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Interview: The Technology Strategy for a Digitally Resilient Organization, with Professor Gerald Kane, co-author of The Transformation Myth

Business Professor Gerald Kane of Boston College, along with his co-authors, found themselves in the middle of a pandemic conducting deep research through hundreds of interviews with executives that resulted in new scholarship around thriving through disruption. This is part 2 of Peter’s conversation with Professor Kane, focused on the necessary capabilities to thrive, and how the right technology choices can enable those qualities.

Peter (00:00):

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age,

Peter (00:19):

Everyone, Peter Crosby here from the digital shelf Institute business professor, Gerald Kane of Boston university, along with his co-authors found themselves in the middle of a pandemic conducting deep research through hundreds of interviews with executives that resulted in new scholarship, around thriving through disruption. This is part two of my conversation with professor Kane focused on the necessary to thrive and how the right technology choices can enable those qualities. So, Jerry, thank you so much for joining us for part two of our conversation about your new book, the transformation method. It's I'm just honored that that you'd give us a double dip here. Thank you.

Gerald Kane (00:59):

Hey, when you're selling a book, you gotta talk to as many people that'll be willing to talk to you. And on top of that, I, I do think it is, you know, it's focusing on how companies lead through disruption. And we were really concerned the whole time of writing the book as we were looking into COVID in such like that. Would the book still be relevant when it came out? So we finished it in December and would it still be relevant in September? And I think we're finding that it's even more relevant. Now as we're sort of wrestling with continued uncertainty, when it looked like we were gonna be out of the woods for a while and fortunate in the Epilog we said, we said, it looks like things are, are drawing to a close and what if we're wrong? Because there are some variance out there and this, and the less it is, it's still applies because it's, it's about uncertainty. It's not about COVID. And it's how companies indeed admits all the disruptions that are going on through our world, whether it's climate change or through social unrest, whether it's yada yada, yada. Yeah. They all apply whether it's digital.

Peter (01:57):

Yeah. I mean, the book is so deeply researched and, and, you know, I said this in, in our lab chapter, but you know, our brand leaders are constantly dealing with disruption and particularly digitally influence disruption. Absolutely. And, and so that's why I wanted to have you back because there's two more areas of the book that I hope that I think apply parti to, to our folks, our listeners. And, and then I, I hope this will inspire them to buy the book and, and snuggle up on the couch with it or whatever makes them happy as they read. So, okay. The fir the first one I want to talk about today is the way, the way you talk about technology's role in helping an organization respond to disruption. And, and you, you talk about it enabling four key capabilities that a digitally resilient organization needs to have. Can, can you, can you walk us through what all that means and sort of how connects up with the technology strategy? Well,

Gerald Kane (02:59):

It's funny in, in our first book, the, the technology fallacy, we, we introduce this concept of affordances which is it's not owning the technology. It's what the technology enables you to do. And it's funny because my consultant co-authors really like this concept. They're like, oh, this is great. We haven't heard this before. And, and it, nobody latched onto it when the book was published. So we're back with the same concept, except we're calling them superpowers. Now, the, the digital superpowers that the technologies enable in your organization, because it's not fundamentally about cloud or about AI or about blockchain or whatever the technologies are, it's about what these technologies allow your organization to do. And it's these superpowers that provides your organization to act in different ways. And so let's go, we, we came up with four of them. The first one is what we call nimbleness and nimbleness is the speed at which organizations act and the ability to pivot when conditions, chains on the ground.

Gerald Kane (04:02):

So we used to do this, and now we do that. This is different. We, we intentionally don't use the word agility here because agility has a very particular context of agile software methodology, where you test small, you experiment at the et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, you can be agile and be nimble, but you can be nimble in ways that don't involve agile methods at all. Two great examples from our research. One was from Marriot. So Marriot experienced the 90% drop off in demand. They, they didn't know, sort of are, are we headed for layoffs? What are we going to do with all this? And what Marriot did because they had a digitally enabled call center. They contracted with the state of New York to repurpose this call center, to deal with the massive uptick in unemployment claims that were coming in.

