Fleet Success Summit 2022: Engineering Software Through Driven Leadership

By Scott Rozell

As a Senior Software Engineer that is new to the fleet industry, I jumped at the chance to spend a couple days learning about what it takes to be a successful fleet manager at the Fleet Success Summit. I had expectations to learn some history of fleet, some pain points and opportunities within existing fleet software, and a little bit about leadership in the role. What I did not expect was how applicable the lessons were to engineering software and how actionable the steps to leadership are, both in and outside the workplace.

A fleet manager’s role often has limited predictability and significant variability due to the diversity and technological complexity of vehicles and their broad range of uses. For example, many have uneven depreciation due to how often they are used. A police vehicle may have 12 hours of constant use most days of the week, while a library may use its transport vehicle for an hour once a week to transport books. Software is often like this. It costs too much to build individual solutions for each problem but trying to make a one-size-fits-all solution will often do too much and turn users away. So how do you decide when a solution is too broad or too narrow? How do you increase predictability and reduce variability?

Track what matters.  Fleet managers bring value by reducing costs of fleets to the organization. Does that mean saving money today by using the cheapest parts and the quickest labor? Or does it mean choosing the most expensive parts and the most thorough labor? The answer is: Not always. That is why they need to be enabled to track, monitor, review, and improve. Preventative maintenance is a huge key to success because it is a proven way to increase longevity of a vehicle, even though you do need to spend more up front. Tracking what matters will increase predictability because you know where your costs are going and where to improve. You can’t manage costs without knowing what it is, and you can’t manage risks you can’t see. Software brings value by solving business needs. Scoping a feature down to what truly matters will help guide the size of the solution to increase predictability and reduce variability.

Invest. Work on the team, not just in the team. Tracking what matters focused on the business outcomes, while investing focuses on the people and the processes. When people are financially invested, they expect a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute. As a leader, finding ways to invest in the people will enable them to succeed through contribution. Investing can be as simple as taking the time to listen to understand, not to respond. We can get so caught up in the fast pace that we don’t take the time to really listen. Set aside time to really engage.  Investing in the processes will allow them to succeed faster. Determine what is working in your process and what isn’t? Ask the team because they are usually the ones who know best. Small but consistent steps will lead to continuous improvement.  When you invest in the people, the processes will improve, and the solutions will become more predictable.

Implement. Start small and fire bullets. See what hits and once you find what works, fire cannons. You may not always be accurate but letting the team try and fail will give them confidence when they succeed. Celebrate wins and don’t discourage failure. Focus on what was learned and how it will be done better next time. Leading isn’t about taking over or telling what to do. Leading is about asking what their challenge is, asking options of how they would solve it, and letting them choose what solution to implement.

As a parent, it is hard to let my kids fail. I want them to succeed the first time at everything, yet how often do I hold myself to those standards? I learned a lot about what it takes to be a leader within my role at work, yet I learned more about leading at home. I am constrained as a leader by how much I invest in myself. If I want my kids to succeed, I need to let them fail and be an example by showing them how to make themselves better through it. Not just by taking over, but by working alongside them. In 5 years, you will be the same person but with the books you have read and the relationships with the people who surround you. Every book read is not just an investment in myself but an investment to those around me, especially my kids. Here is a list of books either mentioned at the Fleet Success Summit or provided by RTA to encourage a culture hungry to lead, learn, and grow:

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • The Ideal Team Player – Patrick Lencioni
  • Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
  • EntreLeadership – Dave Ramsey
  • Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – Jerry I. Porras, Jim Collins
  • Good to Great: Why some companies take the leap and others don’t – Jim Collins
  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, Sean Covey
  • The Dream Manager – Matthew Kelly
  • War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • The Power of Moments – Chip Heath, Dan Heath
  • Never Split the Difference – Christopher Voss, Tahl Raz
  • Permission to Screw Up – Kristen Hadeed
  • The Fleet Success Playbook – Josh Turley, Jeff Jenkins, Steve Saltzgiver

The Fleet Success Summit is a place for anyone who wants to learn how to be a better leader. It’s up to us to be the one to make the change. It exceeded my expectations in every way and gave me simple, notable, actionable steps to progress further in my career and my personal life. I look forward to seeing it grow in the future as more people see success from the outside and jump in.

Want to learn more about the Fleet Success Summit? Get information on the 2023 event here!

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