Archive for July, 2021

Building Culture in the Next Normal

July 16, 2021

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FountainBlue’s July 16 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Culture in the Next Normal’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

Our panelists spoke eloquently about the importance of building culture and preparing for that next normal. They emphasized how the pandemic and its aftermath gave everyone a common experience and helped bring people from different backgrounds together. The other side of that experience is that the pandemic also raised the bar for everyone, and people are seeking more meaningful, more engaging, more empowering work experiences. So the question becomes – what can leaders at all levels do to facilitate engagement and empowerment at work? Below is a compilation of thoughts and suggestions from our esteemed panelists.


Lead the Way

  • Distribute the Leadership so that more voices are heard. Encourage others to weigh in with their thoughts and ideas.
  • Make communication more of a two-way interaction. Speak with others rather than just TO others. 
  • Don’t stop at hiring diverse people onto your team. Make sure that they feel included in the work and conversations, and that everyone is equally heard.
  • Make it safe for everyone to bring their full selves at work. Do this in thoughts, words and actions, and align consistently to that standard.
  • Put the safety and welfare of your people first and foremost.
  • Nurture respect and kindness, integrity and excellence.

Work on Yourself

  • Work hard at both your work tasks and also on your relationships.
  • Develop the cultural intelligence and self awareness to know how you can get better at developing yourself and others around you.
  • Choose to become uncomfortable more often, and curious about your own discomfort.
  • Be vulnerable, humble and open, authentic, curious and true.
  • Own up to any mistakes and transgressions for nobody is perfect. Transparent communicate learnings and apologies where appropriate.

Bring Others with You

  • Listen deeply with the intent to learn. Apply your learning in public and proactive ways.
  • Welcome input and feedback, and reward those who provide it.
  • Deeply and genuinely care about others and appreciate and reward others for their contributions.
  • Create win-for-all collaborations.
  • Let others shape and define that next reality, that next work environment.

The bottom line is that we are all the same, while we are all so different. So creating guardrails based on who you are as a company, as a leader, and then working with others to co-create that cultural identity will serve as all well as we co-create that next normal.

What’s Next in Hardware

July 16, 2021

What’s Next in Hardware

FountainBlue’s July 16 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘What’s Next in Hardware’, with our hosts at Renesas. Although our executives in attendance represented a wide range of roles, organizations and industries, they all agreed on the following:

  • Hardware innovation has been accelerating as the pendulum swings back to the need for hardware to support the rampant innovations on the software side.
  • Use cases abound for both enterprises and for consumers. The trick is to drill down on a particular use case and address a problem which the market would fund.
  • The form factor must be smaller, while the functionality must be broader and more versatile. 
  • Digital, analog and power solutions will be integrated and optimized as we continue to innovate.

A key to effective hardware innovation is balancing privacy, security and access. Just as it’s impractical to design a house without windows or doors, we can’t design solutions which are absolutely secure with the utmost protections of our privacy while providing optimized access only to the approved parties all the time, every time.
Another key is the need to focus on real problems which need to be addressed, particularly when decisions need to be made quickly, when lives are at stake. Whether we quickly get more hardware at the edge, integrating with more distributed cloud solutions, or whether we leverage hardware to be more efficient and effective at work, more immersed and involved in life, the truth is that hardware innovations in the next few years will continue to be revolutionary and transformational.
Below are some highlighted opportunities for hardware innovation mentioned by our executives in attendance.
Edge Computing

  • Optimizing hardware solutions on the edge so that processing is more efficient and effective;
  • Designing wireless solutions which provide faster end points;
  • Providing drones to collect data such as gas leaks; 

Energy Management

  • Proactively managing energy efficiency and renewables at data centers and complex end points;
  • Providing low-power, hardware-driven connectivity for enterprise and consumer usage;

Sensing

  • Leveraging hardware to sense everything from light to heat to sound;
  • Designing augmented reality solutions for enterprise and consumer usage;
  • Replicating human senses such as smell and taste;

Integration Challenges and Opportunities

  • Reducing the weight and size of hardware, so that it can be more easily integrated into solutions;
  • Utilizing AI and ML to optimize custom hardware design so we can optimize durability, usefulness and manage risk and wear and tear; 
  • Replacing human functions with hardware and prosthetics;
  • Supporting the growth of the equipment-to-equipment, equipment-to-cell-tower 5G network; 
  • Stretching the capacity in memory so that we can process more information more efficiently; 
  • Offering Confidential computing solutions, embracing hardware as part of the security strategy.

The bottom line is that hardware innovation is a work in progress, with much at stake, as hardware continues to make software smarter. And it’s not just about the technology, just the hardware and software. It’s also about collaborations across organizations and policies and compliance requirements.Although the conversation this morning was eerily futuristic, it was also at the same time utterly real, and absolutely practical and prophetic, exciting and daunting at the same time. 

Next Generation Collaborations

July 9, 2021

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FountainBlue’s July 9 When She Speaks women in leadership program was on the topic of ‘Next Generation Collaborations’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 

Our panelists all extolled the virtues of collaboration, having learned from a very young age that collaboration benefits everyone. They each spoke eloquently about the business results of collaboration, from improved innovation to improved quality, from improved customer satisfaction to more efficient delivery times.

Each panelists has deep experience building relationships to ensure ongoing collaboration and growth for all parties. Building deeper and broader networks also helps with the collaboration agenda, especially as projects and technologies become increasingly more complex.

The give and take of collaborative relationships within and outside the company will continue to be integral to a company’s expansion and growth as we enter the next normal. Predictions for that next normal include:

  • The world will become increasingly more connected and we will all become more interconnected.
  • There will be faster time-to-market requirements coupled with more complex, more personalized deliverables.
  • Quality standards will continue to rise while the pressure for cost reduction also increases.

