Maximize Virtual Round Tables – behind the scenes

For more than a year now we’ve been having these virtual meetings. We don’t know about you, but virtual triggers mixed feelings within us. On the one hand it is convenient and efficient. On the other hand, we really miss the live interaction and the ability to continue the conversation beyond the scope of a session. So, the biggest ‘reward’ you’ve given us at this year’s Maximize is your level of participation and engagement both during and post sessions. Thank you!

Get up early, stay up late

On the Maximize agenda we offered set of 12 round tables spanning a range from covid implications to asset centric business models. From technician skill profiles to commercial maturity. Yes, we were aware that some of these sessions may have occurred at an early or late time. We noticed that the value of the topic has not held you back to set your alarm clock or delay a meal or two.

In the ‘old days’ we may have continued the conversation over a drink or en-route to a next session. This year you found us on LinkedIn, via your account manager or direct message. The conversation will continue! For those that want to browse topics beyond the 12 round table sessions, do have a look at our blog repository: Field Service Digital.

The reward of preparation

In the days leading up to the round tables we look at the registrations. There’s always an element of hope and surprise. We’ve put a lot of thought in the 12 topics and of course we hope to receive confirmation about our choice. We saw counters going up, quickly, and way beyond numbers we would have during live events. This encourages us and confirms our service ‘compass’.

T minus 15 minutes. We launch our session applications and do a last check. Slides, poll, camera, microphone. Putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door to inform house mates.

Fun fact: I had my son (11 years) colour a sign for me. On the one side it says, ‘knock on the other ‘do not disturb’. Because he created the sign, he felt involved in the new house rules. Few are the occasions when he barges in when I’m in call.

We’re live. Automatically my eye goes to the number of participants. How many people are showing up? Over the course of Covid we’ve seen the percentages varying. Today is a good day. I feel good.

Touching base

In preparation of the roundtable, we’ve created content. More than we can cover in the allotted time. We’ve prepared a dialogue structure. But no matter how much we prepare, we don’t know where participants will direct the conversation. We do anticipate though.

It’s our intention to provide both value and engagement. We do have an expectation, so the first thing we do is touching base. Who is in the call? Knowing that is important, because we understand that value is defined in the eyes of the beholder.

In a world of physical gatherings, I would have done a round of introductions to get a bearing of the group. In a virtual world I resort to a poll, knowing it is harder to put each participant on the spot. Comfort level and technical setup do play a role. The poll is easy and safe.


When we chose the topic for the round table, we believe it is an important topic. Registrations and actual participation confirm (or shatter) that belief. The real litmus test is getting engagement.

W ask the first question: “why is commercial maturity important for your organisation and what is its impact?” Those first seconds are ‘killing’. What if nobody responds? What if everybody wants to speak at the same time? How do we give every participant a fair share of attention when we can only see a subset of participants? We wish we could see you all in person. We wish we could see your body language.

We feel a big relief when the flow of the conversation starts going. The discussion becomes a show of examples. We’ve prepared a few to ‘fuel’ the conversation. Ultimately your own examples are the best. Those examples add to the value and practicality. 


In the conversation we elevate to 30,000 feet for a broader perspective, only to descend rapidly. We’d like to give you handles you can use tomorrow. The best praise we can get is when you say you have learnt something new and/or you are able to put those handles to use.

Let me give you one example from the Commercial Maturity roundtable. In the poll we asked the participants to assess their current commercial maturity on a scale from low to high. Later we provided a practical handle to compare current service revenue against the maximum obtainable service revenue. The gap between the two may inspire you to re-assess your maturity … or even more powerful, to use the gap to define your compelling reason to act (more about the gap in my next blog ‘Mind the Gap’).

Call to action

Why do we host roundtables? Why do you participate in roundtables? We do hope we can mutually agree that it is because we want to action business issues and challenges. The roundtable is an instrument. 

We can imagine that we’ve given you food for thought. We recognise you need to digest. We understand you want to get more information, to compare and involve additional stakeholders. Feel free to reach out and make use of our resources and expertise.

Lief niet zo stoer

Mijn zoon van acht maanden groeit als kool. Vier weken geleden hebben wij voor hem een ‘Stoer’ sweater besteld van leverancier Lief. Behorende tot de standaardcollectie zou deze binnen drie dagen kunnen worden geleverd. Wachtend op een teken van leven van de supply chain of de customer service, heeft mij zoon de volgende maat al weer nodig. Lief is niet zo Stoer.

Wat is hier aan de hand? Het is bekend dat in kledingland de aansturing van de supply chain hoofdzakelijk op een push manier gebeurt: de winkels krijgen eenmalig een vastgesteld assortiment toegestuurd en daar moeten de winkelier en de koper het mee doen.

Wanneer fabrikant en winkelier als extra service nabestellingen van de ‘vaste collecties’ willen aanbieden, dan stuit dit onverhoopt op administratieve en logistieke hobbels. Niet omdat deze zo moeilijk zijn te realiseren, maar omdat er een andere houding nodig is.

Nu verschuilt de winkelier zich achter het (vermeende) onvermogen van de fabrikant om de supply chain te organiseren en wijst de fabrikant naar de winkelier als het gaat om het doen van (vermeende) beloftes aan de klant. Hoe je het ook wendt of keert: de standaard levertijd van x dagen is als afspraak tussen fabrikant en winkelier onvoldoende en transparantie via track & trace van het bestel- en leverproces is niet adequaat.

Vandaag heb ik aan de winkelier gevraagd of de sweater toch maar een maat groter kan zijn. ‘Natuurlijk, geen probleem. Regelen we voor u’, antwoordde de winkelier. ‘Maar ik houd wel een slag om de arm.’

Mijn zoon heeft geen weet van deze perikelen. Zijn vertrouwen in zijn ouders is momenteel oneindig. Konden de ouders dat ook maar zeggen van de winkelier en leverancier. Het is dat de sweater zo Stoer is, de customer service en supply chain vinden wij niet meer zo Lief. Met grote interesse kijk ik uit naar wat er wordt geleverd en wanneer. Ga ik de winkelier en fabrikant betalen voor deze customer service en supply chain prestatie?

Gepubliceerd op SCM Online op 3 juni 2010

An introduction to service management


Introductie in Service management

Wat wordt er onder Service Management verstaan? Hoe kijken klanten en leveranciers aan tegen service? Welke ontwerpbeslissingen kunnen en moeten er gemaakt worden bij de inrichting van de supply chain? Hoe positioneer je de service portfolio in de markt? Welke “key performance indicators” komen er om de hoek kijken?

Deze introductie Servce Management is interessant voor iedereen die wil weten welke wereld er schuil gaat achter het woordje “Service”. Van student tot medewerker, van marketeer tot logisticus.

Deze introductie kunt u downloaden in kleur of zwart/ wit.