Open Minds, Open Hearts

December 2, 2022 by

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FountainBlue’s December 2 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such inspiring and practical advice from a diverse set of open-hearted, open-minded leaders and managers. Our panelists shared their advice and strategies for:

  • embracing the business opportunities for being open-minded and open-hearted
  • thinking, planning and executing on these strategies to produce measurable outcomes
  • welcoming the opportunities and challenges around the unknowns and
  • amplifying the ripple effect – where success builds on success

Below is a compilation of their advice:

It takes leadership.

  • See the up-sides in the challenges and courageously venture forth strategically, methodically, and collaboratively to build both relationships and results.
  • Clearly communicate the North Star – the values and direction for the organization – and inspire and lead others to collaborate and make incremental progress.
  • Focus on the long-term plans while navigating the short-term challenges and opportunities.
  • Choose to regularly perform the tasks and actions which move the needle forward, in alignment with corporate goals, market trends, and customer demands.
  • Challenge your team to do more with less, but make sure that they have minimal support and resources to succeed.

Build a culture of trust.

  • Communicate clearly and transparently in a way which connects and informs in order to build a culture of trust, where people feel comfortable stretching themselves, taking calculated risks, while learning and growing.
  • Help your team see change as an opportunity and provide them with the support, training and resources so that they can pivot and flex with the changes, both anticipated and not.
  • Adopt a can-do, positive attitude especially through challenging circumstances.
  • Be clear on the guardrails around change so people can better take measured risk and more likely succeed. 
  • Have the back of your team members as they take risks.

Stretch yourself.

  • Leverage your experience and connections to position yourself for expansion, growth and impact. 
  • Be willing to make the best of challenging circumstances – they are character-building opportunities. 
  • Choose to make an impact within and across roles, products and functions with an open mind, and an open heart.
  • Be curious about the challenges of others and sincerely offer your support.

The bottom line is that having an open mind and an open heart is the foundation for leadership and innovation, which in turn keeps companies, teams and leaders productive and successful.

Wishing You PEACE, FAITH and HOPE

December 1, 2022 by

In this holiday season, I wish you PEACE in your day-to-day, and FAITH and HOPE for a brighter tomorrow.

Over fifteen years ago, a ten-year-old girl told me that she always listened when I spoke because what I said was “always nice and always smart”. I can’t claim my words are always nice or always smart, but her comment made me want to do better. 

From my mindfulness and meditation practices, I’m learning the value of THINK-ing:

T – Truth – Are the words true?   

H – Helpful – Will the words be helpful or productive?

I – Inspiring – Will the words bring inspiring and uplifting energy?

N – Necessary – Are the words necessary?

K – Kind – Are the words kind?

It has helped me to similarly frame and optimize my thoughts, words and actions.  

P – Planful – Are the thoughts, words and actions in alignment with my goal, intention, or purpose?

E – Energizing – Will the thoughts, words and actions provide energy, positivity or support for others?

A – Aspiring – Will the thoughts, words and actions help others aspire to be more, do more, or deliver more?

C – Collaborative – Will the thoughts, words and actions lead to more collaboration or connection?

E – Empowering – Will the thoughts, words and actions empower more people and groups toward a common or meaningful cause?

I hope that this blog helps you THINK, SPEAK and ACT with PEACE-ful alignment with your purpose and intentions.

Mentorship Best Practices

November 10, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Coupa and our esteemed panelists.  We were fortunate to feature pairs of mentors and mentees who spoke passionately about the personal benefits and the business value for mentorship relationships. Below is a compilation of best practices.


Thoughts About Mentorship

  • Treat mentorship like a two-way street where all parties learn and benefit.
  • Consider mentorship an opportunity to learn about the past and learn about the future. 
  • Be open to mentoring those around you formally or informally.
  • Pay it forward, in return for all those who paved the road for your own current successes. 

Suggestions on How to Support Your Mentor/Mentee

  • Shine the light on what she/he is doing/can do.
  • Provide opportunities for her/him to stretch into new ways of thinking/speaking/working.
  • Help your mentee/mentor leverage their past experiences to succeed with current challenges and opportunities. 
  • Work with your mentee/mentor to strategically create and expand a network of contacts and supporters.
  • Be humble, personable, vulnerable, and practical as you work with your mentee/mentor to better address their questions and challenges.
  • Be specific and plan-ful about the logistics so that the mentor/mentee relationship can be fruitful. 
  • Share colorful stories about your own challenges and opportunities so others can learn from your experience and perspective.

Keep Reaching for Stars – as an individual and as a mentor/mentee

  • Always listen and look for opportunities to grow and expand. 
  • Challenge yourself to keep raising the bar and learn from all around you.
  • Be constantly open and curious.
  • Get good at giving and receiving feedback.  
  • Model the way for others around you, in front of you, behind you, for you never know who’s watching and learning from you!

Advice about Creating and Growing a Mentorship Program

  • Make the business case to secure resources and funding.
  • Recruit an executive sponsor who is passionate about mentorship and influential within and outside the organization.
  • Invite a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds to participate, for the benefit of all involved.
  • Collaborate with HR and L&D and ERGs to deliver excellence in the mentorship program.
  • Consider helping mentees transition to mentors, and sponsor mentors into stretch roles with the support of coaches. 

The bottom line is that we must all make the time to mentor and support others around us, for that is what helps each of us to learn and grow.

Data is the New Black

November 10, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s November 10 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Data is the New Black’. We were fortunate to have such an experienced and diverse group of executives for this month’s VIP Roundtable. They both exclaimed at how far we have come over the past few decades and also the challenges for further progressing our collection, management, and productive usage of data going forward.

Our executives agreed that our future will continue to be fueled by data – it will be prominently used in every industry and seamlessly integrated into our day-to-day lives at work and at home. There was a clear description of the evolution of data over the past several decades. We have quickly evolved from a period where executives and companies did not understand how data helps their organizations get more done, serve more companies, and provide more value to a period where we embraced the need to quickly develop the technologies, infrastructure, and solutions which make it easier for everyone to gather and store data.Indeed, we have evolved to the point where we are overwhelmed by the volume of data generated, the multitude of devices generating the data, and the need to manage and track that data.

The requirements and mandates around security, privacy, protection, relevancy, usage, access, etc., provide additional challenges to the strategic management and integration of data, and the sheer volume of generated data makes that management and integration more difficult.  But forward-thinking companies are adopting strategies and techniques to better ensure compliance with security and regulations while also filtering data for most relevant usage, based on customer requirements.It’s no wonder that today’s top companies collect, store and manage large volumes of data representing a large range of use cases for a broad swath of customers. 

The headwinds and tailwinds posed by the Data evolution (and revolution) provide many opportunities and challenges:

  • Software for managing the high-volume streaming of unstructured data will continue to add immense value and even more successful use cases.
  • The hardware and software solutions which were adopted decades ago are now outdated, and it will be difficult (but not impossible) to migrate from those solutions to more progressive, modular, flexible, sustainable, reliable solutions. 
  • There will continue to be more sophisticated AI and ML solutions around the data, allowing organizations to better build, manage, store, distribute, filter, and integrate data for specific use cases. 
  • Data can provide contextual awareness while driving, operating machinery and doing medical procedures.
  • Image/video processing in public places can proactively help identify threats, personalize experience or manage natural disasters.  
  • Historical data in business and financial decisions can help identify and predict market trends.
  • Solutions leveraging algorithms and automation around data capture, storage, management, filtration, distribution, etc., will continue to add value.

Below are suggestions and best practices for managing data:Be Strategic

  • Understand and report on the costs and exposure for not proactively managing your data. 
  • Think about the local as well as global implications around data usage, while also considering privacy and security requirements.
  • When managing data, consider the ‘WWWWH’ – the who, what, when, where, how the data is used. 
  • Look not just at how data was used in the past and projecting/extrapolating how the data would be used in the future based on market trends and customer preferences. 
  • Treat the data management and optimization solutions as not just operational and infrastructure costs, but also business opportunities. 

Be Operationally Excellent

  • Policy, regulation, security, access, and other data management compliance issues will continue to surface, so partnering with an ecosystem of trusted others will help leaders and organizations stay in front of the trends and requirements.  
  • Simplify how processes are done, how data is collected and managed. It might be painful in the short term, especially for slow-moving industries with outdated systems which must be all 24×7, but the upgrades are necessary.

Look to the Future

  • Embrace digital transformation solutions in all industries. 
  • Invest in start-ups and entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas and solutions for enterprise customers in particular. 

Resource: 

The bottom line is that we have seen incremental changes over the past few decades, and will continue to witness and drive these digital transformations worldwide, across all industries, for Data is the New Oil. 

Embracing Gratitude

November 4, 2022 by

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FountainBlue’s November 4 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Embracing Gratitude’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Our energetic, positive and proactive panelists spoke eloquently and passionately about how to embrace gratitude. Below is a summary of their advice.


Thoughts about Gratitude

  • Gratitude is in the attitude. Nobody can control and manage all that happens, but we can each choose to have the latitude to respond in ways that are more positive and constructive.
  • Gratitude is not necessarily a mindset you’re born with. It’s a choice you can make, a strength you can nurture, a quality you can spread for the betterment of all.
  • Maintain your inner peace no matter where the winds might blow at the moment.

Choose Gratitude

  • Make time for the people you love, the things you like to do.
  • Embrace a grateful, positive, constructive energy as you speak and act. 
  • Surround yourself with people who are appreciative and positive, projects which are productive and worthwhile.
  • Invite exposure to people, projects, plans that are very different from yourself and what you’ve done, so that you better appreciate the differences.
  • Adopt a can-do/must-do attitude and really stretch yourself, expressing gratitude for the opportunity. 

Express Gratitude

  • Let important others in your life know what they mean to you and how they’ve helped you.
  • Pause to feel, express and embrace gratitude.
  • Encourage and reward your team for choosing gratitude for themselves and expressing gratitude for others. 

Be Open and Curious

  • Be grateful for the learnings in the opportunities and the challenges.  
  • Be grateful for opportunities to learn in chaotic, emotional circumstances, letting your left brain lead if necessary, so you’re not overwhelmed and unproductive. 
  • When failures happen, embrace the learnings, applaud the courageous, reflect on what can be done differently and better next time. 

Gratitude is a Journey

  • Don’t expect to be grateful 100% of the time for everything that happens. But do be grateful for the incremental challenges and the learnings and opportunities ahead. 
  • You can’t always win, but you can always try to fail forward, learning with every opportunity. 

Nobody can live in a perfect world, but we can ALL choose to live a life of gratitude and spread that grateful energy, words and tasks to those around us.

Feedback

November 1, 2022 by

Happy November – the month of gratitude, a time for family and community, an opportunity to connect and reflect. I’d like to offer some thoughts on feedback and hope that you will receive them as a gift which I hope supports you personally at work and at home.  

  1. Direct – Provide direct (rather than oblique/indirect) feedback and align your intentions to meet that impact.
  2. Transparent – Be transparent about how your feedback will benefit the team or organization. Hide no agendas.
  3. Authentic – Courageously speak with sincerity, vulnerability, and honesty, armed with data and details. 
  4. Respectful – Respect the receiver of the feedback by considering the intellectual, social, political and emotional impact they may face upon receiving the feedback.  
  5. Clear – Be clear about the feedback, providing specific examples and guidance where appropriate. Oftentimes this means being more detailed in your explanation than what initially feels necessary. 
  6. Curious – Be curious before and while delivering feedback. If you seek to understand the larger context for a particular behavior, attitude or action, you will have a better chance of creating long term change for the better. 
  7. Kind – Consider the possibilities that you are missing pieces of the full picture or that you have no idea what someone may be going through. Deliver feedback with empathy and grace from a place of humility.
  8. Productive – Provide feedback with the intention of supporting the receiver and the team in being productive. 
  9. Timely – Provide the right feedback at the right time in which all parties benefit optimally.. Find a time in which you can have 100% of the receivers’ attention so your message is fully received. Ideally they are relaxed, open, and undistracted.
  10. Positive and Celebratory – Frame feedback around how current successes and progress are benefiting the program/team/project and how additional words/actions/strategy would produce improved results for all. 

I hope that you give and receive much valuable feedback in this month of appreciation. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Change Management Best Practices

October 24, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s October 21 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Change Management Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

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Change happens. And it happened to our panelists for this session. There were illnesses, client and executive obligations, personal conflicts, etc., So this month’s panel did not go as planned.

But our panelists persevered. And I picked up the baton as well, joining in the fray. Below is a summary of thoughts and suggestions on how to best manage through change.

Be Bold and Strategic

  • Be bold and brazen about the changes you can facilitate. It’s the only way to make BIG changes happen.
  • Make a plan, but don’t be married to the plan, for it will not go as expected. 
  • Pivot and shift based on how the plan is progressing. 
  • Be clear on what you know and what you don’t know as you plan-fully and strategically embrace necessary changes.
  • Manage the adopters, the naysayers, the protestors, and all other personas as you lead through change. 

Build a Network

  • Connect with a host of others who can support you through changes. It will help you have the courage, perspectives and insights to navigate change, which can otherwise be very lonely. 
  • Share fully and candidly with trusted others in collaboration to navigate necessary changes.
  • Help the Stars shine brighter, the Cows (cash cows) keep producing, the Dogs find new paths, and the Unknowns get clarity on their fit with the product/service/organization. 

Be Empathetic and Supportive

  • Be empathetic and supportive to those who will not fit in when change happens. Delivering a message with grace and constructive advice and support will help them land well, while also helping your team carry on with positive and constructive energy. 
  • Be that sounding board for others as they navigate change. 
  • Create a safe space for all can share the challenges and opportunities around necessary changes. 

Change is not generally easy, but these change-management steps might help you navigate change proactively.

  1. Be clear on your values and your value-add.
  2. Create and/or sign on to a corporate vision which fits your values and where you can contribute in a way which is impactful.
  3. Accept that changes will happen, and that conflict will be inevitable.
  4. Collaborate with all parties to align on principles and goals while agreeing on, delivering on, and communicating business results. 
  5. Navigate the storm around the change with direct, transparent, empathetic conversations with the goal of clarity and connection.
  6. Align thoughts, words and actions around the change.
  7. Own up if there are flubs in the process, if there were errors and problems caused by changes (or because change didn’t happen earlier), and while continuing to build momentum toward that positive change.
  8. Make change not-personal. Make it about business imperatives and the metrics/data. 
  9. Support everyone as they navigate change and keep celebrating incremental successes. 

These steps are not necessarily sequential and don’t lead to a specific end goal, for change is an ongoing process.

The question in the end is not whether change will happen, but which change will happen to who/what and what can we do to navigate these changes.

Local Input, Global Impact

October 14, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’. Please join me in thanking our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such a dynamic group of accomplished speakers for this month’s When She Speaks program. They represented different roles and backgrounds, but had much in common:

  • They are continually focused on the needs of the customer, within the framework of the business offerings and objectives.
  • They have a passion for empowering and engaging a wide range of diverse others to collaboratively address and deliver amazing results. 
  • They are focused on learning and growing and bring a mindset of openness and curiosity to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Below is a compilation of their best practices around acting locally, and bringing global impact.

