Inspire and Empower: How You Can Lead your IT Teams with Vision and Passion

Doug Lange
Chief Strategy Officer at the State of Arizona
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Podcast Questions

  • Why our governments need to operate at the speed of business.
  • Why the State of Arizona stopped acting like a utility
  • How Doug empowers the agencies in the State of Arizona to bring speed and emerging tech to the forefront.
  • The importance of mindset in IT organizations.
  • The Power of WHY & what Doug looks for in hiring at the State of Arizona
  • Leadership lessons from Simon Sinek that Doug implements


Joe Toste (00:00):

This episode is sponsored by Nagarro. Nagarro is an 8,000 plus digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation. We call it thinking breakthroughs. Thinking breakthroughs is how we've helped industry leaders to embrace digital and accelerate technology-led innovation. Our clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies like Verizon, Honeywell, Siemens, Lufthansa, Google, Intel, and many more. Our goal isn't just to be another vendor, but a longterm strategic partner. And what really separates us is how we see the changing and evolving world.

Joe Toste (00:33):

The challenges that companies are facing are more unique and complex than ever before, especially with the technology disruption happening across the globe today, and it's this technology disruption that our clients look to us to find solutions in a forward-thinking, agile, caring, extension of your team kind of way, that can help transform, adapt and build both the now and the future. At Nagarro, we care. Caring is our superpower. It drives us to deliver excellence to our clients, it makes us responsible, and it makes us better colleagues. It all begins with a conversation.

Joe Toste (01:06):

You can email me at joe.toste@nagarro.com, or message me on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro, check out nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. Let's talk about the possibilities. And now, off to you, James.

James (01:27):

Thanks, Joe. And welcome, everyone. You're listening to season two of TechTables, a Q&A podcast dedicated to interviewing industry leaders from across the globe, ranging from startups to fortune 500 companies, mixing it up each week with topics ranging from design and digital product engineering, to AI and Industry 4.0. Let's do this, Joe.

Joe Toste (01:48):

Thanks, James. I'm super excited today as we shift our focus to all things public sector with the State of Arizona. A huge thank you to Doug Lange for taking time to come on the show and meet with me today. In today's episode, we're going to cover why our governments need to operate at the speed of business, why the State of Arizona stopped acting like a utility, how Doug empowers the agencies in the State of Arizona to bring speed and emerging tech to the forefront, the importance of mindset in IT organizations, the power of why, and what Doug looks for in hiring at the State of Arizona, leadership lessons from Simon Sinek that Doug implements. But that's quite enough for me.

Joe Toste (02:20):

Without further ado, I'm thrilled to welcome Doug Lange, chief strategy officer in the State of Arizona. Hey Doug. Well, thanks for coming on TechTables today. Super excited you're here.

Doug Lange (02:28):

Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Joe Toste (02:30):

Awesome. Love it. Well, let's kick off today with a little bit about you and your background in the private sector at GoDaddy for around 10, 10 and a half years, and why the jump to the public sector?

Doug Lange (02:42):

Yeah. As you just mentioned, I spent the first decade of my career at GoDaddy. Like many people that worked in a startup, no idea what the company was going to turn into. When we started it, it was really about, how do we get to next week? How do we get to next quarter? How do we get to next year? The beautiful thing that happened was, the company exploded. And over the course of a decade, what that allowed me to do is really understand all the constructs of a business. And whether you're talking the business side, the product side or the tech side, when you have a company that's just exploding that quickly and you're moving from, how do we expand within the state? To, how do you expand nationally? To then, how do you take your brand how do you expand globally?

Doug Lange (03:30):

Well, those are all very different challenges. And I think for me, it was extremely rewarding. That will always be my professional home, but you get to a point where you also want to see, "Will my playbook really translate outside of this rocket ship or this really successful organization?" And I think I hit a point where I wanted to get out and really focus on things that I was passionate about, and I wanted to get outside of my comfort zone towards very much that company and start to really find ways to make an impact, take the skills and experience that I had gained and try to pour them into two different things that I wanted to transform and I wanted to change and that I wanted to be a part of. And for me, that led my journey to the State of Arizona.

