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Discovery Newsletter: Perspective, Walt Malone

Vice President — Human Resources, Koch Industries

April 25, 2018

min read

The rate of change in our world is greater today than it ever was before.

Your banking experience is a good example. Today, you can make deposits, pay your bills, transfer money and check your balances anytime, anywhere you want using your smartphone. There’s no need to go to the bank to handle most transactions. This saves time and resources and reduces the direct costs to deliver those services. For any company to be successful over the long-term, it must continuously find new and better ways to meet its customers’ needs. Otherwise, it will be disrupted and put out of business. This is creative destruction in action.

 Over the past few years, technology advancements in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, software as a service, the internet of things, robotics, automation, sensors, apps and data analytics (just to name a few) are transforming the way businesses provide and receive services. These advancements in technology are also changing the way we do our jobs. This presents a huge opportunity for employees to transform the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. No matter which Koch company you work for or what your role may be, here are some focus areas that will help you prepare for the future.


Be curious about things. Come to work every day expecting to learn something new. Continuously transform yourself. Take it on yourself to grow your skills, knowledge and capabilities in areas that will help you in the future. There are many self-directed learning opportunities available on the internet, including the MBM® learning website, Koch’s Innovation University, YouTube and podcasts. Ask yourself, “What ideas, methods, tools or technology can I learn to keep on the leading edge of my job, business or industry?”

In the past year, we have seen many new opportunities to embrace technology across Koch, including Office 365, OneDrive, Yammer, Skype for Business and Compass. Ask yourself, “How well am I doing in understanding and using technology applicable to my role today? How well have I embraced these tools to improve productivity? How well have I embraced technology to transform how I do my job to create greater value?”


The quickest way to learn something new is to seek knowledge from others. Establish and build your networks. Benchmark with people across Koch’s businesses and other industries to discover the best methods. Even if the ideas originate from different industries, ask yourself, “How can I modify, adjust or customize those ideas to create value for my organization?” Monitor networking sites for new ideas. Be active on sites such as Yammer to seek out and share knowledge with others. Make information requests or ask for help from mentors or content experts.


Thinking forward and focusing on what is coming next gives organizations a competitive advantage. We all need to update our skills and knowledge continuously. Ask yourself, “What technologies, methods or tools are coming next? How do I best expose myself to them to create greater value in my business and in my areas of responsibility?”


Many companies are using artificial intelligence technology to encourage consumers to use online, self-service tools to resolve issues, make purchases and get information. This trend will only accelerate in the future. Ask yourself, “How can I use self-service tools more effectively in my areas of responsibility?”


As more technology is deployed, we will capture more data in our systems. Data analytics can help us run our businesses better and see new opportunities. However, this requires building skills in data analytics to aggregate, integrate and manipulate it to improve the business. Ask yourself, “How can I utilize the data in our systems to identify opportunities to improve my business or capability?”


Although the future is unknowable, there can be no doubt that creative destruction will accelerate as businesses deploy technology to find new and better ways to create value for their customers. You, too, can be ready for the future by being a life-long learner, embracing technology, building your networks, anticipating change, and using selfservice and data analytics tools to innovate new and better ways to create value for others. As Charles Koch said in a recent interview: “Our philosophy is that, no matter how well we’re doing — whether in our individual roles, our businesses or our capabilities — it can be done better.

“That’s why we always need to be striving to advance and find improved approaches. We want all our people experimenting every day to find better ways — large or small — to do things and be exposed to what’s going on everywhere in the world.”