hope mine matches their level. My morning usually begins once I commute to my office by doing an ideating exercise where I write out new ideas or questions that I’ve had, or maybe an inspiration that I had while listening to someone else’s podcast.
Every morning I would sit down and flush through those ideas and questions and really think about how can these ideas exist in real life.
Of course, most of these ideas usually have something to do with career development, future of work, or how to create better learning communities for other people, but from time to time there are some fun ideas that I get to ideate that is more personal than professional. Once the morning ideation face ends, and I do that every morning because I have learned through the years that I focus the best in the mornings especially when there’s no one else and my dogs are still asleep, I’m able to really do that daydreaming exercise. Once that phase is over, of course, my day-to-day I’m sure looks similar to your other guests.
It’s a combination of meetings, deep-focus work if I’m able to get those done, and connecting with colleagues within the company, but also connecting with others outside, doing really cool things in this arena. I do try to connect with at least one to two folks every week just so that I know I’m staying relevant and inspired. Then of course at the end of the night, I do spend a lot of my time with my family and our dogs.
Since the pandemic, I think I told you this Josh earlier that I have reestablished and rekindled my love for K-pop and Korean entertainment. These usually are like the variety shows that are usually hosted by old-school Korean entertainers that I grew up on. That is my me time, showtime. I don’t know about other folks, maybe your listeners who are super into Switch, my husband invested in a Switch for himself. We do squeeze in a 30 minute, no more, of overcooked session, probably on the daily basis, and of course we have that time limit because we need to maintain our household piece. I’m sure your listeners who play that game will understand why.
[00:05:32] Josh: I appreciate about what you brought up, but some of the things that I’m going to call out aside from the fact that you’re very intentional, from what I’m gathering, with how you’re going to spend your time, there’s things that you are committed to making sure happens. That is ultimately, that type of discipline is the key to accomplishing your goals in your personal life as well as in your working life, but one of the things I really appreciate that you called out is that focus on ideation.
You’re setting aside some time to brainstorm, to consider some of the sources or new ideas that you’ve come across, some of the inspiration you have. It really reminds me of an episode that we recorded about digital innovation from unlikely sources in which Tope Sadiku from Kraft Heinz talked with us about how part of the strategy for their rollout of Microsoft Teams had to do with an observation that she had about trees on a walk and their roots system.
I love that you’re just setting aside and protecting that time to think about what are the improvements that need to be made because I honestly think that that is something that needs to be adopted within the working environment, just that time to think about what are the problems or opportunities to improve that we may not always consider because it’s not really the day-to-day problems that are getting fixed and it’s more strategic long term, et cetera.
[00:07:06] Hyobin: Yes. I really appreciate what you said. Also, Tope was the inspiration, I had listened to that episode that you did with her and–
[00:07:14] Josh: Oh, great.
[00:07:15] Hyobin: The content of that podcast really inspired me to reach out to you as well as to connect with her. I agree. I think that we all need more time to be intentional about being creative and innovative. It is something that I’ve been practicing actually ever since I’ve founded my own business, as a business owner I recognize that need to be problem-solving right in the moment and resolving the issue in front of me, but also setting aside time to really think deeply about how can I remove these problems at the root, how can I write, reinvent or upgrade what I offer to my customers? Morning time actually just became my focus time.
[00:08:03] Josh: Reminds me of, we also had Jamie Flinchbaugh on the show for his book, People Solve Problems. One of the things he talked about is to truly have a culture of problem-solving, you have to block out and protect time dedicated just for not only solving that problem. Like you mentioned, I got to fix it in the here and now, I got to do something to stop the problem right now, but what is that ideal state and what are the things that we need to put in place to work towards that ideal state to not only prevent this problem from happening again but to use that as an opportunity to drive improvements.
Another lesson that is certainly coming up more and more frequently. Speaking of lessons coming up frequently, there’s a couple of themes that consistently pop up on Conquering Chaos. We’ve talked with a handful of guests about how to deal with the challenges of recruiting millennials and gen Z workers and retaining their current workers. On the show, we’ve explored how new technologies can help you do things that you couldn’t do before like for example, operationalizing sustainability.
We consistently hit on how the people like the frontline, the people that are performing the value-added activities throughout the operation are the ones that we must serve. These underlying themes of these conversations, it’s innovation and innovation is essential. Now Stanley X is the innovation business of Stanley Black & Decker so your team knows the thing or two about innovation. I would love for you to just tell us a little bit more about your team, your organization, the mission, and how your teamwork towards it.