Joe Toste (04:18):

That's great. I really like that question that you said, will my playbook translate? Over the course of 10 years, I just know you probably had a number of mentors that came along your side. I'm just curious, over a decade... I mean, I'm pretty young, my professional career is nearly a decade. How many mentors, just spit balling right off?

Doug Lange (04:38):

Oh God. I have one person that I will professionally call my mentor. He hates it. He tells me that I'm crazy, but I have one that I have learned so much from, I could go two years without talking to him, and within 15 minutes he will ground me and get me back to looking at the world in the way that makes sense. But when you talk about just influential leaders and people that I've had the opportunity to work with in a decade, we could spend the whole hour talking about different people because when you're going through a company like that, the challenges and struggles of a 500-person company are very different than the challenges and struggles of a couple of thousand, or when you grow.

Doug Lange (05:27):

And what that means is, there's different leaders with different leadership styles and different experiences that ultimately are really good at carrying a business in that phase of it and in taking it to the next level. And I think if you're talking about people in my network that I rely on or people that I've learned from, I'm going to say you're probably going to get close to 100 people that I have sat there and really just listened and tried to absorb how they've gotten to where they went and how they view the world. I'm so big on perspective.

Doug Lange (06:04):

The highest IQ in the business setting or in life isn't what I'm looking for, or rarely wins. I think the person that wants to learn from someone else wants to listen first and just has diversity of perspective and thought to look at things and break things down differently. That's the person I want to be around, that's the person I want to work with, and that's the person that I'm trying to continue to just evolve to be.

Joe Toste (06:31):

Yeah. I love that. That's so good. Especially really that mentality of growth. And I think you just put it so well. So at Dreamforce, I think shifting to the physical, my heart misses physical conferences, I'm locked in my office and at home, and I know you're at your house right now too. At Dreamforce, you spoke in the Trailblazers In Government, State of Arizona, and the governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey said, "Our government needs to operate at the speed of business." And I really love that quote. Can you talk about the opportunity to think differently in the public sector? Which hinges on the growth mindset that you were talking about previously.

Doug Lange (07:11):

Yeah. I'll speak to it from the State of Arizona's perspective. So you have roughly 130 agencies encompassing somewhere around 40,000 employees. So if you look at it in one way, that's essentially 130 small businesses at some level, all operating a little bit differently. So every one of them needs the benefit of emerging tech in automation and in everything that that brings to the table. And when you start to look at government and you fragment it, maybe they all don't have a huge budget, but when you start to look at it from an enterprise perspective, you have the budget that you need to make a real impact.

Doug Lange (07:48):

If I'm setting the table with that, I think from a business perspective, the next thing is key. You have every major tech company, every major consulting firm, every major services organization, all trying to find ways to do business with the state. The real question starts to be, how do you get them complimenting each other and working for you as opposed to competing against each other and really slowing you down? If you really stop and think about that, the opportunity is huge because you have all the right ingredients for success, you just need to be able to look at it from a lens of really scale, in, how do you enterprise things and introduce them to the state?

Doug Lange (08:28):

Well, the things you're working against, risk tolerance and trust. That's not just a government thing, but it's very, very prevalent in that environment. And I think when you really get away from it, every organization, public sector, private sector, they're all dealing with the same things. I'm going to focus on operational efficiencies, how do we optimize everything that we do? Customer experience, how do we provide our customers with the best, most impactful experience possible? And then ultimately I hit on it, scale. How do you grow your business and how do you grow it efficiently?

Doug Lange (09:04):

And that might be different in the public sector versus the private sector, but the constructs of it, if you get down to a nuts and bolts perspective, they're going to be the same. Ultimately, navigating the legislative process is very government oriented and it is important, but from a true tech perspective, how you scale it, it's no different than the same challenges that you're going to find in any industry.

