I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Moran, Chief Strategy Officer at Prodoscore, is an executive leader responsible for developing, communicating, executing and sustaining corporate initiatives at Prodoscore. Tom is passionate about encouraging organizational agility with digital transformation strategies to empower leaders and enhance employee growth. Working closely with digitally distraught and digitally determined teams, a more streamlined employee experience can be assured with effective business continuity plans that are enabled through technology innovation.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with family members in law enforcement, public service, the auto industry and psychology. I’m grounded with a mid-Western work ethic, loving direct engagement with people. I learned woodworking skills as a young child and that has led to more than a lifetime hobby. I have a passion for scuba diving and snorkeling as a mental escape. My education is in Electrical Engineering, but I’ve focused on business development with publicly traded and privately held companies in high technology hardware, business application software and consulting services, leading multi-discipline/cross-functional teams.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
We always strive to leave impressions on everyone in life…sometimes we leave them with good impressions, sometimes bad. I arrived early with a team into a boardroom for a major client presentation. As we worked through final preparations, I went to a white board and picked up a marker from the shelf. Crafting a few statements with character art turned into a forever thing…the King Size permanent marker was not erasable. What I learned is to stay away from white boards and those demons that still haunt me from those drawings.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have truly been blessed with some phenomenal mentors in life and business. The greatest impact was through my father, a first generation American, who immigrated from Ireland. “Do what you say you are going to do. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Remember that people will forget what you say, in many cases forget things you do, but will alway remember how you make them feel. Find patience in a world with high expectations and demands.” My father taught me how to work with wood and was an incredible craftsman — planning, executing and following through with precision; delivering more than you held in your hands when you started the project. Measure twice, cut once and details matter (even those we cannot see on the inside and backside)!
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Prodoscore was founded to provide insight into ongoing challenges with performance, results and ensuring the expected business outcomes. Most importantly, simplicity of design with highly qualified supporting metrics was necessary along with careful consideration of quantitative, qualitative and behavioral elements relating to productivity intelligence with knowledge base workers.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell our readers a bit about what your business does? How do you help people?
As the technology ecosystem required to enhance employee engagement within business operations continues to evolve, Prodoscore is delivering valuable, actionable insight regarding multi-dimensional elements of productivity measurements. The Prodoscore solution provides visibility; it analyzes, scores and improves workforce productivity by measuring thousands of daily activities across existing cloud-based business applications. With AI, machine learning and natural language processing applied, the aggregated data is presented in the form of a simple score that can be interpreted in seconds.
Which technological innovation has encroached or disrupted your industry? Can you explain why this has been disruptive?
The business application software industry is a crowded marketplace, with analytics and services that provide data points to executives from so many disparate systems. The black swan event with a global pandemic served as a catalyst for a new category of technology that Prodoscore was introducing to the marketplace — productivity intelligence in the future of work. Suddenly, organizations around the globe were facing challenges with leading a distributed workforce.
What did you do to pivot as a result of this disruption?
With the tremendous acceleration of the digital transformation strategy, the distributed environment demanded more immediate innovation through technology, ensuring workforce effectiveness, communication and engagement through well directed coaching. Resiliency had to be enhanced through execution of business continuity plans that streamlined both the employee and customer experiences. Suddenly, organizational agility — once desirable — was now central to business survival.
Was there a specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path? If yes, we’d love to hear the story.
Prodoscore’s productivity intelligence application sits squarely at the epicenter of DX strategy, delivering the right information at the right time to senior leaders, managers and employees. While Prodoscore was charting a successful course with businesses, demand for this solution went stratospheric. We stepped up to this requirement driving business value for clients with employees working in so many different environments. Resources were immediately ramped, with focus on business development, customer support and development.
So, how are things going with this new direction?
We wake up deeply focused on our growing client base, current prospects and the changing culture of the workplace. Work is no longer a destination and we are helping to reduce stress and friction related to the employee experience. Senior leaders are better enabled to align strategies with employees executing in a very different way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this pivot?
There is so much opportunity to make significant impacts on companies of different sizes, varying vertical markets and diverse roles and disciplines. Everyone is thinking about work in such a changed way. I had a discussion recently with an HR professional who loved the challenge with maintaining virtual cultures. We talked at length about workplace burnout, a very significant problem with less separation from work/life in a home-based work environment. That led to further conversation about digital wellbeing, digital detox and how to let it go!
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during a disruptive period?
It is really important that leadership and management leverage actionable insight from data in a positive way that enables employee performance. Analytics might be of questionable value, unless leadership stays in alignment with people and processes. Digital transformation impacts both the employee experience and the customer experience. Organizational change management is critically important. While technology is a very important asset, it is not the complete solution. There must be careful consideration of privacy and respect for the human element with any process of digitization and data driven strategies.
Productivity intelligence allows leaders to better understand that they do not have to choose between a high-performance culture and embracing a digital workforce. Coaching effectively requires balance between objectivity (data analytics) and empathy (knowledge, skill and judgement leading people).
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Organizational leaders understand data-driven decision making and analysis. However, there must always be a balance between emotion and logic…art and science…empathy and objectivity when leading people. The human element remains the most complex part of the equation. “Being present” in discussions (regardless of virtual setting) is critically important. A culture of inclusion and bringing one’s entire self to the organization must be encouraged. Curiously, in a distributed environment, many employees speak about getting to know more about their co-workers and managers through the virtual lens compared to being in an office. Let’s embrace the environment where anyone is most productive and delivering the best outcomes. No one is alone…keep in it together…it is not about cubicle farms any longer.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
It would be oversimplified to state one principle, but it is about staying real. Positivity. Humor. Honesty. Being human. Forgiving. Communicating. Being open to coaching.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make when faced with a disruptive technology? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
While risk aversion is healthy, continued analysis paralysis is not. Decisions need to be made. Digitally distraught leadership varies from digitally determined teams. Employees will see it, feel it and react to it all.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to pivot and stay relevant in the face of disruptive technologies? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Take personal responsibility and observe the marketplace continually.
While black swan events might be unpredictable, shifts will continue, and competitors will excel. Own that fact and get in front of the problem. With challenges, the team is expecting you to be decisive and to lead. Demonstrating a clear vision is paramount.
- Stay very close to people in your organization.
Inherently, employees want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Ensuring open lines of communication helps to provide visibility to needs for a revised approach and process improvement.
- Understand the impact of change management.
Clear communication and alignment around a mission are so important to success when courses are altered. Keep aware that this is harder for some individuals, but their ultimate buy-in and action is required. The best strategies are absolutely useless without tactical execution.
- Remember that resilience demands flexibility.
Seek feedback and act on recommendations. Processes, people and products always change. Embrace the reality that no one has all the answers.
- Trust and believe in your team.
People are smart, capable and observant. Leaders cannot forget that their team is paying attention to behavior at the top. Transparency and honesty lead to less stress, higher productivity, deeper engagement, and greater alignment. This is critical to developing loyalty and commitment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you carry in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There is no time for anything else.” — Christopher Walken
While Mr. Walken claims he never owned a computer or a cell phone, I forgive him and subscribe to his message.
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