[00:09:43] Hyobin: Absolutely. Stanley X, our mission is to create new sources of growth for Stanley Black & Decker, and really to lead the disruptions in our core industries. What does that actually mean in terms of how we execute that? Stanley X executes on that particular mission of SPD through our verticals, which are talent solutions, which is a team that I belong to. We also have a vertical in construction technology and digital manufacturing. Of course, we can’t just lead only through ideas. We need strong foundational support system, so we have found horizontal units that works alongside our verticals, including our venture studio, our design team, and our operations teams to really help us take our ideas into the markets.
I do want to emphasize here what we do as a Stanley X is really, really possible because Stanley Black & Decker actually has committed our corporate social responsibility commitments are guided by the United Nations Global complex sustainable development goals. I only mentioned that because it really drives what we do as Stanley X.
Those pillars that SPD follows, one is to empower makers.
Our company’s mission overall is for those who make the world. We want to empower the makers of our world and of our things that we interact with on a day to day basis, and want to innovate with purpose. The third goal is to create a more sustainable world. I mention these goals to really show you that our company’s right focus is on these three areas, and it’s these goals that really fuel teams like Stanley X, that I get to be a part of.
[00:11:42] Josh: I think that’s so critical to not only have a role that you need to conduct, but a bigger purpose. A bigger mission, something that’s beyond just, “Well, I’m doing this job. Here’s the impact that we as a team,” the entire company being the team can have on the world. You’re seeing that more and more consistently with the working preferences of younger workers in particular, they want to be a part of an organization that has a cause that’s greater than just, “We want to deliver the best products at the best prices to our consumer.”
At the end of the day, everyone wants to have an impact and wants to feel like they’re contributing towards a cause. I appreciate the fact that you’re bringing up. Look, the reason Stanley X exists is because this is one of the ways in which we can get closer to our mission of empowering the makers.
[00:12:35] Hyobin: Yes, absolutely.
[00:12:37] Josh: Well, you mentioned that your team is made up of talent solutions, construction technology, and digital manufacturing. We’re going to spend some time talking about talent solutions. Could you just provide us with a brief overview of construction technology as well as digital manufacturing, and then we’ll spend some time talking about talent solutions?
[00:12:55] Hyobin: Absolutely. Construction technology vertical, focuses on innovations that help improve job site productivity and materials management at the core of what they do. An example would be digitizing construction sites. We have two examples of the work that they have recently done. One is an actual product launch called one construct, and it is a tool that provides dynamic scheduling of materials, as well as the right people with right skills to be on a construction site. Another example of what our contact team works on is an acquisition that we in may of 2021, of a startup called Buildup.
It is a project management software that also facilitates real-time communication and collaboration. Project management software communication and collaboration is something I feel like maybe many office workers are aware of, but we have to remember this tool was built for those makers who are out in the fields, right out in physical sites trying to collaborate and trying to align all the logistics of not just machinery materials, but also people as well as project flow.
Those are two examples of the work that our contact team does and our digital manufacturing vertical, they’re the team that explores personalization through digital manufacturing. They look at innovation and pre-fabrication, innovations including computer vision and in incorporating mixed reality. Ultimately, what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to find ways for offsite manufacturing to facilitate efficiencies to the job sites, or also bringing in solutions that can help our contractors on construction sites, save time, labor, and cost. We can talk about innovation terms, but really at the end of the day, they’re trying to solve real problems that are occurring at our sites and our facilities
[00:15:13] Josh: Understood. One of the things that you brought up, office workers or people who are typically deskbound, we’re used to certain tools. Communication and collaboration tools, you think slack, you think Microsoft teams, and what you’re highlighting is that not only are these types of tools that we may take for granted, and that’s not an exhaustive list by any means. These tools that we’ve taken for granted that we rely on to do our day-to-day job. They haven’t made their way to all of the workers.
[00:15:45] Hyobin: Absolutely.
[00:15:45] Josh: Particularly focused on this industrial side and it’s not enough to just say, “Okay, well, why don’t you just use this tool that we’ve been using?” because we take for granted that this tool has been designed for our experience and what is needed is for people to use tools that have been specifically designed for their working experience, their environment, the PPE considerations that they have to factor in.
