Archive for August, 2021

Negotiating for a Win-Win

August 20, 2021

FountainBlue’s August 20 Front Line Managers Online meeting on the topic of ‘Negotiating for a Win-Win’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

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Our panelists have vast experiences and perspectives on how to successfully negotiate on behalf of yourself, your team, your loved ones. Below is a compilation of best practices.

  • See negotiating as more of an opportunity to solve a problem than of a contentious, argumentative interaction with others.
  • Work together all-in, as one to find and create solutions which serve the interests of all stakeholders.
  • Embrace the opportunity to work with people not-like-you.
  • Manage your emotions so that you have the energy to manage the communications and interactions.
  • Progress a conversation, a relationship, a position to reach a desired end goal, which serves the needs of all parties.
  • Prove value through the data. Use the data to continue to secure buy-in.
  • Reframe negotiations as shared opportunities and challenges and have a conversation about what is needed, how important it is, how urgent it is, etc., so that relevant parties can make an informed decision.
  • Refrain from the blaming, the should-ing, the self-centeredness which jeopardizes relationships and progress.

Pointers for negotiating when dealing with uncertainty:

  • Embrace the unexpected.
  • Be agile and gracious, proactive and positive. 
  • Commit to the process.
  • Persevere and find a way to get a win-for-all result.
  • Find ways to work together and act as one team to overcome uncertainty together.
  • Watch out not just for your own interest, but also for the interests of others.

Below are some steps to a negotiation process:

  • Insist on respect for all parties, and listening to all participants.
  • (Those who can’t follow rule #1 will not participate in the negotiation process.)
  • Communicate leveraging data.
  • Consider multiple options.
  • If you do an ask, present also what you will give.

The bottom line is that aiming for a win-win result increases the likelihood you will get one!

What He Said, What He Meant

August 13, 2021

FountainBlue’s August 13 When She Speaks women in leadership series program was on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung and our esteemed panelists. 

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Our panelists represented both genders and multiple companies, industries and backgrounds. They were each passionate about the need for men and women to better communicate to drive the business imperative. Whether it helps build relationships and trust, or it helps everyone better coordinate and delegate, when a mixed-gender team can better connect and communicate, business operations improve, the culture is healthier, and the people are happier in general.

Below are some areas where men and women might differ, in general.

  • Women tend to be more emotional.
  • Women tend to be more inclusive and collaborative.
  • Women might be more likely to speak in a stream of consciousness.
  • Women might be more sensitive to how something is communicated.
  • Men might come across as more confident.
  • Men might seek logical explanations more quickly.
  • Men might be less verbose.
  • Men might be more direct and confrontational, but may not intend it to be personal.

Below are some best practices for better communicating with men.

  • Assume positive intent.
  • Understand motivations and intentions.
  • Manage your own emotions, especially preventing yourself from ‘looping’ when emotions run high. Know your own trigger points and help yourself get centered.
  • Focus on getting the job done.
  • Accept that there are different communication styles, but act as one integrated team, focusing on collaborating to get the job done.
  • Be open-minded and flexible.
  • Be curious, ask questions.
  • Trust your instincts but communicate with data.
  • Don’t be intimidated.
  • Have confidence.
  • Help each other understand and succeed.

The bottom line is that if you can understand and accept gender differences in communication and work through communication challenges, you and your team will more likely deliver results.

Resource: Why Men and Women Think Differently? This Guy Nailed It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkZvLHiaHQc

Next Generation Wireless

August 13, 2021

Next Generation Wireless

FountainBlue’s August 13 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Next Generation Wireless’, with our hosts at Samsung. Although our executives in attendance represented a wide range of roles, organizations and industries, they all agreed that impressive developments in wireless technology and in infrastructure have helped the digital-philic consumers and businesses connect with each other and provide contact-free services. Indeed, without meeting tools like Zoom and delivery options for staples and meals, the pandemic would have made day-to-day life much more difficult.


Below is advice on growing the wireless market.