Gerald Kane (05:01):

So they in, in sort of gave their employees some rapid training and repurpose that whole call center for the task that was needed on the ground and then were able to bring those employees back as the demand shifted. So that ability to sort of, that's not agile, that's pivoting the entire organization on a dime. Another great example is Hitachi Ventura their manufacturing company, and they had built in they'd already moved towards smart factories with sensors internally to be able to monitor, you know, the production processes. Well, over the course of two weeks, they were able to do a hackathon and put in machine learning so that the, these sensors could begin monitoring social distancing and factories. They actually could begin monitoring employee temperature to see if people were running a fever without having to check them at the door. And they were able to find bottlenecks in their production processes to change them to be safer.

Gerald Kane (05:59):

And they were because of that nimbleness, the ability to sort of repurpose their sensor infrastructure, to monitor social distancing and factory safety, they were able to sort of get back up to speed much more quickly than they would've been able to do otherwise changing the entire infrastructure of the organization. Because once that technology is in place, it's relatively easy to update the software for the new conditions. You know, that's one of the advantages of Tesla is, you know, they've got a car that they can continually they don't have to do a recall necessarily of all the physical parts. They push a software patch and change the machinery of the car and how the car operates because the technology's there to begin with. So that's nimbleness.

Peter (06:43):

I love the distinction between agility and nimbleness. And, and as you talk about these examples, it makes it clear and clear. It's not only the confusion you might have with agile systems or something like that, but it really is the, the, this difference of how, how quickly can you turn the ship versus, oh, let's test re repeat, learn, you know, test learn, repeat, test, learn, repeat that those really are separate concepts. And I love you sort of teasing that out. That's great.

Gerald Kane (07:09):

Absolutely. And we say, it's not the technology, you know, you can't be nimble, I think without these digital technologies. Yes. It's about cloud. It's about these sensor networks. It's about data. And if you have the capabilities there that enables you to be more nimble, because you can reprogram the organization sort of on the fly,

Peter (07:31):

Love it. What's what's next

Gerald Kane (07:33):

Scalability. So the ability to ramp up or ramp down demand rather quickly. So it's the ability to handle an unanticipated increase or decrease of demand by many multiples overnight, including rapid up scaling. So we used to serve X number of customers. Now we serve a hundred X customers. And of course we saw that with some of Amazon ups, Instacart, all were seeing just massive increases in demand that they really struggled to deal with. So being able to ramp up your, your capabilities also is really important to ramp down capabilities. Couple of really great examples here. One is the airlines. So obviously demand dropped off considerably. And the airline began to use data to see where demand was beginning to, to come back and be able to increase those roots as demand warranted. And that's a very data driven process by, by watching cause it's, you know, we tend to think, you know, at least my experience, we tend to think of COVID being wherever we were and that's the way things were, but it was as a global phenomena, different areas, rebounded changed in different ways.

Gerald Kane (08:48):

And having that data to sense where things were changing. Was I really important to be able to scale up and scale down to meet that demand? Another example that I absolutely love is Hilton. You know, again, hospitality industry demand dropped by 90%, overnight, far worse than nine 11 or financial crisis. Some of the past crisis they dealt with. Well, what Hilton did was they took their their hiring system and reversed it. So they created partnerships with these, these companies that did have the uptick and demand. They, the grocery stores, the Amazons, the UPS's, and they allowed Hilton employees to search for jobs at these companies on Hilton's own system. The logic was if they treated their employees, you know, humanely, and they'd be more likely to come back when, again, that demand shifted away from the Amazons and the zooms or Amazons and the UPSs back to Hilton.

Gerald Kane (09:50):

And the result was that despite having laid off 50,000 employees in 2020 Hilton was still voted the third best place to work in the United States. And that was largely because the employee said they treated us humanely and, and responsibly in this and, and were really grateful to them. And it was those digital systems that allowed them to take, you know, it was a funnel bringing employees in, then they just, they just changed the switch. So it was an employee funneling them out to great, you know, good jobs and the Amazons and the grocery stores loved this because Hilton could put their seal of approval on these employees. It wasn't, these weren't people that they needed to worry about. These were great employees that were just in

Peter (10:39):

A bad spot, <laugh> in a bad spot.

