Welcoming the Gift of Feedback

November 20, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s November 6 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • The Gift of Feedback – Maranda Dziekonski, Swiftly
  • Explain the Why – Maranda Dziekonski, Swiftly
  • The Customer as King – Kavita Shah, Nova
  • Performance Review Feedback – Colm Lysaght, Micron
  • Facilitating Awkward Feedback Conversations – Thenu Kittappa, Nutanix
  • Best Practice for Providing Feedback as a Gift – All

Below are notes from the discussion. Our panelists agree that Feedback is not a choice, but a reality, a natural part of learning and growing. In fact, you should worry if you’re not getting feedback, as you may be getting complacent or you may be isolated or others might be afraid to provide you with input.

Thoughts on Welcoming Feedback

  • Giving or receiving feedback means that you’re invested in the success in the person or project or initiative – invested enough to provide input with the objective of improvement.
  • A good way to get positive feedback is to be proactive about managing yourself, and communicating what you’re doing, what you need to succeed, what success looks like, etc., 
  • Provide the data and information to back up the feedback you’re giving. Have the same expectation when others give feedback to you.
  • Feedback should be given continuously and productively. There should be no surprises at annual performance reviews for example.
  • Feedback is a team sport. Share feedback across teams and organizations.

Thoughts on How to Better Communicate Feedback

  • Treat feedback as a gift, an opportunity to learn and grow and level-up! Be open enough so that you can understand and integrate that feedback so that you can grow and learn.
  • Give feedback with sensitivity and humility and curiosity. Give feedback because you care about the person or project.
  • Use feedback to help your team feel empowered and engaged. A happy team makes for a happy customer!
  • When feedback is painful, be open and curious, but also give yourself time for self-reflection and integration. Keep being courageous and open, but don’t make deadlines for when feedback must be adopted.
  • Remember that feedback about the quality of work done can be a very sensitive discussion – it’s a tough conversation whether the quality is too good (not efficiently produced) or not so good…
  • Manage and communicate feedback so that the other party takes ownership, adopts strategies for improving, and invests in making a necessary change.
  • Second-hand feedback must be dealt with directly, so feedback doesn’t become gossipy and petty.
  • Provide feedback which is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. 
  • Be clear on expectations and the metrics for success. 
  • When you’re giving feedback on somebody’s communication style, be clear whether you’re addressing the performance, the communication pattern or both. 

The Role of Customer Feedback

  • Listen to the feedback that customers provide, and leverage that feedback to drive the product roadmap.
  • With that said, understanding the market feedback and the input of multiple customers helps you in turn give insights and input to customers.
  • It’s critical to then provide feedback to the team, about the input of customers, as this would help the team implement the solutions in demand.
  • Let market and customer feedback define the time, the effort and the commitment to products and solutions.
  • Respect the transactional aspects of relationships, but focus on the partnerships developed and long-term commitments made.

The bottom line is that feedback is a critical part of the growth of an individual, a team, a product, an organization. Creating a culture of empathy and trust can lead to more productive and constructive feedback, raising the bar for all makes everyone better and stronger. 

Resources:

6 Ways To Build A Feedback Driven Culture That Inspires8 Examples of Constructive Feedback With Sample ScenariosHow to Ask Your Customers Questions to Get Feedback (Tips)

Ways to Lead

November 16, 2020 by
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FountainBlue’s November 13 Ways to Lead program. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Pure Storage and our esteemed panelists: 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Niki Armstrong, Vice President, Global Employment, Compliance & Litigation, Pure Storage
  • Panelist Sheryl Chamberlain, Board Chair Empower (Coupa Woman’s Program) and Global and Regional System Integrator Alliances, Coupa Software 
  • Panelist Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim
  • with opening remarks by Ellen Lail, Regional Sales Director, Commercial, Pure Storage

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds, educational paths and perspectives, but here are their top ten views on ways to lead.

