Managing the Now, New, and the Next in Digital Transformation
It’s overwhelming thinking about the new technologies you want to implement along with the solutions that still haven’t proven their value to your organization yet.
Pause for a second and remember that you can’t boil the ocean.
Andi Le, Electronic & Imaging CIO at DuPont, joins us in this episode to discuss the Now, New, and Next in digital innovation. She also covers…
– How DuPont prioritized technology initiatives in 2020 and moving forward
– Tips on proving the value of new technology in your organization
– How DuPont manages risk when investing in new technology
– The importance of digital heroes in your organization
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Check out the full episode below:
Welcome to the show. On today’s episode, we’re bringing you the thoughts, insights, and perspectives of a very accomplished leader. Andi Le has spent her career working with industry-leading companies such as Lockheed Martin and DuPont, where she’s actually spent a majority of her career leading IT for a few of the various business units that are vital to the success of the company.
Now, in addition to serving as the CIO, of one of four business units on electronics and imaging, Andi is driving DuPont’s Digital Innovation Initiative, which focuses on how DuPont brings emerging tech to all of their business units.
Here to share with us today her perspective on doing just that, let’s welcome Andi Le. Andi, thank you so much for being on the show today.
[00:01:36] Andi Le: Oh, thank you, Josh. I’m happy to be here.
[00:01:39] Josh: We’re happy to have you. We just recently just came back from holiday break. It sounds like you were able to relax on the slopes, do a little bit of skiing with the family.
[00:01:51] Andi: Yes, that was this trophy called relaxing, trying to keep up with my twin 12-year-olds doing double flats. [chuckles] It’s fun. We’re a competitive family. It’s fun.
[00:02:02] Josh: Yes. It’s always good to break up that day-to-day. This is really how we like to start to show his understanding what does a day in the life look like for the guests that we bring on to the show. I’m curious, what’s a day in the life look like for you, especially considering that not only are you serving as a CIO, but you’re actively driving this Digital Innovation Initiative?
[00:02:23] Andi: Absolutely. I would say first and foremost, my first job is a mom of twins. I’d say my day starts with COVID, which is a blessing is like get up and actually see my children and get a cup of coffee and spend some time with them that I didn’t get to have when I was making my commute. We start out there. Then I hole myself away in my new office, which is our spare bedroom.
My day’s an interesting balance. Electronics and imaging is a fascinating business unit and deals a lot with what we know in the IT world around 5G and semiconductors and interconnect solutions.
I find myself even between both roles talking a lot of tech, which is fun. I’d say my world revolves around PowerPoint more than technology. A lot of my day starts with meetings and meetings, but also presentations, managing the message especially with something like the Digital Initiative, which is still fairly new to multinationals, like DuPont that are more manufacturing industry.
It’s always what’s the value you’re driving? How are you looking to the next best thing? How do you get people on board that change?
I spend a lot of my day in PowerPoint, and a lot of my day in talking to other leaders and other teams to build that awareness and that passion, and that sponsorship in order to drive these things.
[00:03:54] Josh: Now, each of those things that you mentioned could be a very great topic for a unique episode of its own. You touched on a couple of key points. My first question to pop up with that was are you the one presenting these PowerPoints? Or are you the recipient of these PowerPoints within these meetings?
[00:04:13] Andi: Generally, both. for the ones that I’m stuck in PowerPoint, I’m creating them generally for our most senior leadership, which is important when you’re driving these digital initiatives around getting in front of the CEO and his strategic leadership staff often and frequently enough that it’s in the forefront of their agenda and their dialogue. We’re still early on, we’re year three. A lot of it is working with other extended leadership teams.
I’m also hearing a lot from the folks out in the organization about what they’re accomplishing. We’re creating what we call Digital Heroes. We really like to highlight and spotlight their work also.
I’d say it’s a mix, but absolutely, they always say driving these types of initiatives isn’t for the faint of heart and take some resilience because you really need to work to get it on the agenda, and it’s constantly changing. The last episode may be very different from the next episode that you’re going to see.
