Now there's an app to let you know how much beer is left in your kegs. Shouldn't there be an app to let you know how much commitment is left in your employees?
Steve Hershberger, CEO and founder of SteadyServ took me through the logic of his beer keg app that he calls the "iKeg". Years ago Hershberger started a craft brewery. A colleague wanted to try his new beer on site. The good news was that the beer had distribution in four local bars. The bad news was that all four were out of stock. His colleague called and said "Gee Steve. I expected more."
Steve got mad. (Amazing how many innovations are sparked by someone getting mad.) He realized that the beer industry is massive, $20B+, but that the keg technology hasn't changed since 1902. Distribution is still run on "paper-depletion reports with no system, processes, tools - just guesswork - including shaking kegs to estimate how much is left in them". Add to that an explosion in SKUs with all the new variations and craft brews and taps had become coveted ground. There had to be a better way to manage inventory.
So Hershberger and his team built a mobile SaaS-based inventory and order management system utilizing hardware and software components to measure and report inventory of draft beer kegs at restaurants, bars and taverns. A piece of hardware is inserted under each keg that tells the software the keg's weight and volume calculation in real time. This creates the data that lets retailers figure out what's selling and what's running out, allowing them to manage inventory in ways they never could before.
Recall the BRAVE cultural framework: Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, Environment. The reason to change a culture is to change the way people relate and behave, thereby changing results. It's very hard to change the environment or values. So the best point of attack is generally attitude. Unfortunately, it's hard to measure individuals' attitudes directly.
Someone should be able to cross this need with some technology like Tacit Software. The core of that software was an expertise location system that automatically read email and other documents sent within an organization to form profiles of user interests and expertise. The knowledge was already there. People just couldn't see it.
For example, Lockheed Martin's Space Systems CIO Ron Remy explained:
We had a beryllium-welding problem solved by linking up two people who worked down the hall from each other, and they didn't realize that one had the answer the other one needed to solve this very serious technical problem that was holding up the entire project.
Theoretically someone could reapply that software or create new software to search for key attitude words in emails or other electronic communication, essentially tracking when people write positive, proactive, contributing words and phrases and negative, reactive, destructive words and phrases. The absolute numbers will be relatively meaningless. But changes in the ratio of positive to negative by individuals or groups would be signs of changing attitudes. Knowing about the changes in attitudes before peoples' relationships and behaviors change would be hugely valuable.
What do you think? Isn't it time to create a more sophisticated way to measure changes in employees' attitudes than just shaking the keg?
Until then, make sure you are paying attention to whatever leading indicators of employee attitude changes you can get hold of. Then adjust your own communication to encourage positive changes, discourage negative changes, and prepare for the implications of those changes.
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