Gerald Kane (10:41):

And everybody won with that. And that ability to sort of take that if they didn't have that digital system in place, they wouldn't have been able to do it, but with that, they were able to change it on a dime and scale up and scale

Peter (10:52):

Down. But also that does suggest yes, you have the systems in place, but you know, to our last conversation, you need to have your ethos in place as well. The, the fact that, that very quickly, you have an executive team and leaders that can sort of look at the situation, diagnose it and make the decision. What would a Hilton do? Yes. And that's, that's tied to a lot of things that you talk about in the

Gerald Kane (11:14):

Book, right. And it's really interesting. And this is a key theme in the book that we really wanna make sure it's not about COVID. Because what the chief I think he's the chief brand officer at Hilton now when I was interviewing Matthew Skyler he said, you know, when we thought about how we were going to act in the current crisis, what we did is we looked back to nine 11. We looked back to the financial crisis and we took lessons from that, which enabled us to have the confidence act. So Hilton immediately said, you know, canceled, waived all cancellation fees because they said employ customers are gonna remember what we did because they remembered last time. And we want to, so I, I think what this book can be, it's not really about COVID, it's about how do you manage in all the disruptions, which is increasingly defining the business environment.

Peter (12:09):

Yeah. And just reminded for people that didn't listen, the last episode, you, you, you categorize them as either acute or acute, excuse me. Not cute. Yeah. They're not cute. <Laugh> acute disruption or chronic disruption. Can you just cover those two very quickly?

Gerald Kane (12:24):

Yeah. So acute disruption is COVID, you know, it's something that comes, it's like an acute medical condition. It comes in really fast. It's severe, it's sudden you have to deal with it. We also see chronic disruptions. And the reason we made this distinction is cuz for the past 10 years, we've been, we've been researching digital disruption, how companies are reacting to digital change. And we found that many of the lessons were applicable in both situations. And that's that slower disruption, that slower change. They both have many commonalities. They just manifest differently in how you deal with them is differently. And we think in the book that COVID is, is going to become a chronic disruption. I mean, I, I think it's gonna be a decade before we sort of work our way through this. I think it represents great opportunity for companies. Yeah. It also represents great threats for the, that think they can just go back to the way things were prior to COVID

Peter (13:19):

And, and sort of returning to, to what we're talking about here, the, the technology side, you know, I think I'm old enough to remember a lot of on-premise software mm-hmm <affirmative> where that was very expensive to build and, and maintain. And so that I would think prevented a lot of organizations to sort of prepare for worst case scenarios, cuz worst case scenarios are expensive to build against mm-hmm <affirmative> but does cloud change that? Like are you now able yeah, that's what I absolutely

Gerald Kane (13:48):

I I've said. And I think I actually say this in the book that cloud computing is going to be the M V P of the pandemic. If you think about if this had happened 10 years ago and we were stuck with wonky Skype, and we were stuck with onsite storage and we didn't have Google drive, we, we would have suffer and we didn't have streaming services. We would be in much worse conditions. So cloud, so this gets to our next one, which is stability. And stability is the ability for companies to maintain operational excellence and results, orientation, even while nimbly, pivoting and rapidly scaling. So what good is it to be able to be nimble and scale if you fall apart or if you end up with security breaches, which can turn into much worse situations. So stability is key.

Gerald Kane (14:42):

The two aspects of stability, one is cloud. I confess, you know, and I, I teach this stuff. I wondered whether the cloud services were going to be able to hold up under the increased demand. I wondered whether zoom as all schools in the country went to zoom, whether it was gonna just crash under that. Yeah. And I actually had the chance to talk to one of the heads of Google cloud and I asked him that question, were you concerned? And he said, no. Because Google may and I don't, don't quote me on this number because it's, it's not right. But the, the, the lesson is still right. Google maintains enough computing power on site to power the internet, I think nine times eight or nine times over largely for denial of service to protect against denial of service attacks.

