Archive for May, 2021

Embracing Agility

May 21, 2021
Embracing Agility

FountainBlue’s May 21 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Embracing Agility’. Please join me in thanking our panelists for their participation.

Our panelists spoke in-depth about the innovation, management, and operational benefits for embracing agility. The quality of being flexible, open and nimble is becoming increasingly more important in a world where technology is complex and distributed, a world where customers are demanding and sophisticated, a world where privacy, security and access are as important as coordination and collaboration.

Below is a compilation of their best practices for embracing agility.

Building and Maintaining Relationships is Key

  • Being open and curious and developing relationships with people within and outside your team/org/ company helps people be more nimble and agile.
  • Don’t label yourself as someone in a particular role/ skill set/ title/function, but do stretch your perception of who you are, where you fit as you build more relationships, more knowledge and skills.

Communicating and Coordinating Increases the Likelihood of Success

  • Making the opportunity to co-design and co-develop products is both more fun and more likely to deliver favorable results.
  • Communicate the agile-minded strategy to key stakeholders in a language best received by the intended audience.
  • Consider the fact that executives have a high signal-to-noise level, so stay on-point, speaking in bullets, drilling down into details only on where there are questions.
  • Take a WIIFM (what’s in it for me) approach to communicating with the various stakeholders across the ecosystem. It increases the likelihood of engagement, sharing, and collaborating.

Adopting Agile Practices Helps Companies, Teams and Leaders Be More Open and Flexible

  • Agile Practices helps teams and leaders make pivots and shifts based on market, business, customer and technology trends.
  • Situational awareness helps leaders at all levels be more strategic while being more open.
  • Becoming agilely aware of new technology and market trends helps you learn new technologies and methodologies while also helping teams build smaller, more modular solutions.

Soliciting Feedback and Input Helps Us All Better Perform

  • Rather than staying in a silo or working solo, be curious about how others are solving problems and how others are looking at opportunities.
  • When you have many moving parts, many unknowns, consider collaborating on a Fail-Fast strategy so you can get more feedback, information and data to inform plans, processes, product definitions, risk assessments, etc.,
  • Clearly defining processes helps manage performance, feedback and results and helps to optimize the flow and integration across individuals, teams, and customers.

Engaging and Mobilizing Leaders at All Levels Facilitates the Visioning, Planning and Execution Process

  • Strategically communicating the value, the risks, the opportunity helps build engagement for stakeholders across the value chain.

The bottom line is that the agile mindset helps leaders at all levels and their teams and organizations be more innovative, more progressive, more successful.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 14, 2021

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FountainBlue’s May 14 When She Speaks women in leadership series program, on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Oracle and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such a fun and influential set of panelists for this afternoon’s panel discussion. They represented an assortment of companies, roles and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • They humbly shared their stories of how they grew their influence.
  • They ‘switched lanes’ frequently, sometimes by designed and embraced each change in role, title, function and geography as learning opportunities.
  • They cherished the opportunities both to learn and grow themselves, but also to spread the knowledge and success to others, paying it forward.

They are movers and shakers who are also easily moved and shaken as they navigate their lives and careers. Below is a compilation of their advice regarding expanding your influence.

Know Yourself

  • Be clear on what you’d like to influence and why that matters to you, to others, to the team, to the organization, to the world.
  • Be self-aware enough to know what you’re good at, where you need to grow, how you’re coming across to others.
  • Be authentic and sincere and uniquely you – embrace your personal style of influence.

Stretch Yourself

  • Dare to be influential, even if if’s not your job, not your role.
  • Be gentle with yourself when mistakes happen – they are the best learning opportunities. 
  • Be open and curious when others disagree with you, for it’s a learning opportunity.
  • Invite and learn from feedback.

Be Strategic

  • Take the opportunity to influence projects you’re targeting, but also be open to influencing projects others ask you to influence.
  • Consistently align your thinking, with your speaking and actions, and ensure that all are in alignment with the corporate/team/industry objectives.
  • Invite participation and engagement rather than commands and instructions.
  • Build bridges between people and groups and silos, and make the combined group more influential.

Be Other-Centric

  • Read the room, read the motivations and intentions of others so that you can better communicate and connect with others.
  • Facilitate a conversation around goals and intentions rather than providing prescriptive advice and orders on how things should be done.
  • How you see yourself is not necessarily how others see you, so be curious about how others see you.
  • Speak in the language most respected by your audience – whether it’s the language of data, images, stories, or bulleted summaries.

Embrace Opportunities to Learn

  • Be inquisitive and curious, and willing to work hard to make things happen. Proving yourself in these ways could make you more influential.
  • Know when to persevere and when to just let go.
  • Own your success and your path to influence and success.

In closing, each of the panelists invite us all to be more influential, and support others in doing the same.

AgTech and FoodTech Innovations

May 14, 2021

FountainBlue’s May 14 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘AgTech and FoodTech Innovations’, with our hosts at Honda. As usual, our participating executives represented a wide breadth of backgrounds and perspectives. The biggest takeaways are around the range of innovations for agtech and foodtech. Technology is weaving its way into this slow-adopting industry.

