Archive for October, 2021

Never Settle

October 15, 2021

FountainBlue’s October 15 Front Line Managers Online meeting on the topic of ‘Never Settle’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. We were fortunate to have such a wise and inspiring panel for our interactive discussion on the topic of ‘Never Settle’. Our panelists consistently communicated WHY we must all adhere to higher standards, WHAT to do to clearly define the goals, and HOW leaders can empower individual team members to consistently achieve exceptional results. Below is a compilation of notes and advice for creating and maintaining exceptional standards.

Work with a Purpose

  • Be clear on the mission/vision and cause and what success looks like in terms of metrics
  • Ensure that thoughts, words, and actions are in alignment with that cause

Empower and Enable People to Succeed

  • Leaders must be clear on the WHY and the WHAT, and empower and enable teams to figure out HOW something should be done. For example, the product team might work with customers to define the what, and the engineering team to figure out to how.
  • Have empathy for your people (especially in these strange times when things are so unpredictable and the line between work and life blurs) and encourage everyone to learn from their mistakes.
  • Sometimes you have to back off on an idea which is not well received, but this doesn’t mean that you have to back down from the idea, or that it might be a good idea in the future. 
  • By reading the temperature in the room, you may be able to tell who needs support and how to help them deliver quality results.
  • Work backwards from the designed final results to meet quality and infrastructure expectations especially as you scale.

Accept Change as a Given, and Manage It Well

  • Be open-minded and even-tempered to the people (and things) which introduce changes and work with others to understand why a change must be made, and how to make the best of the circumstances.
  • Be agile and open, for your perspective and attitude toward any change will greatly impact how successfully you can integrate and work with the change, and help others to do the same. 

The bottom line is that when we connect on a purpose, work and grow together as a team, and deliver exceptional results to very satisfied customers, everyone wins.

Local Input, Global Impact

October 8, 2021

 

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FountainBlue’s October 8 When She Speaks online program on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Cisco and our esteemed panelists.

Our inspiring and outspoken panelists each had their own way of stepping up and stepping in to their full selves, whole-heartedly delivering results locally at work and at home. 

They each excelled in multiple roles, organizations and industries, morphing their skills and learnings to solve complex people, process and product issues, delivering value locally, with impact globally.

They each showed up as their full selves in their personal ways, ever pushing the envelope for themselves, their teams, their companies.

They each leveraged their values and their principles to ensure quality results are delivered, while also ensuring that others benefit from the product or service offered.

They each drive innovation, but in different ways. It might be an innovation of thought, or an innovation which helps improve processes. It might be innovations which help us better understand the problem- set, the patients served. It might be innovations which help us better grow and expand the needs of the customer, and even better anticipate risks or problems. It might be innovations on the way we treat others, the way we welcome divergent people and thinkers.

Their personal missions are as inspiring as they are practical. Indeed, we all stand on the shoulders of women like these.

Below is a compilation of advice from our esteemed panel.

  • Be fully and unapologetically yourself.
  • Create and connect communities and networks of partners, focused on collectively bringing value across the ecosystem.
  • Let the voice of the customer decide how you can serve them locally, and impact the greater cause globally.
  • Adhere to your values – always do well while doing right.
  • Collaborate to leverage technology to solve a social problem.
  • Build a support system around you which will help you be authentically, confidently, fully yourself, with clarity on the thoughts you have, the words you speak, the actions you take. 

Our panel has challenged us all to be fearlessly, relentlessly, authentically and unapologetically yourself, choosing how you act locally, so that you make that global impact.

Automation Use Cases

October 8, 2021

FountainBlue’s October 8 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Automation Use Cases’, with opening remarks by Automation Anywhere. We had a diverse entrepreneurial group of executives who had a wide range of perspectives and experience around automation use cases.

We agreed that automation makes it possible to deliver exceptional, high-quality technical hardware and software solutions more efficiently. It will become as pervasive and prominent as spell-checkers, something that will be ever-present and understood. The question just becomes ‘who will implement which automation use case in what way(s) which drive what results around efficiency and excellence’.

