Return From Covid

It almost sounds like a ’50s SciFi movie.

For a couple of months into the Covid pandemic, my inbox collected a steady stream of press releases about what this or that company was doing to either fight the coronavirus or prepare workplaces and workforces for the return to the office. That mighty river has turned into a stream at the end of summer.

The CTO of a Siemens company on NPR’s Tech Nation with Moira Gunn (good podcast, by the way) and I have interviewed Siemens about its combining of technologies to provide for safer workplaces in light of infectious viruses.

Then I received this note from Marty Edwards, VP of OT Security, Tenable, whom I’ve known for years as a reputable security specialist. “Prediction: Workers who return to the office may well bring new vulnerabilities with them.”

“While many critical infrastructure workers who operate, manage and secure the OT that underpins our economy can’t bring their work home, some of their colleagues certainly can. It’s likely that functions such as sales, marketing, HR, finance and legal of many essential services –food and beverage, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies — have shifted to a remote-work model. When stay-at-home orders are eventually lifted, many of these folks will return to their offices with equipment that will be re-connected to corporate networks. With this comes the added risk of new vulnerabilities and threats being introduced to either the IT or OT side of mission- and safety-critical operations. During this transition, it’s imperative security teams have visibility into where the organization is exposed and to what extent, enabling them to effectively manage risk on a day-to-day basis. Put simply, the security challenges aren’t gone once everyone is back in the office.”

I have not worked in an office for years, unless you call a coffee house an office. But, many people will be returning to offices in the next few months. They will expect safe workspaces. As will all the factory workers (think about the morons running meat processing plants).

It took a while for cybersecurity to catch up with the sudden working-from-home IT challenge. Now, we’ll have millions returning to the corporate intranet bringing who knows what (computer) viruses with them. Another type of security to deal with.

One way or another, engineers will be busy dealing with this crisis for many months. Probably along with all their other work.

HPE Shows Company’s Investment In People, Environment, and Doing Business the Right Way

This recap of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) annual Living Progress Report for 2019 wraps up thoughts and coverage of all the many virtual conferences I experienced in June. The communications teams from all the companies worked hard and had to experiment in real time to bring out the best alternative to just completely shutting down.

These thoughts center on ethics—something given my experience in business I thought I’d never be writing about. If there were two institutions within which I worked where ethics was merely a word in the dictionary, they were business and church.

Thankfully that situation is changing, and this report from HPE is encouraging. I’ve met many people within the company. I don’t think this is superficial marketing-speak.

The report demonstrates HPE’s ongoing commitment to being a force for good by equipping customers with sustainable technology solutions, upholding HPE’s own high Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards across its value chain, and prioritizing company culture to fuel business outcomes by unlocking the innovation of team members.

“Our team members’ passion, ingenuity and resilience enable us to create technology solutions to tackle the many pressing challenges facing society today,” said HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri. “Current discussions around systemic racism, inclusion, and diversity demonstrate the importance of taking bold actions to create a more equitable and sustainable future. We are proud of our progress and committed to do more as a company and in partnership with our peers, customers, and partners.”

In 2019, HPE intensified its strategic focus on culture and launched the “Work That Fits Your Life” program to support a more inclusive workplace that values team members’ experience inside and outside of the workplace. New benefits include six months of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, career reskilling and transition support, and a company-wide shortened work day once a month on “Wellness Friday”.

From the release:

HPE is investing in human capital because it wants to be a place where people can learn, develop skills and do career-defining work. HPE’s Executive Committee developed the “Work that Fits your Life” program in partnership with its Board of Directors, 54% of whom identify with one or more diverse groups. One of the key goals of the program was to drive inclusion in the workplace. And, the company began tying diversity metrics to executive compensation to further embed inclusion and diversity into the organization.

In 2019, HPE’s employee engagement score rose 10 percent and has risen an unprecedented 18 percent since 2017, and its team members clocked their one millionth hour of company-supported volunteer time since 2016. In addition, HPE offered opportunities to engage with more social impact activities through the inaugural HPE Accelerating Impact initiative.

This year’s Living Progress Report also, for the first time, details racial diversity statistics of its team member population, an important step in being transparent and addressing systemic bias and inequality in our society.

HPE announced that it would make its entire portfolio available as-a-service by 2022, a consumption model that can bring significant energy efficiency gains and cost savings to its customers by eliminating overprovisioning and allowing customers to pay for only what they use. In addition, service-based models allow HPE to maintain chain of custody over equipment to ensure recovery and refurbishment, reducing physical waste and the need to source substances of concern. In 2019, 88% of the nearly four million assets returned to HPE’s Technology Renewal Centers were given a new life, but shifting to more consumption-based solutions is predicted to dramatically reduce the consumption of unnecessary IT assets.