  1. Leadership comes from many paths, from many directions. Defining your own leadership style will take much self-reflection, vast and deep support from many sources, an inquisitive mind willing to learn continuously, as well as the willingness to grow from both successes and challenges.
  2. Sometimes leadership opportunities are ones you aggressively and strategically pursue. Sometimes they appear to fall on your lap because others around you have faith in you. Either way, when presented with that leadership opportunity, be open to learning and growing, receptive to sponsors and networks of support, curious about the importance of the task at hand, and flexible about how you work with others to accomplish these goals.
  3. Leaders tend to integrate the data from the outside – from market, customer, business, people and other data – and collaborate with others to create strategies and approaches which may transcend the traditional modus operandi. The best of these leaders sell these transformational ideas into the mainstream, providing exceptional win-win-opportunities for all.
  4. Leaders define success not just by the business results, but also by the impact on the people they touch, which often transcends today’s business metrics.
  5. Leadership development invariably involves going off a planned course. Although the role, industry, or work may vary (the HOW a leader leads), the leadership path meanders around the core values, principles and skills for each leader (the WHO a leader is).  
  6. No leader is perfect. The best leaders learn most when they have been less than perfect.
  7. Leaders get their support and inspiration from many other people, resources and networks in their lives, surrounding themselves with positive and supportive others. 
  8. Leaders are the first to pay it forward, supporting those around them to also reach higher. 
  9. Leadership takes both confidence and courage. You can gain confidence by working with others and gaining skills. But courage must come from deep inside you, and a commitment to aim for something higher, with the grit and perseverance to succeed in making it happen, the fortitude and strength to try again despite the failures.
  10. Leadership is a practice which is enhanced through diverse experiences. Embrace the opportunities in front of you, and share your learnings in CSR, public speaking, board seats and volunteering.

We will conclude by saying the people are inspired and humbled when the principled leader speaks. They challenge us to embrace and support ourselves as we are, while we also strive for our greater selves. We respond with goosebumps, feeling the truth of the message, and the energy and optimism to reach for our own small star in the sky.

Data is the New Black

November 16, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s November 13 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Data is the New Black’. Please join me in thanking our participating executives and our hosts at Micron for framing the discussion.

November 13, 2020 Roundtable: Data is the New Black

It’s a given that each executive from each industry is impacted by data, so all were challenged to provide a provocative perspective on how data is and will be impacting our businesses, our industries, our daily lives. Below is a summary of my discussion.

The executives agreed that the data volume, velocity and variety is constantly growing. The challenge and the opportunity is to collaboratively delivering VALUE, while focusing on the needs of our customers’ needs.

Data is plentiful and growing, but finding the relevant and true data quickly will make the difference. Indeed, solutions which lead to valid conclusions, information, and solutions with limited data will become increasingly important. This is, in fact how the human brain functions… The trick is finding the most relevant kernels of true data.

One idea was to generate ‘fast data’ using AI and ML algorithms to make quick decisions based on specific criteria – like whether someone with little credit history is at high risk for defaulting on a loan.  
Others brought up the importance of examining edge cases – double-clicking not on what’s regular and normal, but finding patterns and learnings from the exceptional and different scenarios. From these anomalies, you may at times make a broader statement or conclusion – or just identify the anomaly as a one-off, a fluke. 
What’s important is to focus on the validity, the relevance, and the immediacy of the data, for if you’re not working with this type of data, you’ll have Garbage In, which would lead to Garbage Out (commonly known as GI-GO). The executives were in violent agreement that collaborating with others to validate data sources would lead to better decisions, better applications, better solutions. 
Several executives mentioned the need to focus on HOW data can solve many problems, and the importance of leveraging data to solve the most relevant problems, and the need to customize solutions, for there is no one-size-fits-all scenario.
Additional best practices include the aggregation of data from across departments, organizations, product lines and organizations will bring larger, broader perspectives which are relevant for all involved, and the need for ongoing collaboration to ensure elegant and ongoing data integrity, especially when milliseconds of time make a huge difference. An example is validating the signature between a nurse and a patient so that prescriptions are more quickly distributed, when timing is critical.
Everyone agrees that the data generated and gathered can help organizations run more efficiently, can help customers better understand what’s working, can help predict and capitalize on new strategies, can help deliver more relevant and richer customer experiences. 
With the rising dependence on the generation, storage and management of data, and especially now as the data is integrated into everyone’s day-to-day lives, we’re finding huge volumes of data generated on the edge. Responding quickly to the data on the edge will be a challenge, and filtering out the most relevant data will make the solution more effective and more efficient.
We ended with a call for collaboration, for standardization, for policy upgrades around data generation, privacy and security. The semiconductor solutions which gave Silicon Valley its name continues to develop the chips that power servers, machines, tools and devices. Innovations in the semiconductor industry in turn can support the data collection, storage, distribution, etc., tasks normally attributed to software solutions. 
Our executives concluded that Data can’t be the new oil, for oil is organic and more predictable. Data is defined, created, standardized, used by humans, and humans have decided that data will be everywhere. So humans must decide how to use it well, to solve specific problems. The need is urgent, the need is immediate, the opportunities are vast.

