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Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

Making time to innovate in the new year

This time of year can be really overwhelming. The hustle and bustle isn’t just limited to our personal lives. The end of year can be crazy busy in our work lives, too. There are budgets to finalize, invoices to issue, bills to pay, issues to troubleshoot, all as people are preparing to take time off for the holidays.

I don’t have any scientific studies to back me up, but I’m guessing not a lot of innovation happens in the final weeks of Q4 every year. That’s got me thinking about next year, and how I can plan now to lead my team to be even more innovative in 2020. Here are my thoughts:

Make time for thinking. It’s easy to fall into the mistaken notion that lots of activity means lots of productivity. Take a look at your calendar and to do lists – most of the time is probably blocked off for meetings, most of the items to be checked are probably tactical in nature. Where and how we invest our time is a reflection of what we value. When I look at my calendar, I’m not convinced I see the value of thinking reflected. It takes time to truly think and explore ideas and solutions.

Make time for building relationships. It’s also easy to slip into transactional relationships with our business networks. But there’s value in making time to share coffee, lunch or drinks with partners and discuss higher-level topics. Getting to know the bigger vision and driving passions of those we serve is key to finding opportunities to support and further that vision. Those dreams won’t always fit in bullet points or a slide deck, or even one conversation.

Make time for wellness. It might be a workout, a walk, or meditation, but wellness breaks are a great way of getting out of a rut and hitting “refresh” on a mental block. I find myself thinking about challenges in a whole new way if I step away and meaningfully disconnect for a time.

What would you add to be more innovative in 2020?

Sparking innovation by reflecting on the past

Innovation seems inherently forward looking. When we innovate, we make something new happen.

But can looking back help drive innovation?

As the year draws to a close, now seems like a good time to pause and reflect. The past year offered a lot of good lessons if we choose to pay attention and learn them. It would be a shame to waste those lessons. These questions and thought starters will help spark some worthwhile reflections:

How did we perform against goals? If you haven’t been keeping score throughout the year, now is a good time to revisit goals set at the beginning of the year and see how you did. Be sure to assess sales goals, service targets, revenue targets and other performance metrics. What drove success? Where did you fall short, and why?

Take a look over time. Break down performance and achievements by month. Were some months better than others? Did one poor month drag down the rest of the year? It’s also helpful to revisit performance year over year. Are you spotting seasonal trends? How can you make the most of them?

Put it in context. Step back and look at the larger picture. Other useful contextual measures might include the overall economy. If your business is strongly impacted by the local economy, look at what was going on regionally. Did new events or business expansions give your own performance a lift? If so, look ahead for similar opportunities in the coming year. What lessons did you learn this year that will enhance lift even more next year when a similar opportunity emerges?

Do over. If you could go back and make just one decision differently this year, what would it be? Does that decision change future decisions or processes?

What sparked your interest this year? Take a look back at new products, tools, features or services that launched in the last year. Think beyond your industry. What was most exciting to you? Are there connections or applications for your work?

Who made an impact on you? As you look back over the last year, what new person brought the most value to your life, and why?

Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) launches wireless sensor

Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) announced early this week the pending release of a new wireless/battery-powered gunshot detection sensor that will reduce installation costs by 40 – 50 percent without compromising reliability or accuracy.

The new Guardian Wireless sensors have all the acoustic and infrared gunshot detection features of the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection Power over Ethernet (PoE) sensors, but operate on a lithium battery pack rather than wired power source. Guardian Wireless also utilizes secure long-range wireless technology to scan the environment for gunshots while filtering out false alerts.

Guardian Wireless’ backend software and integrations were left unchanged, making it possible to integrate both wired and wireless sensors in the same system. Partner technologies offered by Genetec, Everbridge, Avigilon, and other SDS partner technologies will also continue to work seamlessly.

The new sensors are currently undergoing internal and third party testing, and are anticipated to pass government certification and be ready for market in early 2020.

The news comes at a good time for many charged with enhancing facility safety and security. A deadly summer of mass shootings has left business leaders, lawmakers and the public clamoring for solutions; meanwhile, ever scarce resources are putting the squeeze on budgets. Guardian’s lower price, high quality wireless sensor option may help put system within reach as safety and security leaders plan 2020 budgets.

“We listened to the market and they’ve been asking for a reliable, zero-calibration system that meets the high-performance standards of the Guardian System,” said Christian Connors, SDS Chief Executive Officer in a company press release. “We began in 2018 by refining the core Guardian technology, redesigning hardware to incorporate battery power, then sourced a wireless technology well known for its reliability and security with IoT devices. Guardian Wireless will lower the overall customer cost by as much as 40-60 percent due to the reduction in infrastructure costs. Most importantly, customers can now choose a wireless system and be assured that they are using proven, reliable gunshot detection technology from a company they trust.”

Guardian indoor gunshot detection systems have been deployed in Fortune 500 companies, sports stadiums, government facilities, schools and a variety of educational institutions.