HPE remained on track to meet all of its 2025 climate targets, having reduced its carbon footprint by 47% in just four years. The company also introduced a new emissions reduction target for its transportation logistics footprint – aiming to reduce the footprint by 35% by 2025. It also continued to see opportunity to help customers thrive in a carbon constrained world – with efficient IT products and services representing nearly USD $7.7 billion in revenue in 2019.

HPE continued to hold suppliers to high environmental, social and ethical standards. In 2019, HPE’s supply chain audit and assurance improvement program touched over 133,000 workers and the company guided 51% of its suppliers on how to set their own science-based climate targets. In addition, HPE sought to promote inclusion and diversity through its supply chain by spending approximately USD $1 billion with small enterprises and minority, women and veteran-owned businesses in the United States.

Keyword For Honeywell Virtual Technology Experience Is Remote

One conference I’m attending from the comfort of my office this week is Honeywell Virtual Technology Experience. Thanks to the pandemic, no Honeywell User Group (HUG) this year.

This remote conference technology constantly improves. This is my fourth of the season. Technical glitches have been rare. Speakers overall have ranged from good to outstanding. Jason Urso, Honeywell Process Solutions Chief Technology Officer gave his usual great technology roundup even dialing in demos from Australia.

Interesting that I used the word remote, because that is the word of the year. Any of us who can work from home are. That includes process control where many engineers can work from home and avoid getting sick.

Urso pointed to disruptions in the economy including disturbances to supply chains, postponed maintenance checks, and restricted travel combining to increase operational risks for critical manufacturers. Simultaneously, demand for key products like toilet paper for hygiene, filter paper for purification products, and packaging materials for shipping is peaking, making reliable, high-quality production even more important.

“Living in this new reality, manufacturers are faced with having to find new ways of operating, balancing the need to keep critical processes and plants running while ensuring the safety of their employees,” noted Urso. ”Here are three critical steps manufacturers can take to navigate this unprecedented situation:

  • Focus on essential work onsite to minimize the potential exposure of workers
  • Adopt proven and secure remote solutions for operations
  • Receive aid remotely through collaboration with on-call experts”

The bulk of the keynote reviewed three remote solutions Honeywell Process has developed for situations just like this.

Remote Project Engineering

Honeywell is continuing project operations by using software and digital twin technology. Project engineers from around the world continue working on Honeywell projects from home or in locations where offices are still operating with social distancing.

“We do so by utilizing digital twin technology that makes a digital replica of the customer’s equipment and processes which allows our project engineers to work on the ‘digital copy’ of the project versus on the actual equipment itself,” says Urso. “Critical infrastructure projects in oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and power can proceed without interruption.”

Remote Operations

Customers increasingly have fewer individuals working onsite to follow stay-at-home orders. In some cases, quarantines of key individuals are also affecting the availability of skilled resources at the site. In response, Honeywell has issued new software that enables process operations to be monitored or even executed from remote locations outside of the facility. Remote support staff in other facilities or at home can be utilized as if they are working directly at the process location.

Case study

We recently deployed remote operations solutions to one of our own specialty additives plants in Orange, Texas, that produces polyethylenes, allowing us to operate and ensure business continuity even with reduced onsite staffing. A virtual remote-control workstation duplicates the operator’s distributed control system stations in the main control room and can fully take over in case of further restrictions or illness. Our engineers can now support operations and execute essential tasks from remote locations, maintaining social distancing while keeping the same number of eyes on the plant.

According to Urso, “software was up and running in less than two hours and is protected by the highest levels of cybersecurity protocols and best practices.”

Remote Services and Support

Our customers are also looking for Honeywell to provide remote support in light of restrictions on personnel traveling and entering a site. Honeywell has deployed multiple remote service options to continue providing expert support via remote connectivity to our equipment. These remote options also use the power of Honeywell Forge offerings to proactively detect issues and bring them to the attention of both the customer and Honeywell experts.

Because our remote offerings help our customers in essential industries maintain critical activities in a safe manner during this crisis, Honeywell Process Solutions has trained all service technicians to build awareness of this capability and collaborate with our customers through this challenging time.

Leadership As Getting Outside Yourself

Leadership As Getting Outside Yourself

I once wrote on leadership every Friday on another of my blogs. Then I felt as if I’d run out of anything meaningful to say. Publicists offer me books to read in order to review. I’ll share one I just received Friday–Formula X: How to Reach Extreme Acceleration in Your Organization by Jurriaan Kamer and Rini van Solingen. It was published in Dutch last June; the English edition will be available Jan. 28.

It is European, so the protagonist is known as a Managing Director rather than General Manager or COO. And the conceit regards Formula 1 racing.

I say protagonist because while the book is about leadership and organizational change, it is written as a story or “fable”. In that regard it reminds me of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt.

The protagonist is bright, yet clueless. The story weaves business and personal problems. And it is through learning from how a Formula 1 racing team operates that he learns how to organize the company, build teams, and achieve goals. It is only out of despair that he finally wakes up, gets a clue, and builds a winning team and relationship with his wife.

