Managing Change: What you Need to Know About Skills Transfer | SOS Podcast
Stanley X, a division of Stanley Black & Decker has positioned itself as a thought leader in learning innovations and is taking on some of the biggest challenges facing blue-collar industries today. Join Rebecca Peredo, director of innovation for Stanley X, as she provides an overview of ways companies can stop the loss of valuable know-how typically associated with attrition and workforce turnover through the application of technology the division is bringing to market.
Joe White (00:00): Jack Welch once said, "An organization's ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage." We'll learn more about how to do that, stick around. Hello, and thanks for joining us today. My name is Joe White and I'm the host of Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success. The SOS podcast series is produced for the ongoing development of front-line managers. With each episode, we take on a topic of interest and interview subject matter experts for the benefit of our listeners.
Joe White (00:35): In today's episode, we're going to talk about learning technologies that can be used to create a competitive advantage. My guest is Rebecca Peredo, Director of Commercialization for Stanley X, a division of Stanley Black & Decker. Welcome Rebecca, and thank you for joining us today.
Rebecca Peredo (00:50): Hi Joe. It's great to be here.
Joe White (00:52): Okay, so I'm going to ask you a question right off the bat. We're talking about organizational knowledge and learning technologies, and I have to ask about Stanley Black & Decker's interest in this space, in this area. I know you for your tools, but this is something that's new. Tell me a little bit about that and tell me a little bit about Stanley X?
Rebecca Peredo (01:12): Sure. So everyone knows Stanley Black & Decker for our tools -- that's a big part of our business -- but at Stanley X, we're the innovation hub of this large organization. And we're focused not on incremental improvements of our tools, but really on those bigger industry issues that could disrupt our core business or the core business of our customers, so we want to keep an eye out for it.
A couple of those areas that we're focused on include construction technologies, so those things in the construction industry that could add value or disrupt the way that we currently deploy our construction projects. Digital manufacturing -- we're a manufacturing company. We recognize that there's a time in the future that we might be able to print tools on a job site through 3D printing, so we want to keep an eye on that. We want to keep a pulse on what's going on there and be a part of that if we can.
The last area of focus is talent solutions, because we know that the skilled trade environment is a challenging space that we need to keep up with, and make sure that we've got the right resources to complete these jobs safely and productively. We know that there's an issue within the skilled trade space, to close this skills gap that we find ourselves seeing. That's an area that we want to use new technologies to help address that particular issue. Those are the three areas that Stanley X is focused on.
Joe White (02:41): Okay, thank you for sharing that. And you've mentioned technology several times, and I think we all know that technology is rapidly coming towards us. And we know it's going to have an impact on what has historically been blue collar or trade sort of industries. So that's encouraging to know that you're bridging that gap and you're now going to bring technology to play as a solution. So thank you for sharing that.
Joe White (03:08): In an earlier discussion you and I had, you used the term "organizational knowledge". What does that mean and why is it important? Why is it relevant to our discussion today?
Rebecca Peredo (03:20): Organizational knowledge is the form of all the knowledge and skills that are contained within an enterprise, that can provide business value. So it could be gained in a variety of different ways, through formal training, through lessons of failure or success, through conferences or customer communications, just to name a few sources. And it can also be explicit knowledge. So for example, if you think about a documented standard operating procedure, you have to pour five quarts of oil into this tank upon starting up this machine.
Or knowledge can be tacit or implicit, and that knowledge that comes from experience, like you're pouring five quarts of oil through a funnel into this machine. You have to do it in stages otherwise it will overflow and cause an [inaudible 00:04:06] So those types of things that you would know if you've been doing the task for a while, but you might not know if you've just started working there, and someone had handed you an explicit SOP document.
This distinction is important because the experience of new employees just joining the workforce and joining the trade specifically, is very different from the entry-level experience of the workforce from 20 years ago.
Joe White (04:30): Very interesting.
