At Master Meter, Inc. we’re passionate about being leaders in our industry. We strive to serve a superior product and to ensure that product creates solutions that solve the real challenges our customers face. However, excellence is defined by what others say about you. As Pixar founder Ed Catmull states in his book Creativity Inc, “To ensure quality, then, excellence must be an earned word, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.” To excel at leadership, one must listen.
Industry thought leader, George Hawkins, recently penned an article in LinkedIn where he offered some of his tips for managing change in the industry for both water utilities and service providers. The piece was a recap from a presentation he gave at Sensus Reach 2018 and he began by apologizing for his use of the word “smart.”
“I kicked myself for using the phrase “…path to a Smart Water Utility…” because people working in utilities are already smart. The challenge is that the tools at their disposal are often decades old and premised on responding to problems after they happen.”
As producers of “smart” water solutions, this comment gave us pause to think. Suddenly, our content-life flashed before our eyes and we tried recounting every mention of the word “smart” in our tomes of marketing collateral. By George, we think he nailed it.
“Smart” may have become another buzzword turned just word, but words do matter. Our solutions don’t make utilities smart, they make them more effective, more reliable, more resilient. In all honesty, those words hold more water than just “smart”. Pun intended.
Meters are the backbone of a water utility’s value proposition. Without a meter, all you have is non-revenue water and no utility looking to address the need to maintain, replace, and repair infrastructure can afford that. Technology doesn’t just make meters smarter, it makes them more powerful because the data produced creates more information and transparency for utilities. Utilities that excel at data management lead the industry in innovation. They tell the story of what water can be, and not just what it is.
As vendors and service providers to the water industry, we need to lead through listening. What we hear from our customers and from the field needs to be echoed in the solutions we bring to the table. Perhaps the low hanging fruit here is to start by bringing a new set of terminology to the conversation. We need to listen to their challenges and talk more about the value we bring to the solutions versus how our solutions are “smarter”.
After all, isn’t instilling the value of water the end goal? In a digital, technological world, customers judge utilities more and more like the other products and services they use every day. Water tech companies, like Master Meter, help translate the value of water into a language that resonates with customers.