Automation Process Improvement (API) continues to provide prominent use cases as it makes sense to automate the repetitive, redundant, tasks to software bots (‘software elves’) and robots who can more efficiently and accurately perform these tasks. 

  • Although this doesn’t mean that humans will no longer be needed, it does mean that humans should get trained and experienced in tasks which aren’t as easily automated.
  • Some tasks are attended, and some unattended. Each task is managed by humans, providing reports on their work to humans. 
  • It also means that there’s a huge opportunity to delegate tasks which are redundant, hazardous or impractical to robots and software. 

Below are some thoughts on how to manage automation use cases:

  • If the bot or robot does the ‘wrong’, the program must be fixed so that the processes, the actions, the rules, must be changed so that they do the ‘right’ thing. 
  • Managers should learn about what the best workers are doing right, so that others can learn how to do work as efficiently and accurately. If it’s repetitive and redundant enough, the work might even be delegated to a bot or a robot.
  • Automation can be used to quickly identify and even filter out anomalies – products or solutions which do not fit the defined requirements. 

Below are some thoughts on some huge opportunities ahead:

  • From senior care to end-of-life care, automation in the healthcare space can ensure that regular procedures are performed to ensure a good patient experience.
  • Separately, there’s an opportunity for patients to more regularly and deeply connected with loved ones, even if it’s through online means.
  • Automation of robots and bots are currently successfully making 3D-printed robots to do specific things cheaper, faster, leaner.
  • Manufacturing centers may become smaller as the bulk of the product might be produced through automation, leaving the personalization/customization options for more specialized workers to do higher-end tasks.
  • AI is helping companies to more quickly understand the needs of the customer, and more quickly connecting customers to the support they need. 
  • Software and hardware product testing will continue to be largely automated. 

Then the conversation turned more serious. What are the ethical standards around automation? Will humans be replaced by robots? No is the resounding response. 

  • However, workers who have traditionally done the labor-intensive, low-skill, redundant work need to be skilled and trained enough to do work which can’t as easily be automated.

Humans will always be needed to 1) come up with original solutions, 2) represent multiple groups and individuals, 3) connect the dots in creative, original ways which aren’t necessarily based on logic and 4) be the ‘fall guy’, the responsible party should things go south.! See FountainBlue blog ‘Being Human in an Age That’s Digital’ https://fountainblue.blog/2016/07/12/being-human-in-an-age-thats-digital/

The bottom line is that automation will become ever more prominent, for it helps us all to more efficiently and effectively manage people, processes and products.

Be the Sherpa

October 1, 2021

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FountainBlue’s October 1 Front Line Managers Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Be the Sherpa’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. We were fortunate to have such a vibrant and dynamic panel for our interactive discussion on servant leadership. Below is a compilation of notes and advice for leading and empowering others.

Commit to Consistently and Authentically Showing Up

  • Honor your commitments, especially when it’s tough to do so.
  • Err on the side of action.
  • Listen deeply and well to the words and intents of others. 
  • Model the behaviors you seek.
  • Ensure that your involvement and participation makes things better for everyone involved and the project in general.
  • Consistently think, speak and walk your talk.

Choose to Do Work You Love for People Who Matter to You

  • Do right by others. 
  • Bring your full self to work, and welcome others to do the same.
  • Build relationships, networks and communities of trust, where everyone enjoys working with each other to make some challenging, important things happen.
  • Be happy and eager to connect with your team, and make sure that they are happy and eager to connect with you.

Focus on the Big Picture – Delivering Results

  • Communicate consistently, regularly, authentically and transparently, with a focus on delivering targeted results in collaboration with key stakeholders and partners.
  • Challenge each other to consistently deliver on stretch goals.

Honor All Stakeholders

  • Know the motivations of the sponsors, staff, customers, partners, and other interested parties and deliver to their needs.
  • Make sure that everyone feels acknowledged and heard and respected.

The bottom line is that servant leadership empowers and inspires everyone to do great things. My thanks to our panel for modeling that message well!