[00:16:07] Hyobin: Absolutely.
[00:16:08] Josh: The environmental regulations that have to be factored in. I appreciate you calling that out. Now, let’s talk a little bit about talent solutions. Talent solutions, what’s the goal and mission there?
[00:16:19] Hyobin: Absolutely. Talent solutions, our team’s focus is on innovations for the future of work for our makers. We do this right through building new products and services and also thinking of new venture ideas that one create it’s inclusive and accessible work opportunities for our workers, our makers, and second, by helping our makers better navigate and really have ownership of their career journeys. Then third, we really emphasize building products and services that helps to close the gaps in the labor market for attracting, retaining as well as empowering the makers’ workforce.
We know on average that there are about 6 million open trades jobs in the US alone, so we have question statements. Well, we also know that there are about 27 million hidden workers, these are professionals who may be caretakers. Who may need to obtain part-time work or maybe they belong to the immigrant communities where they’re unable to tap into the traditional labor market for whatever reason.
We think of questions like, how can we tap into these hidden worker base who are just as viable, if not more experienced in different ways, and bring them into the makers’ workforce? Including things like leveraging workers, professionals are out there who don’t come with the four-year college degrees but are frankly way more experienced and more creative in their problem-solving skills because of their real-life experiences from wide-ranging work that may have been outside of an office environment. That’s what we try to do at Talent Solutions.
We do that by really zeroing in on the details and the specifics of different socioeconomic trends, as well as getting closer to the stakeholders that we want to serve. I do want to emphasize here that we don’t just focus on the workforce, but the makers right workforce, but we also try to really understand the needs and the challenges of those tactical teams that businesses have that work with our people. I’m talking about our HR departments, our learning and development departments, our people operations. We focus on those three areas by getting closer to the needs and the concerns of the people who have to work in this area.
[00:19:14] Josh: Now there’s a lot of good that you just broke down there, and it’s so timely, the struggle for the past year before that and even before the pandemic has been workers to take over for retiring workers, and then when the pandemic hits people leaving for health and safety, early retirements just a complete change of career path–
[00:19:40] Hyobin: What about life values. We’re all human beings. We have internal values that we want everything in our life so aligned with. What about those factors? Not just the market factors, but human factors, our needs as people. How do we incorporate those insights into creating, not just fixing problems, but opening up and widening different tools and resources that people can tap into to enjoy a more lively and thriving work or careers, whatever they choose.
[00:20:17] Josh: That idea comes back to something thing that you said, which was getting closer to those we seek to serve. I think that that’s such a powerful statement because when we’re talking about attracting people to work for us to work with us, leaders have to recognize that you are having to serve these individuals, you have to understand what their needs are, which is what you’re describing. Getting closer to them so that we know who are the individuals that we can reach out to and empower through this opportunity to be makers with us.
If I can emphasize anything that you said, getting closer to those, we seek to serve over and over again, that is such a great perspective and mission to have. I want to hear about your story, because we talked about millennials and gen Z being those that manufacturers, as well as other industrial organizations are really trying to capture their attention and bring them in you fall into that demographic, but you didn’t start manufacturing. You ultimately found a way to provide service for manufacturers as a piece of what you do. How did you get here?
[00:21:42] Hyobin: That’s a great question. Before I delve into my journey, I do want to modify a little bit, I don’t necessarily see this work as serving, but rather facilitating better relationships because it’s a relationship. There is no serving and giving of right opportunities. I would like to change the language in which we talk about work relationships. From there, I do want to pivot onto how I got here because I think I got here truly by focusing on people.
More specifically, it didn’t matter where I was, and what I was working on, but I was always creating new spaces and opportunities for people and for them to be able to talk about share exchange their lived experiences or their real-life frustrations they were experiencing at their job or in their careers, et cetera. One is by focusing on people and I definitely have a healthy dosage of dissatisfaction about the status quo and also curiosity.
With those elements, as I navigated my journey, I learned very, very early on that by observing, listening, and asking questions and the asking questions, I definitely had to Finese over time because it was not graceful when I was younger, but by continuing to ask questions and refining the way I ask questions, I realized that your direct sources of what the real problem is, and also how we might solve it, came from those conversations.
