Applying the rules of Dr. Stephen Covey to field service transformation

Jul 27, 2017 • FeaturesManagementMark BrewerDr. Stephen CoveyIFS

Mark Brewer, Global Industry Director, IFS discusses how leadership and management guru Covey’s approach can be easily adapted for field service management...

I recently had the pleasure of conversing with a Boeing executive at dinner during an event and the topic of effective leadership in regards to current organisational challenges came up.

We talked about Dr. Stephen Covey’s leadership training and how it had helped him evolve as a leader and ultimately equipped him to manage an effective, productive IT team.

The discussion made me think about the pressures on the field service industry and the demand for rapid transformation.

When faced with change, organisations need strong leadership and change management skills to be effective. In fact, Dr. Covey’s leadership steps can easily be applied to help a field service organisation on its digital transformation journey. Let’s explore a few of his recommendations in the context of field service transformation.

Focus on what matters most 

What matters most are your customers. They are the bread and butter of your business

What matters most are your customers. They are the bread and butter of your business, and they should be driving any change that happens in your organisation. This is the very makeup of field service. Close the loop with the customer, providing them with better feedback opportunities to apply within your business, whether it comes to product innovation or service delivery.


Any plans for digital transformation should keep this in mind. If you prioritise change based on how it improves your relationship with your customers, everything else falls into place, from service margin to cost reduction to operational efficiency.

Seek first to understand those you lead 

Digital transformation means adopting new technologies and new mindsets. It means a lot of out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new. Whether you are applying optimisation to your processes, adding new technologies such as robotics or IoT, or adopting entirely new methodologies such as “uberization,” you need to be sure that your people not only understand the rationale but are also equipped to handle and embrace the change.

This may mean that you need to explore options such as re-education of your work force, hiring for skill gaps, creation of incentive programs and different recruitment tactics to ensure that your people will help you to drive change, rather than hinder it.

Sharpen the saw

Complacency is the enemy of digital transformation. Are you driving personal growth from the top level down at your organisation?

Complacency is the enemy of digital transformation.

Have you thought about the future of technology and change, as much as what needs to happen now? How are you driving current and future innovation?


Take steps such as attending training classes, tracking and mapping field service innovation in a five year plan, and creating futuristic opportunities such as a think tank at your organisation to ensure that you are constantly pushing the horizon when it comes to innovation, and subsequently, a unique competitive edge.

Begin with the end in mind

The value of KPIs and company goals is no foreign concept in field service but as simple as this advice may seem, it is imperative. The end doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture but an extensible one.

There may be multiple ends.

You may be focused on company numbers for this year, growth for next year, and market share in five years. Whatever the goals and KPIs may be, make sure they are attainable, accessible, and apparent. Whatever new technologies you plan to adopt or methodologies you plan to change, ensure that they are helping you to reach the end you have in mind. Navigate the minefield that is the multitude of recommendations on achieving digital transformation success by ensuring that any digital transformation journey directly contributes to the goals you have set.

Too often organisations underestimate the need for effective leadership and change management when it comes to transforming the business.

Too often organisations underestimate the need for effective leadership and change management when it comes to transforming the business.


Digital transformation in the industry is driven by the consumer and often in a hurry to keep up, organisations adopt new technologies without a larger more encompassing understanding of the long-term ramifications and alternatively the value.

As Dr. Stephen Covey identified for the individual, the same concept can apply to an organisation as an entity. Strong leadership will propel an organisation through digital transformation effectively. The journey requires communication, collaboration, and leadership.

Dr. Stephen Covey’s seventh habit (of highly effective people) is to be proactive. Think ahead of your customer.

Think ahead of your board. Think ahead of your people.

The more forward facing your organisation is, the better equipped it will be to deal with rapid change in the market. When we live in a world of driverless cars, flying drones, robotics and more, your field service delivery will still be relevant, and that’s what matters most.



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