Gerald Kane (15:31):

But with that massive amount of computing power, it really, you know, Inex, it, it for the cloud computing companies, whether it's AWS, whether it's Azure, whether it's Google cloud, the, the, the problems of having not enough are so much bigger than having too much capacity, that they just have massive amounts of, of computing capability. And what this enabled companies to do is do this scaling, do this nimbleness. So great example is the Chicago well, we're getting to the next one. So I don't, so it's, it is I'm, I'm getting into optionality. So that's our last one. And this is also enabled by cloud. The ability to, to add new services and capabilities relatively easily. We, in the book, we talk about cloud services as Lego blocks. Basically you just build your whatever computing infrastructure you want, and as you need a new capability, do you just add the new brick on top?

Gerald Kane (16:34):

A great example here is sort of a two companies, one called Olo, which is a restaurant ordering platform that actually was supposed to go public in January of 2020 at $1 billion evaluation. Put that on hold to sometime in the fall of 22, 21 went public at 4 billion. So quadrupled their valuation because they were so valuable to the restaurant industry. So, so they had, they actually had two. So they're an example of nimbleness. They actually had an on premise service, a product and a delivery product, and they had to completely pivot to the delivery overnight. And how do you sort of work that? But it enabled companies to just, you don't have to go in and do a massive implementation. They were restaurant chains were able to add on delivery through Olo, add on Uber eats, add on to Postmates, just by subscribing to the service, and then they had it.

Gerald Kane (17:37):

So if you had thought about having to try and start up a delivery service on your own, that's a massive investment, as opposed to just being able to sort of rent a service from someplace like Olo in the course of two weeks add on, you know, do whatever integration is necessary. And then they're able to now be delivery. A great example. Here is the Chicago restaurant chain Portillos I done not in the Midwest, but people in the of that west love this place. And they were actually able to take it to the next level use Olos platform to turn their weight staff into call center employees and delivery drivers. They did not rely exclusively on Uber eats and Postmates. They were able to also do their own branded delivery service and their weight staff ended up making more money as delivery drivers than they did as that they did as wait, wait, staff.

Gerald Kane (18:37):

And in fact, they didn't have to lay off anybody throughout the entire pandemic because they were able to add on these new services and, and repurpose the employees in that way. And so, you know, that that ability to sort of plug and play different aspects, add delivery, add online, ordering, add new capabilities. I think is something that it was really defining this optionality, this. So if you think about it in, in terms of financial options, you buy a finance option to have the right, to take a particular, a, to buy a stock in the future, you pay a small amount now to have the right to buy at a certain price. This is what optionality is by going to cloud and, and creating a solid cloud infrastructure. You are making an investment, you know, it's not a small investment, but you having that platform, you can then add on services as you need them and allow your organization to sort of develop new capabilities.

Peter (19:39):

So, professor, this is where I need to raise my hand and ask a question. Yes. <Laugh>. So to make sure I'm getting this right. Cause when I, when I read your definition of optionality, mm-hmm, <affirmative> acquiring and to at new capability, by collaborating with another organization, is that the key to it? Is that is that how I should be thinking about that it's the right partnerships or collaborative purchases or, or is that just, yeah. I mean, piece of,

Gerald Kane (20:06):

Yeah, I think you're, you are thinking about it, right? So it's, you know, it's about being able. So, because Portillos had already partnered with Olo, you know, they were already using that. It enabled them to add on new capabilities to a, as, as things changed. And so as you have these cloud partners, whether it's, you know, software, whatever you're software as a service provider is whether it's Salesforce with marketing, whether it's Olo with online order with, with restaurants it allows you to just either add on new capabilities that Olo that the providers offer, or just go buy new capabilities, like, you know, one of Slack's marketing, you know, tactics was, it's very, relatively easy for individual employees to add on new capabilities, just by setting up a free slack account. And then as the, in an organization as to grows, that's when you go for the enterprise sales cycle. So it's, it's just that ability to sort of add on new capabilities so easily. So if you want to have a internal social channel, all you gotta do is go sign up for it. So same with Dropbox. If you want storage, you just go, you know, employees can go sign up for it. And then it's once demand reaches a, the point that's when, you know, companies sort of invest more heavily into it. So when