Joe Toste (09:31):

Yeah, that's really great. I think you nailed it on the head with the customer experience. You're dealing with the same problems, whether it's public or private, it's all about the experience, which I think is such a great insight, because I think a lot of times the public sector gets this rap where they're slow moving and no one wants to change, but really in reality, the public sector is just as much as the same as the private sector, it's just what mindset are you going to bring to the organization? What leadership are you going to bring? I didn't have it in the questions today, but on our call, we talked before how you rolled out G Suite across the state, and it was fantastic.

Joe Toste (10:14):

And there's just so much, in the show notes, I'll link to it. Doug's been interviewed like five million times on that story, so I won't rehash it here, but it's really great to see just the new mindset and execution that you're bringing. So let's expand on the traditional model that most public sector IT orgs operate in. And one of your goals is to have the State of Arizona stop acting like a utility. And I thought that's such a great insight. Can you unpack what you meant by utility?

Doug Lange (10:44):

Sure. A simple way to look at it is, most organizations that we deal with just as a general consumer are going to fall into two buckets, they're either going to offer us a product or a service, or they're going to act more like a utility like your electric company. It's not revenue in traditional sense, you're not trying to make a profit in government, but those are real dollars. The problem with us is historically, we treated it more like a take it or leave it type value prop, as opposed to truly trying to earn our customers' business. And when you do that, you really don't have customers that they serve, so they don't have to leverage the services we offer.

Doug Lange (11:25):

Our goal is to very much earn their business. And we want to be an enterprise services provider that is offering great services in not only what we can provide them in-house with the expertise we have, but being open to the fact of looking in the mirror and saying, "We might not do it better, faster, and cheaper than an organization in the private sector, and that's okay. How do we partner with them and provide a great service that they can offer and package it up in a way that the state agencies can consume.

Joe Toste (11:57):

Yeah, that's really great. That actually transitions really well into my next question. What are some specific examples of how you and your team are partnering to empower the agencies within the State of Arizona to bring the speed, emerging tech, and the best practices to the greater state?

Doug Lange (12:14):

For us, I'll go high level, it starts with our strategy. What can we do from an enterprise standpoint to really set the table in terms of what we care about, where our focus is, who we want to be? A couple of those things, we have a heavy investment in cloud-based technologies, and that could be at the infrastructure level, that could be at the app level, that could be at the digital level and in what's truly citizen facing. But I think the thing that we really focus on is, how do we get out of the business of building custom apps. We simply aren't in a place from a talent perspective where we should be trying to take on a $50 million dev project, $100 million dev project. We need to let the professionals in these huge billion-dollar tech companies handle that, and we can focus more on the business side of things.

Doug Lange (13:07):

Public private partnerships, so that's something that we're really trying to bring to the state. And I was just referencing it, but it's the concept of, we don't need to do everything and fulfill everything ourselves, there are organizations that are out there that it's their expertise, so why not lean on them and let them bring the best of what they do into state government and allow us to focus in other places. Taking that enterprise approach to our partnerships and our technology decisions is huge, but coming downhill and talking about some of the things that we've been able to accomplish from a statewide perspective. So our statewide cyber strategy.

Doug Lange (13:47):

So in addition to anything anyone is doing within the agencies specific to their apps, we have roughly 16 security controls. Some are touching on internal threats, some are touching on external threats that we layer across the state. Those are always evolving, we're always trying to figure out where the biggest threats are, but always looking for ways to mitigate our risk. Investment in the cloud and getting out of our own data centers. So I'll give you an example. We recently were able to decommission our state data center. So one of the main ones in the state, we moved almost 1,000 workloads to the cloud, we retired about 15% of what was sitting in there, and we transitioned the rest off to a third-party location.

Doug Lange (14:29):

Well, that was $4.2 million annually in cost avoidance cost savings just for our organization in what we were able to pass onto our customers. We commissioned a study, if we are able to do the same thing with the other data centers in the state, which we're working on right now, there's in the upwards of $30 million in annual savings. Now, do we actually get there? We'll see. Is that a real number? Maybe. But I'll tell you what, somewhere in between 4.2 that we've already realized, and that's 30, that's a really big win for the state and its agencies. You touched on it with G Suite.