Rebecca Peredo (04:30): There's a difference in how we used to train and how we should be trading now. And I would say knowledge is always learned, preserved, and transmitted by people. And here's where the challenge lies; that most valuable, differentiated knowledge is that tacit knowledge, that practical know-how that's gained from experience. But the majority of that is in people's heads and is rarely documented. So unless you've been lucky enough to work with someone who has that knowledge, you might not have had the opportunity to learn it. And when those experts, those people with the knowledge retire or leave your company, that valuable knowledge is lost to the organization.
Rebecca Peredo (05:12): When employees pool their knowledge within a company, that's how they create organizational knowledge. Now that knowledge is retained and accessible, and it gives your company a significant competitive advantage.
As an illustration of this, in any organization, you've got your A team, those who have vast experience, you can trust to do the job consistently and to that highest level of quality. But they might be, what? Maybe 10% or 20% of your employee base. But if you can capture their know-how and share it with the other 80% of your workforce, now your best work becomes the training standard.
And you've materially elevated the caliber of work. Whether those best practices improve safety, quality, productivity, that's a unique competitive advantage to your business. So that's why organizational knowledge is important, but it's not enough just to document that knowledge. You have to be able to quickly update it as things change. So it's got to be easy to capture and recapture content, and it's got to be accessible to the rest of your organization.
So a binder of standard operating procedures locked in a cabinet in the construction trailer is a little better than it being locked in your employee's head, but not much.
Joe White (06:34): As you were going through that, I thought about a role that I previously had where one of the manufacturing sites that I had regional responsibilities for, had a steam-driven fire pump. And this was a piece of equipment, it worked well but it had been in place for close to 100 years. And the individual that did the service work on it suddenly decided he was going to retire. And I can promise you, that was not a technology that we were readily able to find someone to come in, in a moment's notice and take over servicing it.
I was thinking about a lot of past experiences that I've had that really bring this to light. So I want to ask you, and again, we've talked about this a little bit. Stanley X has a product available that really is intended to help companies combat the loss of this organizational knowledge. Tell us a little bit about that.
Rebecca Peredo (07:34): Sure. So at Stanley X, we identified this challenge of transferring knowledge between seasoned employees and maybe the next in line, or even the new workforce entrance. And we recognized this was urgent because we looked at our demographics of our front-line production staff. We saw an aging workforce, and frankly, that accurately represents the broader skilled trade industry. As an example, the median age of a construction worker is 42. And statistically, that tells us that 40% of our current workforce will be retired in 10 years by 2031.
And they'll take all that implicit experience-based knowledge with them. Our standard knowledge and capture transfer processes, primarily writing our standard operating manuals, job shadowing, classroom instruction. None of those are scalable enough to help us with the magnitude of this problem.
Every day that we were waiting, costing us in terms of knowledge loss. So we turned to technology for this solution. We actually partnered with a startup that has developed a tool specifically to tackle this knowledge and skills transfer challenge in the manual trade space. It's called DeepHow. DeepHow is part of the Stanley X ecosystem of talent solutions, and it is the only AI-enabled knowledge transfer solution for the manual trades that's designed to capture this tacit knowledge.
And by the way, it's just really refreshing to be able to talk about AI technology that augments the value of the tradesperson and serves to elevate their skillset. So often we hear of technology being used to diminishing the role of the worker.
But it's a very practical solution for industrial applications because it doesn't require any expensive or specialty hardware, or special skills to use. So for us, it delivered value right out of the box. For the user, it's an app on a smartphone or a tablet that's used to record active work being performed. You'll need a computer with a Chrome browser, and maybe a noise-canceling headset for those loud environments, to capture audio.
But that's it. It's a very low hardware barrier to get started with documenting knowledge that currently exists today.
Joe White (09:51): So you've got a tool that's packaged, that's ready to use in the field, in the sorts of environments that historically your tools have been used in, that brings artificial intelligence into play as a solution for this whole notion of how do you keep from losing all this knowledge? That's fascinating.