[00:05:13] Josh: It’s very similar to something that one of our previous guests brought up is being prepared to having to let go of everything that you’ve just worked on because it’s no longer relevant, or it no longer fits a key piece of the priority, whether that’s a competitive advantage or related to supply chain, et cetera. It sounds like a lot of the communication is around getting people to just align in their way of thinking, centered a little bit like making sure that your senior leadership is prioritizing the right ideas.
Can you dig in just a little bit more about that, as far as spreading the message and awareness both up and down?
[00:05:54] Andi: Spreading the message up and getting that alignment is clearly tied to value, which is what we focus on. What is the value you can drive and what are we seeing? We’re an engineering company by heart and so there’s definitely a shift to, “Hey, you got to see the value. At any leadership level; you have to show the value you’re driving. Also, where do we place some bets or take some calculated risks on new technology?” That’s always that balance.
I think within the organization, we really try to find the folks embedded out there that have that passion and drive, and they’re there. They really create this; they call it viral change that’s been out here for years. They create that viral change and I believe my job is to connect the highest level to that grassroots.
Right now, what we’re working through is not getting, having a frozen middle. The frozen middle is something where you got the senior leadership saying it, top-down, you got the grassroots folks doing it. You don’t want to get that leadership team in the middle that actually are the probably the more day-to-day decision-makers to be that frozen middle. That’s where a lot of my stakeholder focus is right now.
[00:07:08] Josh: That’s an interesting concept that I haven’t heard before is that idea of the frozen middle, having that alignment of top, having that alignment engagement passion down at the bottom, but in that middle there being something’s stuck, something’s not happening. How can you identify if you are experiencing a frozen middle?
[00:07:26] Andi: Yes, it’s a good question. I think we’re learning now. I don’t know that we are; I think we’re making sure that we don’t. The other thing is you tend to– The grassroots tends to happens on its own and for a lot of these, you tend to focus first on the top leadership because you go farther with some of the top-down, so you need to make sure you don’t create that.
I think one way we’re driving it is we are constantly looking at the data and the information on the value we’re driving, and the types of products we’re delivering. We call them digital products in our initiative.
If we’re delivering consistent levels of digital products across the different lines of businesses functions, then I’m feeling pretty good, but the data will definitely highlight where we may not be, and then we just have an open dialogue. It’s not to slap somebody’s hand or something’s not doing the right thing is to say, “Well, why is that?” Maybe it makes sense. Maybe it makes sense based on the business conditions, the priorities, and/or maybe we need to focus our change management more effectively. How can we go about doing it?
We’re really trying to focus on the data driving, the right areas that we can accelerate and maximize.
[00:08:40] Josh: Now, one of the things you mentioned just now is change management, which is really been the central theme of so far what we’ve talked about. Change management is a consistent conversation that comes up pretty frequently. In fact, I wanted the opportunity to speak with someone who is a fellow at Lockheed Martin and I’m quoting him, he said that, “It takes more time to convince people to change their mind than it does to implement.” He was talking about specifically implementing technology.
With regard to change management, because this is such an important topic, what are some thoughts or opinions that you’ve encountered with this that you think are just fundamentally wrong in regards to change management?
[00:09:27] Andi: It’s a good question. I don’t know, it’s hard to say it’s wrong. I think everybody’s opinions are their own, that they’re allowed to own. My opinions are my own, I can own them. Where I see some opinions that I’d love to shift maybe is I think one is because we’re engineering it, “I believe it when I see it.” “Well, you go do it and–” or “let’s go do that, and I’ll believe it when I see it, and then we’ll do some more.”
I think that’s okay in an agile world where you can see it quickly. It doesn’t work in a world where folks are sitting back waiting nine months to believe
or see what someone else is doing or even what’s happening in their own organization. It seems subtle, but it’s not, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” It’s, “Let’s lean in; let’s fail forward and learn quickly in a very managed calculated way,” but that’s different. I know you hear that often but it is so true.
