Mentorship Best Practices

October 1, 2018 by

Mentorship

Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!

What He Said, What He Meant

May 8, 2020 by

FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’.  

WhatHeSaidPanel.png

Our panelists represented a broad range of backgrounds and roles, but they had much in common:

  • They shared a passion for growing people and companies.
  • They work with leaders and managers to create a culture which is vibrant, inclusive, and growth-oriented.
  • They think deeply about human and business issues, and solve problems big and small, focusing on creating meaningful, strategic outcomes.

Below are some of their suggestions for improving communications between men and women in the workplace.

  • Be straightforward, direct, structured and specific in communication with men, especially if they are engineers.
  • Speak to the problem statement rather than the emotions.
  • Be plan-ful, have an agenda, know what you’d like to accomplish and why it must be done.
  • Own any communication challenges or hurdles. Address any confusion directly, immediately, calmly, respectfully.
  • Do well by others, for others, and help them to spread the word about how and why to work with yourself or your team.
  • Be specific with an ask, and clear on why you’re asking for something, what’s in it for others, what success looks like.
  • Welcome all dimensions of diversity – not just race and gender and age, but also disability, child-status, culture, etc.,
  • Know your audience – not all men, not all people are built the same. What are their motivations? 
  • Prove and know your value, your worth, then communicate this with confidence.
  • Be confident in your communications, comfortable in your own value, your own skin.

In closing, our panelists recommend that you be the type of leader who:

  • invests in relationships and people, focusing on the needs of each individual;
  • helps get teams and leaders productive and un-stuck;
  • facilitates forward momentum, forward movement;
  • is a community organizer, standing for the individual and the team and the organization;
  • is vulnerable and authentic and a good story-teller; and
  • embraces a larger vision, acts with high-integrity, focuses on continuous learning and collaboration.

Resource:

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Please join me in thanking our hosts at Oracle and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Marilyn Becker, Senior Director, People Analytics, Western Digital
  • Panelist Carina Fang, Director, Program Management IoT Division, Synaptics 
  • Panelist Regina Lawless, Global Director, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron Technology 
  • Panelist David Ortiz, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Oracle 
  • Panelist Stacey Porter, VP of People Operations and Strategy, Outset Medical Inc.

The Last Mile

May 8, 2020 by

AutonomousDriving

FountainBlue’s May 8 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Last Mile’. We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around the last mile opportunities and challenges.

There were discussions about the challenges for delivering products and services to the last mile and the complexity of tasks necessary to make this happen, including navigating (often crowded, inconsistent and poor) road conditions, and the contact-less movement of parcels for the sake of efficiency and safety. 

Our executives agreed that most of the expense and resources are around delivery to the last mile, and of that distance, the delivery to that last 100 meters – from the curbside to the right door, to the right person. 

Solutions ranged from simulations to robotics to drones, all taking into account privacy and security issues, all leveraging AI and data to optimize results. Below are predictions on how we will be delivering to the last mile going forward.

  • There may be more of an emphasis on commercial vehicles rather than on autonomous driving. 
  • There may be smaller and more frequent deliveries.
  • Enabling people to better work from home is not just relevant now, but also for the foreseeable future as the Future of Work has fundamentally changed.
  • Simulations of how we move and travel might help companies and leaders better plan for last mile deliveries.
  • AR/VR solutions might help companies serve their customers in their homes and businesses, without having to be physically present to do so.
  • Software and automation might help customers to personalize and troubleshoot on their own, with contact-less support.
  • Rural areas which have previously been beyond the reach of delivery services may soon receive deliveries to the door.
  • The use of lockers might become more popular, allowing delivery services to deliver to a local store or market rather than directly to the door of the customer.
  • Leveraging the data around how we commute and travel will help us better plan optimal transit options for workers and citizens.

Our final thoughts were around how we can all plan better to serve more people, including those in most need. Every company, every leader, no matter the background or industry, must be a digital leader, to better serve everyone in that last mile.

Doing Well, While Doing Right

May 1, 2020 by

image.png

There are overwhelming down-sides to the COVID-19 pandemic – the isolation, the inconveniences, the uncertainty, the economic impact all take their toll.

But one of the up-sides is that people have the time to realize what’s for real and even who’s for real.

This time has helped me to focus on the types of leaders and companies that would make a difference doing well, while doing right, for these times of the pandemic, and forever thereafter. 

I personally use this ‘doing-well-while-doing-right’ filter to decide what I want to work on, what I’d like to support, how I help make things happen, who is part of the team. I hope that you also find these guidelines useful.

Doing Well

  1. Demonstrating Traction – A great company might start with a great idea, but the traction and momentum really define whether the company will succeed. Look for companies who have happy customers, sustainable revenues, growing market opportunity.
  2. Embracing Excellence – Anything worth doing is worth doing well. A successful company will have high standards of excellence, and the policies, leadership and commitment in place to perpetuate a culture of excellence.
  3. Leveraging Technology – Running excellent and scalable operations and delivering personalized products and services are increasingly required to grow companies and returns. It’s difficult to do these things consistently well and at scale without integrating technology.
  4. Streamlining Operations – Collaboration across business units, partnering with customers and partners will help streamline and scale operations and optimize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  5. Managing Change – Change is a given. Planning for change is a necessity. Banking on those plans is a recipe for disaster. So well things don’t go as planned, leaders will step up to adapt, pivot and shift. Sometimes there’s opportunity in the chaos, given the right mindset and perspective.
  6. Overcoming Logjams – No company, no leader can be in the flow all the time every time. When logjams happen, leaders are in the spotlight – to see how they respond, how they adjust and pivot, how they learn, how they support everyone to work through the obstructions.
  7. Learning from Miscues – Nobody’s perfect. Companies and leaders who survive miscues, even serious ones, are proving that they’re learning from them.
  8. Positioning for Scale – Companies that do well think strategically about the market opportunity, plan based on models for success, execute based on their plans, shift based on their findings, and ultimately position themselves for scaling, when and where it makes sense.
  9. Involving an Ecosystem of Partners – Successful companies know what they do well and partner with whole ecosystems of providers to optimize service to the customer.
  10. Reaching for the Next Opportunity – Complacency is not an option. Change is a given, and the successful company, the successful leader is continually reaching for the next adjacent opportunity.

Doing Right

  1. Taking Care of People – Doing right means providing goods and services which ultimately help people live, work and connect better.
  2. Taking Care of the Earth – Doing right means supporting the earth – the air, the soil, the nutrients it needs.
  3. Taking Care of Staff – Doing right means treating your people well, and empowering and engaging them with challenging and fulfilling work.
  4. Taking Care of Ecosystem of Partners – Doing right means creating mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations which better serve all parties.
  5. Leading By Example – Doing right means thinking, speaking and saying what you’ll do and standing behind what you do, while learning at every opportunity, with open-mindedness and humility.
  6. Adhering to Morals and Values – Doing right means being clear on your own morals and values, and making decisions based on these values, while also accepting and supporting others for the values they live by.
  7. Inspiring Others – Doing right by all of the above will inspire others, and help them to do the same.

Have you thought more deeply about who you are, who you want to work with, what you want to do? 

May you find joy and purpose through these challenging times, and centeredness and strength to help you pull through stronger than ever.

People-First Mindset

April 10, 2020 by

PeopleFirstMindset

FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’.  Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives, roles and backgrounds, but consistently thought about, spoke to and acted on the people-first mindset in their teams, in their companies, in their lives.

Below is a compilation of best practices for putting people first, as advocated by our panelists.

Be Strategic

  • Be fact-based when making decisions, but always make decisions framed by the impact on the people.
  • Understand how everyone fits into the ecosystem, and also what motivates everyone and what success looks like. Then work together to provide the resources and support so that people will succeed.
  • Align the thinking, speaking and actions around putting people first, last and always. Do it from the top down, and also from the bottom up.
  • Provide the team with the information and resources to make informed decisions. Support them through tough changes, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be Empowering

  • Empower everyone to have a voice, to have influence, no matter where they are sitting at the table.
  • Focus not just on what you do, but on how the thinking, words and actions make people feel. 
  • Don’t just look at the bottom line results. Look also at how those results were delivered and the cost to the people. If the people cost is too high, the results may not be sustainable.
  • Celebrate and highlight successes. 
  • Make the opportunity to be your authentic self. Welcome others to do the same.
  • Invest in the front-line leaders who are your interface to customers and partners.
  • Practice deep listening so that you can better understand someone else and learn from them.

Choose Direct and Positive Communication

  • Err on the side of transparent, efficient communications which builds connection, trust and empathy.
  • Working with people is not always easy, but if you deliver a tough message in an unemotional way, and provide a specific way to improve, you can help them understand that you are still putting them first.

Keep Raising the Bar

  • Remember that without people, we have nothing. So rise above the ‘I’ – there is no ‘i’ in team. 
  • Move with agility to embrace new ways to show people they matter.
  • Establish guardrails to facilitate brainstorming, and encourage everyone to think outside the box and welcome new and different perspectives.
  • Know your walking point if you reach a scenario, team or company which does not value having a people first mindset.
  • Incentivize managers and leaders to grow themselves and their teams.
  • Embrace fail-fast mechanisms so that you can quickly learn from successes and mistakes.
  • Keep asking the ‘why’ questions until you deeply understand perspectives and motivations.
  • Choose to experience and do something a little bit differently.

The bottom line is that putting people first is something you think about, speak to, act on – all the time, every time. Doing this well is contagious and will spreads well to all you touch.

Notes are available online at  and bios are online at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/people


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’ and our hosts at Maxim.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Sharawn Connors, VP, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron
  • Panelist Rita DeStaso, Services Account Executive, Strategic Enterprise, Microsoft
  • Panelist Monica Kaldani-Nasif, Chief People Officer, Kateeva
  • Panelist Tracy Laboy, Executive Director of Human Resources, Maxim

Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges

April 10, 2020 by

Industrial Revolution IT Integration Smart Manufacturing Innovat

FountainBlue’s April 10 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for our fascinating, wide-reaching and thought-provoking online discussion, featuring our hosts at Honda.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges, especially they are impacted by COVID-19. Although we came from different roles and responsibilities, we agreed on many times:

  • Adopt and create technology that is more data-driven, more sophisticated, more integrated, more pervasive. Automation and process improvement is necessary to efficiently bring customized solutions to customers.
  • Remember that it’s always about the people. We need people as part of the solution – to adopt and integrate the technology, to run and implement and improve the processes, to continually update everything based on the needs of the customers, the needs of the team, the plant, the company.
  • Collaborate with business units and R&D teams will help improve our manufacturing and operations. 
  • Adopt innovative new solutions only if they are relevant and helpful now and in the long term, and not too difficult to implement and scale.
  • Collect masses of data and quickly filtering to collect relevant data points help us better understand the problem (and the opportunity) and better make informed decisions.
  • Understand the problem statement and articulating it well will help teams of engineers, data scientists, business professionals to collaboratively design solutions, create and vet prototypes, revise and refine models, and ultimately more efficiently manufacture goods.

Below are some thoughts of fundable opportunities:

  • Provide an offering which would help companies better bridge simulated scenarios with real-world results.
  • Focus on special edge cases/corner cases for manufacturing or distribution
  • Machines in manufacturing plants will continue to be monitored by sensors, which will in turn generate huge volumes of data. There are opportunities to leverage that data to get insights about maintenance, performance, anomalies, etc., and therefore make better informed decisions and forecasts. See Why TinyML is a Giant Opportunity.
  • Invest in sensors which would help better see environment and obstacles on the manufacturing floor
  • Design solutions which let manufacturers go from manual to automated, from automated to intelligent solutions, and learn and adjust.
  • Design Augmented Reality solutions with digital modeling to help manufacturing leaders better optimize for efficiency, accuracy, performance.
  • Create an offering with addresses the question ‘how do we go from screwdriver to software so that we can better optimize for Industry 4.0.’?
  • Design solutions which are both robust and reliable, while address edge and corner cases.

Below are some philosophical thoughts about Industry 4.0 opportunities and challenges.