Peter (21:32):

A brand manufacturer leader from their viewpoint, kind of when they're evaluating technology partners, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, what's the mindset they should have to make sure they're considering optionality as, can this give me, can this give me optionality? Is that the right question or is that a

Gerald Kane (21:50):

Useful question? Yeah, maybe. I mean, so yes, you want increasingly you want services that plug and play well with each other, you know, and that's some of the advantages, you know, and it's, it's all this complex in, in terms of technology, you know, they're all thinking about, they want you to be able to collaborate in some ways, but then they wanna keep some strategic differentiation. So you buy their service instead of their competitors. But it is a mindset shift of how, you know, be, and I was interviewing a company that does called app direct that they set up app marketplaces for like cloud marketplaces for companies like Honeywell so that people can come by you know, plug and play additional services. And what's really interesting is Honeywell had to sort of, or ADP was a, is a great one.

Gerald Kane (22:43):

So ADP the, the payments processor, they had to do a mindset shift because what used to be competitive now, sometimes we're partners because they were using this new platform environment. So it, it really does it, it's confusing because you get into companies that are competing on one level and cooperating on another level. And it really, it, you need to do that shift to you know, what are the capabilities we just want to modularity is a good way to think of it. Going back to those Lego blocks, you just wanna create the most modularity you can in your business. So you can add and, and subtract services as needed. And you want, when you go with a, like a payments processor like ADP you wanna make sure they plug and play well with others.

Peter (23:33):

So to review just so our listeners can pass the, the exam. The, the four sets of capabilities are nimbleness to support rapid pivots, scalability, to support rapid capacity shifts. Yep. Stability so that you don't give way under pressure. And then this idea of optionality, so that you can add new capabilities to, to, to to do what you need to do to grow and survive to well,

Gerald Kane (24:01):

To, to adapt to a changing, changing environment. And that that's what if there's one thing that defines this acute and chronic disruption, it's just, it is a changing it, it is a changing competitive environment, acute changes quickly chronic changes, more slowly. It's still all about change. And the bottom line is the organization of 2010 is not capable of competing effectively in the competitive marketplace of 2021. And what are the ch what are the changes not only organizations need to make to their technology? What are the changes that managers need to make to their mindset, to be able to lead organizations into this new future? And we've seen, I would argue we were stuck at 2010. I may have made this point last time up until February of 2020, that we were about 10 years behind when the, when COVID hit.

Gerald Kane (24:55):

And so we've caught up to where I think we should have been now. And I think we're gonna see massive rapid changes in the next five to 10 years as, so companies have gotten these capabilities. When we do come out of this pandemic, they're gonna have all sorts of new capabilities for competing. And I think we're just gonna see just a massive competitive reshuffling in the common lean five to 10 years as companies seek to take advantage of this environment, because one, one of the things that was really striking to me and really changed my mindset throughout was how a certain subset of business leaders saw COVID as nothing but opportunity as nothing but opportunity to sort of create market share, to differentiate themselves, to grab new markets, to do things differently. And those people, people with that mindset have really sort of made huge gains in the pandemic.

Gerald Kane (25:58):

And I think we're still at the beginning stages. I don't think we've sort of, we haven't been unleashed yet. So if there's one message that I have for, you know, your listeners is don't, don't go back to the way things were, use this as an opportunity to drive your organization forward. And the time and the bright side is I thought it was gonna be September, 2020 when we were gonna be out of this. Now it's looking, you know, let's fingers cross for January 20, 22. There's still, there's still runway to get at this, right. If you start thinking about it now 

Peter (26:32):

And, and when I think about one of the big potential opportunities for a lot of our listeners right now is the opportunity and the challenge for brand manufacturers to start selling direct to their consumers. And that's a big change in so many ways for an organization. And when I read part two, which is how digital tools help organizations operate in disruption, you you quoted the adage of fool with a tool is still a fool, but I'm presuming none of our listeners fool. So you looked at three technology domains, cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning and cyber security. I'd love to dig into the data part because the, the opportunity in addition to, to building new customers and growing long term consumer value the opportunity from direct to consumer for these brands is data and, and how it can feed every part of sort of the product funnel from ideation all the way out to how consumers experience the product. Yes. And I'd love to hear a bit about how organizations can data and machine learning really a key part of their capabilities.