I think the other one is not invented here. We got to not always– We are building capability and we want to do our own data science and other things, but there are areas where it just makes more sense to go out to some of these really clever startups and teams that are doing things that why would we do it as a manufacturing team? We’re an innovation company and a science company, but still, why would we do some of these things? We’re not a tech company? I think we need to build it “here” type of mentality also.
[00:11:00] Josh: I’ve certainly encountered that opinion very frequently. It’s a topic of conversation that comes up consistently, do we build it or do we buy it? I tend to lean in the same camp as you, which is, there are a lot of different companies, especially in the startup world that are able to drive some of those innovations and focus exclusively on those pieces of tech that can provide an impact.
That idea of I believe it when I see it, certainly, I’ve experienced that before, and that goes back to some of the things you were saying before of really you got to see the value, but you also have to take risks and make bets. That gets us into really the core of the conversation and the topic that we want to have today, which is this idea of the now, the new, and the next.
From your perspective, I’d love if you could define for us the now, the new, and the next.
[00:11:53] Andi: Sure. I’m shamelessly leveraging from some of our consulting firms we talked to. I think EY have to plug on this one. I think they have the now, next, and beyond. I made it, Andified it. To me, it happened with COVID. Actually, I hate to say it, “Oh my gosh, nine months later, we’re still in the now.” I think we’re in the second round of the now, right now, especially in the US where now was, “Oh my gosh, what do we do mobilize?”
There’s this great episode of that event that happened. How do we get around the now? How do we, in my space, especially use technology and not a not just emerging, but just IT, in general, to help us stabilize?
Then, there’s the new. To me, the new is okay, but what is the lemonade out of this? If you couldn’t say that out of a situation like this, but what are the things that we are now able to do? Because of this, I think adoption has gone and you’ve probably heard this in other podcasts that change management is so much quicker now because people’s expectations are just different. I’m sitting at home in my spare bedroom office. That reaches out some really new ways of working, new ways of thinking, new ways of approaching things.
Then, the next is those bets. Don’t get stuck in the now certainly, make sure you’re mobilized and stabilized. Then, how do you take the new things you’re learning and really move to the next digital innovation, next digital R&D solution that really can take you somewhere? This has all come from the pandemic frankly, but it is something that I think is applicable regardless. That’s really how I look at the now, the new, and the next.
[00:13:43] Josh: Right. I love that particular perspective of– The keywords that I took out of there, the now, stabilize. You’ve got a problem, find a way to address it right here right now, don’t necessarily worry about the long-term implications, and make sure that you are able to sustain the everyday. The new, I love that idea of what’s the lemonade? There is something to learn. What comes to mind for me, actually– I’m going to take us a little off-topic, so please bear with me, I’m a huge fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don’t know if they quite meet your musical tastes.
[00:14:24] Andi: they’re awesome.
[00:14:26] Josh: Yes. I went to the last concert where John played, which is a big deal to me.
[00:14:34] Andi: Yes, I’m sure.
[00:14:35] Josh: The song Californication: destruction brings a very rough road, but it also breeds creation. That’s exactly what stood out to me when you talk about this idea of lemonade. We see that we are in this what people are referring to as a new normal, and leaders like yourself, have to think about what’s the next six months, a year, three years, five years? What does that look like? Understanding that there has been a fundamental change, at least bare minimum in the prevalence and sustainability of remote work, so how do you start to incorporate that and drive strategies behind it?
Then, that next, bringing it back to what are those bets? Now, one of my immediate follow-up questions for you on these topics is, when you’re thinking about technology with the now, new and the next, does that technology have to be related to each now, new and next? Or can they be completely separate and independent on their own?
[00:15:29] Andi: You mean, does the technology have to be compartmentalized into one phase of that or not?
[00:15:34] Josh: Yes. You’re stabilizing for the now and you’re relying on that technology. You’re looking at that technology for the new, what are those new applications for the same technology, and then what’s next within that same realm? Is that something that you see as a requirement?