Interested in learning more about Guardian and other integrated safety and security solutions? Call us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

What Back-to-School Time Teaches Me About Innovation

One of our core values at ECT Services is innovation. One of our greatest strengths is in creating solutions that solve problems for customers, just as we did with our VR Tenant product.

It’s back to school time for many students and observing as teachers and students embark on a new school year has sparked some insights for me about innovation. I’ll share a few:

Assemble the basic tools. Walk into any retailer that carries school supplies and you’re sure to see racks of supply lists for local schools displayed. Pencils, crayons or markers, glue, scissors, paper, folders, notebooks and the like are all basic tools for every student from Kindergarten through college. From these basic tools students will write essays, create art and solve problems every day. Students who lack these basic supplies will be at a disadvantage. Teachers are pressured to solve the problem and fill the gap, which may in turn distract them from their objective for the lesson.

What are the basic tools that equip and empower your organization to run efficiently and effectively? Are those tools supplied to every team member? Is every team member properly trained on how to get the most out of these tools?

Insufficiently supplied teams put team members at a disadvantage and place stress on leaders. Teams can innovate solutions to bridge fundamental gaps, but wouldn’t you rather spend that energy on solving bigger, more complex problems?

Standardization can lead to efficiency gains and greater leverage for the entire organization. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that some teachers specify which products to purchase – particular brands, colors and counts perhaps. The reason is often that supplies are stored and used collectively. Rather than have students keep their individual supplies stored in their own desk or cubby, markers or glue sticks or whatever are stored in bins and distributed to students as needed. Standardizing these supplies – making sure all binders are a uniform size and color, for example – streamlines storage, ensures interoperability and guarantees quality. Teachers know which products work best to meet goals, and how those products work together.

Interoperability and integration reduce friction and leverage efficiencies, both of which may lead to innovation. We see this every day in the systems we integrate. When access control, video, fire detection and suppression, gun shot detection and communication systems and others are all integrated, the entire system becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Data can be gathered and analyzed to discover opportunities to better position resources or make energy consumption more efficient, for example.

Networks invite collaborative innovation. This time of year, social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are rife with ideas shared by teachers. From bulletin boards ideas to classroom management tips to fundraising, teachers freely share their innovations with others within their own networks and beyond.

It’s important to network within your vertical, and without. While some industries must be cautious about giving away competitive secrets or losing advantage, many innovations fall well outside any area of risk or concern. Be generous and genuine in sharing your ideas, and let others inspire you.

We strive to be generous and genuine with all our partners, from our customers to our vendors. Do you have a security or access control problem to solve? Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss.

Looking to the moon for innovation inspiration

Fifty years ago this month, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Putting a man on the moon stands out as one of the most audacious acts of achievement ever attempted by humans. The moon landing was the pinnacle of a period of amazing innovation. America’s space program inspired generations to dream big, take risks and innovate new ways to solve problems.

But while the moon landing was a fantastic success, it was built on previous failures and challenges. Innovation happens when there’s a problem to be solved.

The successful mission of Apollo 11 was preceded by a nearly endless string of challenges, ranging from engineering problems to be solved to budget pressures to competition from the Soviet Union. The greatest failure of all was the loss of the entire Apollo 1 crew in a cabin fire during testing for that mission.

After that disastrous mission, the American space program could have folded. Leaders might have retreated, concluding that the goal was out of reach or too risky. But they instead persevered, deciding that “failure is not an option.”

Innovation is one of our greatest strengths at ECT Services. Here’s how we approach innovation:

  1. Keep the customer first. Customers trust us to help them solve problems because we’ve invested in building genuine relationships with them.

  2. Know the tools you have at your disposal. In an iconic scene from the movie Apollo 13, the mission control team on the ground scrambles to figure out a way to fix the air ventilation system on the space capsule when the ship becomes disabled tens of thousands of miles into space. One of the engineers dumps a seemingly random pile of objects onto a table before his team. The objects represent all the resources astronauts have aboard their disabled ship. The engineer sets forth the challenge: “We have to find a way to make this fit into the hole for this, using nothing but that.”

    The engineers set to work, and come up with an epic kludge that includes the cover off the flight manual. The contraption works, and the astronauts are saved.

    Innovation begins with the resources at hand. Our VR Tenant solution is a great example of innovation that started with a deep understanding of the equipment at hand and how it works.

  3. Stay focused on the goal. President John F. Kennedy set forth a clear, compelling goal: Get a man to the moon, and bring him back safely. The goals for our customers are different – achieve greater efficiency, keep this building secure – but they are just as important to our customers, and to us. It may not be landing on the moon, but it matters greatly to a child waiting at home that their parent returns safely from work each day. It matters greatly that we leave behind a cleaner planet because we helped maximize a facility’s energy efficiency. It matters greatly that works of art are preserved for posterity because we created a system that carefully controls their climate.

Need a strong partner to help you overcome a challenge and reach a goal? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.