  • Whereas it might be more difficult for manufacturing plants to convert into the production of N95 masks to support our healthcare providers during the pandemic, it may be more feasible to produce medical grade plastics, rubbers, mechanical parts – items which are just as useful.
  • The pandemic has further facilitated the convergence across industries – where industry leaders with manufacturing facilities are all supporting our healthcare workers as they serve those impacted by COVID-19.
  • Infrastructure innovations need to take place to ensure that people are better prepared for and better able to respond to the next crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in our personal and work lives, and will have a lasting impact on everyone. 
  • Globalization will lead to localization, with a focus on customized local solutions. In turn, localized solutions will be applicable to global markets. The trick is knowing how to quickly and optimally manage the high variability of scenarios and deliver timely solutions.
  • Let’s design better contingency plans so that we are better prepared for another unforeseen scenario with global impact and ripple effects.
  • There are opportunities for each of us to collaborate as leaders, as technologists, as industries to better run our businesses while better taking care of everyone – doing well, while doing good.

Our final thoughts are around what we are all seeking: sustainability, continuity, innovation for ourselves, our companies, and all those we serve.

Building Community In the ‘New-Normal’

March 25, 2020 by

NewNormal

For leaders of companies big and small, there’s a looming question: ‘How do you carry on, business as usual, when circumstances are SO unusual’, when things happen so quickly, when we’ve never seen such happenings before? 

And ‘What if this is the ‘new Normal’, and this ‘Work from Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ scenario becomes the defacto standard?’

Yes, the COVID-19 has hit all of us personally, socially, professionally and economically, and in ways deeply felt, and never before seen. 

I can’t see the future any more than anyone else, but I will share some thoughts on how you, as a business leader, can help build culture for your team and organization given the ‘WFH’ and ‘SPP’ directives, given these uncertain times.

  • Be organized and collaborative.
  • Be informed and act with prudence but don’t over-react and do un-productive, energy-zapping things.
  • Practice deliberate calmness and optimism, tempered with data and reason.
  • Connect with others emotionally, if not physically. Have more time for each other, for our people matter more than ever in these times of change.

During these strange new circumstances, we as leaders and managers must take measures to support our people – whether they are employees or partners, customers or teams. Below are some thoughts on how to maintain a feeling of community, a sense of culture, a belonging to a team when you’re Sheltering in Place or Working from Home.

Set up for Success

  1. Ensure that there is clear, inspiring, top-down communication around mission and values, timelines and goals, and that they are adopted bottoms-up, with questions welcome, and regular updates as appropriate.
  2. Work with Company leaders to commit to the success of everyone – from the top-down, from the bottom-up, at each and every meeting as a group, as individuals, in thoughts, words and actions – all the time, every time.
  3. Ensure that there’s full buy-in from everyone, and positive, productive energy from everyone. (Take measures to assess whether each person can consistently adopt this mind-set, for this is critical to the success of the individual, the team, the project.)
  4. Provide clear projects and timelines which fit the talents and abilities for each team member, and which fit into the larger mission of the product, team and organization.
  5. Promote a digital company culture, leveraging technologies and tools, data and information real-time so that everyone can be productive and connected.
  6. Adopt processes and standards that protect un-interrupted ‘work-time’ without chatter, as well as structured ‘project coordination’ time to share status, and ‘social/other’ time to build bonds between team members.
  7. Help each person separate work and home life physically, mentally, emotionally.

Establish Clear Standards and Processes

  1. Be open and authentic, compassionate and human
    • Focus on making positive and constructive remarks, comments and input, and ask everyone on the team to do the same.
    • Welcome input and feedback without judgement or consequence. 
    • Build trust to help people feel that they can share freely and safely. 
    • Forgive mistakes and transgressions. Help others to do the same.
    • Be compassionate, giving and vulnerable.
  2. Practice virtual meeting etiquette. Use the mute button, manage ambient noises. Get cameras and audio tools working well. Pay attention to intonations, facial expression and body language.  
  3. Honor everyone’s preferences around meeting timing, topics, length, etc..

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Thoughts on How to Creating a More Connected Remote Workforce

Build Teamwork

  1. Allow and encourage mindless chatting, ‘off-task’, but very relevant discussion
    • Spend meeting having team members share something about themselves or share how working remotely is impacting them.
    • Pose open-ended questions, with the intent of getting to know everyone better.
    • Brainstorm with each other how to address specific challenges around WFH.
    • Help everyone feel that they are all alone on doing their (very important piece of the project), but also they are all inter-connected and all on the same team.
  2. Create and use different layers of celebration and different formats for celebrating the different types of successes real-time and incrementally, short term AND long term; team AND company; milestone achievement AND bug fix, etc.,
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for in-person social gatherings, group trainings, cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.
  4. Reward choices made to support the team AND individual progress on key initiatives.
  5. Reward initiative and drive around creating social and team initiatives – both online and in-person.

Build Relationships

  1. Assign a buddy-system to do periodic project-based, or role-based check-ins.
  2. Create regular ‘bonding’ time (by role, by buddy-system, by mentor/mentee, etc.,)
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.

Encourage Curiosity

  1. Welcome conversations about how company/team/product values are being upheld.
  2. Encourage and reward curiosity on how things are done, why things are done this way, why things are going well or not, why customers prefer one feature over another.

Practice Compassion

  1. Be curious about how people are responding to the changing requirements and processes, and how personal circumstances might be impacting work requirements.
  2. Be supportive of those who need logistical support to address WFH, SiP mandates.
  3. Regularly assess how WFP and SiP challenges are affecting individual team members and the team overall.
  4. Be flexible on timelines and deliverables while your team and their families adjust to new circumstances.
  5. Do the little things to let people know that you’re aware of their challenges and that you’d like to support them in navigating these challenges. It may be as simple as sending them a new webcam or mailing them a handwritten letter.

Build Engagement

  1. Reward people for bringing something to Share or Give at a meeting – data, tool, resource, learning, ideas, patterns, etc.,
  2. Reward process-improvement suggestions so that everyone has the tools and information they need to get the job done, the plan is clear on how to get what kind of support
  3. Encourage and reward team members who contribute to meetings, written communications, team projects – online or in-person.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but we will keep building on it. Your thoughts are also welcome.

Opportunities and Challenges for Innovating on the Edge

March 13, 2020 by

EdgeComputing

FountainBlue’s March 13 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Innovating on the Edge’, with leaders from Maxim for leading the virtual discussion. Thank you also to our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation.  

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who worked in and around the edge computing field. As we grow solutions around edge computing, they agreed that it’s important to manage the following:

  • Seamless connection on an ongoing basis
  • Low latency/rapid response, especially when the stakes are high
  • Immersive experience so people can manage and use the solutions effectively
  • Connectivity wherever you go
  • Privacy and security of users and their data

In order to do that, we need to do the following:

  • Capture, manage and process the volumes of data generated by the growing number of sensors, devices, wearables
  • Increase speed of access to the data, without a gap
  • Gather, integrate, process and filter data between all sensors/devices/wearables on the edge in the cloud 
  • Send back filtered/processed data back to the edge for response and action

Challenges and opportunities abound. Below are some thoughts around the data.

  • Optimize the gathering/filtering/processing of data and returning only the ‘relevant’ data back to the edge/device/user
  • Validate the accuracy of the data generated.
  • Remember that where there is data, AI and ML can improve that data, making it more relevant and useful. 

Other challenges and opportunities are highlighted below.

  • Make algorithms effective enough to be useful, small enough to not consume too much power, not take too much time to process.
  • Design the architecture to better manage the power for devices/sensors/wearables on the edge.
  • Make the hardware small and compact, but also simple to integrate with the firmware and software.
  • The processing of images and videos will also provide many opportunities.

Below is advice on how to better innovate on the edge.

  • Provide options for selecting variables and rules which impact what data.
  • Validate the integrity of the data received from sources on the edge.
  • Make predictions about what’s going to happen based on patterns of what’s happened in the past.
  • Work with regulators so that they understand how technology works and can update their policies so that people are protected, but they can also get access to life-saving and life-improving solutions in such regulated industries as automotive and healthcare.
  • Proactively manage and maintain systems, computers and machines so that they can send data about system health and issues, including issues which might be related to their own functioning.
  • If you’re running multiple engineering/product teams, help them collaborate on common solutions, bringing the best brains and solutions together rather than working in silos
  • Provide personalized solutions for client companies which would have immediate benefits as well as scalable impact.
  • The mass adoption of 5G wireless has reached health and infrastructure obstacles, so don’t count on its adoption as part of your sales and marketing strategy for your edge computing solution.
  • Create edge computing solutions which meet the ‘hard constraints’ of being on the edge: the need for POWER, the SIZE of the device, and the COST to manufacture, distribute and maintain these devices/sensors/wearables. 

We end with the staggering thought that we will soon have 42 billion connected devices. The solutions that we are providing and planning today are real use cases. But think also about what’s transformational for the future – not just what devices are sensing, but also empowering a tool/process/human/algorithm to take proactive action, based on data generated, models created. We are not quite there, and is much thinking, collaboration, and working to do before we get there, and many safeguards to put in place to make sure that’s done right.

Overcoming Imposter’s Syndrome

March 13, 2020 by

ImposterSyndromePanelMarch2020

FountainBlue’s March 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’. Our panelists loosely defined ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as the delta between what you think you’ve done and how it matches with the expectations of yourself and others, and the resultant anxiety associated with any mis-match.

The panelists brought up that many people experience Imposter Syndrome, that many women do, even accomplished women, but it’s also not just a woman’s thing, and it’s not just also for tech professionals as wives or husbands and athletes might experience it too. 

Our amazing panelists had experienced imposter syndrome at various points in their very impressive careers, especially as they were just starting out in a new field, role or industry.

Below are some of their suggestions and advice for how to navigate imposter syndrome.

  • Be data-based rather than emotive. 
  • Know the facts, be prepared, do the things you need to do to succeed.
  • Recruit and nurture advocates, sponsors and mentors. Ask people to be sounding boards. Build teams and communities.
  • Say yes to opportunities, even when they stretch your abilities and make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be confident enough to try something new, open enough to seek input and guidance in that new role, and persistent and hard working enough to perform well in that new capacity.
  • Own your plan for success. If you’d like to be promoted, make sure that you backfill for your position, and can prove that you’re ready for that next position.
  • Be positive and supportive to others. Support them in their challenges and ask for help with your own.
  • Don’t expect to know it all, but do ask relevant questions that make people think.
  • Select a manager who is supportive and has your best interest in mind.
  • Tell a story to communicate your point: the message, the data, the conclusion.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Even people you think are very accomplished may not be as confident as you think. 
  • Adopt an ecosystem view to understand complex issues. There are many layers of people and issues involved in any one decision.
  • Adopt a thinking rather than an emotional approach to a career question or issue.
  • When you need to, fake it until you make it. Be confident.
  • Be curious.

Be encouraging and positive about what you do, and supportive even when things don’t go as planned. Proactively and positively manage that voice in your head.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 13 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Jane Divinski, serial entrepreneur and engineering leader
  • Panelist Joyce Eng, Senior Director, Strategy, Program Management, User Experience, Roche

  • Panelist Krista Pavlakos, Senior Director, Marketing Communications & Demand Creation, Renesas Electronics
  • Panelist Lori Kate Smith, former Director, Marketing Programs, Machine Learning (ML), ARM

Leading with Finesse

March 1, 2020 by
FinesseHeptagon
It was my pleasure to attend the February BAHREC meeting, featuring Ryan Lahti, speaking about ‘The Finesse Factor‘. 
Ryan spoke eloquently about his extensive educational background and corporate experience working with STEM organizations large and small over the past three decades. The focus of the workshop is around leaders with ‘finesse’ tend to add greater value.
Defined as both a noun and a verb, finesse is an ‘intricate and refined delicacy’ as a noun and ‘do(ing) (something) in a subtle and delicate manner’ as a verb. In other words, leaders with finesse can get something done well during difficult and uncertain, and often in high-pressure situations. 
My greatest takeaway is around the patterns of behavior exhibited by leaders showing ‘finesse’. See Ryan’s chart above.
  • In his studies and in his book, Ryan points out that finesse would start at the 4-5 o’clock point of the heptagon, with ‘Leveraging Self-Awareness’. 
    • Without self-awareness, it would be difficult for any leader to finesse a successful outcome from a complicated situation. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to be more than reactive. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to know you need help, or to ask for help.
    • Leaders with self-awareness must decide many things, including: 
      • Is this a situation which needs to be addressed?
      • Am I the person who could help address the situation?
      • What are the short-term and long-term consequences for myself and others should I attempt to address the situation?
      • Is it worth my while to do so?
  • Going clockwise at 6 o’clock, Ryan points out that leaders with finesse must next assess the situation and look at the ecosystem of stakeholders affected by the situation.
    • This would take some strategic thinking as well as some tactical execution to best understand the situation and to best understand how to navigate the relationships in order to secure support and resources to address specific challenges and opportunities.
  • Continuing clockwise, from there, leaders with finesse strategically assess the impact of choices made, actions taken, before taking action.
  • From there, it’s about communicating a strategy and a plan of execution with a ‘measured presence’. 
    • Taking the previous steps will help leaders with finesse deliver messages with confidence.
  • When conflicts inevitably arise, leaders with finesse respond with reasonable facts in a calm manner, sticking to the issues, and not making matters personal.
  • Coaching, counseling and support help leaders with finesse manage and work with others through periods of great change. In addition, note that leaders with finesse don’t insist on always ‘being the candle’ to bring the light. They are also open to ‘being the mirror’, reflecting the light of others who may have better options and solutions.
  • Lastly, to complete the heptagon, is the step of ‘getting work done through others’. Delegation is tough for many high-performers, but leveraging the talent of others will multiply the impact, providing greater opportunities for all.
In conclusion, I was deeply impacted by this model, and by Ryan himself. It showed with clarity that all leaders (of all genders and ages) must have the first three skills, but to be recognized as a leader, the additional steps must be taken. 
May this research help you raise the bar for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

DevOps Opportunities and Challenges

February 15, 2020 by

DevOps

FountainBlue’s February 14 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘DevOps Opportunities and Challenges’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Comcast. Below are notes from the conversation.  

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who worked in devops in many different ways. Collectively, they defined ‘devops’ in the following way:

  • tools and processes designed to empower and enable developers to better serve internal and external customers;
  • systems and solutions intended to help developers integrate solutions end-to-end, rather than handing off projects to other parties;
  • integrated solutions and processes which help individuals, teams, and leaders better respond to a fast-moving, highly-demanding customer base;
  • systems designed to facilitate the communication and coordination, encourage the collaboration between silos of stakeholders.

Our executives agreed that the many elements of devops solutions are integral to the success of ventures large and small, and that individuals and companies who don’t acknowledge and accept this fact will be left behind.

Below are thoughts on how best to support the adoption of devops principles.

  • Consider the needs of all stakeholders in designing solutions.
  • Align all stakeholders behind a corporate vision, a common goal.
  • Hold everyone accountable for the success of a project, rather than on 
  • Blur the line on role definition, boundaries between what you do and what others do. Focus on what we do together, what success together looks like, how to align behind a common mission/vision/milestone.
  • Help people plan from the top down, deliver from the bottom up.
  • Clear, transparent communication from the top-down, from the bottom up is critical.
  • Not everyone will embrace the new way of doing business with devops principles. 
  • Collaboratively design a process which delivers measured results. From there, you can decide on which tools and which people can help deliver those results.
  • Find and recruit the passionate, the talented, the open, the hungry and empower them to succeed.
  • Embrace a culture of accountability. Erase a culture of entitlement. 
  • Executive sponsorship and buy-in are essential to encourage a shift to a more open, more devops-oriented culture.
  • Consider Security and Scalability issues in designing extensible devops solutions.

We close with some key comments:

  • Partnerships within and across the company are key to all devops initiatives.
  • Devops leaders and innovators are resourceful, action-oriented and results-focused.

Thank you again for taking the time to join us and share your perspective and information.