[00:15:50] Andi: Yes, I think it is. I think it’s a little bit of both. If you look at artificial intelligence or machine learning, I think that the now was probably not there yet. For us right now was, “Let’s just get everybody on Teams.” “Let’s get everybody with the right Wi-Fi.” The new was, “Wow, we are going to have lighter shifts at our manufacturing plants. We are going to have to deal with things differently.”
So, it helped with the adoption and thinking through how that helps internally. Then, I absolutely think, if you think about the realm of AI and machine learning, it’s just so vast that I think it’s fundamentally part of the next.
I think there’s other things that we may be looking at that aren’t part of our now right now, but need to be part of the next whether that be usage of drones, IoT, or things. Each industry and business may even have their own view of what the now, new, and next is, based on their own maturity. The technologies can either evolve throughout those phases, or they may emerge. I don’t even know that I know, Josh, what the next maybe, for some of the areas. I do think AI and ML is going to– it’s just so vast that I think it will be prevalent no matter what.
[00:17:07] Josh: Absolutely. I would completely agree with that, the more I learn about AI and ML. Also, to your point, not only do you not really know, I don’t really know, no one really knows most of the conversations, topics, materials that you read and consume with regard to digital transformation are still in that hypothetical phase. No one has actually achieved this ideal state known as digital transformation.
It’s the path you’re taking, and not necessarily the destination, and looking, and exploring at those different technologies like AI and ML, are absolutely key in understanding how it fits into that big picture. Let’s dig in a little bit to each of the topics, the now, the new, and the next. When we’re talking about now, now is the urgent. Now is the fire is already burning, we have to put out the fire, we have to make sure everyone’s safe.
How did you or how do you recommend going about adapting to the now quickly?
[00:18:11] Andi: Yes. I think for us, we actually did really well, even I think compared to some of our peers, or even some higher-tech groups. We picked the critical few to focus on that where fundamental. It’s actually going to sound as if I’m contradicting myself but, we didn’t get too involved with the too much of those shiny objects, you’ll miss the boat of people just need to be connected. They need to be using– For us, it’s Teams, whether it’s Zooms, they need to be interacting in a new environment.
I think we very quickly understood too. This was temporary. We also used it. I always say, “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” Again, maybe not the right way to frame it for this one, but you really need to capitalize on it and say, “Look, this isn’t a temporary thing, necessarily and it’s not just band-aiding something quick. It’s how do we use this to strategically make investments to build out.”
We’ve actually taken that to not only get people connected, but then to say, “Look, these are all great reasons why we need to upgrade our LAN, and we need to do things that, frankly, are fairly unsexy.” On a given day, we’re finding ways to now make movements in there which is super important for my new and next with digital transformation because you’re not going to be able to do that if you don’t have some of the fundamentals in place.
[00:19:33] Josh: Absolutely. It sounds like, one, you kept it simple, like what is the need that we need to solve? That was, people need a way to still collaborate, communicate and work together, so let’s fill that need, fill up quickly. It sounds like it also broke down what we typically encounter a lot of hesitations, or barriers, or just objections to making a change.
Give us your perspective, had COVID not been a thing, would you have pursued this particular solution? If so how long would it have taken to implement something like that?
[00:20:14] Andi: Yes, I would say yes, but we would have pursued our same strategy because it’s been there for a while, but it would have taken, I don’t know, again, my opinion, it can be mine, three times as long. We have examples. Our adoption of the video collaboration platform was lightning speed. It was lightning speed and people were grateful. I think in my 18 years at DuPont IT we have more accolades in three months than we did in the 18 years there. Because nobody’s going to– It’s harder to get kudos when things are working. It’s generally when things are not and you hear that all the time with IT.
This wasn’t an amazing, quick change in terms of, again, the adoption. It is, I think, this level of different expectations, with this type of pandemic, people were just happy to be connected, happy to be working. It’s an interesting, how do you bottle that up and make that true in a normal environment? What my hope is is that this has changed some mindsets, organically, that we can think that way. We don’t just go shift right back.