Productivity Hacks

November 6, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s November 6 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the Productivity Hacks topic. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

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  • Email Productivity Hacks – Parshuram Zantye, Lam Research
  • Meeting Management Techniques – Nancy Moreno, Equinix
  • Leveraging IT for the Good of All – Sameer Mehdiratta, Renesas
  • Optimizing Communications – Adriane McFetridge, Netflix

Below are notes from the discussion.

The pressure to be productive in a technology company has been intensified by the global and technological evolution over the past couple of decades, and further exacerbated by the health, social, economic and political stressors introduced in 2020.

Our panel of technology professionals shared some very useful best practices which are compiled below.

  • Be strategic so that you can work efficiently. 
    • A firefighting mode takes more energy and resources and in the end might not be as effective as planning ahead strategically.
    • Focus on what’s most impactful, most important to you. (See Stephen Covey 4 Quadrants)
      • 80% of your time should focus on the 20% of things which are most important to you.
      • Although you may do some firefighting for things that are important and urgent, most of your time should focus on the important things that are not urgent.
    • Distinguish between the urgent and the important and prioritize accordingly.
    • Consciously spend less time on incidental communications and proactively manage how much time you need from others for non-essential things.
  • Manage your meetings well.
    • Be clear whether meetings are for information, discussion/debate, decision-making, brainstorming etc., and communicate the agenda accordingly.
    • Use the agenda to construct follow-up notes and actions.
    • Create value in short, iterative steps and build a predictable rhythm in the meeting and for the team.
    • Know the purpose of the meeting, the audience of the meeting, the role of each attendee and focus on the joint goals of the meeting.
  • Manage communications so that all intended recipients can be clear and productive, and everyone is clear on the task at hand, and clear on the background/status/purpose for the project.
    • Know your audience and communicate to their needs.
    • Start with the big picture communication in the first three sentences, leaving the details under that. 
    • Deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time for the right reason.
    • Understand the impact of the communication, and the implications for the recipients and plan accordingly. 
    • Describe strategic details to those who are tactically-minded and vice versa so that parties understand how the team/people work together.
  • Proactively manage your up-times and your down-times, away from your e-mail, your social media accounts, your slacks and texts.
  • Be purposeful in what you do, focused on doing it well.
    • Sometimes multi-tasking is over-valued, if a singular, concentrated focus on a high-priority task is what’s in order. (Adopt the open-one-drawer-at-a-time mindset where appropriate.)
    • Welcome input and feedback and perspectives.
    • Know yourself and what you like to do, what you do well, and find opportunities which let you do both.
  • Help others be more productive in these trying times.
    • Help them adjust to the process and technology changes which need to happen to keep up with work and market demands. 
    • There will be ‘life’ challenges which interfere with the productivity of others, including elderly care, child care, grocery shopping, house issues etc., Insisting on productivity when life hits hard could make people less productive in the end, and less committed and engaged.
  • Embrace technology to support you in efficiently managing your workload and communications.
    • Video conferencing and the associated tools including recording, breakout rooms, subtitles and translations help us better document and communicate. 
    • The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption for individuals and companies. IT teams have moved mountains to provide secure and efficient access for their staff from locations throughout the world. These solutions make it easier for everyone to remotely communicate, collaborate and connect.

Studies show that we have not lost too much productivity, despite the challenges of 2020. But in the end, we are all social beings, so working in isolation may impact our productivity in the long run. Providing the technology solution and the physical contact will be necessary in order to maintain our productivity levels.

Resources: 

2020 Mentorship Best Practices

November 6, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s November 6 When She Speaks program featured our Annual Mentorship Best Practices program. 

We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds in our panel. Although each panelist was unique in her perspective, all speakers had much in common.

  • Their passion for mentorship, learning and growing runs wide and deep. They practice it in their thinking, speaking and in their actions, embracing opportunities for continuous learning within and outside the work environment.
  • They are each complex individuals with many dominant skills, but also open and eager to learn new and even scary things, if it’s an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to serve others.
  • They are each strategic while being tactical, team players while also very independent, open and trusting while also savvy and methodical.

Below is a compilation of best practices they shared in the panel discussion.

  • Each company, each leader has a different way of running a mentorship program. There are no right answers, but each solution keeps involving and improving, getting feedback and input from committed participants.
  • Implementing successful programs takes dedication and collaboration, to ensure that there is a process for matching mentors and mentees, a format for maintaining communications between pairs and across the program, a commitment for the funding and resources to grow a program, and an expectation to continue communicating and learning from successes and challenges, in the interest of continuous improvement.
  • Build a culture which builds people up, facilitates connections between people who work toward a common goal. 
  • Although there’s a need for structure to support the building of networks within and outside an organization, also embrace the opportunity which come from fluidity and creativity and random connections, which could lead to leadership and innovation outcomes.
  • Align the executive team to a people-first mindset, in thoughts, words and actions. 
  • Reward committed staff and volunteers putting structures and systems in place organically, to best serve the community. 
  • Serve the needs of the customers – the mentees and the mentors who want to contribute to their own growth and that of others.
  • Create a solution which is scalable and flexible, with a host of resources to support all involved across the globe.

These are the values mentors and mentees admire in others:

  • Humility
  • Trust
  • Candor
  • Humor
  • Openness
  • Vulnerability
  • Courageous/Strength

This is what our mentors and mentees would tell their 21-year-old self:

  • Don’t expect every experience to be a positive one, but do commit to persevering through the good and the bad.
  • Be the Advocate that you seek. You are in the best position to advocate for yourself.
  • Ask for More of what you’re seeking. It will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll get it.
  • Pursue your goals – reach higher than you think you can and keep raising the bar for yourself.
  • Have patience with yourself. And with those around you. 
  • Make the goal is worthy of the journey.
  • Listen to and learn from everyone’s story. 
  • When you’re stuck, ask for help. Being independence, but being inter-dependent makes everyone better.
  • Assume that you will be evolving across roles, across companies, across geographies and keep your network and your education growing as you evolve.
  • You’re already a better leader than you think you are. You’re enough just as you are.  

Here’s a shout-out to all the mentors and mentees and coaches and sponsors out there – those who are investing in their own growth, and that of all they touch. May the energy come full circle back to you.


Please join me in thanking our hosts at Micron and our panelists for FountainBlue’s 2020 Annual Mentorship Best Practices program.

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  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by Buffie Main, Global Executive and Leadership Development Senior Program Manager, Micron
  • Mentors:
    • Amber Barber, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Global chairperson, Women in Global Operations ERG, Lam Research
    • Nancy Mason, Supply Chain Manager, NVIDIA
    • Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Venture Capital – AI Fund, Micron
    • Sandy Yu, Global Director, Product Strategy and Success, Oracle
    • Mentees:
      • Megan Cibula, Industrial Engineering Supervisor, Lam Research
      • Bambi DeLaRosa, Healthcare AI Principal Investigator and OHSU collaborator, Micron
      • Priyanka Kukade, Senior Design Verification Engineer, NVIDIA
      • Madeline Walsh, Senior Program Associate, Oracle Corporate Citizenship 

The Whys, Whats and Hows of Diversity

October 26, 2020 by
FountainBlue Survey: The Whys, Whats and Hows of Diversity whenshespeaks.com/diversity

FountainBlue leverages its two decades of experience coaching and managing leaders at all levels to provide strategic Diversity and Inclusion consulting to tech companies across Silicon Valley and beyond. 

FountainBlue created the above matrix on the Whats, the Whys and the Hows of Diversity, and compiled the summary of learnings based on interviews with dozens of HR professionals in the FountainBlue network and beyond in the month of October.

Build credibility, momentum and funding by making a business case and collaborating with business leaders.

  • Attaching diversity to a business cause and a business result exponentially increases the likelihood of adoption, funding and momentum.
  • Engagement across executives, business units, and geographies also increases the likelihood of short-term and long-term support and success.
  • Although the passion behind the diversity cause brings attention, the focus on the business imperatives brings resources and results.

Rise above the do-right, and speak to the do-well.

  • Passionate and emotional commitment is essential for success, but that passion must also focus on the business imperatives.

How you think must align with how you speak and how you act.

  • Token thoughts and words are noise. Actions without thoughts and words are random acts which can’t bring lasting change. Align how you think with how you speak with how you act.
  • Choose a culture that consistently aligns thoughts, words and actions.
  • Don’t expect perfection every time, all the time, but do commit to always learning and growing and standing by core values.

It’s always about how you make people feel.

  • Make people feel important and valued.
  • Ensure that their experiences as staff consistently reflect how important they are to the organization.
  • Sincerely invite feedback and input, but only if you intend to follow through.
  • Challenge everyone to rise above what they’re doing now, and think to what they can do in the future, how they are grow in position and value within the organization.
  • Invite open-minded thinking out of the box.
  • Invite, celebrate and reward people to be enthusiastic and engaged, performing far beyond expectations. 

It’s a journey, not a destination.

  • Be vulnerable, authentic and sincere in communicating how the team, the company can work together to build a cohesive, empowered, engaged culture, a rewarding user experience, an effective organization and brand.

Please join us in thanking our participating HR leaders for their input on this article. These findings will be integrated into our coaching and diversity consulting practice with more information available at www.whenshespeaks.com/diversity. 

We also welcome your insights and input on diversity best practices you’ve successfully implemented for your company. Meanwhile, our corporate partners will share their best practices in our upcoming programs.

Who Moved My Cheese

October 9, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s October 9 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Aruba, and our esteemed panelists: 

Who Moved My Cheese – Sona, Win, Kim, Nicole, Partha, Linda
  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Win Chang, Western Region Public Sector State and Local Sales Consulting Director, Oracle
  • Panelist Sona Mahavni, Director – SW Engineering, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Nicole Sharratt, VP of User Experience, FICO
  • Panelist Kim Willetts, Senior Director, Global Brion Division, ASML
  • with opening remarks and panel participation by Partha Narasimhan, CTO, Aruba HPE

Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Because of the many amazing accomplishments they’ve shared and their amazing stories of perseverance and success, I have dubbed them the BTDT (been there, done that) – then Be Humble, Be BOLD panel. They humbly and eloquently shared their wisdom around change with us. 

Take a Long-Term View

  • Accept change as a part of life. Embrace the opportunities it unfolds for you, and those around you.
  • Plan for a marathon, not a sprint. Create structure and boundaries to make sure that you have the strength, balance, perseverance and willpower to remain strong and centered.

Seize the Opportunity in the Chaos

  • Accept circumstances for what they are, but embrace the circumstances to make opportunity. 
  • Every crisis has two elements – Danger and Opportunity. 
  • Be bold – go for it. Embrace failures as learning lessons and seize the day.
  • Be open and curious about what’s next, what’s new. Never settle into complacency.
  • Ask yourself how this challenge with the pandemic, or any challenge really, levels the playing field and opens up new ways of doing things better or differently.

Be a People Person 

  • It always boils down the the people around you and how they can each rise up in the midst of change, under extraordinary circumstances. 
  • The human spirit is stronger than we all realize. People accomplish the impossible every day.
  • Put people first in your mind, in your words, but most of all, in your actions.
  • Be positive, supportive and empathetic to others. Choose kindness and support. Everyone is going through so much in these uncertain times.

Unite People in Community, Align Them on Purpose

  • Share your humanity with others.
  • Create platforms and community to unite people, to align them to common causes at work and in life.
  • Accept that change is hard and help people help each other to address changes.
  • Be a force for good. Make a stand for others, for values, for principles. 

Leverage Technology as a Tool to Connect and Create

  • Use tools to build social connections even during a pandemic.
  • Show your empathy and authenticity regularly through through technologies and processes.

The bottom line is that through this change, we have remained productive to date, but we need to take care of our physical and mental health and build connections and community, plus leverage technology to maintain that productivity. 

Notes are available online at  and bios are online at .

CNBC, Oct 2020: What the Workforce will look like in 2025 as it morphs due to the pandemic 

Excerpt from the CNBC October article mentioned in the program:

A recent Boston Consulting Group study of 12,000 employees in the U.S., Germany and India found that productivity can be maintained surprisingly well in a virtual or hybrid work setting. This may be a result of many factors. Without long commutes, small talk with colleagues and leisurely coffees in the break room, many workers — especially those who don’t have to worry about child care — are getting more done.

Companies, too, are discovering that processes and procedures they previously took for granted — from lengthy meetings to regular status updates — are less essential than once imagined. And though some executives are concerned about burnout as working from home continues, they are enjoying the gains for now.

But key to success is tracking the pulse of employee sentiment. When analyzing the data, BCG found four factors that correlate with employees reporting continued or even enhanced productivity on collaborative tasks: social connectivity, mental health, physical health and workplace tools.

What the workforce will look like in 2025 as it morphs due to pandemic
PUBLISHED TUE, OCT 6 202010:05 AM UPDATED WED, OCT 7 202010:00 AM EDT
Lori Ioannou @LORIIOANNOU1

Automation Use Cases

October 9, 2020 by
FountainBlue’s October 9, 2020 VIP Roundtable: Automation Use Cases

FountainBlue’s October 9 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Automation Use Cases’, conducted online with introductory remarks provided by our host company at Automation Anywhere. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives across organizations, across industries, across roles, across teams. 

It was exhilarating and exciting to hear of all the automation use cases envisioned, designed and implemented across industries by some smart, collaborative innovators and leaders. The future is bright for continued advancements in automation, providing more efficient, more effective support and information. Fundamental to the success of automation use cases is an understanding of:

  • the needs of the customer
  • the origination of, type of, format of and volume of the data produced
  • the processes underlying the solutions
  • the desired efficiency and effectiveness goal of the automation
  • the role of collaboration in the automation
  • AI to rapid process the volumes of available data and understand trends

One of the challenges for producing effective automation use cases is the latency involved in getting the right information to the right places/location/software/person. As we move from 4G to 5G, the latency get better addressed (going from 50 to 1 millisecond). Strategies for minimizing that latency were proposed.

Below is a list of potential innovations around automation.

  • Documenting transfer of property and information from one party to another
  • Humans training robots how to do what they do on the manufacturing floor for example
  • Further integration of 360 and other sophisticated cameras to better understand status before and after an event
  • Bridge between the AI which understands the data of the now/past to the Machine Learn – predicting a trend/action/pattern/event based on past data
  • Move between just the collection of data (what temperature is it) to the second degree of sensors which summarizes what a collection of data could mean and alerts the user (temperature plus respiration plus oxygen might mean infection)

Below are some best practices for producing automation use cases.

  • Test each software and hardware element independently and collectively.
  • Automate things that need to be frequently measured, processed in detail, etc.,
  • Provide actionable dashboards for the user.
  • Curate and collect data quickly and efficiently, filtering out what’s irrelevant.
  • Protect the privacy of users, but gather the aggregated data to make decisions, inform users, etc.,
  • Frequently track the time-to-value for your own company, and for your clients.
  • Figure out what’s true data, and only include the data that’s true within the offering you’re providing.

The discussion turned to the role of humans in automation use cases (process automation vs attended automation). We concluded that humans will never be obsolete and we listed specific circumstances where humans are needed.

  • Humans will have to be the decision-maker/fall-guy (or girl). This can not be delegated to a robot or hardware or software.
  • Humans decide what data is important and how important for what scenarios. In other words, the automation use case is generally designed by humans.
  • Humans need to evaluate the automation use case and make improvements. 
  • Humans define how to make the customer experience valuable for each type of customer – something which may not be inherently logical.
  • Humans have the creativity to solve a problem whose solution is not logical.
  • Humans know best how to bring the joy and passion to other humans.
  • Humans will have empathy for other humans, something difficult to program in. 

We conclude by looking at hybrid models, where humans and robots with hardware and software elements are fully integrated. What would it take to make this happen? 

All industries, all companies, all people will be progressively impacted in ways big and small by automation. Embrace this reality and do your own part in leading and innovating so automation is well integrated into your work and life. And while you’re doing it, make sure you’re focusing on the ‘human’ problems, not just the business opportunities which are profitable for some.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Automation Anywhere, and our participating executives.