Gerald Kane (27:48):

Yeah, well, I think the first thing is to recognize that data does not replace human intuition or creativity. I was working with one fast food chain and there air marketing executives, and we were talking about data and they said we don't like a data driven approach because we, we believe in intuition, we believe in creativity. And I said, data, doesn't get rid of intuition and creativity. It just makes intuition and creativity better that as you have a guess or an intuition, or want to do something creative, the allows you to test it out and investigate that hypothesis without having to sort of put all your cards on the table and, and sort of do a potential high risk. It allows you to test your ideas and your intuition before putting 'em into practice. So data does not get rid of human decision making and human creativity.

Gerald Kane (28:43):

It just augments. It makes that human ingenuity and creativity better. So that's the first thing. Second thing, that's a challenge that many organizations struggle with is they use data to affirm their preexisting beliefs and use data to justify what they wanna do anyway. And don't let the data test their ideas and push their ideas. There was one really good example from the book. We were talking, I believe this was Tomo tool who used to be the head of sky miles at United now is in charge of a center at Northwestern. And he was talking about an example where it was a really data driven co they were trying to get an data driven culture and their data analysts came up with, it was at a, a bank of, of regional banks that should be closed because they just weren't performing.

Gerald Kane (29:35):

And as he sent this analysis up, the, the chain the boss called him into his office and said this report will never see the light of day because I don't believe in closing bank branches. Well, you know that one, if, if you're not gonna use what the data tells you to make decisions and sometimes tough decisions, you're never gonna get a data driven culture. And two, you know, that of you know, data is gonna give you some uncomfortable answers and you have to wrestle with it. And so, unless you are comfortable looking in the mirror and saying, the data says, I'm not performing well on this, how do I, how do I change it? You're never gonna have a data driven culture. So you have to be prepared to deal with uncomfortable answers. And, and, and, and just get more and realize that that's okay to get sort of data that says we can improve in some areas.

Gerald Kane (30:31):

To me, that's a gift. So often we go through manager's lives and we don't have any sense of how we're performing, or we're just trying to app appease the highest person. So Eric Burnson who's now at Stanford says without data, you're just relying on hippos, the highest paid person's opinion. <Laugh> and so, and that's true. And, and so those highest paid people have to recognize that they have to listen to what the data have to say, and that can be painful to go through. But I do think, and the third thing is make sure you know, Twain said there are three types of lies, lies. They lies and statistics with, with non rigorous, with bad data analysis you can really end up in some, some bad you, you can end up with bad analysis that tells you the wrong thing. And so making sure you have a certain amount of data literacy, not just having data scientists, but having managers who know, you know, the difference between something being significant and something being important from a statistical perspective, it can be significant in that it has a difference, but it, that the difference may not be big enough to matter, you know, it may, okay. We have a 0.1% change. Well that may not be worth a hundred thousand dollars investment. So go ahead, sorry.

Speaker 3 (31:53):

Well, I was just gonna say for, for, no,

Gerald Kane (31:55):

No, you finish. The last thing I was gonna say, cloud is the MVP, but AI and machine learning is the real deal. And I have doubt that the impact of these tools on, or these, these new capabilities, these new algorithms, these new systems are going to be massive on business. It's not gonna be magical because you have to under, you have to figure out where to apply it, but all of machine learning, if you don't know much about machine learning, it's, it's basically built on data. It's computers that look at data and, and find patterns in that data. It's not rocket science, it's not magic, but it is driven by this massive uptake and data and those who, and, and I don't think machine learning is going to replace all employees, but employees who can use machine learning are going to replace employees who don't use machine learning managers who use machine learning, or know how to interpret machine learning effectively in a business context are going to do better, are going to replace managers that don't know how to do this. So I, I do think this is a capability for the Fu that is gonna be, you know, you can't underestimate the impact over the next decade of AI and machine learning.

