I am on my way back from the Future of Maritime Summit and SMM which is the largest international maritime show in the world. It is a great place for me to connect with many clients as well as non-clients to get a more holistic view of the industry. The industry does seem to be picking up momentum with companies feeling very optimistic about their future. This is a significant change from SMM just 2 years ago. There are several reasons for this optimism. For instance, the cruise industry is booming with record orders. Another reason is that there are new regulations requiring more eco-friendly ships which either require a retro-fit of an existing ship or a brand new ship. An additional reason for optimism is the higher demand for government ships (navy, army, coast guard, etc.)
SMM Maritime Show
One noticeable trend is that every single person I talked to knows that they need to change the way they work and are required to evolve their business. The majority are making “changes” to their business or the way they run their business; however, the confidence that they are changing in the right way was very low. They do feel that their company is going through a Digital Transformation Illusion, changing for the sake of changing.
I did find this a little surprising because most of the people I talked to were in leadership positions. In other words, they are people who are relied on to make decisions and lead the organization with the right changes in order to align the effort to the companies vision. I also find this discouraging from an industry perspective because we really need the industry to improve as a whole. This will improve the tools we use, the ability to collaborate and work with others in our value chain (upstream and downstream) and support our business vision as they require many others to achieve it. The perfect saying is: “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Future of Maritime Summit @ SMM
Below are my brief take-aways:
Change our Mindset
I have written many blog posts on the importance of a proper mindset when an organization is going through a transformation.
- Mindset Change Required for Future Technology,
- Digital Transformation Illusion,
- Business vs. Digital Transformation,
- Challenges in Achieving Excellence in Shipbuilding
I really liked the keynote speaker’s example where he brought a book written in 1937. He went through several pages in the book and discussed that we are still doing the same things today. There is no question that some things should or will not change but there is a lot of thing that we do that can, as long as we get out of the old mindset. In many cases our reliance on tradition is slowing us down.
Connected Systems and People
Many of the presentations were talking about the need to connect our information by removing silos, but that is only part of the challenge we need to overcome. We need to connect our people and teams and remove the siloed mentality of how people work together. This also is relevant externally to our companies. We need to discover better ways how to connect with our suppliers, partners as well as the end customer.
Leveraging new generation
There was some discussions about the “next” generation and how we need to leverage their inexperience (in the positive sense) to solving today’s, not tomorrow’s challenges. I did not like a comment someone said, “We will leave it to the next generation to figure it out.” This is the wrong mindset. I believe having an experienced person provide mentorship and information on what we currently do and why we do it (even if it is, “I do not know why”) and then listen to their ideas which will come from a different direction. Their ideas may seem crazy and you may think that it will not work for some reason, but we then need to see if the thing we think will make it not work can also be changed.
Here is a blog I wrote 3 years ago about future experts: Current Experts are Not Future Experts!
Mind the Gap
Volker Bertram (who is grounded in reality and is often rightfully skeptical of marketing and buzz words) provided caution in just basing our decisions on what is articulated as possible. There is usually a gap between what a technology is marketed as being able to do and the reality that the majority of us can actually do with it. This reminded me of the Gartner Hype Cycle phase of “Peak of Inflated Expectations”.
Most Underrated & Overrated Factor in Successfully Implementing Change
This questions was asked to the panel. I really liked Nick Danese’s answer:
“the willingness to embrace new technologies is generally overestimated, whereas the necessity to do so is clearly underestimated”
My thoughts on the most underrated is:
- People and Culture. This is so important and even though everyone knows it is, it is always forgotten or at least takes a back seat.
- Importance of creating a resilient enterprise architecture foundation with a platform of platforms ecosystem which will be able to support your business goals today as well as in the unknown future.
The most overrated factor in implementing change is the belief that you need to change everything now. Yes, everyone needs to change but before you do, you need to make sure you have a good vision of where you want to be, then set priorities so you can focus your efforts. Change should come in small steps and may take a while before you reach your vision. However, the small steps will continually add value to your business.
Here is one of the quote’s Nick used in his slide:
Every single company knows that they need to change and therefore have several initiatives to change. The problem that too many are falling into is the Digital Transformation Illusion. In other words, just because they are “changing” does not mean they are changing in the best way.
We do need to change but we need to start with having the right mindset to change. Change for the sake of change is not good. The “next” generation can help in creating, refining and disseminating this mindset throughout the organization. We cannot say that we need these digital natives and their creativity only to have them siloed from the business. We need to connect all people within the organization with different experiences, education and even generations. This is so that together, we can come up with how we can and should change. We need to remove our “people” silos as much as our technology silos.
Change should be looked at as Continuous Improvement. It is not a destination, it is a journey and it will only be successful with the right mindset.