  • Mobility and robotics solutions are doing everything from improving our supply chain to processing more efficiently, to managing the integrity of our production and manufacturing.
  • Planes and drones are collecting the images and other data we need to proactively manage the way we plant, produce, harvest, and distribute better quality crops and higher yields of crops.
  • AI and ML solutions are helping us optimize seeds, plants, crops as well as livestock.
  • Food science and agtech is helping develop quality protein from plants and even from microorganisms.
  • SaaS and digitalization solutions are helping manage things like crop health and food wastage – connecting a wide range of siloed stakeholders. 
  • End-to-end crop optimization solutions coupled with strategic partnerships in densely populated regions will help get quality food into the hands of hungry people in population-dense areas.
  • Food science solutions will help fortify the crops we produce, optimize seeds so that are more productive and nutritious, and help feed more people with fewer resources.
  • Proactively managing food production based on projected needs will help everyone across the ecosystem optimize distribution and minimize waste.
  • Understanding the taste and quality of a seed and a plant before it is reaped helps farmers plan their planting and pricing while helping markets influence availability based on preferences.

We have come a long way, but there are still innovation opportunities ahead. It’s clear that our executives in attendance will continue to excel at leveraging their diverse experience to transform industries, provide value, while collaborating to amplify impact.

Collaboration Best Practices

May 14, 2021

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FountainBlue’s May 7 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Collaboration Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists for their participation. 

Our dynamic and experienced panel of leaders spoke eloquently and provocatively on how collaboration impacts the way we innovate, the way we solve problems, the way we lead and inspire.Collaboration is integral to the idea generation process, and is a vital part of creating customized solutions for clients. Indeed, having a diverse ecosystem of internal and external stakeholders increases the likelihood of success. Below is a compilation of best practices around collaboration.

  • Err on the side of over-communicating, especially when you are working with stakeholders from all sides. Communicating transparently and regularly to help ensure that everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal. 
  • Invite participation from a wide range of stakeholders to ensure diverse input and feedback as you ideate, create, produce, distribute, customize, and scale solutions.
  • Embrace processes to ensure wide participation, thorough vetting, increased input, but don’t be so process oriented that you’re inefficient, especially when problems are urgent and decisions must be made efficiently.
  • Prioritize the problems to be solved, the decisions to be made, and create collaborative models for maximizing input/feedback and efficient operation.
  • Embrace the available data, but make sure that you’re using the right data set to inform each collaborative decision. 
  • Be open-minded and inclusive to help ensure engagement from a larger range of people.
    • Always ask yourself ‘who else can we pull into the conversation’?
    • How can I empower those who don’t think like me to actively participate?
    • Assign roles for each group to invite input.
  • Create and perpetuate a culture where all are rewarded for their input and ideas, where it’s safe to make mistakes and learn.

It makes sense to use data and benchmarks to guide decisions which have been made before, but when you’re breaking new ground and entering areas with no precedent, try doing the following:

  • nimbly move forward with small decisions and actions, monitoring results and adjusting regularly based on results;
  • create a large assortment of options and think backwards about the consequences of each option to help decide the best direction, based on risks;
  • gather input and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders about options and implications so that you can see the options and problems with different lenses;
  • follow corporate/government/team and other policy guidelines

When done well, the Collaboration Edge makes teams and organizations more innovative, more productive, more customer-centric, more agile, more inclusive.

The Ten Ps to Look for in People

May 1, 2021
The Ten Ps to Look for in People, a FountainBlue Blog

When you’re looking to grow your network and team, you want to set a high bar and get the right people on-board. But how do you know who’s right for you for now and for the long-term? Below are ten qualities to look for when evaluating someone’s fit: 

  1. Passionate – why do anything half-heartedly? Look for someone who’s passionate about the mission and vision and can bring energy and excitement to day-to-day activities.
  2. Patient – Everything takes time. A patient person understands this and knows when to wait, and when to accelerate.
  3. People-Focused – Work with individuals who put people first. Choose people who are supportive and kind to others, even when things are not quite going as planned.
  4. Positive – Attitude is everything. A positive outlook helps build resilience and perseverance. This fortitude and positivity is contagious and positively impacts others, which is especially important when circumstances are challenging.
  5. Pragmatic – A practical person is more likely to get things done and more likely to be creative in seeking solutions. Pick someone who is pragmatic and practical for your team.
  6. Professional – A professional person knows when to focus on the business objectives and communicates in a way which is not-personal, while also enabling and empowering others. 
  7. Principled – It’s much less confusing to communicate and connect with principled leaders as they are generally aligned with values – in thoughts, words and actions.
  8. Proactive – A proactive leader takes initiative even when it’s not their job, even when it means much more work. Erring on the side of the action also improves productivity.
  9. Productive – A productive leader gets things done – no matter what’s asked of them, no matter the constraints, timelines or challenges. Generally, productive leaders are also versatile, agile and excel at multitasking.
  10. Purpose-Driven – A purpose-driven leader passionately works to deliver to their values, connects with teams, delivers to specifications, and, in general, moves the needle forward for both the business and the cause.

May you find the right people for your team – people you who will work and grow with you.

Note that all ten listed qualities start with a ‘P’ and that the list is alphabetized. It’s up to YOU to decide the weighting of each quality – what the must-haves are, the nice-to-haves, and the OK-to-skip, because nobody can have it all, right?