Therefore to remain competitive:

  • Collaborate to innovate.
  • Include divergent thinking and ideas.
  • Build collaborations across the ecosystem.
  • Collaboration to define new niche markets.
  • Manage and lead so that more voices are heard so that the stage is shared.
  • Build a culture of trust where teams work together to meet common objectives.
  • Listen deeply to understand current and project customer and market needs.
  • Have a clear end goal and rough path with milestones, but be flexible on how you can collaborate with others to deliver.

The bottom line is that collaboration makes everything better than the sum of the parts, so make a point of making every relationship better with each interaction.

Resources:

The Need for Speed

July 5, 2021

FountainBlue’s July 2 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘The Need for Speed. Our thanks to our panelists for their participation – Ronald Goossens, ASML and Archana Muralidharan, Palo Alto Networks.

Our panelists generously and poignantly shared their thoughts and best practices around hot to be speedy. Below is a summary of their suggestions.

Relationships matter. 

  • Empower and inspire your team to collaborate and share so that together the team is more efficient and effective, while also being better at problem-solving.
  • Be customer-centric and take a cow’s-eye view of the world so that you can better understand and even anticipate the needs of the customer. This way you can more efficiently and effectively deliver to their needs.
  • To build trusted relationships, show up as a Competent person with the Capacity to perform assigned duties, the Transparency to candidly communicate (especially if things don’t go as planned), and the Authenticity to speak directly about your own motivations.

Be Strategic.

  • Although we must be focused on quickly delivering for our customers, we must also ensure that we are consistently in alignment with our corporate mission, vision and values. 
  • In the heat of the moment when you’re trying to do things quickly, focus as much on quality (or even more so) than you would on quantity. 
  • Agilely course-correct when the data shows that your plan is not generating intended results.
  • Balance the time you spend ‘on the dance floor’ tactically delivering and the time you spend on the balcony with a larger, more strategic view.
  • Trust Your Instincts, But Back It Up with reliable, accurate data.

Manage Your Projects and People Well.

  • Focus on the why and the what and let your team figure out the how in terms of processes, timing, format, etc., provided that you deliver quality results within reasonable timelines.
  • Welcome input and feedback and be open to the what and the why of that feedback.
  • Differentiate between the Urgent, the Important and the Must-Have and manage accordingly. 
  • When there’s an urgent matter to address, immediately 1) bring in senior people to fully understand the issues, 2) focus on dealing with the immediate and urgent issue first, 3) understand whether it’s a symptom of a more systemic issue, 4) identify and explore the root cause and the fix for that root cause, and 5) explore the implications of the problem to see if there’s a pattern to be fixed and to minimize similar problems.
  • Be known for consistently under-commit and over-deliver.

Our panelists closed by discussing how a leadership strategy should depend on how urgent and important an issue is.

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The Choice Between the Stimulus and the Response

July 1, 2021
The Choice Between the Stimulus and the Response

There will always be stimuli for us – whether they’re sensory, emotional, or mental. Between a stimulus and a response comes a choice. The key is how to make a choice that’s more productive, more proactive, more practical, and more prudent than other options.

  1. First consider the information available from the stimulus.
    • Is this stimulus real, based on information from your senses? If so, which senses are validating this and how urgently is a response needed? See point 2.
    • If this stimulus is not validated by your senses, see points 3-10.
  2. If the stimulus is real, as validated by your senses, consider available choices before making a response. The Amygdala and the sympathetic nervous system have you covered with the flight, fight, and freeze responses. The adrenaline and cortisol plus the stress and anxiety will help you address that stimulus. Taking a moment to consider your choices, time permitting, might help you better optimize your response to this ‘real’ stimulus.
  3. If the stimulus is in your mind, take the time to examine your thoughts, stories, memories, judgments, biases, etc., to see how they might be (negatively) impacting your choices and your responses.
    • Consider making it a habit to be more measured, to take more time, and to include more choices before you respond.
    • Consider including alternative strategies and plans so that you might address the situation in different ways.
  4. Look for an opportunity for personal growth.
    • Consider how a choice might make you more open to alternative ways of thinking, speaking and acting. For example, an unexpected cancelled account or sale might lead to an unexpected new client or new industry target.
    • Consider how you can expose yourself to other people, things, ideas, and processes which stretch your comfort zone. In this same example, if a former client gives you the feedback that your current offerings no longer serve their needs, perhaps it’s an opportunity to expand your product or service offering, or expand your offering to a different client or market segment.
  5. Look for an opportunity to grow your team, product, or organization.
    • Consider the market and technology implications of your options.
    • Consider how you and your team/product/organization can become more competitive, more productive, and more innovative.
  6. Consider how you see people and things not-like-you.
    • Consider your personal feelings and views about people not-like-you, and about things that you’re not comfortable with or don’t know much about.
    • Consider how you can become more open-minded, more compassionate, more inclusive and what that would mean for you if you do so. In the iconic book ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, Sam I am does convince us to try something new and different, and it does change our perspective about not just green eyes and ham, but about other ‘strange and untried’ foods. 
  7. As you start looking more proactively at all the choices in front of you, consider how you can become less reactive as you get better at managing your thoughts, emotions, and stress.
  8. As you more habitually take a breath to evaluate how ‘real’ a stimulus is, and how to respond to a stimulus that’s more in your mind, consider how you can become more self-aware. Notice how this awareness impacts both your professional successes and your personal happiness.
  9. Notice how you can become more proactive and less reactive by more consistently inserting a choice between a stimulus and a response.
  10. Be open-minded and compassionate to others around you who may be reactive, as we all seek to better manage our choices between each stimulus and each response.