Doug Lange (15:09):

When I came to the state, we had roughly 30 disparate email platforms across all the agencies. So a lot of things that you take for granted when you start a job in the private sector just weren't there, you aren't able to just pull up a directory or an org chart and talk to somebody in another agency. And what we started down the path of two to three years ago was, we wanted to get to one platform. The state chose G Suite. It has armed us and positioned us really well for everything that is taking place in terms of the pandemic just because we have roughly 90 agencies all leveraging the same cloud-based productivity and collaboration suite, which has made our transition to working remote almost seamless.

Doug Lange (15:58):

The agency that I work in, for an example, we went from almost all employees working onsite to a little over 90% of our employees working remote within two weeks. That stuff's huge. The one thing that I want to hit on, and you actually touched on this in a different podcast with Gary Brantley, we can talk about our strategy, we can talk about our tech, we can talk about all of these great things, the most important thing that we're trying to drive a focus to is our investment in our people in change management. And if we can keep the focus there with the people that are actually having to do the work every day, the tech's going to take care of it.

Joe Toste (16:36):

Yeah, that's so good. That's so good. You hit on a number of really great pieces as far as just really empowering and working with the private sector and those partnerships. And I think as far as coming downhill, I love the next question bleeds into, it's talking about the small hedge fund, this portfolio of projects that you have and the wrecking ball, you said wrecking ball that you've been bringing to the it industry and the State of Arizona as a whole. Can you just talk more about the wrecking ball and what you're doing there?

Doug Lange (17:07):

There's no wrecking ball, it's all with partnership, handshakes and hugs. We have a oversight team. Easiest way to explain it would be, any IT project in the State of Arizona that's $25,000 or more, and let's be real, that's pretty much every it project nowadays, it has to go through a oversight process. It's our pitch project, project investment justification, but ultimately, we'll work with state agencies, they'll submit a business case in terms of where the focus is, where their market assessment was, what technology they're choosing, their implementation plan, and wrap budget through it.

Doug Lange (17:49):

Well, that oversight team manages a portfolio of roughly, let's say 50 projects, at half a billion dollars at any given time. And it'll fluctuate based on what's active and what's deployed until some of the next projects hit, but I don't think anyone outside of the public sector and outside of really even that team understands how big that budget actually is, how big that portfolio is, and how much money that states are investing in technology projects and how critical it is that they ultimately land. What we've been able to do with this team, and it's this theme really in partnership with really a whole business engineering organization that's really focused on, how do we partner with the agencies? How do we help them, not only attach to the strategy, but work through the challenges that they see day to day?

Doug Lange (18:46):

What we've been able to do in four years is this team is at roughly $38 million in cost avoidance in roughly four years, partnering with the agencies on the front end of these projects. Just to make sure we're doing our due diligence, we're asking great questions, promoting competition, and we're getting the most competitive solution that we can for these agencies, and then trying to help them mitigate as much risk as possible through the entire development process.

Joe Toste (19:17):

That's so good. That's so good. Yeah. I think the process of submitting the business case is just really powerful instead of coming with the technology piece. And I'm sure it's definitely saved the State of Arizona a lot of money for sure.

Doug Lange (19:32):

Well, and here's the big thing with it, when we started this team, and the pitch process, wasn't new, the constructs of our business engineer organization was absolutely new and in something that I built out in my time at the state, but we used to get these submissions through Word docs. Or like every year, there's an annual strategic planning process, and every state agency is required to submit an IT strategic plan, and it was also through single documents.

Doug Lange (20:02):

Well, the problem is, there was no way to connect all this stuff together, where was no way to get ahead of it and glean insights and ultimately see where the commonalities were, where the challenges were and start to make any sense of the information that we were given. One of the first things we did once we built the organization that we wanted and informed the teams was, we actually implemented our solution, we implemented a Salesforce solution in portal for these agencies to submit everything through.