Peter (33:07):

So if I'm a, a brand leader planning my 20, 22 budget, where does this analytics literacy come from? And, and how do I pay for it? Like Matt, how do I pay for it, but can be found outside, like, who are the people that can help that get built?

Gerald Kane (33:22):

Well, I mean, if part of it is, you know, making sure you have a data science team that people who really know how to, to do this, but also make sure you have people who know how to talk to the data science team and know to interpret their results into a business context, the, the form or the data science team. It's gonna be hard for the average manager to, to learn those skills because you know, it really does require to do really good analysis. It requires quite a bit of formal training. The second day one, I don't think requires all the at massive amount. I do think it can be taught and learned by taught to and learned by the average manager. Just sort of when to know what sort of questions to ask what are the sort of the machine learning or really the data one oh ones that you need to know?

Gerald Kane (34:15):

And that's something that can be updated either from books or internal training session. So I think if, if you're really trying to become more data driven, make sure you have a couple of people on staff who are the real deal and know what they're doing. And those people are expensive. They're worth the investment. Then make sure you are bringing your creating educational opportunities for your everyday managers to know what these P people do, know what their capabilities of, and know how to talk to them. And that's just a, a more general capability that's that would be a data literacy type thing.

Peter (34:50):

Yeah. One of the most powerful things about the work you put into your book and you, and your co-authors is you build out a lot of thought exercises and, and suggestions of tactics that people can use to, to start to implement the kinds of things you're talking about. And I just wanna recommend, cause we don't have time to cover them here, but there's in this, in this data driven culture section is a questions for your data ambitions. And so that's why, you know, as a sort of a tease, those questions really will help tease out some of what is it that your organization can do or, or should be doing around data. Is that, did I position

Gerald Kane (35:30):

That correctly? Absolutely. And to give credit where credits do. So my three co-authors are all Deloitte consultants and they were responsible for coming up with these exercises. So if you think, you know, what does a professor know about these things? The answer is, I don't know anything about sort of how to do these things on the ground. But we were able to work with this, the people who are actually working with companies, helping them sort of adapt to data. So I'm pretty confident that, you know, and, and I, I worked with them to do it. So it's this combination of academic and practical that I think really makes our book good. And I also made sure, I, you know, my job was to weed out all the sales stuff, you know, that to make sure Deloitte wasn't just selling you services and, and ideas, but real had some. So it was a really valuable conversation. I learned a ton from them, and I think they sort of really appreciated my contribution to the, to these materials as

Peter (36:25):

Well. That's great in the, in the last couple of minutes, I just, I can't close without all of the things that we're talking about, take such human attention and and thoughtfulness and, and energy really and a passion and that's leadership. And so you explored the four skills of leaders who were ready for disruptive change. And I just wanted to close with that sort of maybe prick to everyone's thinking of mm-hmm <affirmative> do I have those and if not, how do I get them? So can you just run through the four super quick? Yeah.

Gerald Kane (37:05):

Before I go through the four, I just want to, if you, if people wanna go by, on my website, which is www.prof, kane.com, K a N E, just to make sure. P R O F K N E. We had such grave interviews for this book and so much didn't make it into the book that we've been actually releasing not transcripts, but summaries of our interviews in the wall street journal with, through Deloitte's channel there. And I have them all linked on my website. So you can read these stories of, of leaders who really stepped up and, and led their organization through uncertain times. And I walked away from almost every one of our interviews inspired by what was happening as, as people led their organization with humility and with authenticity and empathy, and yet with, with keen strategy too. And so I think I call this the golden age of corporate leadership. I think people have really many, I don't wanna say all many have really stepped up and are real credit to their organizations. And so what we talked about was the need for purpose.