Raising the Bar for Morality

October 1, 2021
Making Decisions So We Do Right and Do Well

This month, I will be speaking on the topic of ‘Corporate Citizenship, Ethics and Morality’ when nothing’s normal to a group of senior HR executives. This is an important topic as nobody can rely on laws and regulations for each scenario, and decision-making relies on the use of good judgment and high moral standards.

I’ll frame my remarks based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development.* Although Kohlberg’s research was about how children develop their sense of morality and justice based on moral dilemmas**, I believe that it was deep implication in the corporate world.

What’s relevant are the corporate use cases around doing the right thing. Relevant use cases for today include the below:

  • Outsourcing your work
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work
  • Promotion, bonus and hiring practices
  • Resource allocation
  • Project assignment

These issues have been with leaders since we first started gathering in groups, but with today’s war for talent, with the focus on retaining, growing, and promoting the most qualified and engaged talent, with the new definition of normal, the stakes become much higher.

Laws and precedence and short-term rewards aren’t sufficient guidelines on how to make ethical, proactive choices. Below is a framework to consider as you evaluate the options for each moral dilemma.

  • Is it the truth? How do you know it’s the truth? Don’t act without knowing the truth…
  • Are all parties being transparent about what’s true? Insist on transparency in most cases…
  • Would it be helpful to share the truth? Sometimes, the truth is better not shared…
  • Is it the right time to share this truth?
  • What are the best options for being firm (but kind), fair, and consistent? You don’t have to be the person who implements the best options…
  • What is the morality/ethics of the dilemma given the best options available?
  • What is the ripple effect for decisions made on culture, brand, relationships, business, etc.,?

Making the right choices on ethics, morality and civility is the responsibility of people at all levels every day – not just the responsibility of senior executives and not just sometimes. Therefore, it’s everyone’s responsibility to step up and speak out, to err on the side of doing the right thing, for every transgression or injustice ignored is an implied approval…

What we each think, say and do has implications for others. Doing the right thing for the business, for the people, may not present the recognition and reward you’re seeking, but it may raise the bar for civility, morality, and culture. And this is a good thing.

* The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice (Essays on Moral Development, Volume 1) Hardcover – July 1, 1981 https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Moral-Development-Stages-Justice/dp/0060647604

**Kohlberg Dilemmas http://ww3.haverford.edu/psychology/ddavis/p109g/kohlberg.dilemmas.html

How to Build Culture When Nothing’s Normal

October 1, 2021
How to Build Culture When Nothing's Normal

I’m always impressed by the breadth of knowledge, wisdom, creativity and passion in the FountainBlue community. My thanks to those of you who were able to complete the Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal survey, reply to an email, or speak for a few minutes over the phone regarding your thoughts, strategies and best practices. Below is a compilation of all input, communicated across two charts, describing:

  • How to define and communicate a cultural norm
  • How to think, speak and walk the talk

One list shows how to manage and lead from any chair, while the other is about how to move the needle forward as an individual.

We welcome your e-mail feedback on any of our posts on ‘Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal‘ posts to date. For our November post, we will talk about Building Culture Use Cases, as framed with football analogies. Please share your thoughts and ideas by e-mailing us at info@whenshespeaks.com

Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal

As a leader at all levels, Define and Communicate a Cultural Norm

  1. Articulate a burning platform.
  2. Create a customer focus.
  3. Communicate an all-in mindset.
  4. Develop an all-one mentality.
  5. Model transparent communication.
  6. Embrace diverse perspectives.
  7. Collaborate to achieve outrageous goals.
  8. Ensure clear accountability.
  9. Facilitate friendly competition.
  10. Celebrate measurable outcomes.

As an individual, regardless of your level, Think, Speak and Walk the Talk

  1. Align personal values with choices made at work.
  2. Be respectful and positive, yet direct and clear.
  3. Embrace learning opportunities.
  4. Apply learnings to challenges and opportunities.
  5. Grow stronger with each adversity.
  6. Develop agility and flexibility.
  7. choose to be open and curious.
  8. Listen attentively to a wide range of people.
  9. Share best practices to enable the success of others. 
  10. Celebrate successes and keep raising the bar.