My very first experience in understanding the realm of business was first by working at my parents dry cleaning business as immigrants. Because I was the one out of the family member whose English language acquisition came faster, I had to be that facilitator listening to our customers. I got really good at listening to the voices of our customers, as well as our employees.
Second, I learned that it was very important to have these conversations and if not, just ask the right questions, so people who actually have the insights feel comfortable and trusted to share. I learned that by working in actually politics and advocacy work here in the US where most of my time was focused on listening to the voices of our constituents. Truly all of this came to circle once I moved to China and was able to work as a business owner, as an entrepreneur in an emerging market that is China, that was China and continues to be so, and while learning and building my own business.
It was really at the time while building my business that I recognized that I needed to surround myself with other entrepreneurs, other startup leaders, as well as our customers to really understand what it is that I needed to do in order for my business to be successful. I know we say phrases like overnight changes, impossible or it’s hard, but you go to an emerging market and that statement cannot be more, not untrue. I saw changes happening overnight and I learned through my Chinese counterparts, if not leaders in business who were pit bidding and making changes overnight to meet their customer demands and to solve their customer’s pain points.
Frankly, they got so good at bringing that customer delight. When customers interact with your products or service and they just feel like every single question or dissatisfaction they may have had just totally got resolved and addressed and acknowledged and solved. I got to witness that living in China for seven years and that really, really helped me understand, “Hey, it doesn’t matter what business I’m in.
I just need to bring this practice of always trying to get closer to what are customers or what are workers, what are employees saying about the problem or this dissatisfaction that they’re feeling. I think that really truly is my journey rather than what company I worked for or where I was, but learning that it didn’t matter where I was. Just listen and ask the right questions.
[00:26:50] Josh: There’s certain principles that tend to be true. Like you said, it’s not necessarily what business or what company that you’re working for. Rather these lessons that you learned along the way that get you to improving the lives of the customers that you’re trying to reach. To do that, you have to understand almost– I don’t want to say this word because it seems negative, but I can’t think of a better word, which is obsessive like obsessively understanding your customer.
[00:27:21] Hyobin: Oh, my God. Yes. You have to do that so much. I was actually recently listening to another podcast that focused on China and they talked about Chinese consumers really enjoying that personal touch. I still remember shopping in China, going to a regular grocery store, and man, you better Dodge when you walk into the detergent aisle because there will be like 10 customer service agents just waiting to hear about your most recent challenges doing your laundry.
They were just in your face. They were right there with you trying to understand. A really great example that I learned of, oh, I better be observing and listening was I witnessed my business going from 100% cash transactions to 100% mobile payment transactions through WeChat and Alipay. I felt like very, very clearly that if I don’t get onto that bus of mobile payments through WeChat and Alipay, I’m going to lose all of my customers. It happened overnight.
[00:28:37] Josh: Taking it back to a manufacturing perspective, I think we all recognize that with regards to the creation of products that have been predetermined by the company, there’s only so much flexibility that you may have within your production line. You want to make sure that you’re delivering the quality on time and in full. However, that idea and that experience that you’re talking about of obsessively understanding your customers I think there’s also a lesson there in tying back to the workforce struggles, which is thinking about how there are people within the company who are your customers.
[00:29:13] Hyobin: Absolutely.
[00:29:14] Josh: Yes. If you’re a plant manager, the workers are your customer. How do you obsessively understand them so that you understand what are their needs so that you’re able to empower them to come in and create those products, to be the makers of those products, to deliver to the customers that you’re all also obsessing over? I think that that’s such a powerful thing and it reminds me of a conversation we had on a previous episode with Jim Parker, from Inline Plastics and he talked about how they were addressing some of their turnover challenges as well as attendance rates and other workforce issues that they were having and it started with breaking down some assumptions and just obsessively understanding the experience of their workers and then making changes to then enable their workers to have a great working experience. That included making changes to when shifts started so that it matches the bus schedule because a lot of their workers relied on public transportation.
There were a lot of other things, but just that idea of this principle that you’re bringing up of obsessively understanding your customers, observing, listening, asking questions, those apply within the four walls and outside the four walls, 100%.
[00:30:40] Hyobin: I really hear what you’re saying and what your previous guest was sharing. That’s exactly right. Those are the areas. When we think about work on our team, what we like to talk about, it’s not just work when you clock in, it’s the moment after you wake up if you have a morning shift.