  • Focus on the problems affecting niche industries including education, healthcare, transportation, automotive.
  • Create the stable technologies and infrastructures and solutions that are foundational to successful implementation, and partner with trusted others to collaboratively address industry challenges.

Below are thoughts on upcoming wireless innovations.

  • Immersive experiences will be the next generation of wireless. These experiences will leverage technology so that the experience is more three-dimensional, simulating real-life. 
  • Sensors will become smaller, less power-consuming, more powerful, and more versatile at the same time. The challenge becomes how to integrate this plethora of sophisticated devices to manage/optimize functionality while protecting privacy, security and access.
  • Hardware innovations around consumer electronics will continue to ensure that users get access to more sophisticated solutions on their phones. 
  • Power innovation and optimization will be a key to drive wireless innovation.

But challenges remain.

  • How do we help ensure that we can all benefit from technology, bridging the divide between the haves and have-nots?
  • How do we increase compute and communication across private and public sectors, delivering a breadth of customized, scalable services when it’s difficult to envision the evolving needs of the customer?
  • How do we securely connect and fuel the devices on the edge and connect them with other devices and solutions so that people and things can respond real-time, especially when lives (and revenues) are at stake?

The bottom line is that convergence is happening – across technologies, across industries, across companies, across markets. The pandemic has amplified the speed of these convergences. Successful companies and leaders are providing the technology, connectivity, infrastructure and platform so that we can create customized programmable solutions which will enable and empower the way we live and work.

Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World

August 6, 2021

FountainBlue’s August 6 Front Line Managers Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-philic World’. My thanks to our panelists for their participation. 

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Our panelists represented a wide breadth of roles and organizations, but each showed how creativity helped them to better manage and lead their teams and functions. They agreed that:

  • Creativity helps teams and organizations be more innovative.
  • Creativity helps to drive a business strategy.
  • Creativity helps us be more open, more engaged.
  • Creativity helps us all be more labile, agile and relevant, which is very important in these times of great change.

Below are some ideas for inviting more creativity in your teams.

  • Make it safe to speak up and speak out, and reward people for doing so, especially if they are not comfortable doing so.
  • Be creative yourself, leading by example.
  • Be curious about the why, so that you can frame the right problem to creatively solve, and so you understand the motivations of all stakeholders.
  • Define the problem set and the solution options and have an open and broad tolerance for solutions which might address the identified problems.
  • Ask questions about how things have been done in the past, how things need to happen in the future, what resources are available and required, so you have a framework to think creatively around.
  • Be clear on what needs to be done, but open about HOW things are done.
  • Be good at understanding the story, and telling that story in different ways, depending on the audience. This takes flexibility, knowledge and creativity for sure!
  • Know the ramifications of choices made today on the future, way downstream. It takes creativity to factor the future in.
  • Transparently communicate the ‘whys’ and the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’ and question HOW these whats and hows and whys came to be.
  • Be customer-centric, curious about the problems they’re facing, and how they are experiencing the proposed solution.

The bottom line is that many people at all levels in all roles will question whether the Creatives belongs in a tech company. If and when they do, confidently respond that the Creatives should be embraced as it benefits individuals, teams and organizations.

Let the circumstances and requirements be the guardrails, but proudly and confidently DO YOU! 

Redefining ‘Normal’

August 1, 2021
Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal

All the talk has been about the pandemic and how it has been affecting our work and personal lives, as well as how it’s impacting how we do business now and going forward. As the sands keep shifting beneath all of us, independent of gender, race, education, role, and background, we wonder when things will go back to normal and how we can survive and thrive until then.

However, the truth is that some things, including corporate culture, have fundamentally changed, and won’t return  to ‘normal’. With that said, there are things that leaders and managers at all levels can do, despite this fact.

This article will be the first chapter for a book I’m writing entitled ‘Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal’. I will release more chapters in upcoming blogs. The book outline is shown at the bottom of the chapter. 

For this article, we will pontificate on why things won’t be returning to normal.

  1. Our shared experience

Never before have we had such a common experience – one which has touched everyone everywhere so deeply, so directly, one that connects us viscerally, while also isolating us unapologetically. 