An ALL-IN, ALL-ONE Mindset

September 18, 2020 by

Adopt an ALL-IN, ALL-ONE Mindset

Conflict. It’s a fact of life. Sometimes life is dry without it, and sometimes it’s just too much spice, too much sauce! We advocate adopting an ‘ALL-IN, ALL-ONE’ mindset to help our clients to better understand the circumstances and the motivations of all stakeholders and to better strategize and plan on how to best address a conflict. An ‘ALL-IN, ALL-ONE’ mindset:

  • Reminds everyone that they are on the same team, so it benefits Everyone when any ONE person succeeds while helping Everyone to work on a common purpose;
  • Provides us with energy and hope, so that we can be fully committed (ALL-IN) and fully trusting of the team (ALL-ONE);
  • Connects everyone to a higher purpose, a higher goal than one he/she could do on their own;
  • Helps align everyone on a common purpose, and a common plan on how to achieve that purpose;
  • Encourages respect and acceptance of people who are not-like-you;
  • Empowers everyone at all levels to express their motivations and interests so that it can be factored in with the strategy and execution;
  • Invites respectful debate when appropriate with no room for dissension when a decision has been made;
  • Increases the likelihood of receiving a more diverse range of effective options and opportunities;
  • Helps any individual member (and the team) to understand when she/he is not a good fit for the team and make plans accordingly and
  • Emboldens all of us to keep reaching for stars, in a way that’s All IN, All-ONE.

You don’t have to be ALL-IN for all things, but do adopt an ‘ALL-ONE’ mindset – choose kindness and compassion and curiosity, especially for those who are not like you.

Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World

September 11, 2020 by

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September 11 When She Speaks Program: Embracing the Creative in a Tech-Philic World

FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’. Our panelists represented a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies and roles. Although they were each unique and accomplished, they had much in common.

  • Each chose a technical/science educational path, yet each made the proactive choice to go into more creative and business-focused roles.
  • Each has focused on solving critical, difficult problems, working with both technologists and creatives, and found a way to translate between the two sides when there were conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Each is entrepreneurial, creatively solving problems in new ways, yet each is also process-oriented as she implements solutions.
  • Each is customer-centric, curious about the customer problems, the customer experiences. Each insisted in getting a first-hand connection to those customers so that she can better deliver solutions that serve the customers’ needs, providing a flow that is useful and easy to navigate for the customer.

Below is a compilation of advice and best practices on how to be creative in a tech-philic world.
It’s the Age of the Customer

  • Focus on the gaps and the pain points. Find out what your team/company is doing to address that pain point and how the customers are responding to these solutions. Then work from there.
  • Because technology is moving so fast, and solutions are getting so inter-related and complex, it’s often easier to design a solution based on the problem identified by a customer rather than innovating for the sake of innovating, without knowing if it serves a current pain point/need.

Know yourself

  • Know what you’re good at, what you want and reach for it.
  • Know how you work with others across the team and beyond, and learn how to work with others not-like-you.
  • Make sure that your current roles and responsibilities are a personality fit for you.

Challenge yourself

  • Never settle. Keep reaching for what’s next, what can bring out more learnings for you, more value for the customer, for your team and company, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Choose excellence, even if it means you have to work really hard to get there.
  • Persevere and learn as you go. Don’t expect to be always right, but do expect to be always learning.
  • Don’t always adopt someone else’s best practice. Do the research on what works for you and fold in also things that work for others which might also work for you.
  • Invite yourself to dream of practical innovations which meet customer needs today and also in the future.
  • Creatively consider how AI and IoT solutions can transcend industries not traditionally known for their tech.
  • Get noticed for the exceptional work you consistently deliver, the impossible problems you routinely solve.
  • Plan-fully and collaboratively plan a future for your product and team so that it has maximum impact on customers and markets.

Be a translator

  • Teams and companies need both creatives and technologists. Translating Geek-speak to Biz-speak and vice versa adds value to all involved.
  • Translate what Customers are saying to you so that both Creatives and Techies understand. Speak also to the Executives so they also understand how everyone is collaborating to deliver products and services.

Empower Others

  • Work with the Creatives to understand the Techies and vice versa, and help all to adopt a ONE TEAM mindset.

The bottom line is to be strategic and customer-focused. Ask yourself the Why of everything, then ask the What and the So What for Which audience.
Your network matters, if you want to make that lasting impact. Prove your value and you will secure additional sponsorship and mentorship and continue to drive high-profile initiatives and generate results.

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments, and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s September 11 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Hope Bovenzi, Sector General Manager for Automotive Infotainment, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Revathi Narayanan, Chief Of Staff, Compute and Networking BU, Micron
  • Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Head of Platform Product Marketing, Freshworks
  • Panelist Charu Roy, Senior Director, Product Management Fusion PLM, Oracle
  • Panelist Urvashi Sheth, Senior Vice President Client Services, Intermedia