Doug Lange (20:33):

So all of the pages, which are the projects that are happening within a given year are coming through the portal, and then all of the strategic plans are also coming through the portal and they're all hitting a dashboard immediately so we can sense of all of this stuff on the fly. And I can't tell you how powerful those insights have been to the team and just helping us get in front of everything that we're trying to deal with.

Joe Toste (20:57):

One of the pieces that I think about often just across whether it's like IT or just business or whatever in general, is diving deep on mindset, which I think is really underrated in IT. I've heard almost no one really talk about it, except for Gary Bradley and Brian Ben, who are two CEOs out in Atlanta. When we were talking earlier on our podcast prep call, you said, "Letting go of antiquated ideas." I thought that phrase was so good. I believe what stops organizations and people are the antiquated ideas and mindset of this is just how we've always done it. Can you talk about the new mindset that you've brought for the last four plus years to the State of Arizona?

Doug Lange (21:33):

Yeah. Absolutely. I think I'll start with an example. When I came to the state very first day, super excited, ready to make an impact, holding all the teams I was responsible for. I had a team meeting and I just shared a little bit about my background, what I was excited about, wanting to get to know them and what I hoped that we would be able to accomplish together. Coming from GoDaddy and really the tech space, you talk about being great, changing the world. That's every day, that's breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you get very used to people just with that mindset.

Doug Lange (22:08):

Well, I didn't realize just because I grew up in that environment was, that can be really scary. I get through this speech and everyone's hair is like blown back, blood has left their face, and I got two questions. One was, have you ever managed someone before? Which I laughed, I thought it was funny, but very appropriate question, it's where they are at. And the other one was, why the heck did you come to the state? And the next three weeks, I kid you not, I had a different notice on my desk from an employee that was the same exact narrative, every time, "I love where you're going, sounds really exciting, I don't think it's for me, I'm going to move to one of the other agencies."

Doug Lange (22:54):

And the reality was, my appetite for change and transformation in staying outside the comfort zone and really pushing the envelope, and in the team's appetite, weren't necessarily in alignment yet. And that isn't a bad thing, I'm a firm believer, you need to meet people where they're at, but it took us a while really to continue to just... We had to stay consistent with our messaging, we had to stay consistent with where we wanted to go, we had to show them we had a very real path, but we also had to show them that they could trust us and that we were going to be there for them

Doug Lange (23:27):

And I think funny thing was, we got a couple of months then in the teams collectively, we were still struggling. We were getting all sorts of feedback of where we could do better, we weren't really efficient and effective in how we were helping the agencies. So we had a team meeting, and I think the biggest thing for me is always the why. So any kind of conversation I'm having, I'm going to ask as many questions as humanly possible, I'm probably going to ask you why over and over again. It's what my brain needs ultimately to make sense of things, to feel like, "Okay, I can get behind this and run at.

Doug Lange (24:01):

And we had a team meeting where our sole focus, I had everyone on the team craft a why statement, we all watched Simon Sinek's video, which everyone in the world is very familiar with, and I shared mine and I got really, really emotional about it just from a personal level. And part of it is just because I'm highly competitive and I don't like to lose, and I was sick of us getting our butts kicked. But the other part was, I needed to find a way for the team to finally just let their guard down and look at the person next to them and start to build that trust. And from there, day by day, we started to get a little better, week by week, we started to see some wins.

Doug Lange (24:41):

And now you have an organization that's on this rocket ship, and sky's the limit. And I think so for me, the more you talk to me, you're going to hear some things that are pretty consistent. I truly believe everyone can be great, whether they choose to tap into it or not, that's going to be a personal decision, but everyone has the ability to shoot for the stars, and anything is possible. And when you start to hear government is different, I just feel like that's an excuse to drive away from change. We talk about the business constructs and how they really aren't that different at a core level, but we're very consistent in that messaging of asking why and making sure people understand why we're doing something and then just continuing to check in and show them the results, and show them ultimately, we can achieve what we didn't think was possible. And we just keep on pushing the envelope further and further.