The moment you start to think about your work, including what you might need to wear for work, what your commute may look like. What your household situation, the scheduling maybe of different house members that need to all align in order for you to get to work on time. All that I think is, it should be a component of your work experience, your relationship with work that businesses should think about and find better ways to better understand what is it that our employees are truly feeling when they think about their jobs, our company.
Because it goes beyond exactly what you’re saying. It goes beyond the facilities, these floors or offices that they work in, it goes beyond. I think that’s really where we are trying to expand these conversations and understanding of how can we remove barriers that exist for you maybe on your way to work. What barriers exist for you to feel like we have done the scheduling correctly? It’s those types of questions that we want to be asking.
[00:32:20] Josh: I’ve had conversations like this with individuals in the industry, and you bring up these ideas, inevitably you’ll meet resistance. It’s a change and change meets resistance. Some of the line of thinking that I hear, it’s along the lines of, “Look, we just need people who want to work hard, who don’t mind working hard.” It’s an attitude problem. We pay competitively. We provide X, Y, and Z. What more do you want?
Regardless of what your perspective is, we all have to understand that, Hyobin, what you’re describing is going to be the competitive advantage for companies of bringing people in. The more that you obsessively understand those people you seek to enable, to be the makers, the better you’re going to stand out in attracting those workers. Overall, the industry knows that they need to innovate and transform-
[00:33:18] Hyobin: Absolutely.
[00:33:19] Josh: -to meet the times. Talk to me about why do you think companies struggle to find individuals like yourself with such diverse background experiences and also what businesses can do to attract professionals with just a wider range of experiences and perspectives?
[00:33:37] Hyobin: That’s a great question. I’ll try my best to offer some of my insights. I think the very important thing that we just have to acknowledge is the fact that recent socioeconomic changes are happening very fast. Not only are they happening really fast, maybe they have all always occurred at this pace, but we just have more ways of hearing about it, talking about it, sharing about it.
I think that can be a big challenge for businesses to realign their strategy to modify or adjust. I think there is a gap there to begin. It just creates big challenges for businesses of all sizes. Once again, I want to advocate for going back to the most pure business strategy of creating customer delight and trying to create more satisfaction, whether that’s through removing a barrier or adding value-added products or services.
I think the challenge is for sure there and I think it’s definitely a multi-layered challenge. However, I think we do need to focus on going back to where our workers are, where the workforce is. We have to expand where we look, how we look and how we show up, frankly. I think it’s time for a refreshing and not eliminating necessarily, but really widening the approaches in which we attract workers.
One of the groups that we are really excited about, obviously, are Gen Zers, but also millennials and Gen Zers who are choosing, like what you said earlier, about work and career opportunities that bring them some value that is aligned to their personal missions. They’re looking for work opportunities where it’s more than just for themselves.
We start by going to that source. Trying to understand our millennial group, as well as our Gen Zers. We learned that they are mission-driven. Let’s get a little closer. If they’re mission-driven, how are they making decisions about their work? It certainly looks different from our previous generations. One of the things that we look at are the freelancing group, and this is new data that we are very excited about, but also trying to be very finessed in solving for this group.
We understand that by 2027, there will be 86 million freelancers here in the US alone. Currently, it’s about 59 million in the US. What we are learning is that over 40% of current freelancers are choosing to do gig work as their primary source of income. Out of the current freelancer group, over 50% of them are made up of millennials and Gen Zers.
We’re trying to really understand this group and understand their lifestyle preferences as well as how they make decisions about their work how they own the life and work balance and trying to deliver more options for them to tap into the workforce with tools that align with their values in life. I think that’s one of the ways in which businesses can diversify in the way they recruit.
Our young folks are, unfortunately, not on platforms that you and I, including you and I, are used to going to. Where are they? We need to find out where they are, where they’re hanging out. I like to keep some of the questions very simple. We don’t have to overcomplicate. We can really simplify by trying to understand the human elements here.
[00:37:50] Josh: I appreciate you bringing up the data points. I had never heard that. 2027, 86 million freelancers, 50%, I think you said it was 50% millennial and Gen Z. I think the power of you bringing that up, that’s a strong indicator of, like you said, owning the work-life balance because it’s really about understanding why are people turning to freelancing?
By understanding that, again, obsessively understanding your customer and the workers that you seek to enable so that you make the changes that you need to make to be appealing to that group. You have to reach them, connect with them in order to bring them in. I think that’s such a great data point to bring in is understanding the working preferences are changing.
If you are rigidly sticking to a schedule, just understand that you’re going to face an uphill battle when faced with this other opportunity for more flexibility, wherever you want, and then some. Then it just becomes a question of trade-offs. There may be businesses that can’t adapt their scheduling. What is it that you’re going to offer instead that’s going to be appealing? Who are you trying to reach with that?
Ultimately, and I’ve said this a couple of times, I think manufacturing has a marketing problem. I don’t mean marketing their products, I mean the brand image. People still think of it as dark, dirty, dangerous, but also from a recruiting perspective, it’s who are you trying to bring into the roles? Do you know, do you understand them to the level that you’re describing?
[00:39:30] Hyobin: I think that’s such a great point. Here is an example of a product or service that our team has out in the market and it’s called Rock the Trades. This was through an early incubation through Stanley X and ultimately became a spin-out that currently exists in the market. Rock the Trades is essentially a social awareness campaign that was created by the makers to counter the myth that office work and four-year college degrees are the only way into viable, fulfilling careers.
What is incredible about this platform is that you get to connect with makers of the world who are experts in different skills within the trades. The platform has enabled a job matching component on the platform so not only do you get to hear about all the cool things that our makers are building and solving and fixing, but if you are interested or you are a maker and you want to find a company that are looking for your talent, or are looking to enable you by upskilling you, training you, and reskilling you to be viable expert in a specific trade, you are matched. You can just go directly to the source. These are the solutions that we are working diligently to put out to the market.
[00:41:03] Josh: I’m so glad you brought that up because one of the things I wanted to talk about were some of the innovations of your team for Talent Solutions. You just brought up Rock the Trades, which is such a great example of let’s shine a spotlight so, one, there’s that education piece because people need to know that this is what life is really like, and it’s pretty cool.
Every factory that I’ve been to, I get hypnotized by the machines-
[00:41:30] Hyobin: Same here.
[00:41:31] Josh: -and just watching them. It’s fascinating to me. Then I think about how people made that machine to move faster than we can see in some cases. Anyway, I would love to hear, what are some other innovations that the Talent Solutions team at Stanley X is exploring?
[00:41:50] Hyobin: No, that’s a great question. I also want to spend some time later to talk about some of these myths that are out there, one of which you just pinpointed to. We have three innovation areas that we’re really, really excited about and I’m sure your listeners will identify, especially if they work in this realm. One is skills modeling.
Can we create new tools into the market that will help businesses and their tactical teams like HR and L&D functions, anticipate future jobs, future skill sets that will be needed that may not currently exist through looking at behavioral changes as well as the supply and demand of the workforce and tapping into the socio-economic changes that are occurring in real life? How do we create this modeling tool that will integrate new technologies as well as automation, which we hear quite a lot about. That’s one.
The second thing that we’re really excited about is how do we create career navigator tools? I think LinkedIn is a great example of a navigator tool where you get to connect with other experts, you get to learn through their learning portal, and you ultimately get to look at jobs that are out there. How do we create something like that for the folks who work in skilled trades?
We want to look at diversifying what is out there in the market because currently, a lot of these solutions were not built with everyone in mind and I think that’s what we’re trying to do. We want to add value to the market by saying, “Hey, these navigator tools also exist for different groups of workers based on their needs and their work environments. The third is how can we look at newer or different learning models that meet the current times?
I was listening to Wall Street Journal’s podcast this morning that talked about since the pandemic, how undergraduate enrollment had decreased by 7%. When I talk about new learning models, we know of amazing tools that are out there in education technology, different learning models, different accelerators, or boot camps. How can we envision new learning models for the skilled trades? How can we incorporate new technology, but also stay true to the fact that we are working with the workforce who pride and are experts at utilizing tools and using their brain functions, as well as their bodily functions, to build and fix and create new innovations?
Those are the three areas that we zero in on. One other example of a great partnership that we have, is this AI-powered training production tool called [unintelligible 00:45:09]. It’s currently in the market. It was through our investment and we do have a commercial partnership with [unintelligible 00:45:16], but essentially this tool actually helps solve problems that I personally know a lot of L&D learning and development functions have, which is the time it takes to produce good training content that involves subject matter experts.