Leaders and managers at all levels must leverage this sense of shared experience to drive engagement, to promote meritocracy, to correct misperceptions, to update policies, processes and procedures, and ultimately to connect more deeply as ONE team with a common purpose.

  1. Our sense of purpose

Regardless of whether you or your loved ones were directly impacted, the pandemic caused health and welfare issues which helped us all see the fragility and preciousness of life. With that realization, it’s only natural to look at how you’re living your life and whether your day-to-day life choices are in alignment with your values and your life mission. Thus, many are looking at securing more meaningful work that’s in alignment with their values.

As managers and leaders, emphasizing the mission and vision of a company and ensuring that each employee feels like they are contributing to that purpose has become more important than ever. 

  1. Our ability to embrace change

We had to change our habits when the pandemic hit us to meet our minimum basic needs. For some, that meant working from home and ordering everything with no-contact delivery. For others, that meant embracing new technologies, processes, and people.

Leaders and managers at all levels must accept that change is inevitable, and that change will happen much more quickly now. The new standards or ‘normal’ will keep evolving, but it’s a given that rapid change will be an integral part of that evolution.

  1. Our dependence on technology

Whether we were masters of tech or mere newbies, the pandemic’s made many of us embrace technology at a new level so that we can do our jobs and carry on with our lives. With technology now more ubiquitous than ever, its adoption and advancement will only continue to accelerate. 

Managers and leaders at all levels must address the challenge of providing resources and support so that people can efficiently upgrade to more versatile, more powerful, more personalized technology solutions – those which would ideally also respect privacy, access and security protocols. 

  1. Our desire for balance

Gone are the days when we work long hours, depriving ourselves and our loved ones regularly of quality time together. We are willing to work hard, but not as a matter of course, and not exceedingly often.

Leaders and managers must recognize everyone’s need for balancing work and life and provide appropriate compensation and recognition for reasonable hours. Otherwise, they will risk losing employees who highly value a balance between life and work.

  1. Our focus on efficiency and convenience

Out of necessity, many of us found the most convenient and efficient way to stay safe while also addressing our basic needs – like food, water and safety! We adjusted well to ordering-on-demand and expecting things to be delivered to our doors efficiently.

Managers and leaders must acknowledge this mindset as it will transfer to work. How can we more efficiently provide customized, personalized goods and services to our employees  and teams so that they continue to be efficient at work?

  1. Our drive to deeply connect with others

Humans are social beings, but our desire for social connection varies. Some of us thrived in social isolation. Others of us wilted as social circles shrunk. As more and more people begin to return to in-person work, many have thought deeply about what type of social interactions they’d like to have, with whom, and how frequently.

As leaders and managers, it’s important to recognize these preferences and find ways to ensure bonding and connection within a team or company, despite the wide variance of social connection needs.

  1. Our respect for science

It’s science that has helped us move beyond the reactive response mode to the logical mode by understanding the mechanisms of the virus and how vaccination can increase our immunity. Recent pandemic-related scientific accomplishments showcased how science and technology can more quickly and effectively address challenging issues.

Managers and leaders must bridge the divide between those who are pro-science/pro-tech and those who might be vaccine hesitant, while also investing in science and technology and research. 

  1. Our interest in justice

Many of us have witnessed the injustices highlighted by the pandemic, the divide between the haves and the have-nots. It forced us to look at what’s just and how to provide more equal opportunities for all. 

As leaders and managers, equal opportunity and treatment will be a much higher priority to many.

  1. Our search for our selves

Many of us have gone on a journey of self awareness, asking ourselves what it’s all about. We have a greater understanding of what we stand for, who and what is important to us, what we need to do to ensure our loved ones feel important, and that our every thought, every word, every action is in alignment with our purpose.

As leaders and managers, we must take an inside-out, outside-in approach to ensure that we meet the needs and objectives of the people who work with and for us.

We look forward to sharing this journey with you, as we build culture and redefine normal. We welcome corporate managers and leaders at all levels to contribute to our online survey for inclusion in our upcoming blogs.