Joe Toste (25:36):

Wow. There's a lot of really great stuff you said there, everything from Simon Sinek to his Why video, highly competitive. I love it. You don't like to lose, I'm also highly competitive. I'm also an assistant high school, JV basketball coach. So I work, they don't, people at work, they only get a small glimpse of, they're like, "Oh, Joe's got a lot of energy. You should see him on the basketball court yelling at a bunch of high schoolers." You can't really do that in the work environment, but it's the one place where you can clap and yell during a basketball game, marching up and down the sideline.

Doug Lange (26:10):

Here's the thing, you hit a point in your career, you hit a point in life, I don't even think this is necessarily your career, where you realize that the one thing that you can't get back is time. You can't buy it, you can't reach back into the past and get it back and do something different with it. It's just so valuable. I want to look at my career and just life and feel like I'm making the most of that time and what time I have. And more importantly, if I'm going to be in a leadership role, if I'm going be responsible for even one individual and one role within a team, I want them to look back on their time in that role and feel like, "I went for it. We swung the bat, we swung for the fences, maybe we got there, maybe we didn't, but I feel really good about that chapter in my story."

Joe Toste (27:02):

That's exactly how I feel with this podcast that wasn't even supposed to exist, and then I just started shooting the episodes earlier this year. And then I came to my boss and said, "Hey, I created a podcast and here's some of the feedback." And next thing you know, now I've got two podcasts. I want to plug TechTime right now, if I can do that. I'm going to plug my second podcast right now, TechTime. I've got a daily podcast out, came out four days ago, four or five days ago, Daily Tech, what you need to know in the world of tech in three minutes or less.

Joe Toste (27:32):

And yeah, I love that, just wanting to be great and swinging for the fences and time is really valuable. And I think when you sit down and really great forcing function, if you just set a timer for yourself and just commit to that one task, you can get a lot done really fast. You can accomplish a lot in a day.

Doug Lange (27:49):

Well, and you have so many state employees that they've never looked at their job that way. And it doesn't mean that they don't have the capacity for it or the potential for it, it just means that they came into an environment at a certain point in life and they were looking at it a certain way, and they were looking at it from, "This is where I'm going to be for the next 20 to 40 years, and I'll work in a couple of agencies. So I'll make an impact and I'll move on." We have had so many success stories with our employees where that might have been their mindset, and we've worked through some of these projects and we've worked through this living and breathing our culture.

Doug Lange (28:30):

Well, you have so many success stories where now we have people that started in public sector, had no ambition to leave at all, they're now in national roles. They're in national roles back in the private sector, and they're sharing their expertise across the country with executives and in different things that they were able to accomplish. And that's huge because their career is already on a whole different trajectory than they ever thought was possible, and I don't know how that's not what it's all about.

Joe Toste (28:58):

I'm actually really curious, how do you, when you find someone on your team or maybe they're new and they've just thought, "Hey, this is just the life path that I'm on for the next 20 or 30 years. I'm just working." Do you send them the video? Do you say, "Hey, watch the why video, and then we're going to sit down and write it out"? What's the process? I'd love to take this.

Doug Lange (29:22):

I'll interview every single person in my organization before they're actually hired in. I freak them out every single time, and I had to actually start prefacing it at the front of the interview because you have people coming in and they're thinking, "Okay, I'm going to get 10 really hard questions related to this job in my experience." And it's the last thing that I talk to him about. I don't pick at their resume at all, we just talk about goals, aspirations, dreams, what type of environments that they like to work in. And ultimately, what I'm looking for is just someone that's really fired up about the opportunity, whatever that role is, in the constructs of the team and in our greater strategy.

