DISTek U: The First Graduating Class

The graduates of the first DISTek U course

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.

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A Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe 4.5)

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.

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Team of Teams

Team of Teams
Team of Teams

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.

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A Vivid Vision: Planning for the Future

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A Vivid Vision for 2018.

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.

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Integrated Projects Engineering Overview

IPE Team
A few members of the IPE Team: Bob, Ryan, and William

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.

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Implementing the Fred Factor

The first Ken Baxter Award is presented
The first Ken Baxter Award is presented

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”.

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SAE 2014 Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress

SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Conference
COMVEC 2014

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.

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Teamwork as a TACO

Team members of all personality types
image: freeimages.com

You wouldn't have to look too far to find various forms of media dedicated to teaching you how to overcome your shortcomings. If you are having problems meeting people you can find seminars that will show you how to be more outgoing. If you are always on the go and can't settle down you can find books that will teach you how to focus. If you are stressed out about your best friend's health issues you can find a web site that will let you know that it's ok to not get so involved in other people's lives. All this seems to me like rowing against the stream so I'm very pleased when I find sources of information that show us how to harness our strengths instead of fixing our weaknesses.

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