Rebecca Peredo (10:12): Absolutely. It's using hardware that is already probably in the back pocket of your workers right now. Wherever they are, they've got a smartphone. So it can run on that to capture this knowledge as it happens, without the downtime of having to pull your expert out of the field, to sit in a classroom and talk about what they're doing. So your expert now, they're performing in their environment. They don't need to pick up another skill like video editing or prospect mapping just to share their knowledge. That's another benefit of the solution, this low learning curve.
They simply perform their active work -- no downtime. They don't have to leave to travel to an office or classroom. They perform their work as if they were explaining it to an apprentice. And Stephanie -- that's the name of the AI -- records the task being performed and she can transcribe the audio content, even translated into multiple languages. But the biggest benefit is that Stephanie converts your video into a process workflow. She picks out the major steps and organizes it into microlearning modules, and that turns those complex workflows into a step-by-step how-to guide that users can follow along or skip directly to the step they need help with if they're using it for the refresher. So it saves the user a lot of time.
Joe White (11:34): That's incredible.
Rebecca Peredo (11:35): And I'll also say, the learning and training needs of your hourly skilled trades worker is very different from the needs of say, an office-based employee. They don't have the flexibility to access an hour's worth of online training from a computer at a desk. If there's a how-to question that comes up on the job site, unless they get an answer fast, there's either work that's not being done, or you have a risk of rework if they have to make a best guess.
Joe White (12:03): Wow.
Rebecca Peredo (12:03): So this concept of micro-learning short instructional videos that you can call up on your mobile phone, is still powerful, particularly because most of our junior employees, they already have experience with looking for information on their smartphone. They're looking at the how-to video on YouTube. How to change the oil to my car, or replace the light to my refrigerator. But being able to learn at work the same way that we learn outside of work is really very relevant. It's the new way of learning, and it's a great way to connect with your younger workforce.
Joe White (12:38): Thank you for sharing that. Rebecca, if I'm a business owner, how might I use DeepHow? What's an example of where it could benefit me?
Rebecca Peredo (12:46): As a business owner, you have responsibilities to ensure that your employees have the right training and skills to complete the job safely, and in the most efficient way. And you have a responsibility to your customers to deliver on the expectations you've agreed upon. So for example, if you have a customer for whom you provide some specialty product or service, and only a handful of your employees have the skills to produce or deliver that service, that's a pretty high risk for your customer.
If any one of those critical resources were to retire, turnover, go on vacation, you don't have enough qualified resources to staff that customer's project. And that could lead to delays, poor quality, damage your relationship with your customer, and put future business at risk. So to provide that cross training, you could try and do it in-house, hiring a full time professional that is focused on training, to follow your expert around and document their knowledge, or have the expert come out of the field to train others probably a couple of times, because those others might also turn over. So there's downtime there to create and deliver that content. Travel costs, so if you need to gather people together in a classroom, downtime while they're all in class. Maybe some additional video editing software and equipment that you might need to purchase and maintain, or you can outsource that, which is another large expense item along with the time it will take.
So there are all these different things to consider. With servers as well, to share that content with your staff. Or you could use a platform like DeepHow that uses AI to automate a lot of those video editing functions to automate the process mapping or workflow organization function. And even some of those accessibility functions like transcribing content for subtitles, for the hard of hearing or translating content into multiple languages. So that consistent info is available to your diverse workforce. And all of this is in a cloud-based application that you don't have to maintain IT equipment or purchase new equipment. And it scales to the size of your business, and even to the geography of your business if you've got folks in remote regions that can't travel into your classroom. In terms of benefits, you would be able to create engaging video work instruction in 1/10 of the time that would take you to do that using traditional video editing tools. And would expand the reach of your existing training resources. So you wouldn't have to expand the size of that team and hire more trainers. You could reduce your new task training time by over 40%, like we did, over standard operating procedure training. You can reduce your unbillable travel expenses in relation to training, and probably more relevant in today's pandemic environment.
You could continue your skilled trades training programs at a safe social distance, more effectively than by recording a Zoom meeting for example, and sending that link out.
