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Steve Loranger Talks Business Sense
Question: What kind of leader are you?
Steve Loranger: Well, I might not be the best person to answer that question, obviously, some of the folks that work for me. But a couple of things. I’m a leader, first and foremost, with a positive attitude. I believe as a matter of fact but I also believe as a matter of philosophy that are best years are ahead of us. I’m a leader who is not always accepting of the status quo. Everywhere I look, I see opportunity for improvement.
And I do try to drive improvement strategies everywhere we go, hopefully, directly lined to the needs of the customer. Third of all, I am a leader who believes in our people. It’s nice for me to sometimes stand up and represent the corporation. But without a strong team of smart people with the right culture, people who are motivated and fulfilled by what they do, the entire company will never be successful.
So my job and my leadership is to maintain a proactive anticipation around the future to make sure that it’s compelling, that people see the vision of where we’re going, and then to have the people in the organization that are able to… who want to follow in the sort of compelling and inspired way. And that is one of the dimensions of leadership that, I think, I bring. I try to… I’d say, I will just finalize by saying, I think I’m a leader that serves the people. Sometimes, people thank me for my time. I’m quick to say, no, this is my job. This is my job to help you do your job in whatever way. Don’t ever hesitate to call. If there’s an issue or challenge you’re working on, I’m always available to be able to assist because that way, I can serve the people in the best way.
Question: How do you manage a business across many different industries?
Steve Loranger: Well, that is an intense challenge. In the sense, that is, my job is different maybe from a pure player on a highly concentrated business where the CEO can be very, very personally involved in the details of the strategy. In my case, I’m not always involved in the details of every one of our strategies. We have easily 15 different businesses in our company. And not only different businesses but different in markets and different types of business, commercial, military, long cycle, short cycle, automotive, aerospace, and so forth as I mentioned.
And it really is impossible for me to have a detailed view of every strategy. But my job then, to specifically answer your question, is I got to have the right people. I got to have the right people using the right processes, and my approach to creating discipline, accountability, and good quality in terms of this strategic decision-making is to use good processes.
I do insist on everyone using good strategic planning processes to make sure that they do a good job of analyzing who they are, what markets they serve, what the customers want, what the competitive technical capability is and then, constructing actionable and effective execution plans that are accountable so that we can actually get something done. If we got… From my job then, if we got good people I can trust and I see that they’re using a good process, albeit populated with their data, then I feel confident that we’re driving the strategy in all these different markets. So, again, I think I’m saying that where I don’t have the detailed view of every strategic detail on the company, I then substitute good leadership and good processes to make sure that those are effectively deployed in the company.
Question: How do you find and retain the most talented employees?
Steve Loranger: I think that’s one of the most important questions in leadership because that is, if we can do that well, a lot of other things take care of themselves. Most of those people already work for you and they work for other companies. So the question is, how do you identify the talent, how do you assess their potential, and how do you, then, give them an opportunity to grow and develop. So I do spend a lot of time trying to answer those questions, getting to know a lot of people. And then, understanding whether somebody is either just capable to execute their current job or whether they have an aspiration to make their job better.
So when you find that appetite, when you find somebody who has a learning capacity that demonstrates that there’s a desire to go beyond what they’re currently doing, in fact, creating some strategic change, that’s the piece that I’m really looking for, when does somebody demonstrate that internal initiative to go a little bit farther than the next person. And then, when you identify those people, you give them more to do. You promote them. You expand their responsibilities and you help them.
So, developing talent and trying to find the talent that’s got the aptitude and the attitude to go farther is very, very important. Obviously, we hire on the outside as well. I would like to say that we hire most of our executive jobs, 80%, 85% are probably internal hires but we do hire on the outside. The outside hire is more difficult because you, then, have to rely on references and sometimes, you only get an hour, hour and a half, couple of interviews with a person. So it’s a much… it’s a much more difficult assessment. And you got to assess on the basis of references and, of course, your stomach. But finding those people who work for you, that want to do more and give them a chance is really a wonderful formula.
Question: What is one business challenge you have overcome?
Steve Loranger: One of the most challenging business decisions I made was a year and a half ago, to significantly expand our defense portfolio. We were at a time when our defense portfolio was relatively a strong piece of our business. And we really had a desire to grow our fluid technology business on a global basis. But we had an opportunity to create four or five strategic advantages in our defense with the acquisition of another company that was called EDO, a company that we did acquire, was the largest acquisition we ever made.
So it was a high risk acquisition because we were going into a defense cycle that we were concerned about going down, as you mentioned before. And also, was in a piece of the portfolio that we weren’t sure we want to expand disproportionately to other pieces of our portfolio. And the evaluation was in, as always, in all these deals, a tough challenge. So the first decision we made was to get very, very honest about the strategy and honest with the customers, honest about what we could really do.
So I would say the pre-due diligence work to really understand what that company had of real strategic value in its portfolio and then couple with what we would really do about it, how we would actually run it, what the probability of success was, and what the integration plan was to accomplish that was very, very significant. We spent literally, a year or more. And, certainly, the last couple of months, just really, intensely, understanding that component. Obviously, when we made the transaction, we negotiated the best value that we had.
But the third; we negotiated the best value that we could. But the third issue was to have pervasive and very strong leadership in integration plans. And I’m pleased to say today that we have EDO facilities, previously EDO facilities that are in the ITT fold today, that you would feel, were part of the ITT family for the last 50 years. We have technologies that have transition boundaries between the previous EDO and the ITT, where we’re creating greater value for our customers. And we have leadership communication, leadership principles and talent development that’s also going cross boundaries. And we have connected IT systems.
This sort of relentless and very, very significant integration focus was one of the things that really created value for us. Today, we couldn’t be happier with the acquisition. We got the cultures together. We got the technologies aligned. We’ve resolved some customer satisfaction issues. And we’ve exceeded our revenue and our cash flow objectives with this acquisition. But going into it, what we understood was a great deal of risk. But I would say, good discipline and accountability and the execution was really what paid off. And our defense team just did a great job.
Recorded on: May 13, 2009
The CEO discusses the challenge of managing a multi-billion dollar corporation.
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Duke researchers have developed the first gel-based synthetic cartilage with the strength of the real thing. A quarter-sized disc of the material can withstand the weight of a 100-pound kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.
In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.
That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:
"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."
The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.
Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."
Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.
Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.
On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash
Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."
"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.
The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.