People do it every day, Josh. They get on Amazon, they get on Facebook, and things change, the interface changes, how they track things changes, and we adapt.
Somehow walk into a brick and mortar office, and there’s a whole different person, even myself, I think we’re attuned to something differently. We’ve blurred that line significantly with this. It will be interesting to see where that goes.
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Now, back to the show.
[00:23:40] Josh: What do you think about the pandemic? Why was it able to break down so many barriers with regards to implementation and adoption?
[00:23:49] Andi: I think because we had too. It was survival, frankly. In some ways, there was no option. We have more options in the office. You have more of an ability to say no, or you have more ability to say, “Oh, that’s not exactly the way I want it. I like this here, this there.” I think it was pure. People just were like, “Look, get me something here.” Then I think the openness to say, “Now that I have it, I’ll evolve and work with it.” I think it was just the situation didn’t give us many options.
[00:24:22] Josh: It sounds like ultimately there was an immediate, shared, recognize understanding of the need as well as the urgency. We all recognize we need to do this and I can’t work without it. It’s really impacted me, which is been a common subject that’s come up is the more that people can understand the need and how it impacts them, and what the problems are without fulfilling that need, that’s what’s key in driving that adoption in implementing and that’s some of the observations I’ve had with the pandemic.
When you’re thinking about the now we’ve talked about how to stabilize a good– again, a good keyword, let’s talk about the new.
One of the things I know that I’ve got a question on and maybe you can help provide some clarity for me is how would you really describe the key differences between the now and the new? Because they do seem to overlap just a little bit from what I understand.
[00:25:30] Andi: Yes, they do a bit. I think the new is, I’ll be honest, when I was doing the digital transformation, and then COVID hit, I thought, “Oh, boy.” I was worried that we would be so focused on the mobilizing of the now that we would not have any time to think about the new things. new doesn’t necessarily mean that the new ideas that come out, but it’s also these new technologies that we had been fostering, and building, and will we find room for them and we did.
How we did it was different. I don’t think 2020 for us, was a year to say, “Oh, gosh, now go to the next,” and all these new great things. We said, “Look, we have these technologies, how do we pivot and use them to really tackle the crisis and the state of our business at the time,” which on top of it, we did have some major productivity challenges. We had just completed our merger and subsequent spin-off with Dow.
We had a combination of very lofty goals, including networking capital, productivity, growth, and the crisis. We took these new technologies, and really just focused them all at the biggest things that the company needed to drive.
That had us focusing more on operations and internal, but it helped to really bolster and make real these technologies that can elude people or feel like I said, shiny objects. For us, I think created a great platform to take us to the next level by focusing on the new that was created through both the prices and just what we were trying to drive at DuPont.
The other new combination, and I think there’s power in combinations is those new needs that came out of COVID with technology. Remote expert assist is a big one, people talk about and my team, I was so pleased, got together in weeks, and created this offering that we can go out and really work with our customers better.
To me, it’s that combination of what did the crisis create that we could use as new use cases but also, how do we not get frozen? Again, I use frozen in the now and how do we really continue to look at new technologies and use them for our highest gain areas?
Those are the two and it is a little overlapping, It’s my thoughts. They’re a little muddy, some days, but that’s how I would explain it.
[00:28:17] Josh: I don’t think that they’re muddy, what I took from it, and I’ll just playback in my own words is that it sounds like you and your team are keeping an eye on the horizon for different emergency– Not emergency, different emerging technologies and solutions and thinking about where that can fit within the business. It sounds like part of your responsibilities is just understanding what are those innovations that are coming about?
[00:28:45] Andi: Not technology for technology’s sake. We did start by accelerating digital and doing a lot of proof of values and just figuring it out. Before the crisis, we said, “Look, we need a strategy. We need to focus some more.” What this really forced us to do was say, “Look, we’re going to be value-driven.” While there was all these cool stuff we want to talk about IoT drones, blah, blah, there is eight digital products we created.
