Show Me the Data

June 17, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s June 17 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Show Me the Data’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a People Leader – Sanchita Gupta, Samsung
  • as a Business Leader – Shari Begun, Renesas

Below are notes from the conversation.

There’s no escaping the data – it’s everywhere affecting the way we live and work. And it helps us be more efficient, more effective, more strategic. Our panelists gave us some rules of thumb on how to better manage and leverage data into our work and our lives.

Be Strategic

  • Focus on your core objectives and ensure that the data helps you to manage and align toward those objectives.
  • Filter out the noise and focus on the relevant data which would drive your business imperatives.
  • Use data to support and refine your strategy and make shifts where necessary as the data changes.
  • Focus on delivering on your highest impact projects, based on the data. 
  • Tell your story and make your ask based on the data provided.
  • Be cognizant of the agenda of others and the stories they share about the data.

Manage Your Data with Care

  • Ensure that the data generated has integrity – is valid and true.
  • Protect your data, to ensure privacy and security are maintained.

Respond to Data with Agility and Grace

  • Let data inform your decisions and respond quickly based on the data provided. With that said, make pivots and shifts as the data set changes.
  • Include a diverse range of data sources to help inform problem solving and decision making objectives. 
  • Use your best judgment and trust your gut about the validity of the data and the recommendations based on the data provided.

Use the Data to Empower and Engage

  • Use the data to better understand the needs of your people, whether they are customers or staff, so that you can better serve them.
  • Leverage the data to better address current needs and even anticipate future needs.
  • Ensure that everyone gets the right amount of data, with the right clearance, based on whether they need to be informed only, to be involved in some way, or to be partly or fully responsible for decisions around the data.

There’s every indication that there will be more data involved and more at stake around the data as everything becomes more complex, more global, more interconnected. As you make decisions and solve problems leveraging data, err on the side of action, but respond with agility as you become more informed based on the actions taken, the new data generated.

Start-ups Changing the World

June 10, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Startups Changing the World’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 

Startup.png

We were fortunate to have a range of amazing leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs for this month’s panel. They represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Passionate, intelligent and hardworking, our panelists were not intimidated by the STEM subjects they mastered, and all took their technical abilities into business roles.
  • Ever fearless, resilient and unflappable, our panelists thrived on adopting and conquering business, technical, and operational issues, earning them leadership roles in companies big and small.
  • Each panelist has had experience working in companies, start-ups and some even in investment groups, and each is contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Below is a summary of advice for supporting start-ups changing the world.

  • Work with engineering and product teams to create solutions which address core world issues.
  • Focus on growing a business which does the right things to support people, the earth, and others while doing well financially and operationally.
  • Create and support an ecosystem of partners and providers who can collaborate with you to increase influence and impact.
  • Build momentum with customers, sales, partners and others and keep focusing on the needs of the customer.
  • Look for a start-up leadership team which is resilient enough to ride the ups and downs of start-ups and also market variances which impact us all, especially now with so much variance and so many unknowns.
  • Passionately tell your start-up story in a way which is compelling, and fill your story with data.
  • Let your customers help you define your feature sets, milestones and timelines.
  • Help successful companies and leaders keep growing and learning.

The bottom line is that start-ups aren’t easy to lead or manage, but it is these start-ups that will help us all change the world for the better.

image.png

The Future of Work

June 10, 2022 by

FountainBlue’s June 10 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Work’, with opening remarks by Cisco. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.Our executives in attendance all sat at different leadership seats through this pandemic, and shared many similar perspectives about how the pandemic has affected the future of work.

  • We are leveraging networking, collaboration and security technology more, making hybrid work scenarios work for each of us and our organizations.
  • There are mixed receptions to the range of company requirements on return-to-work policies.
  • We have raised our standards on the value of our health, our families, and the role of work in our lives. 

Below is a compilation of thoughts on opportunities around the future of work.

  • When a distributed workforce is hybrid, networks, devices, applications may all put individuals, teams and companies at risk for privacy and security breaches. Hence there is an opportunity to more proactively manage the security and privacy of individual users, and minimize the risk, and isolate and quickly recover from any breaches.
  • AI-driven bot solutions will continue to automate workflows and processes so customers are more efficiently served, so humans can handle more complex issues. (It also follows that the workforce of the future must be more prepared to address more complex issues.) 
  • Telepresence robots will help increasingly more employees participate in in-person activities which support collaboration, community-building, and engagement, but social and technical issues will still provide barriers to adoption – at least for now.
  • Creating and growing communities of experts will help distributed and hybrid workforces collaborate and connect with others to share best practices, while developing, supporting and influencing each other.
  • Securely providing access to common data and information will continue to support an organization’s collaboration, engagement and innovation goals.
  • Immersion AR/VR experience will take video-calling to the next level, adding more life-like audio and visual experiences. 
  • Solutions which enhance the employee experience and customer experience, providing them easier access to informed support, will drive customer and employee retention and engagement.
  • There may be a trend toward broader engagement from a wider range of people to manage cloud-based no-code and low-code solutions which manage the data captured.

It’s hard to make predictions on what the future of work will look like, but it’s clear that roles will change, tasks will change, and robots and automation will work closely with humans and that leaders must leverage technology to proactively manage and optimize employee and customer experiences.

The Need for Speed

June 3, 2022 by
SpeedPanel.png

FountainBlue’s June 3 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘The Need for Speed’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists spoke eloquently about why there is so much pressure to do so many things with efficiency and with excellence. The financial, customer, business, community, operational and other pressures are immense, yet we must accept that these pressures are prevalent and choose how to proactively respond to these pressures. Below are some best practices suggested by our esteemed speakers.

Be Leader-ly

  • Build relationships of trust through ongoing, transparent and clear communications, collaborating to mitigate risks and to deliver on milestones and results. 
  • Modify and moderate expectations and collaborate with others to deliver results which meet timeline and quality standards.
  • Create a culture of agility and growth where everyone supports each other in proactively managing the pressure around delivering excellence. 
  • Connect disparate groups and teams and have them brainstorm new ways of doing things more collaboratively and more efficiently, sharing best practices, and creating new shared processes.
  • Consciously choose to go slowly, so that you can move quickly with more accuracy.
  • Challenge everyone to take an active role in managing their own operations and processes. 
  • Thread information across people, managers and groups so that you can present a collective picture of how things are working, and make proposals on how things can work more efficiently.

Be Strategic

  • Focus on doing the most important things first – serving the most important people, completing the most high-impact projects with the greatest returns, etc., Once those foundational pieces are put in, there may be more to add other important things as well.
  • Accept that some things can’t be changed and focus on making changes where you can, to ensure your team can efficiently and effectively respond to new requirements and needs.
  • Be customer-focused and design and deliver to the requirements of those customers. 
  • Make the people, process and technology changes necessary to help the team move with agility and speed.

Be Innovative

  • Learn to try new things, fail fast, pivot quickly, and continue to learn how to do things better and faster. 
  • Adopt the features not so much for their innovative value, but more for the value shown.

The bottom line is that in tech and in business, there’s a need for everyone to perform with speed. But if you work with great teams and leaders, you can embrace this truth, and be more efficient and more effective while also being more productive and more balanced.

Trust Me!

June 1, 2022 by

Trust is the great equalizer – with trust, even the smallest teams can move mountains, without trust, whole armies will falter taking a molehill.

When there’s a breach of trust, specific expectations have been violated or mis-aligned. There might be a misunderstanding around accountability and responsibility, or a difference of opinion on values and principles. There might be different expectations on the work to be done, or how work should be done, or the quality expectations for the work to be done.

Trust is also often breached when communication is not authentic or transparent or clear or consistent. 

Executives, individuals, teams, partners and customers respond differently when there’s a breach. I use a process leveraging the thoughts below to identify causes for the breach in trust, and to facilitate conversations on how we can each do better at building a culture of trust.

In a Perfect World:

Executives Lead from the Top Down

– Culture of Accountability

– Clear Values and Behaviors

– Explicit Agreements with Partners, Customers, Executives

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

– Proactive Communication to Ensure Alignment and Success

Individuals Lead from the Bottom-Up

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Culture and Values

– Explicit Agreements with Peers, Managers and Leaders

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

Teams Lead Together  

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Culture and Values

– Explicit Agreements

– Candid and Authentic Feedback

Partners Lead in Collaboration

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Agreements

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

– Commitment to Agreements and Relationship 

– Proactive Measures to Ensure Delivery

Where do your leaders, individuals, teams, partners and others show up on the trust meter?

Resolving Conflict When Stakes are High

May 20, 2022 by
Conflict2022.png

FountainBlue’s May 20 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Resolving Conflict when the Stakes are High’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Where there are people, there will be conflict. It’s a part of life, agreed our panelists. And the stakes are often high in the conflicts we oversee, manage and navigate day-to-day. There are many causes for the increased amount of conflict and the increased stakes around the conflicts.

  • We live in a connected world and the pressure to perform and deliver is high, and the range of needs is broad.
  • There are constraints to what each party can do to address the changing needs of customers, partners, staff, etc., yet the demand for quality and efficiency remains high.
  • The interdependence between disparate parties requires coordination and active management to ensure that everything is aligned to deliver exceptional service.
  • The need to deal with a wide range of technologies and integrations makes coordinating and working complex, and more likely to lead to conflicts.

Below are some best practices offered by our esteemed panel for proactively managing conflict.
Be Strategic

  • Align on the overarching vision and goals, and be less rigid on how things should get done.
  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities and push back if you see words and actions which conflict with them. 
  • Proactively manage the expectations of all parties, and ensure alignment with common goals. 
  • Collaborate with the right niche parties to ensure that every facet of a project is addressed.
  • Take an ecosystem approach to managing projects, so you learn about all the key players and their motivations as well as the inter-dependencies between each entity in the ecosystem.

Grow the Network

  • Build relationships of trust and keep growing those networks.
  • Recruit others to your team who can complement your own personal style.
  • Create win-win agreements as you work together on conflicts. 

Be Strong, Clear and Direct to Manage through Conflicts

  • Speak courageously, transparently, and authentically when there is conflict, and exercise openness, empathy and compassion to understand the needs and motivations of others. 
  • Speak with data and without emotion to address political maneuverings, self-serving behaviors, and inflammatory communications which may damage relationships, deliverables, productivity, etc.,
  • Have the meeting before the meeting to head off conflict at meetings or one-on-one.

The bottom line is that we must accept that there will always be conflict, and with proactive management, we can all grow stronger and better if we manage it well.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 13, 2022 by
Influence.png

FountainBlue’s May 13 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such inspiring, accomplished and influential panelists for this month’s When She Speaks program. Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds and experiences, they had much in common:

  • They proactively navigated the challenges and opportunities in their personal and professional lives to continue to learn and grow, while inspiring and empowering others around them.
  • They embraced opportunities to try new things, even when it was intimidating to do so, and learned from their successes, but learned more from their failures.
  • They have the self-awareness and the strength to challenge themselves and choose to be better, to do better for themselves, and for those they touch.

Our panelists commented on how being influential can help them better:

  • Run fast, run well, and move slowly when necessary.
  • Feel heard, be heard, drive strategy and impact results.
  • Collaborate, connect, and conspire with others to move the needle forward.

Below is a compilation of their advice on how to be more influential. 
Be Strategic

  • Clearly communicate and connect on the business and social/sustainability value of what you’re doing, and empower and inspire everyone to contribute to that common goal.
  • Embrace a learning and growing mindset, and humbly empower others around you to grow and succeed.

Communicate with Influence

  • Communicate with transparency, authenticity and purpose. Listen deeply and well so that the thoughts and ideas of others can contribute to that purpose, and so that all can be engaged with that purpose.
  • Let the data inform your communications, decisions, and strategies.
  • Think, speak and act in alignment with your values and the vision, and be resilient and focused on delivering measurable results. 
  • Understand the motivations of others around you who may be resistant to a concept, technology, project or idea you’re advocating.
  • Consider the words you choose and the way you speak them, as well as the profile and interests of the audiences you’re addressing. 

Expand Your Circle of Influence

  • Collaborate to make things happen, for we all have pieces of the puzzle – independent of role, seniority, organization, gender, geography, etc.
  • Invite people with diverse backgrounds into the fold, and inspire, empower and enable them to speak their ideas and their truth, for the betterment of all.

Below are thoughts on how to expand your own influence.

  • Be other-centric rather than self-centric. It’s hard to follow and support someone who has a WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) attitude. And it’s very clear to all who has that attitude.
  • Choose carefully who you spend time with and how you give and receive energy with every conversation and connection. 
  • Challenge yourself and others to do better, be better, while being positive and constructive at all times. 
  • Help everyone “be the change they want to see”.

It was my pleasure to facilitate such an inspiring and powerful panel of influential world-changing leaders. They challenge us all to not only be more influential, but also to inspire and empower all we touch to do the same.

Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions

May 13, 2022 by
FountainBlue’s May 13, 2022 VIP Roundtable: Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions

FountainBlue’s May 13 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions’, with opening remarks by GE Digital Grid. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.

Our executives in attendance exclaimed many times about the major shift in focus toward  carbon-neutral energy solutions over the past decade. No longer do we need to make the business/social/ sustainability/practical business case about WHY we must adopt more carbon-neutral solutions.

Our executives agree that the focus will now be on WHICH options we adopt (try them all), WHAT we do collaboratively (everything) and HOW we can work better together to drive leadership and innovation to better adopt more technologies and solutions for each of us today, and for the future. Our executives are bullish about the market and technology opportunities over the next decade for carbon-neutral energy solutions. They agree that it will not be easy to implement and realize these solutions because they:

  • must leverage hardware and software designed to manage energy generation, storage, distribution, and usage. 
  • must support the reliability, sustainability, safety, sustainability, security, policy, affordability, demand goals from a wide range of customers. 
  • must collect and manage, filter and process huge volumes of data real-time in order to provide meaningful dashboards of information to stakeholders so that decisions can be made, actions can be taken.
  • must manage the integration of both traditional and renewable energy into a common grid, ensuring that customers only receive usable energy sources. 
  • must work with utilities and their customers, using the infrastructure around the electrical grid, and selectively integrating devices on the edge. 

Below are some thoughts on opportunities and innovations for carbon-neutral energy solutions:

  • Leverage digital twin technology may help utilities and organizations plan for energy management and distribution scenarios.
  • Gather data from the edge can better inform energy usage and generation patterns real-time and also make projections for future energy usage.
  • Connecting a network of disparate renewal energy generation sources so we can help better manage the energy in the grid.
  • Providing temporary power solutions to customers with utility/infrastructure challenges may be necessary if customers adopt solutions before the infrastructure/utilities are ready. 
  • Consider last-minute drone and robot solutions for providing more carbon-neutral solutions for the delivery of goods.

Below are thoughts on how we can drive innovation in this space.

  • Invite the participation of a wide breadth of scientists and technicians to collaborate on designing and implementing carbon-neutral energy solutions – from chemical engineers to data scientists, from physicists to pharmacists, from geologists to rocket engineers.
  • Technology will play a major role in creating, designing, planning, and delivering a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Create demand from the ground up, and visioning and execution from the top-down so we can drive more momentum for a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Be consistently vocal to policy-makers and influencers, and insist that they rise above the politics and support the carbon-neutral solutions which serve us all today and in the future. 

In closing, we agreed that there is no silver bullet, but we brainstormed what each of us today today to embrace and support carbon-neutral energy solutions:

  • Start now, and do something little and big every day.
  • Educate yourself on practical carbon-neutral solutions and integrate them into your day-to-day work and life.
  • Adopt electric vehicles which offer better torque/acceleration/power at lower cost.
  • Choose a role/job/activity/vision which would support a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Push for policy and legislative changes using your influence in ways big and small.
  • Push the boundaries on what’s possible.
  • Support your local utilities and policy-makers in upgrading and updating the infrastructure which will take us from here to there.
  • Be open-minded about the technology and market opportunities for carbon-neutral solutions. 
  • Collaborate with others to make commitments and sacrifices for the greater good.

It is conversations like this that give me hope for a better world – one that leverages innovation and leadership for the greater good. Please join me again in thanking our participating executives and the larger FountainBlue community for their insights and participation.

Embracing an Agile Mindset

May 6, 2022 by
AgilityPanel.png

FountainBlue’s May 6 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Embracing an Agile Mindset’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Our esteemed panelists concur that change is an inevitable part of life. They have each navigated much change:

  • in their own career paths, going from one role/function/organization/industry to another
  • in their personal lives through major life events
  • in their day-to-day lives at work, working with a diverse range of stakeholders

All this change has been amplified with the pandemic, and will continue to impact us all as the future remains uncharted and unclear. But fear not, they have some best practices and resources to share:

Be willing to lead the change.

  • Be open minded, and invite others who are not-like-you to the table, to support the inevitable decision-making/problem-solving/strategic planning/sustainable execution and other challenges in front of us.
  • Ask the ‘why’ question around change before you talk about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of change.
  • Create psychological safety so that everyone feels empowered to participate in the change management process.
  • Accept what you must accept, and adapt where you must adapt, but keep centered on your core values and on your strategic goals as a leader, as an individual, as a team, as an organization.
  • Listen patiently and deeply from a wide range of stakeholders about the need for a change before moving to the planning and execution of a change.

Build an Engaged Network and Ecosystem

  • Build an ecosystem of trust, working with trusted parties to plan and execute on the goals for a change.
  • Be cognizant of the motivations of your team, and work with them to ensure they are empowered and engaged.
  • Build a culture and network where learning opportunities are celebrated, where collaboration and divergent thinking are encouraged and rewarded.

Grow Momentum Behind the Change

  • Be mindfully focused on the goals and objectives and ensure alignment with the values of the organization and project.
  • Override resistance to change with quick wins, win-win negotiations, strategic conversations focused on goals, and building relationships of trust.
  • Break down complex solutions into manageable achievable pieces and reasonable timelines.

Deliver Results with the Changes

  • Follow an efficient process for agilely managing change, but don’t let that process lead the change itself, as the focus should remain on the change objectives. 
  • Ensure that the data clearly reflects the need for change, and what success looks like in numbers.
  • With that said, look not just at the quantitative data, but also at the qualitative data which indicates the need for change.

Strategically Manage the Changes

  • Consider these frameworks and vectors when managing change:
    • the speed of change/execution
    • the amount of receptivity to the change
    • the level of detailed response to the change
    • the level of openness to type of change
    • the level of involvement in the change
    • the derivative impacts of a change
    • the complexity of a change
  • Provide POSITIVE, CONSTRUCTIVE, AND ONGOING feedback to help everyone feel more comfortable with change. See example below.

With that said, you can’t be all-in for any one person all the time, but if you could be all-in with some of your key people most of the time, it could make a huge impact for you both!

The bottom line is that we must all embrace changes, especially now. If we’re open and positive and proactive, we would all more successfully manage through the changes.

Play to Win!

May 1, 2022 by
Play to Win

We are all experiencing the ‘Great Resignation’, the ‘Great Reallocation’… 

Whatever we call it, we are all feeling the effects in the workplace. Many of us are under-staffed and losing good people. We are being challenged to do more with less when so much is unknown. We are resorting to strategies like ‘stay interviews’.

So logically, many leaders are playing the retention game – playing not to lose with additional benefits, raises, shifts in responsibilities and projects, etc.

But I propose that leaders adopt a ‘play-to-win’ mindset. Below are some thoughts on how to do so.

  1. Embrace Succession Planning to empower and engage your staff.
  2. Consistently speak with a sense of shared purpose, meaning, and commitment.
  3. Think and speak with passion, and follow up by investing deeply and consistently in people’s capabilities.
  4. Be warm and gracious to all, even if they are seeking to exit. Welcome them back with gusto if they choose to recommit.
  5. Show deep and authentic empathy for the journey of others, especially in this time of great change when the future is so uncertain. 
  6. Cultivate a culture of one-ness, where we all stand distinctly separate yet loosely conjoined for a purpose of serving our customers, where it is safe to ask questions, to be curious, to fail forward.
  7. Empower people at all levels from all backgrounds to fully participate in strategy, planning, execution (where reasonable).
  8. Have the plans and strategies and tools to address problem areas, but wait until that problem area receives enough attention and urgency before taking action.
  9. Err on the side of positivity, with a growth mindset. 
  10. Celebrate your successes as much as you relish your challenges.

Let’s ALL Play to Win by strategizing collaboratively, planning diligently, and executing religiously, while embracing challenges as opportunities.