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We’ve all heard about the buzz of the fourth industrial revolution. What role will 5G play? On this week’s CXO of the Future Podcast, Gamiel chats with his good friend Toby Redshaw who is responsible for Verizon’s Enterprise Innovation and 5G Solutions area. Toby has been an innovative leader for a number of organizations across a variety of industries and is also an enthusiastic philanthropist. Among his recognitions, Toby was named to InfoWorld’s CTO 25 list and the Top 50 Global CIOs by InformationWeek. He was born and raised in Mexico City and is proud to have become a U.S. citizen in 2014.
Toby really kicked off his dynamic career starting with a job on the international side of FedEx (when it had just 50 people!).
“FedEx experienced 65 percent compound growth over fifteen years. The attitude there was: ‘We’re going to go out there and try stuff. We’re going to break stuff. We’re going to build this. We’ll learn.’ I was very lucky to start my career working for a company that thought of themselves as a technology company that also moves boxes around on planes and trucks.
I quit that job to go out to Silicon Valley to do a startup with the Sandhill Group. It was two years of crazy hard work on the road to build the first cloud-based solution platform and next-gen supply chain for hospitality. But the company imploded and I lost a chunk of money. Still, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. When I look for innovation people, I’m much more interested in what failed startups they’ve been involved with as long as they haven’t had fourteen failed ones in a row.”
Afterwards, Toby switched back to working at larger organizations. He shifted into a new industry and joined Motorola, where he ran a bunch of tech and enterprise ventures, a little bit of product, and some sales and marketing – getting some great all-around experience. After a few moves through financial service (Aviva PLC and American Express) and a stint running his own consulting company, Toby made his way to Verizon.
“I’ve been super lucky to be able to work with great people. Everything I do revolves around innovation. Which means I fix broken things. I take teams over horizons that they’re not really comfortable with and we invent new things, we do turnarounds but always with a layer of doing something interesting and cool and impactful for the communities that I care about.
I got to work on some really cool projects with President Fox in the north of Mexico. I was on the board of the first B Corporation in Brazil where we created a construction solution which took single mothers out of the favelas and put them in safe communities. Verizon does some really awesome work.
And then maybe the most zen, socially responsible thing I do is work with my wife, who helps run a food security place about a mile from here. When I can, I do a night shift where I wash pots and pans (which I’m really good at!)”
“I’ve had some fantastic mentors and people that just taught me stuff…I’m also lucky to love what I’m good at. I’m really good at complex program management, at pattern matching, and at understanding how product development and product marketing really work. I understand how humans get motivated and I’m never afraid of the next new thing…I just thrive in that environment.”
Toby believes that a good leader should be able to do the following:
- Explain program management succinctly to a twelve-year-old. All execution revolves around program management
- Understand the four models of change management and which one works the best: Are you intentional about how you manage change?
- Explain how motivation works in two-minutes. “That’s literally your single biggest lever anywhere in the company”
A Formula for Leading in Different Industries
“I’m a really good learner. I did really well in school, not because I’m super crazy smart, but because I have a natural ability to absorb and learn and figure out ‘What is the learning I’m supposed to get from this?’
There’s a really fun game you can play during some of the boring parts of your job. Pretend the entire thing is a Harvard Business School case that they’ve created for you, and spent all this money on, and brought in all these actors for, in order to teach you something. What is that thing that they’re trying to teach you? The game psychologically patterns you to be more open and aware for learning. And I’ve been doing that since I was a kid.”
Toby’s experiences at FedEx provided a great framework for his ability to adapt to multiple industry positions.
“FedEx is a process company. They’ve got four layers of process controls that produce that fantastic quality that the customers see on the other end. That level of process control reduces defects and makes your process that much more refined, which is your operational cost structure.”
Toby took his process control leadership skills to subsequent roles, including Motorola, which had a chaotic, disastrous, supply chain in mobile devices. His team redid the whole supply chain and turned Motorola into a top-ranked company.
The Motivational Pyramid
Jim Cash, a professor at Harvard Business School, taught Toby that all motivational theories on earth boil down to a three-tiered pyramid:
- Job Content: If you have motivational job content – you know where you fit in the machine and you know what you’re doing is important and you get it, then you will be motivated.
- Accomplishment: You know what you are supposed to do and are getting stuff done. You’ve seen it, you’ve measured it, and boom: You love it.
- Recognition: You are authentically recognized for that accomplishment.
Toby shared an example of motivating with job content:
“I took over a data entry team in Hong Kong with a hundred people crammed into some tiny room on a night shift keying in air bills for FedEx. Their job title was ‘Data Clerk.’ And we had a 100% turnover. It was a disaster. So we changed their job title to Data Quality Engineers, gave the team a slightly better room, treated them better, and explained the significance of their role. ‘What you do is create a record. And without that record, we don’t bill anybody, and we don’t get any revenue. And oh, by the way, that record then blasts over to America or wherever it’s going, so we can actually clear customs before the plane lands. So now we’re in the express business. That’s what people pay us for.’ Nobody had ever explained this to them. Turnover went from 100% to 10%.”