All of these are very specific to driving productivity or growth or addressing a crisis need. That’s what we’ve doubled down on this year it was– That’s why we moved to like a product focus, it was these eight digital proven products. This is the value you’re driving. That has given us credibility and now a platform of which we can go to the next. I think that’s what’s really important.
where people get it wrong is, they just continue to throw the next technology at an organization that is stressed, is not sure which end is up frankly with the crisis, and or is thinking, “I got to do all these things. What are you bugging me for?” To me, that was the beauty of
the connection there that we did.
[00:30:04] Josh: Yes. I love that. It’s almost like you’re building a pipeline of the tools that you could use. Then within now, you were able to respond pretty quickly and then understand, “Okay, now that we’ve stabilized and things can still get done, how do we now improve something using these technologies that we’ve kind of kept our eye on, maybe you’ve experimented with, maybe you’ve identified some decent fits with it?”
The story that you told as far as building out the remote experts and deploying that pretty quickly, that’s absolutely something that’s going to resonate, especially, considering with all the lockdowns and restrictions related to COVID, there’s much more of a need to make sure that people are able to get the knowledge and information they need without the person who may have that knowledge and information being right there.
That idea of just keeping your eye out on the horizon and almost vetting it, and then, to your point, when you’re demonstrating those successes in that moment, that sets you up for the next.
It sounds like the more you prove that these small little wins can come about, the more internal clout you’re building in order to become that trusted resource that says, “This is what’s next for the organization.” The now is reactive and the new is kind of exploratory, but the next sounds just by default, purpose, and strategy-driven. Would you say that that’s accurate?
[00:31:31] Andi: Yes, I’d say. I think the new was like the bridge of connecting the strategy, but the next is definitely purpose strategy-driven and way more forward-looking where the new was what was new today. The next is what we’re thinking about in 2021, 2022, 2023. How do we really start thinking about new digital business models? How do we start thinking about the next digital innovation?
2020 was a year of taking the good things we had and strategically aligning them to our goals and our crisis. 2021 and beyond is about doing that awesome but where’s the next? Where is that next for DuPont? Not 10, but where’s the next 2 or 3 really big bets that we just couldn’t absorb in 2020 with our reality? I think the realities of 2021 is that we have to now continue. That’s how you advance and that’s how you stay ahead. That’s a big thing with our leadership is let’s get to the next like how are we going to focus and, to your point, strategically, target what that next thing is?
[00:32:49] Josh: How do you go about identifying that? I’m sure there are many different paths you can take, especially, considering technology, business need, the industry trends that we’re seeing with many different organizations, whether it’s the concerns about the workforce losing the experienced individuals, incoming new generation, shifts, and consumer demand.
How does your organization, or how would you even coach somebody in identifying, where is it that we need to go and how do we prioritize it or what we should even prioritize?
[00:33:23] Andi: Yes, and it’s a Rubik’s Cube, especially, in DuPont because we have four distinct business units. We are spinning off an MB unit in a month, I think. We’ll have three business units at the time, but they’re very different. We have to constantly be dealing with the Rubik’s Cube, but we are clearly BU and DuPont strategy back.
What that means is we take a look at each individual BU. My role as the ENI-CIO, I look at our business strategy and our next, maybe a little different than another business units next, based on our industry and the priorities we’re going to play. Then at the enterprise level, we try to look across and definitely, base that based on some value we are an innovation company. Clearly, that has to be something that we’re looking at.
Last year, it was very public on the street, our productivity targets. That was clearly what we looked at. We always try to drive it from what are the biggest wins with the company, and then how does that Rubik’s Cube tie with the BU needs?
As our, we call it Spark Digital, that’s our group. We’re constantly looking at those combinations. That’s where we come up with the few next. Some may be BU-specific and some may be at the enterprise, but we have to allow for that differentiation and connectedness.
