Cloud gazing and the power of ‘seeing’ what your field teams’ can see

Every evening, my 7-year old son and I share and exchange notes on any interesting events during the day. Recently he told me about a class exercise, where he went out into the school field to observe the clouds. He really enjoyed the activity and when I asked him more about ‘the lesson’ he replied, “Oh, we didn’t have a lesson. We had a break outside, looked at the different clouds, drew and talked about them.”


My 7-year old son’s cloud drawing

When I saw the resulting sketches, I was struck by the extensive level of observational detail and the variety of drawings depicting many different cloud formations; cirrus, stratus and cumulus to name a few! Do you remember those?

I had had an enriching day at work myself. In my role, I love having the opportunity to accompany field engineers to understand a day-in-their-life. It’s no secret – the more you understand your clients and customers, the more you can solve their challenges, frustrations, and problems. On this particular visit, I observed the auditors checking the quality and efficiency of installations before signing off.

Seeing is believing…and understanding

As I was describing the experience to my son, I was simplifying it to connect it to his day. What do cloud gazing and field teams have in common? Not a lot I would have once thought, but sometimes our children’s experiences and our own professional lives create curious crossroads that enlighten us! I reflected on the power of being visually present. The information we perceive/gather is so much more valuable if we can actually see it happen versus listening to descriptions or reading an account.

What did I see?

The client’s back office team was doing a remote audit of technical work completed on the equipment. Extensive forms with over 50 questions had to be filled in for each unit. These questions ranged from basic information concerning the quality of light and ease of access to whether an alarm signal flashed correctly or not.

The flow required the auditors to look at it from, front, back, top and sideways on numerous occasions. The entire audit process for each piece of equipment was very time consuming!

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Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

Walking in the engineers’ shoes allowed me to understand and appreciate the challenges of their work first hand. It allowed me to understand how and why they would want to use our solution, what problem are we solving for them.

My son’s constant “Why’s” made me look at my work from a fresh perspective. It was then that I realised we needed to re-think the entire field audit process from scratch.

Blue sky thinking and change

I now understood that a mindset shift was needed to re-imagine the whole process. Building on the existing approach and offering incremental tweaks of improvements was futile.

I started working through each audit process phase. Instead of having a vast list of cables to check, I thought we could check and use video to show everything on the front of the unit first and then everything on the back and so on, eliminating the need of going to and fro repeatedly.

Extensive forms with more than 50 questions could actually be concisely answered using vyn storyboards, that utilise the power of video and smart prompts. Moving images capture so much more.

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Clouds are constantly changing shape, they are not static and we can say the same for many aspects of field service work.

What I learnt

The real power of this lesson on taking a break to gaze at the clouds, was that by being immersed in the environment, my son’s perception and understanding was significantly enhanced. I had the same experience when visiting my clients’ site and seeing and understanding their challenges for myself.  I realised that for engineers to be able to “show and tell” and for the business to see what they see, is powerful. It allows everyone to relive the experience and connect to it.


Author: Charu Madan, Client Success vyn.
My focus is to make every vyn client successful everyday.

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