In our case, those veteran workforces, who are the experts because they’ve utilized this machine for 20, 30, 40 years, and they are the go-to folks because they know how to solve the most nuanced problems that occur on a day-to-day basis. How do we use new technology to record the video as well as audio and how can we leverage AI to help us streamline and decrease the time a person needs to sit in front of a computer editing and categorizing the learning journey?
That is an example of how we try to diversify the tools that are out there for the workforce, as well as those who empower the workforce from the businesses.
[00:46:27] Josh: Skills modeling, career navigator tools, learning models that meet current times, AI-powered, the building of training, those are some really great examples. I found myself wowed by that idea of skills modeling because it’s almost a way of decreasing the lead time that you need to understand what are the types of skills that you need to bring within your operation.
That is certainly something that is causing a lot of pain points right now because it’s just now coming to recognize that, oh, we don’t just need people with the ability to perform these tasks, but we need people who can also code in some cases and do both or a whole variety of skills. Then you are right, I’ve built a lot of training in my time and it takes a long time. Training and onboarding are some of the top issues that people are having right now so anything that helps reduce that.
Now, before getting into solutions, you mentioned that you wanted to touch base on some misconceptions that you hear. I would love to hear about what are some of the misconceptions that you’ve heard and what do you know to be wrong?
[00:47:41] Hyobin: Absolutely. I think one of the things that you mentioned earlier was this societal perception that somehow folks who work in trades or jobs within skilled trades are irrelevant or dangerous, or not up with the times. Based on my personal experience, going into our own facilities, as well as just learning more about the newer demographics that we do want to bring onto the trades, I have found different perspectives.
One, including people, talks about how machines are soon going to replace human workers in these facilities but frankly, what I have learned through observing and talking with these workers, is that new technology ultimately creates a new need for different human intervention. Unless we can get the machines to work perfectly at all times, there will always be a need for humans to interact with new machines.
Frankly, that was one of the reasons why a lot of our workers were so excited about working here at SPD, but also within the trades because they frankly felt like they got to work with new technology before many other industries actually get to. That was what was attracting them into this space because they get to learn about it and they get to utilize these new inventions and innovations before anyone else. That is one element.
Then the third element is as I research more deeply into the Gen Z group, more and more I’m hearing of, one, actually through the pandemic, they have recognized the true value and the importance of those folks who work at our front lines, including the trades, and how they will be more interested in job and career opportunities within the trades if they actually knew more about it. If they could hear about this through their schools or the media that they consume, they will be more interested. Hence, platforms like Rock the Trades are extremely important to re-energize and reintroduce this industry that’s been frankly, making the world that you and I live in on a day-to-day basis.
Those are some of those elements that I do want to challenge. I’m sure some of the myths that we hear are based on different types of evidence, but let’s not be so black and white about how people truly view and value these opportunities.
I recently visited our plant in Jackson, Tennessee, and I was sitting in front of folks who’ve been within the trades industry and with our company for over 20, 30, 40 years and we’re extremely proud. Our question here is how can we expand that? How can we transfer those opportunities to the new generation or new cohorts of workers who want to understand and start their journey within the trades?
[00:51:10] Josh: Absolutely exposure is so critical especially, in dispelling some of the myths that have been developed over the years. In fact, we had on a previous episode, Megan Preston Meyer, she’s a children’s author now. She’s got experience in the industry, but she since switched careers, and the children’s books that she create are about exposing young kids to different supply chain opportunities.
She has books about factory work, and identifying the bottom neck, or first in, first out with regard to delivering and managing the products that are on the shelves in the store. It’s still exposing in a fun and engaging way. One of the things I liked about what you said, new tech, new machines, lead to new human intervention.
It reminds me of a tweet that Elon Musk posted, which was excessive automation was a mistake, his mistake in particular, he called that out and said that humans are underrated. I’m reminded of that by what you said. We talked a lot about what are some of the opportunities, we talked about some technologies. Before we wrap up, I want to hear about what are some obstacles that teams encounter when trying to implement these types of changes?
[00:52:36] Hyobin: That’s a great question. I think one of the biggest challenges, frankly, is the disconnect between decision-makers and the implementation. The tactical teams that have to roll out these changes of how we came to those decisions. Just being aware that at the end of the day, when a decision gets made, there are real workers, employees, who have to see those transformations through and into existence.