[00:34:51] Josh: When thinking long-term like that, how do you balance the risks that are associated with any project of change, particularly, with technology that may be unproven or unproven, at scale, or it’s still new? how do you balance the risks and the ROI when factoring in these conversations?
[00:35:12] Andi: Yes. We are always constantly talking about the agile approach which is we balance it by not boiling the ocean at once. I always say, “I’m not an enterprise three-year big program. We are proof of values,” and we actually call them proof of values, not proof of concepts or not pilots. They should be like a pilot where when we implement them, they could be implemented in a way that works, like maybe an MVP way, but it’s to prove value. It’s not just to say the technology worked is to say the technology worked and this is the value that we’re seeing. We try to do it at a product level or at a line of business level versus moonshooting it across the whole enterprise at once. That’s how we manage the risk.
[00:36:00] Josh: In order to prove value, you have to have some thought as to what the value would be. How do you go about maybe exploring and coming up with those targets that you can then compare to the actual project?
[00:36:15] Andi: Yes. A lot of it is interesting and we have to use some of our external consultants for some of it. Some of it is a normal business problem. We need to increase yield at a plant. I’m just applying cool technology to a normal business problem. We know how to calculate, increase yield. We know we need a better demand forecast. Well, we know how to calculate the benefits of improved forecast accuracy. I’m just bringing cool machine learning and artificial intelligence to make that quicker or more accurate.
A lot of it is normal business problems that we know how to quantify the improvement on, it’s just, how does the technology do it?
Now, there are some harder ones that we do need to use benchmarks, or we absolutely look at our thought partners across the board, it’s important. I also think it’s important for us to understand we’re all learning, even our partners. The sharing and the learnings are super important across, even with other companies.
[00:37:16] Josh: Now, what’s the risk to an organization that doesn’t prepare for, or explore, these items that would fall into the next category?
[00:37:27] Andi: Oh I think that the risk is either getting behind or staying behind. If there’s one thing that’s clear in the pandemic and I’ve even listened to other conferences, again, going back to– you always want to pressure test if you’re doing the right thing. Consistently, I hear that, especially, with the artificial intelligence and machine learning area, that that’s really becoming a part of how we need to think.
Companies that don’t think about that, or don’t start looking at it, will get behind their competitors in terms of what they can offer and how quickly, because a lot of it is about speed to value, but also, what I would call like, how do you maximize the value? I do think it’s something. I’m glad we’re on the journey at DuPont. It feels like we just started yesterday, but we are a couple of years into it, but again, it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes resilience. Honestly, I would say, get on the train now, because if there’s anything that has caused that train to move way quicker, it’s our current environment for a multitude of reasons.
[00:38:37] Josh: Yes. I love what you said, particularly, around– the goal is to prove value and the way that you’re measuring value, these aren’t new goals that you have. You’ve still got production numbers that you’re trying to hit. If it’s in quality, what’s the rate of quality? Your safety, zero-incident working environment, just the standard business objectives. Then, how does the technology actually augment that process?
In order to drive that value in the conversation, what’s the risk versus what’s the return on the investment, the risk ultimately being, if you do nothing, understand that other companies, particularly, competitors are doing something. That typically tends to be what we see.
Well, we’re coming up close on time. I do want to make sure that we talk about what’s the recommended action? If you could condense all of your learnings over the course of your career in these topics, I know there’s a lot. If you were to tell our listeners, when it comes to this idea of stabilizing in then now, making lemonade out of the lemons with the new? Then looking forward to the next, what are a couple of steps or a couple of learnings that you have that would help people avoid some pitfalls or
achieve some early wins and successes?
[00:40:04] Andi: I think there’s always a constant debate that we unpack around which way to start and there’s maybe no right answer. My experience is you stabilize now then start thinking of the new one. If you haven’t really done new with these emerging technologies, start with proof of values and start with some experimentation. You read a lot of, “Oh, but don’t get into pilot purgatory.” all true. Don’t get into analysis paralysis either.
You’re not going to sell it to your leadership team if you’ve been at it for a year and don’t have anything to show for it. This proof of value concept with a line in the sand, which is what we did. Then at this point, we’re going to learn enough too really– to be able to define what we want to do.
Don’t do it forever, but get started and maybe in parallel put your strategic roadmap together, but get started, get learnings, get experiences, highlight it, build your digital heroes. By the way, and I’m speaking as your IT leader, if your IT person is telling you, they already looked at you, like you drank the Kool-Aid. Get a business person to tell them. Get that person that’s like, “Wow, if it wouldn’t for our– this technology, we wouldn’t have been able to do this.” That goes way farther. I think those are some.
The learning of the learning is I came from Enterprise IT. I was SAP. I was in big programs, all really great things, by the way. Mindset change. It has to be quick. You have to learn how to design an MBP. An MBP is not 12 months and $3 million. It’s incremental and it’s smaller than I think what a traditional IT is used to. I think that’s been evolving and changing, but three years ago when I started this, that was a real pivot for both myself, our partners, and others, about how do you really go about this? That would be my other thing to recommend.
[00:42:03] Josh: You know there’s one thing that you brought up that I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on digital heroes. Tell me just really quick; what’s a digital hero.
[00:42:14] Andi: Digital hero is that person in the business or the function that we’ve made their life easier, they’ve created greater value for their business or their customer because of technology and we’re in the back. That’s tough sometimes because I think as it often feel like you’re the players in the back of the play, doing the lights and the curtain, but for this-
[00:42:39] Josh: The technical crew.
[00:42:41] Andi: The tech crew but for this, be okay being the tech crew and be okay highlighting that demand planner or that manufacturing worker, the 40-year veteran manufacturing workers site that is saying, “Oh my gosh, my world has changed because you’ve connected me with digital tools.” That goes so long. You can be in the spotlight another day. Get them in the spotlight; have them to be the hero.
[00:43:10] Josh: Absolutely. Find those people who are using the tech that you’ve proposed, or that you’ve tried out who are actually achieving value and champion them. Let them be the ones to speak and talk about here’s the goodness that it brings because people tend to listen to people who are more like them. Oftentimes, and you let me know if this is not the case, but people seem to sometimes take a combative relationship with IT, almost like, “IT you’re the gatekeepers. I don’t want to ask you for permission, I just want to do my own thing. Oh, why are you making me do this?”
So, finding that person who says, “This is the now, new, and next,” in their own words to the people who they’re associated with, it can be pretty impactful.
Just to sum it up. Find those proof of values, targeting the same business problems that you spend your everyday fighting or trying to improve. It’s the same targets. Just how does technology starts to impact that? Avoid pilot purgatory, meaning you’re not committing to something you’re trying– One solution to find an impact with the same problem, and it’s separate solution for the same problem.
Be okay with choosing and sticking to something. Look for that thing that proves value. Find those digital heroes who do uplift and spread the gospel of the change and be able to do it quickly. I like what you said about this is not a year-long process. You have to be short, focused, targeted, get started. A lot of other people say fail quickly, so that you can learn and understand, and then take those learnings and spread it to others.
Andi, this has been a great conversation. I know that I feel like I’ve taken away a lot and I know our listeners will as well. Before we wrap up, are there any other thoughts or lessons you’d like to share before we sign off?
[00:45:04] Andi: No, I think we covered it all. I would just say, I think in the world we’re in now is be safe among everything, be secure with your information, but look to the next. I love what you said, “Look to the horizon.” It is also a great way to engage the organization something positive right now, and really drive some positive energy, which we’re seeing and engagement. Don’t underestimate the soft side of this either.
[00:45:31] Josh: Andi, thank you so much.
[00:45:33] Andi: Thank you.
[00:45:34] Josh: That’s the show. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. Conquering Chaos 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 Podcasts. 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.
[00:46:04] [END OF AUDIO]Listen to find out how managing the now, new, and the next in digital transformation is critical for your success.