  • Adopt a respect for global customers and their varying interests, perspectives, habits, expectations and ways of doing business.
  • Design solutions with foundational elements of common use for all global customers, and build from there. This is true even if you may not have intentions to serve ALL global customers and markets from the beginning.
  • Local laws and regulations may make management and implementation difficult, so make it easy for your staff to comply with local, regional, state, national regulations by clearly communicating requirements, expectations and actions.
  • Tie social/ERG goals to business goals and metrics.
  • Adopt DEI principles which go far beyond just checking a box or jumping through a hoop and invite opening up, collaborating, connecting and communicating as one organization, aligned to common values, mission and vision. 
  • Don’t assume that your way is the best way, no matter how many successes you may have had. Be curious about the way of the other as it might serve everyone better in specific situations.
    • The not-invented-here ‘NIH” may perpetuate an ‘old’ way to doing things which could close off new opportunities for innovations and positive change. 
  • Facilitate a welcoming and inclusive culture rather than a US-THEM mindset. Creating a chasm between yourself and others not-like-you makes it difficult to provide positive and constructive local input from your team, and global impact overall if you create that divide. 
  • Expand your sphere of influence within and outside the organization, and empower and challenge others to do the same. We are all better together.
  • Break things down into smaller pieces so that you can explain things in ways which are justifiable and explainable, and get local buy-in and executive sponsorship. 
  • Provide detailed specifications and collaborate with local and global parties to deliver to those standards. 
  • Design and grow products and services which would serve local and global markets well. 

Our panelists spoke often about the importance of building respect and trust with a wide range of individuals and groups, and challenged us all to open up to people, ideas, and groups around you who are not-like-you, for this is the path to impact which is lasting and global.

Hyperautomation Use Cases

October 14, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s October 14 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Hyperautomation Use Cases’ with opening remarks by IBM. We were fortunate to have such an eclectic, experienced and diverse group of executives for this month’s VIP Roundtable. 

The conversation began with mention of the Gartner definition for hyperautomation, a top business trend over the past few years:

Hyperautomation is a business-drivendisciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Hyperautomation involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms, including:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Machine learning
  • Event-driven software architecture
  • Robotic process automation (RPA)
  • Business process management (BPM) and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS)
  • Integration platform as a service (iPaaS)
  • Low-code/no-code tools
  • Packaged software
  • Other types of decision, process and task automation tools

Our executives point out key aspects of the hyperautomation definition –

  • It’s an initiative that’s driven by the business, but it leverages technology and counts on execution by people.
  • It’s a disciplined, methodical approach which leverages a wide range of data, in collaboration with large swaths of people, while focused on generating rapid results.
  • It rapidly integrates strategy, planning and execution, and agilely moves from one problem to the next, while serving the organization and its people as a whole.
  • It leverages a wide host of technologies and solutions and relies on ongoing collaboration, communication and leadership.

The adoption of hyperautomation use cases is a key differentiator for leaders and organizations, and will continue to evolve for greater impact because businesses are inundated by data and need to quickly collect, filter, process, manage, communicate, store, distribute, that data to better strategically plan and run operations, processes, and the organization overall.

Below are best practices for adopting hyperautomation use cases for your organization:

  • Think BIG – broadly and widely about how to design and implement hyperautomation use cases for workflows which are complicated, involve a lot of people, works with a wide range of data, and must be done efficiently.  
  • Hyperautomation is not just for specific use cases, people, organization, offering, etc., It is for all aspects of a business which 1) works with a lot of data, 2) relies on workflow and processes which touch a number of groups and people, 3) can be more efficient/resilient/sustainable and productive if automated, 4) can help better serve internal and external customers, and 5) is the inevitable wave of the future.
  • Consider creating a center of excellence (COE) to collect and manage a repository of (reusable/adaptable) individual hyperautomation use cases as well as an Advisory board on the adoption of hyperautomation use cases.
  • Think not just about the tools and solutions which can be used for any individual solution, but also about the unique combination necessary to solve the current (and anticipated) challenges.
  • Measure and report on the impact of each adopted hyperautomation use case.
  • Keep evolving hyperautomation use case solutions so they continue to be relevant and useful for internal and external clients and their evolving needs.
  • Consider using internal customers as ‘Customer Zero’, designing hyperautomation use cases which address internal needs makes your organization more effective while also potentially piloting a solution which might be useful for other organizations.

Our executives also mentioned the double-edged sword brought on by the huge volumes of data brought in from on-site sensors for everything from temperature to usage, or pressure to light, etc., 

We did not go into detail on this data, for next month’s topic is on the data collection and management itself, but the point is that hyperautomation use cases 1) are reliant on this on-site data, 2) must quickly filter in relevant data, providing automated responses where appropriate, 3) provide a dashboard of recommended actions with detailed charts, graphs and data, 4) connect the right internal and external people to facilitate joint problem-solving and decision-making, 5) track and report on historic, current choices made and consequences, and even 6) make recommendations based on historical and current and projected future data.

Below are some interesting and exciting new offerings in this space:

  • Digital Blueprinting so you can more efficiently generate user cases and acceptance test criteria 
  • Designing Modules of solutions rather than full customizations 
  • Hyperautomation use cases for robots and cobots (collaborative robot – a robot intended for direct human robot interaction within a shared space, or where humans and robots are in close proximity)
  • Leveraging Citizen Development Frameworks to manage local (especially edge case) hyperautomation use case implementations using no-code and low-code tools.
  • Adopting Value Stream Mapping and other LEAN strategies to optimize value and minimize risk

The bottom line is that again leadership and innovation will win the day as successful organizations increasingly adopt hyperautomation use cases, but only if there is collaboration and communication to support it.

Making Decisions That Count

October 7, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s October 7 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a Program Leader – Amber Barber, Jade Global
  • as a Business Leader – Melissa McDonnell, Dolby
  • as an Operations Leader – Lora Muller, Tektronix

Our versatile and accomplished panelists have certainly made a wide range of impactful decisions in their respective careers. They were generous and gracious enough to share their wisdom.
Be Strategic.

  • We don’t know what we don’t know, so enlist a wide range of people and perspectives around the problem, not just people who share your own viewpoint.
  • Clearly communicate WHY decisions are made, factors and people involved in making the decision, desired results of the decision, revision or pivot plans around the decision, etc.,
  • Leverage the data to make business cases behind decisions. Different stakeholders might need different business cases. 

Be Plan-ful.

  • Have a clear and complete problem statement, including input from a wide range of perspectives.
  • Strategize on how to get classes of resistors or individual resistors onboard with a decision. (Hint: Start by understanding their motivations and fears.)
  • Create a win-win framework for all involved, where possible.
  • Err on the side of action, once you’ve worked through your strategy and your plan.

Connect and Align.

  • Connect with humility and open-mindedness, inviting open inquiry and input, and aligning on common goals. 
  • Manage through any miscommunications and misalignments with honest, direct, empathetic communication, building connections of trust.
  • Make the distinction between alignment and agreement. You might insist on alignment on goals, but might not agree on how some task is performed to achieve that goal.
  • Debate all sides when coming to a decision, but align behind the decision once it is made. 
  • Help everyone be open, transparent, collaborative and communicative, working as one team to achieve a common goal.
  • Empower everyone to be accountable and responsible. Follow the DACI/RACI (Driver/Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model to optimize decision-making. 

When things go south…

  • Own a bad decision and learn the lessons from these choices.
  • Pivot agilely, strategically and plan-fully.

We learned that there might not be much difference between the BOB (best of the best) decisions and the WOW (worst of the worst) decisions… It all depends on how we lead, manage, communicate, and navigate through the challenges and opportunities ahead.