Sort of a journey from micromanager to orchestra conductor, if you will pardon the change in metaphor.

Whereas Goldratt was building a Theory of Constraints for optimizing production (it’s a 1980’s book, but still valid), Formula X steps back and looks at organizing the company and all its silos and disfunctions. It’s a blend of Lean and SCRUM (from programming) and Holacracy and other newer ideas.

The model is FASTER (as in racing cars must become…).

  • Focus and clarity
  • Accelerate decisions
  • Simplify
  • Team engagement
  • Elementary physics (Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, but don’t worry about that)
  • Rhythmic learning

The authors use such Lean principles as Respect for People, daily stand ups (quick meetings), a form of 5S, using the people to find root causes of problems along with experimenting to find solutions.

Good stuff.

Leadership As Getting Outside Yourself

Personal Brand Building with Digital Transformation–Emerson Exchange

Emerson Global User Exchange brings thousands of geeks together to, well, exchange ideas. Most relate to technology and its applications. Some relate to personal growth and development. So far, I’ve captured the growing importance of Digital Transformation—both Emerson helping customers achieve their own, as well as, Emerson’s own transformation. We talked personal development with Dave Imming’s presentation on giving presentations. Then we discussed the Edge, Industrial Internet of Things, and connections. Today, I’m reporting on a presentation by Jim Cahill (for years he was called “Chief Blogger”) and Adam Thompson.

Personal Brand Building with Digital Transformation

The “Digital Transformation” part of the presentation was partly a reference back to the conference theme. But, the presenters also did a bit of compare and contrast of the older analog way of building personal connections and the newer digital way.

Cahill and Thompson told us that first we need to become an expert on some topic. How do we accomplish that? Well, the traditional way included reading books, attending classes, researching, attending conferences, reading trade magazines. Those between analog and digital might watch TV, also read books, scan social media,read blogs [maybe like mine…], attend conferences, read trade magazines, watch TED Talks. The digital people are on Netflix, YouTube, and social media, they watch TED Talks, are active on Emerson 365.

Next you must build your network. We traditionally do things such as trade business cards, attend conferences/events, reach out to authors, reach out to internal contacts, join groups. Moving on, you might make use of online groups such as Emerson 365 and LinkedIn groups both reading and contributing. Use hashtags both in your posts and searches.

Finally, you’ll want to share your expertise. Take the initiative. Present in company meetings. Find relevant conferences and construct presentations (see Dave Imming’s ideas). Share ideas and knowledge with press and influencers [we like input]. A great activity is to participate on industry standards committees or, if you are a programmer, contribute to an open source project. Write white papers.

Building a personal brand will help you and your company and often the community, as well.

Leadership As Getting Outside Yourself

Presentation Skills for Career Success–Emerson Exchange

Presentations abound at Emerson Global Users Exchange. Attendees can choose to take deep technical dives into Emerson products, get overviews and trends of technology and the industry, and even personal development. Yes, there was even a 6 am fitness time with either running or Yoga.

Where’s “The Edge”? Yes, you can use good presentation skills for career success. Building Your Personal Brand through Digital Transformation–or social media an networking. Here’s a recap of the 2019 Emerson Global Users Exchange based upon several sessions I attended led by people I’ve known for a long time–Dave Imming, Mike Boudreaux, and Jim Cahill.

Presentation Skills for Career Success

Dave Imming, VP for QC at Emerson presented (well) about making good presentations as essential for career success.

First off–It’s important. Even in your first years as an engineer, you may be presenting ideas to management or even presenting at conferences. These help you become recognized and show your knowledge and ambition.

There are three steps to developing and presenting.

First, you must create a story. I’d emphasize even in a technical presentation making it flow. As you create your story, first you must determine the objective of the presentation. What are you trying to convey? Note: do this with pen and paper. Don’t create slides, yet. Next determine your audience. You must have a clear idea of whom your are talking to. The presentation will be different for your engineering team and for management. Hint: don’t create slides, yet. Now, determine your Key Points. [When I prepare, I use PostIt Notes so I can arrange them easily. Hint: stay away from the computer and don’t create slides, yet. Now you can construct your Story Line. How are you going to develop your ideas. [This is where I arrange and rearrange the PostIt Notes.] Oh, yes, don’t create slides, yet. You can research the Rule of 3 or 7 basic plot lines to help. Now Outline  and still don’t create slides. FINALLY create your slides. Do not use text heavy or dense charts. Text should be 30 point. Find interesting and illustrative pictures with maybe a few words superimposed.

Refine and Rehearse—Do this verbally, aloud, several times. First with yourself several times, then to a friend

Stand and deliver—Most important is to have confidence, even while experiencing normal nervousness. Preparation breeds confidence. If you know the key points per slide-especially the first few to get into the groove-then your confidence will grow. Move with intention, do not pace like a caged animal. Make eye contact with one audience member at a time and hold for at least 5 seconds. That establishes connection with the audience.