Even in my previous roles, I have always raised my and advocated for our HR, as well as our learning and development, and people departments, and colleagues who work in those functions because they are instrumental. They actually are the closest to the customers that businesses serve, especially our internal customers, our employees. How can we better listen and incorporate their learnings from previous transformations, as well as their hesitations or potential risks that they’re raising?
How can we incorporate those insights into better decision-making of implementing new technology or new solutions? Also, this assumption which I hear a lot is that sometimes fewer cooks need to be in the kitchen when trying to make important decisions. I don’t disagree with that statement fully, but how about reframing it as, how can we get a better selection of cooks to make those decisions so the dish comes out perfect?
I think that ties into my mission in life is to focus on people and gathering different communities of people who, at the surface level, may seem to not be related or relevant to one another, but if you look closer, there are connectors and why they all need to be there, or why a group that once was overlooked should be brought into the conversation.
I know there was a little bit more general, but I think sometimes as leaders, you just need to reframe the way you approach something, or you need to reconsider how you make decisions to practice that muscle of, again, being more innovative and open to other possibilities, because we are living in that time where our goals or these creative thoughts are now coming into real life. We also need to make modifications as leaders to exercise that muscle.
[00:55:33] Josh: Exercising that muscle is the perfect way to put it because at the end of the day, these things like innovation and empathy and being customer-obsessed, these are skills really just dedicating the time to put in the practice and make that muscle memory. I love the way that you put that. Let’s talk about how can Stanley X help? If listeners are listening, they want to learn more, how can organizations partner with Stanley X? What kind of help can Stanley X offer? Is this only for Stanley Black & Decker, or is this something where everyone could benefit from?
[00:56:11] Hyobin: It’s absolutely not just for Stanley Black & Decker. We’re trying to disrupt the industry. If you’re interested in any of those protocols, Talent Solutions, construction technology, and digital manufacturing. You’re working on it, you’re interested in it. As you heard from our examples of partnerships, acquisitions, spin-out, buildups. We are interested in all of those opportunities.
If you want to find out more about our specific teams, go to stanleyx.com/connect, and you will be able to select which team you want to inquire about. Another way in which you can get involved specifically is with Talent Solutions. You’re the startup or different leaders within the space of workforce development or future of work. We’re actually working on building a council that’s made up of current and future makers of the world, as well as those operational teams and the leaders that lead these HR, L&D people, functions of a business.
We’re trying to create a council where it can be served, not just as a knowledge-sharing opportunity, but potentially coming up with new solutions, new partnership models, and new ways of going about navigating these challenges. For that, visit skilled.trade/council. I’m sure Josh, you will post these links in your podcast notes.
[00:57:50] Josh: I sure will.
[00:57:50] Hyobin: Thank you. That would be the way for you to connect with the greater Stanley X team or directly with our Talent Solutions team’s efforts in building this council for the skilled trades.
[00:58:05] Josh: Stanleyx.com/connect, skilled.trade/council. Those will both be in the show notes so check it out for an easy-to-access link. It only takes you a couple of seconds to click but talk about some change that can come out of that. With that, let’s wrap up. I think we had a great conversation here today. Certainly enjoyed it. I appreciate, Hyobin, you taking the time to walk us through your organization, your mission, your passion, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
[00:58:37] Hyobin: Josh, thank you so much. We can go on for hours and days on this topic, but more importantly, we are really looking forward to connecting with others who are working in this space. Thank you for this opportunity to share what we’re working on at Stanley X and we really welcome any partners who are interested in connecting with us and our team. Josh, thank you so much. This was super fun.
[00:59:10] Speaker 3: Hey, I’m another producer for ConqueringChaos. Before you go, if you’re not ready to try Parsable to help you get rid of paper, why not watch a quick video instead? Check the show notes for a link to a demonstration Josh put together to show frontline workers what it’s like to use a dynamic digital experience to get work done.
In it, Josh shows you how using a modern-day app enables you to connect to people, information, systems, and machines, just like the apps you use in your personal lives. Take a look and let us know what you think.
[00:59:45] Josh: That’s the show. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. ConqueringChaos is brought to you by Parsable. If you’re a fan of these conversations, subscribe to the show, and leave us a rating on Apple Podcast. Just tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. As always, feel free to share what’s top of mind for you and who you think we should talk to next. Until then, talk soon, take care, stay safe, and bye-bye.
[01:00:13] [END OF AUDIO]Listen to find out how you can lead through disruptions