“It’s a really exciting time. We’ve all heard about the buzz of the fourth industrial revolution.
There’s going to be a hockey stick growth curve in the utility value output per unit dollar for four technologies: AI/Big Data, XR, IoT and Next-Gen Cloud. They’ll be on next-gen networks, 5G, that have compute at the edge, super fat bandwidth and really low latency. That’s going to create a flywheel and you’re going to go through a fourth industrial revolution. What does that mean?
The last three industrial revolutions changed the planet and took decades. The fourth one will take just four to six years. And the thing that people forget about creative destruction cycles is that there are winners and losers. So what you do from an operational cost structure, from a quality perspective, from a customer lifecycle value engagement perspective, with these new technologies, is really going to matter.
When you look back historically at times like this, folks that innovated at the model level are still around. If you don’t rethink your model, you risk getting leapfrogged and cut out. You can take new innovation and new tools to improve what you do, but innovating at the model level is thinking differently about how you do it.
Uber, for example, was not a really big technology breakthrough, but their model change was brilliant. They said ‘We’re going to use 4G and a little bit of mobile technology and we are going to take this market with crap utilization of assets and really bad service and a bunch of fog in between consumers and inventory, and we’re going to fix that.’
I’m really excited, more than I have ever been, about the hockey stick curve. You’re going to see the cost of big data dropping by 100-200X over the next year or two. The intelligence you can build into things where that business case was just marginally viable will be a slam dunk.
I’m also excited about how gen-Z and millennials are forcing companies to rethink how they treat communities. If you’re not authentically green and you’re not authentically sensitive to the current cultural change and justice demands, there’s a portion of that cohort that will not spend with you a few years from now. And in most cases, that percentage of that giant section of the economy base is enough to kill your profit margin.
But I also think there’s a board-level financial push and an understanding that we had better get that right or we’re going to lose and disenfranchise our customers. So you put all that together and it’s the most exciting time to be out there.”
Working with Startups
Toby thinks that it’s essential for companies to have a really good radar into the startup world. Venture firms have been fantastic at helping with that over the years because large corporations are focused on the day job and won’t ever have those tentacles or vision. Partners and friends can really help in this area.
Toby thinks that companies are going to bifurcate into two sets:
- The ones that can engage with startups and bring them in without breaking them (which is typically what big companies do). At Motorola Toby felt like they were fantastic at bringing startups in and helping them grow. They were the marquee customer for them. But if they bought them and brought them inside, they’d get them to 200 million and proceed to kill them.
- There are a couple of big companies that are famous for buying software and then ruining it. HP used to be in a couple of things that have gone into a dark hole inside of IBM.
If you are using the same people and the same processes for how you manage your bets on startups, you’re broken. You’ve got to look at your army, your soldiers that execute on the day to day. Are they the army for the last war or are they the army for the new war?
“I had to sit a guy down at Motorola and go, ‘Hey, Bob, you are a fantastic General Patten command and control leader. You’ve been a top performer for 10 years running all of the e-commerce stuff. Way to go. Love it. You’ve got to go work somewhere else because we are transitioning into a dispersed matrix, not one big behemoth e-commerce thing. We’re not doing that anymore. So thanks. But you’ve got to go work somewhere else.’ Most people shy away from that conversation. It’s easy to shoot your bad people, but it’s really hard to tell your good soldiers from the last war ‘We’re not doing that anymore.’”
- I’ve always viewed almost everything as a mission. It’s a self-motivating thing. If you get a little clarity on the mission, then you can get clarity on your accomplishments and how you’re doing on that mission.
- I just don’t take any of this really, really seriously. I take family seriously. I take philanthropy seriously. I actually take poetry really seriously. But work is work. I try hard. I work hard. I want to be diligent. But it’s work.
- I am the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. So maybe that’s a defect or maybe it’s an attribute.
- I adhere to a philosophy that I learned from Colin Powell: Never attach your ego to the thing you’re working on. Understand: It’s a thing and it’s important. But don’t put your ego into it, because if it gets shot and killed, it’s not because it’s a bad idea, there just might be another better idea in a different area. The scarce capital you needed for your project went to something completely different. When it dies, part of your ego doesn’t.
Toby Redshaw was responsible for Verizon’s Enterprise Innovation and 5G Solutions area. He previously ran 5G Ecosystems, Innovation and Product Development, the AR/VR and Location Services/Geo Intelligence Business.
Prior to joining Verizon, Toby was most recently CEO of Kevington Advisors, a leading-edge consultancy offering services in enterprise technology strategy and transformation, coaching start-ups and various government/military engagements.
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