So those are some ways that it could benefit the business owner.
Joe White (15:57): And I think about, again, in my experience coming out of the petrochemical industry, where you may have a piece of equipment that has hundreds of lockout points and valves that have to be either open or closed. I can tell you from experience, on a number of occasions there'll be a valve that says, "This one needs to be open and that one needs to be closed." And sometimes it's not intuitive what that position is. For someone new, that could be a challenge. Something like this, I can certainly see how it would benefit you. And again, to me, it was just fascinating and it's almost like standard practice 4.0, if you will, using technology.
We try to take everything back down to a front-line manager or supervisor or foreman level. And I know in most cases, the feedback that I routinely get is that we just don't have enough time in a day. And I'm talking about the front-line managers now, the feedback I get is they just don't have enough time in their day to get everything done on their to-do list. How can DeepHow help give them back some of their clocks, some of their time?
Rebecca Peredo (17:06): That's a great question. We actually did a survey at one of our facilities and learned that our experts, our supervisors, our A team, they were spending on average, almost two hours per shift, just answering questions from junior staff. That's two hours that they weren't doing their own assigned work. And we dove deeper into that. 80% of those questions were frequently asked by different people or on topics that had been covered in previous training. And I get it, we're all human. We have a learning curve, but we also have a forgetting curve too.
Joe White (17:41): Right.
Rebecca Peredo (17:41): So we actually use DeepHow to create a plant knowledge repository for those frequently asked questions, and directed our junior employees to ask Stephanie first. And the majority of the time, they did that and they got what they needed. They were able, and we were able, to return a little over an hour of that average to our downtime, back to the experts, to continue their assigned tasks and have a higher level of confidence. The time they spent training junior employees was actually value-add instead of wasted time.
Joe White (18:14): That's great.
Rebecca Peredo (18:15): So DeepHow can be used to collect these frequently asked questions that maybe the supervisor feels interrupts their day, having to repeat the same answer over and over again. It can also be used to deliver onboarding training to those maybe high turnover role, that you spend a lot of time currently training, could also use it to document how to resolve those trouble codes on a machine that maybe cause downtime that always seem to happen on the third shift when there's not the right expert on hand to fix it. And then of course, the overtime is you need to catch up on production. It could be used to document innovations or best practices that can improve productivity across the organization because that new information is now visible and accessible to the organization. And all of those use cases will return valuable time to your supervisors and to your front-line managers.
Joe White (19:07): That's great. One of the questions, and I'm certain we have some listeners that would want to ask this, as a division of Stanley Black & Decker, is DeepHow being used there?
Rebecca Peredo (19:22): Oh yes. So, after we piloted this solution in a few plants, we realized the benefits of putting this in the hands of our plant operators, to give them immediate, actionable solutions to their skills gap challenges that they deal with daily. Actually last year, in 2020, we began deployment in our manufacturing facilities. And today we've rolled out to about 25 different production plants, majority of here in the US, but globally as well. And another 20 or so other business units like technical sales team or mobile service team. We plan to roll it out to all 115 of our production facilities over the next two years.
We've also used it for corporate health and safety communication throughout this pandemic, to keep up with those changing regional operating guidelines, and to demonstrate safe plant or job sites entry procedures, and sanitizing protocols. I'll tell you, it's saved us a lot of money and time in eliminating the need for professional video production, translation costs, and it was super easy to scale to our tens of thousands of employees.
Joe White (20:34): That's great.
Rebecca Peredo (20:36): Another way that we've used it is we've had some production moves that were scheduled to occur, to move a production line from one plant location to a different plant. And that project was at risk due to the COVID travel restrictions. Traditionally, we would send a team from destination plant to train with the local plant, gather that information, then move the assets and move people over to the destination plant. There was a lot of travel involved and a lot of time. But we were able to use DeepHow to capture the knowledge of that production line, translate it into the destination language, and still stay on schedule with that optimization project, still move the assets over, and still have that knowledge being transferred as well, without the travel and stay on schedule with that.
Joe White (21:29): I know it's probably a bit early, but any ROI or any quantitative results that you can show that how Stanley Black & Decker has benefited so far?
Rebecca Peredo (21:41): Yeah. So we did a couple of tests and kind of an A/B test from our traditional training methodologies and then using DeepHow. As I mentioned, we were able to return 75% of the time, that two-hour of time that our experts said that they spent every shift answering questions. We returned them over an hour back to them, so that's... multiply that out by their average wage and we get that value there.
Rebecca Peredo (22:15): In terms of training, we were able to shorten our training process, the time, by 40% versus our regular method of training. So our high turnover roles, those we have to keep investing in time, that made a huge difference in being able to shorten that cycle of training by 40%. We also do a lot of video instruction because we find the video instruction is the better way of learning particular assembly processes, rather than writing the manual. It saved us 90% of the time to create videos using the DeepHow platform versus video editing software, and to try and do it manually. That's in addition to the time we saved by not having to have the subtitles in there, or do it ourselves, or even the translation time that it would take to outsource that feature.
Joe White (23:18): That's incredible.
Rebecca Peredo (23:18): We also noticed an improvement in performance in the using DeepHow as a trading protocol, because now our users have a way to recall information. If they need a quick refresher on something, they were able to see it done and get that answer quickly. They were improving their ability to perform the task correctly, that performance improvement of 25%, they were able to get the task right using DeepHow, versus trading methods that we used to use, which is standard operating procedure, manual training.
Joe White (23:53): That's incredible.
Rebecca Peredo (23:54): So yeah. We've got a lot of data on how this has helped us.
Joe White (24:00): I must say, as I hear you talking about this, I really wish this was something that was available when I was in manufacturing myself. I can certainly see a number of applications for it. So at this point, and we're almost out of time, I did want to ask you a question and I'm sure there's going to be interest in this. For someone that may want to get more information on DeepHow or on Stanley X, how can they get more information?
Rebecca Peredo (24:24): Absolutely. So you can go to www.skilled.trade. That's the way to get more information on DeepHow. You can request a demo, we'd be happy to showcase it to you. If you want more information on Stanley X, to keep up with some of the new things that we're working on, you can go to www.stanleyx.com.
Joe White (24:50): Okay, great. Thank you so much Rebecca. It's always a pleasure to speak with you. And I've got to say, this is very exciting. This is a perfect opportunity to bring technology that really can make a difference to the sort of companies that we work with, and the industries that we serve. So this is very exciting and I just thank you for the time you've taken today to share this information with us.
Rebecca Peredo (25:09): Absolutely Joe. Thanks for inviting me.
Joe White (25:11): Absolutely. To reach Rebecca to learn more about DeepHow, please see the show notes for this podcast. We're going to include some of the information that Rebecca just shared. For those listening, hope you found the discussion today of value and benefit. If so, please help us spread the word. Share the podcast with others who may have interest as well. And again, we appreciate you helping grow the popularity and sharing this information with others.
Joe White (25:38): The SOS podcast series is brought to you by AEU LEAD, a consultancy dedicated to the needs of frontline managers. For additional information or to follow us on social media, please use the links in the show notes. That's it for now. Stay safe and thanks for listening.
About our guest, Rebecca Peredo
Rebecca is the Director for Commercialization at Stanley X, the innovations hub of Stanley Black and Decker. Stanley X builds new ventures that drive positive change by addressing the right problems with open minds to enhance productivity and improve lives.
Rebecca leads commercialization efforts of emerging technology in the Talent Solutions division of Stanley X and is responsible for customer success. Her background includes strategy development, change management, and continuous improvement in Facility Operations, Energy & Sustainability and Construction.
Rebecca holds an MBA from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University. She is passionate about diversity in technical fields and volunteers through the Taproot Foundation, Chicago Cares, and the National Girls Collaborative. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys traveling, competing in triathlons, and other outdoor sports.