Monday October 22 was a pretty exciting day, the day DISTek recognized the first set of graduates from DISTek U. These 7 graduates completed all the coursework required of the Potential Leads Track, which included reading and answering discussion questions for the books How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, and Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. They also attended 7 Habits of Highly Effective People leadership training, and gave a presentation to the class and management team on their key takeaways. The group also heard from four current DISTek leaders on their perspective of being a leader, which was a highlight of the class. Below are some of the thoughts and experiences on the training from some of the graduates.
In the past, DISTek faced long and challenging development cycles with single individuals assigned to complete projects in isolation. Projects were often plagued with schedule delays, cost overages, and quality problems. Guided by a SAFe champion and small team of coaches, DISTek successfully implemented the Scrum framework within SAFe 4.5.
The book Team of Teams, by Stanley McChrystal, covers a lot of topics that strongly relate to the direction that DISTek is heading. Some of these concepts, such as shared consciousness, cooperation across silos, localized decision-making, and information sharing, I hope to write about in future blog posts. In this blog, however, I will discuss how the structure of Team of Teams fits with DISTek and how we are setting up our organization to be adaptable to growth.
In Cameron Herald’s book Double Double, he writes about how important a shared vision is to top performing business organizations. At DISTek, we just went through the vision setting process. We leaned out into the future to paint a picture of what DISTek will look, feel, and perform like three years into the future. The resulting vision highlights what DISTek’s employees, culture, customers, expertise, offices, and growth will look like on December 31st 2018.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know a lot of about the areas that DISTek works within. Our expertise ranges across the off-highway vehicle industry (including agriculture, construction, and forestry) with engineers that specialize in a variety of disciplines. Out of convenience, we typically group these disciplines into three big areas (“embedded software”, “automation and test”, and “modeling and simulation”), but the reality is that we do all kinds of projects that cross-over between these disciplines.
In a previous blog entry, I provided a book report on The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. I discussed how people can make a positive difference in how they go about their lives, turning something ordinary into the extraordinary. I also shared Sanborn’s acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”.
This year’s theme focused on “Engineering Leadership – Changing, Guiding, Influencing”. I had the opportunity to sit in on several technical sessions that included some of the top panelists from across the country. The list included Deere & Company, Case New Holland, Caterpillar, Inc., Eaton and a variety of university professors.
One of the common topics I came across was how to address the increasingly complex and volatile landscape of vehicle products and control systems. How today’s engineers, across all organizations, need to develop strong adaptive thinking abilities and problem solving skills for their customers.