Doug Lange (30:07):

Someone who likes to be around other people that they can learn from, and someone that believes in the concept of a team. We have a really diverse team, which I'm huge on just from diversity of thought, but they understand coming through that interview process before they walk through our front doors, what the expectation is just in terms of what they bring to the table as a human being and a person, not the expectations of the job, whether they're writing code, or they're working in some business, or tech function, but just really, how do they engage in the culture and help take us to the next level?

Doug Lange (30:44):

Once they get through the doors, they just get to listen to me talk about being great in what we've been able to accomplish, and trying to highlight as much of our team's accomplishments as possible. And we just keep going with it. So I have a career journey series that we launched in our organization where we have internal people talk about their career journeys, and not the good stuff, but the real stuff. Where did you fail? Where did you struggle? What did you learn from it? How do you keep on growing from it? We have people external coming in because I want them to see someone can be a CEO and look really polished.

Doug Lange (31:24):

Well, they're a human being, chances are, they've had some pretty big failures in their careers while they just stayed focused, they learned from them, they kept on moving forward. It's really the whole environment that we try to just continue to promote, continue to stay consistent with. And it's all about building that trust and letting them know it's about them.

Joe Toste (31:42):

You should have me come in. I give really great motivational talks, You should ask the high schoolers, pregame speech, I give it to them. I love it.

Doug Lange (31:52):

I'm going to hope you do that.

Joe Toste (31:54):

Yeah, I love it. I love Arizona. I'm trying to leave California. I keep telling my wife, I'm trying to leave fast. One area actually piggyback on the employee engagement scores, those was pretty interesting because I never actually heard of anyone in the public sector measuring this, how you were talking to me about it. I think in the private sector, especially with SaaS companies, you see the NPS, but can you talk about from the public sector employee engagement, and how do you keep those scores so high without giving out free food and beer on a daily basis?

Doug Lange (32:33):

You started with just asking me about my mentors and influential people, there are probably 10 leaders that I can think of off the top of my head that just really understood this and how you transform an organization's culture and really take all the energies and all the wins of the company and try to pour them back into your people. You hit on two big metrics, one is engagement, average and engagement ratio. And this is something the State of Arizona measures across the board. It's not just the organization that I'm responsible for. But we have two really cool metrics.

Doug Lange (33:13):

When you look at engagement average, if you go across all of industries, don't quote me on this, but you're going to get to the tech space, leading the charge at about an average of 78% overall engagement, average in terms of how happy or satisfied are you with every question on your survey? Well, that doesn't mean that our tech company is in higher, that's just with the averages. This organization its average 90%, three years running. You get into engagement ratio, which you just talked about, which is basically a true NPS score, so you're taking the promoters, you're taking in consideration the detractors, and then you're pulling out the middle.

Doug Lange (33:55):

It's a pretty brutal calculation if you don't have your stuff together. So if you consider roughly nine to be an outstanding organization in what you're trying to do, this organization's been over 20 three years running as well. So we don't have free coffee, we don't have free food, we don't have bites for employees, the nap pod used to be the little area that was right under your desk, now, that can mean something different in a remote role, but for us, it's just investing in each other. I can't stress that enough. It's making sure that the employees realize that if you take the servant leadership concept and the pyramid and the hierarchy of how an organization works, we're turning it on its head.

Doug Lange (34:42):

And we're saying, "I might be the chief strategy officer, but I'm the least impactful person in making this strategy go and doing the day-to-day work." We're trying to find ways to make it fun, trying to find ways to let them know we're going to invest you more than just the role that you're in, but we want to create some space and time in there just for you to feel like you're growing and learning something new, and we're highlighting their wins. Letting him know, you are important, you do matter, and your results should be noted and highlighted when they come across. And I think one thing that resonates with me, we've all had a boss that they thought our career path was exactly one step beneath them for our entire career.

Doug Lange (35:28):

That's never a great feeling as an individual, and we really promote the idea of, we want to be supportive of our employees' goals, and where they want to go, and where they want to take their careers, and they shouldn't be afraid to have that conversation. What we really focus on is, how do we make it the best chapter possible while you are here?

