Eco Bee's Journey in Accelerating the Shift From Fossil to Electric
“How do you stay crazy?”
During a Q&A session in Toronto, Stuart Lombard, founder of Ecobee, was asked this question.
What followed was a captivating discussion about corporate strategy, environmental impact, and change management.
Stuart is a trailblazer in the digitization of everyday life in Canada. He started one of the first internet service providers in the country and then went on to co-found Eco Bee, the world's first Wi-Fi thermostat. The company recently sold to Generac for $770 mil USD
He's a true visionary who believes that scaling companies need to be continuous learning organizations.
Stuart spoke about the concept of “impact at scale” and how his mission is to shift from fossil to electric systems in order to accelerate the shift to electrification, digitization, and the connection of everything using the home as a new platform for computing. He wants to create a world where energy is clean, plentiful, and cheap. And let me tell you, Eco Bee has already made a huge impact, having helped North America save over 28TWh of energy.
Stuart also spoke about change management and resilience through a formalized strategy process. He uses a framework called "How to Win" developed by Roger Martin at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. The framework is all about identifying what you believe in, where you think you can win, roadmapping capabilities to get there and thinking about the future.
He mentioned resilience a few times. In the face of change, relying purely on commitment and passion are not enough, strategy and continuous adaptation are critical.
Part of adapting is realizing the importance of being a continuous learner and building a culture that encourages it. He talked about how he had to reinvent himself from a product manager to a CEO and realized the importance of culture along the way.
In every interview at Eco Bee, the company asks about the last book the candidate read that changed the way they think. And that's because Eco Bee wants to hire continuous learners who are open to new ideas and shifting world views.
Stuart also shared a story about how the launch of the Nest Thermostat in 2011 forced Eco Bee to reset their bar and focus on brand and culture. He said that this moment taught them to write down answers to these questions:
Answering these questions while setting a high bar for constant reinvention are keys for Lombard.
Stuart is a visionary who wants to build a world where the home is an ambient computing platform that uses energy that is clean, plentiful, and cheap. He's also an advocate for continuous learning and building a culture that encourages it. That's why Eco Bee is always on the lookout for continuous learners and has employee education programs like "Let's Be Great."
His journey at Ecobee demonstrates the significant impact that technology can have on the world. It also highlights the importance of having a mission and narrative that goes beyond just a product.