Archive for April, 2020

People-First Mindset

April 10, 2020

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

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.