Joe Toste (35:48):

That's a great way to end this, making it the best chapter possible, best season possible, while you are wherever you're at. That's so great. That's how I view where I'm at today with Nagarro. And actually they rehired me, and so this is the second time I've worked for them, because sometimes when you leave, you're like, "Oh man, I actually really liked what was over here." The grass wasn't greener. That was 29. What am I? 31. That was 29-year-old, 28-year-old mistake. And then I came running back and thankfully, I got rehired, and now I'm here as a podcaster.

Joe Toste (36:23):

We're going to end with this last question, it's my wrap-up question that I've been asking for season two, I think you'll have a pretty great answer to it. What's the nicest thing someone has done for you, Doug?

Doug Lange (36:34):

That's a tough question for me. I'm from Wisconsin, initially. Everyone is pretty nice and wired to show you that Midwestern hospitality. I'll go with one recent. Just this past week, my brother actually surprised me and flew myself and my daughter home for my 40th birthday. So in this quarantine, the world, that was huge because I have a lot of family and friends that I really care about that have stayed in the Midwest and Wisconsin, and that's where they've raised their families. It was pretty cool to get my three and a half-year-old daughter on the airplane and can do that whole thing with her, but then just to get back in and spend the time with my family.

Joe Toste (37:17):

I love it. That's a great story. So question, are you a diehard Aaron Rodgers' fan?

Doug Lange (37:24):

I am not. I'll root for the Packers unless they are playing the Bears, but I start to look at it now more like it's just the burden that I have to carry because no one's going to let me off the hook at this age in my life. I can't just say I'm now a Packers fan, but all things equal, I'm a huge sports fan. So as long as it's a good game and there's a lot of stuff going on, I'm pretty happy.

Joe Toste (37:48):

I am also a huge sports fan. Go Bears. I'm going to put that out there too.

Doug Lange (37:53):

Please do not, enough people say that on a daily basis.

Joe Toste (37:56):

Yeah. I had a little bit of a stint in Chicago.

Doug Lange (38:01):

If you don't mind frigid cold weather for part of the year, Chicago is a great city.

Joe Toste (38:08):

Yeah. My wife will never do it, but before I met her, I lived in Lincoln Park. And I remember going to Wrigley Field, which is basically two stops off the red line for me and off the L, and oh man, it was so cold. I know the different sports, but you're sitting in the stands regardless.

Doug Lange (38:27):

And that's a sports element. I have shown people pictures of what Lake Michigan looks like along the coast in the summer, and in having shown them the backdrop of the city, and everyone thinks it's the ocean. No one has any idea of some of the different things that the Midwest or Chicago in this case, has to offer.

Joe Toste (38:51):

Yeah. They have a lot to offer. It's a little tough spoil when you come from Southern California, and it was still snowing into June the year I was there. And I was like, "I got to get out of college." That's over.

Doug Lange (39:05):

That's why I'm in Arizona now. I didn't want to deal with the cold weather.

Joe Toste (39:10):

Yeah. I love it. I love it. Awesome. Well, thank you for coming on TechTables today, and where can everyone find you? Do you hang out on LinkedIn? Twitter? Where's your spot?

Doug Lange (39:18):

Definitely on LinkedIn.

Joe Toste (39:19):

Okay. LinkedIn.

Doug Lange (39:20):

That is my spot right now.

Joe Toste (39:22):

I love it. Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.

Doug Lange (39:25):

Yeah. Thank you for having me.

James (39:28):

If you're interested in seeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation can do for your company, you can email Joe at Joe.toste. That's T-O-S-T-E@Nagarro.com, or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on the Nagarro, checkout nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. You've been listening to the TechTables Podcast, to make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.

James (40:01):

If you have an iPhone, we'd love for you to open the Apple Podcasts app and leave a quick rating for the show, just tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more TechTables episodes, you can go to Techtablespodcast.com. And to learn more about our sponsor, please visit Nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. And of course, you can find Joe Toste, your podcast host, on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Joe's last name is T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.

Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders