Archive for March, 2019

Difficult Conversations

March 19, 2019

FountainBlue’s March 15 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘ Difficult Conversations – Bring Them On’.

We were fortunate to have such a diverse and powerful group of panelists who so succinctly and candidly shared their thoughts on how and why to conduct difficult conversations. It was also amazing to have such a strong showing of executives – male and female – representing a top-down, bottom-up support for diversity, inclusion and leadership from our host company!

We began by talking about why difficult conversations are needed, and how having a diverse population and an open leads to better business results.

But change takes time, and having those ‘difficult‘ conversations to facilitate necessary change is not an ‘easy‘ task, by definition. Below are some thoughts on how we can each find a comfortable way to have that difficult conversation:

  • There’s no magic formula for being confident and courageous. Each of our panelists had different backgrounds and upbringings, but we all had to overcome some kind of adversity at an early age. 
  • In the examples provided, it was often the case where others did nothing, yet the panelists chose to think, say or do that difficult thing. Sometimes that brought the desired result in short order. Often it did not. But regardless of the result, it was a learning and a step forward.
  • Choose to be assertive, but only when it makes sense. But be plan-ful when you make that choice as there will certainly be consequences.
  • Build a network of supporters and mentors and sponsors who will support you through easy and difficult conversations.
  • Understand the motivations and mindset of those who don’t think like you – regardless of whether there will be a difficult conversation.
  • Along those same lines, even when you think someone is very similar to you, there may at some point be a difficult conversation at some point.
  • Focus on the facts and data rather than on the feelings and emotions. 
  • With that said, with difficult conversations, emotions will likely run high – either yours or others’! So know yourself and your own buttons and triggers and proactively manage that. Know where the other party is coming from and manage from there.
  • Practice the 90-second rule – if you let someone vent emotionally for 90 seconds, they may feel heard and you may get real information to help you plan. The trick is to not get angry and defensive during the tirade.
  • Make, grow and maintain relationships before, during and after the necessary difficult conversations. 
  • Be your candid, authentic, unique self. It’s good enough.
  • Be humble and inquisitive, especially when that other person makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be open to a reality you didn’t consider when you adopted your current position. 

Sometimes, having a difficult conversation is not enough. Walking points include:

  • Lack of respect for the other party
  • Loss of trust between the parties
  • Mis-alignment on goals
  • Too much delta between the parties

We closed with the full topic of the conversation – Difficult Conversations – Bring Them On. For they are a necessary part of our personal growth, and the growth of our team, company and industry. Lead On!


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Maxim Integrated and our panelists for FountainBlue’s March 15 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘ Difficult Conversations – Bring Them On’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Laura Bermudez, Senior Director of Software Engineering, Carta 
  • Panelist Rosie Cofre, Belonging and Diversity, Principal, Workday 
  • Panelist Diana Finucane, Sr. HR Business Partner, Lam Research
  • Panelist Tracy Laboy, Executive Director of HR, Maxim Integrated
  • Panelist Adriane McFetridge, Director of Engineering, Netflix
  • Panelist Lori Kate (Calise) Smith, Director, Marketing Programs, Machine Learning (ML), ARM

with opening remarks by Ed Medlin, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer at Maxim and closing remarks by Dino Anderson, Executive Director of L&D, D&I at Maxim.

Open Source in the Enterprise and Open Source Business Models

March 8, 2019

OpenSource

FountainBlue’s March 8 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Open Source in the Enterprise and Open Source Business Models’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Comcast and each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The Open Source story is unfolding in front of us. The 80s brought us companies like HP, SUN and Silicon Graphics innovating on the Linux Operating System kernel as the first wave of commercialization. 

The 90s brought us companies such as Google and Netscape and Amazon who built sophisticated solutions on top of open source foundations to generate revenues and deliver services. 

Building on that wave of innovation, today, companies continue to leverage open source, but not just to design offerings, but also to fuel innovation. Examples include how media companies such as Comcast and Netflix are designing customized infotainment options and financial services companies such as Capital One are designed customized financial management services.

Our executives in attendance were clear that Open Source is here to stay, so the larger community needs to accept and embrace this fact, and understand how to adopt short-term and long-term strategies to integrate Open Source into business models and product and service offerings. Some of the challenges for making this happen include:

  • Definitions and terminologies around ‘Open Source’ cause confusion, especially for business leaders who misinterpret the meaning of ‘free’ and avoid open source altogether.
  • Legal and policy challenges around the use of open source code make it challenging for some companies to adopt it.
  • The requirement to ‘contribute and give back’ sometimes causes conflicts between developers who want to contribute work and code back to the network and the management who don’t want to developers to dedicate time and resource to do so because of their concerns for timelines and for IP/business reasons.

But again, accept these challenges we must, for Open Source is here to stay, and more people need to contribute to it to make it easier for more people and companies to benefit from it.

The passionate open source developers and community truly understand this dynamic. The trick is to get business people to understand it and embrace open source software while also achieving business objectives. Below is advice from the executives in attendance on how this can be accomplished.

  • Align the ‘why’ for adopting the open source strategy with the what and the how. 
  • Embrace the ‘consume, collaborate and create’ mind-set around open source. Don’t be tagged as someone who just consumes what’s there. Collaborate and connect with others, and create for the Greater Good.
  • Deliver the value-added software and services beyond the open source foundation of code. 
  • Connect with people within and outside your company and create a community of collaborators around open source. 
  • Proactively control the message your company has around open source. Make it a proactively positive and consistent message that would positively impact your brand. This means active ongoing participation with that community of Open Source activists.

Below is advice for how to grow a company beyond the non-revenue open source model to a revenue-generating company based on open source technology:

  • Package a value-add of software and services around the core technology.
  • Offer a free and a paid version with a clear value-add for the paid version.
  • Offer and monetize add-ons.
  • Ensure that everything is repeatable and scalable.
  • Go for the tall head rather than the long tail!
  • Leverage partnerships and channels where appropriate.

Consider some opportunities which leverage open source:

  • Infotainment 
  • Open Data
  • Telematics
  • Sensors
  • Open Cities
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Block Chain and Open Source

One last time – Open Source is Here to Stay! Find others who get that and know how to work with that. 

Awaken the Creative in YOU – Part One, Why?

March 1, 2019

Creative-Why

After decades and decades of rewarding that left-brained, analytical thinking, the pendulum is swinging to again embrace the creative. This is part one of a two-part post which will cover the research on why the creative will benefit people, teams and companies. Next month’s follow-on post will cover how to embrace the creative.

  1. Creative leaders outperform their peers on key financial metricsCreativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  2. In one survey, creative leaders scored 16 percent higher than the average consumer-facing company on an Innovation Performance Score –  Creativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  3. A McKinsey study reported that, technology upgrades would lead to a decline of 375 million employees worldwide by 2030 in positions such office support, predictable labor, and other jobs, but there will be an increase in creative jobs, teachers, care-providers and technologists. What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, McKinsey, November 2017
  4. In another study, fifty-eight percent of survey respondents reporting high creativity had 2013 revenues exceeding their 2012 revenues by 10% or more. In contrast, only 20% of less creative companies performed similarly.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  5. Of those reporting market share leadership, creative companies outnumber their less creative counterparts by a factor of 1.5.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  6. In the same survey, respondents who identified their firms as ‘creative’ were three times more likely to have received national attention. The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  7. There are four types of innovation: Incremental Innovation, Disruptive Innovation (also known as stealth innovation), Architectural Innovation, and
    Radical innovation.  Creativity helps innovators to create and sustain high risk, high reward innovations. https://info.innocentive.com/open/innovation
  8. Disruptive innovations are caused by changes in market and business phenomena, not technology advancements. It takes analysis and creativity to understand these changing business model and business phenomena. Clayton Christenson, The Innovator’s Dilemma
  9. According to neuroscientists John Kounious and Mark Beeman, insight is a product of a relaxed brain. The more we concentrate and strain for inspiration, the less likely we are to get it. It follows that the more creative and relaxed we are, the more likely we are to see an insight. The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain, by John Kounios and Mark Beeman
  10. The four stages of idea generation according to Graham Wallis include Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. Once you decide to do it and think about it, the clarity through creativity may come, as part of the idea generation process. The verification follows that step. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2015.1087277?journalCode=hcrj20

Next month’s post will brainstorm how to embrace the creative within yourself.