Gerald Kane (38:19):

I gotta go back. I can find it. Okay. There we are. So why, how and what the, the, why engaging others in shared meaning the, how acting with integrity and the, what developing a distinctive and compelling voice. And then then the, the tenacity to, to keep on going. One of my favorite examples from this was hu the health insurer Humana. So in the early days of the pandemic Humana was monitoring as they do the routine monitoring of their calls you know, with their customers, et cetera, et cetera. And they realized that at least in those early days, food insecurity was a real, real concern for a, a subset of their members and Humana. So this is a health insurer said our mission is to provide for the health of our, I don't remember what it exactly is.

Gerald Kane (39:13):

It's in the interview for the health of our, our customers. How can we provide for the health of our customers if they don't have enough to eat. And over the course of about two to three months, Humana ramped up food services, a division to help get meals. They delivered over a million meals. I believe in the first three months of the pandemic, just to help provide stability and health to their, their members. And so, I mean, talk about having that mission and, and understand that purpose that meant they had to completely change their mission in the light of this new situation. Another great example is beam cent. We have their whole story of, we heard about them. Many of us heard about them sort of creating hand sanitizer. Well, that turned, I, I got the behind the scenes blow by blow hand sanitizer in the midst of the shortage.

Gerald Kane (40:10):

That was a really a non-trivial undertaking for them with all sorts of like how to figure out how to do it. What were the legal implications of it? Because they're really regulated as a distiller and as a, a liquor company. It wasn't cur clear whether they were gonna be legally allowed to do this, or whether they'd be taxed on it. And so it was really phenomenal story about how this organization developed this new capability. It was all because of the leadership and their desire to give back to their community. And the people involved in this said it was, it was really inspiring cause they knew, they said, you know, we're not doctors, we're not heart surgeons. We can't, we're not epidemiologists. We can't help. But this is one thing we can do it. It was really inspiring to have this, that we could all rally behind and leaders who can hold up the mission, the purpose, the values. I heard the term north star more often in my interviews than probably any other term. And that was critical for the leadership to sort of say in the midst of all hell, breaking loose that to remember who we are, what we value, why we're here so that we can navigate these uncertain times. And, and that, yeah,

Peter (41:26):

Go ahead. No, I was just gonna say, and, and in this time where the employment market is very competitive, particularly when you're talking about a lot of these skills that we're, we're speaking of here, digital data leadership that, that, that north star is can often make the difference between I'm gonna stay or I'm gonna be here or I'm going to go somewhere else.

Gerald Kane (41:51):

Absolutely. And so that was the thing I, that was probably my favorite part about writing technology was fine. The strategy was fine, but the stories of leadership you know, in healthcare, in, you know, hospitality in airlines, in sporting goods, apparel you know, fanatics, the sporting goods manufacturer saw dip in demand because sports were off and they pivoted one of their factories to create PPE for healthcare workers in Pennsylvania. It turns out that the jerseys were made out of really good and effective material. And then they produced some, you know, a hundred thousand masks for healthcare workers in their early days when there was a show shortage. So just story after story like that, where I just was super impressed by the boldness, the creativity again, the empathy that these people showed and, and, and it's not just COVID, it was the George Floyd stuff. It was everything we've dealt with. And I just, you know, those that can remind, communicate the vision, the purpose, the mission of the organization over and over. So those employees know what it is, know what they can do when all is falling about a part about them that I think is a rare gift. And it's one that really, it's not a rare gift. I saw it. I thought it was a rare gift. And I think so many people stepping up to do it. And that I think was a huge differentiator.

Peter (43:19):

Well, I mean, the book is transformation myth. It is the, the great thing is it is a combination of this humanity and academia, you know, like real research paired with practical exercises and advice. And so it makes a wonderful package that, that I think would be useful to, to any of our listeners. So Jerry again, thank you for the double dip into your brain and, and joining us again. And as always, it's a, it's a pleasure to, to speak with you. Thank you so much.

Gerald Kane (43:52):

Thank you.

Peter (43:54):

Thanks again to professor or Kane for joining us in the show notes. You'll find a link to his product detail page on Amazon. If you want to order his book, please share this episode with other leaders in your organization. And thanks for being part of our community.