Thursday the 10th of February – Episode 2.

In our second episode of The Art of Service’s livestream, I talk to Gerard Blokdijk.

Well, I talk to him every day, after all he is the co-Founder of the company and also my husband. But this conversation is different. During this Linkedin Livestream we spent 30 minutes diving deep into his technical and business background as well as his role as the chief innovation officer of The Art of Service.

I wanted to introduce you to Gerard, and let him explain his journey from writing security programs for IBM mainframes, his role as interim CIO of an energy company to spending the past 22 years building The Art of Service with me .

In this discussion we cover the philosophy behind the Self Assessment toolkits and why he developed the critical capability products as  KanBan boards with swim lanes.

The part of our conversation that stuck with me the most is the story behind the deep and profound need for clarity:

Gerard Blokdijk: That’s the thing, complete clarity and simplification in what you’re doing.

Those are the main points, both process driven, and making sure that you can rely on each and everyone around you. Those are the things that I got out of that [working as a chef] and that has driven me in my professional career later down the track and brought me to where we are today with the self assessments and the Kanban and process driven argumentation and question based layering around that as well. That’s the drive that has put me forward over the years and where we are now.

IM: Yeah. So talk to me about that clarity, because you’ve already mentioned you know, as a chief innovation officer, you’re the brain behind the self assessment toolkit and the critical capability KanBan so with with the team, you’ve developed this, and you’ve always had this desire to help organisations to create clarity.
Can you dive a bit deeper into why the need for clarity and why is clarity so important in organisations?

GB: Well, I was a Service Manager for a large energy company back in the Netherlands.
I was reporting directly to the to the CIO, and with a multi multi million dollar budget.
And I love my job,  because I knew all my processes. And I had the background in the majority of these processes as an active professional as well. So I knew exactly what I what I was doing. And then one day, my CIO called me into his office and sat me down. And said: “I’ve been called to do something else in the in the organisation, so I want you to be acting CIO from today on.”

Oh, I wasn’t prepared for that at all. I was Service manager and a service manager is accustomed and used to thinking in kind of rigid procedures and actions, and this needs to be done,  these 10 steps to get there.

Well, all of a sudden, I got thrown into the chair of a CIO. And that gave me some sleepless nights. Because I had no idea back then, what  to oversee and what to manage basically what projects were there. I knew from my service management background, obviously, but now I had to deal with a whole different layer of the organisation which was way more business driven than the one I dealt with before, basically only business driven because as a CIO are important directly to the CEO, obviously.

So that made me wonder there has to be an easier way for people like me, who got thrown into a role that they’re not prepared for, to quickly get their feet on the ground. And that stuck with me for four years, basically, there has to be a better way, there has to be an easier, faster way to get up to scratch with what’s needed to get to the results that you want to get to as soon as you can.

Because in in the energy company, and the main thing was privatisation of the Energy Company, which was government controlled by then. And that was a whole different mindset that needed to take place in the organisation with a whole different set of criteria and questions and people as well.

So there were large layoffs, we had to go through and rehiring, re-processes. And it was a huge learning curve and a huge learning experience back then. But that’s always stuck with me that there has to be an easier way. And that easier way I came upon that with organising questions to ask for people basically, that’s the easier way to go to the why of something. The questions are basically other ways to dive deep into what the reason is for doing something, and to uncover and hidden gems in your organisation or things that you haven’t even considered or done yet.

I just wished back then they had a massive list of questions that I can just go over and go, “I’ve covered that I’ve covered that. I know, well, I haven’t thought of that. We need to just take care of that one.”

And that stuck with me forever.

Want to know more? Listen to the entire interview here: