Archive for April, 2022

One Dot a Point, Two Dots a Line, Three Dots a Trend

April 22, 2022

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FountainBlue’s April 15 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘One Dot a Point, Two Dots a Line, Three Dots a Trend’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation. Our esteemed panelists talked about the importance of data as we lead and manage our day-to-day work and communications. Data will remain the life’s blood of our work, as we all manage people, processes and technologies. We need the data to:

  • coordinate, communicate and collaborate with others
  • design and develop solutions which address the needs of the customer
  • measure and report on progress on specific goals
  • manage and optimize resources 
  • ensure privacy, security and access

Below is a compilation of best practices around the usage and management of data.
Get the Right Data

  • Make sure that you have the right data – that it is secure, relevant, up-to-date. (If you have garbage going in, you’ll have garbage going out – the GIGO principle.)
  • Strategically decide how that right data can inform problem-solving, decision-making, road-mapping, planning, etc.
  • Ensure that there is enough data from the wide range of sources so that accurate conclusions can be drawn.
  • Create filters so you collect the most relevant data.
  • Incentivize the team to collect the data so that all can better anticipate and address needs of the customer. 
  • Develop the processes which make it easy for everyone to add feedback and data to the system, with the intent of better understanding how we can all improve.

Strategically Leverage the Data

  • Use data as a framework to get buy-in for projects and programs.
  • Succinctly communicate project status with overviews and tables, with details linked to an overview report.
  • Collaborate with all parties to ensure that the data is relevant and timely, so that it can inform everyone on progress.

Protect the Data

  • Ensure that your data and network are safe and secure, especially as many of our equipment, devices and appliances are inter-connected across the network.
  • Configure layers of access to sensitive data and closely manage that access to minimize risk of data breaches.
  • Store and protect all data so that it can be efficiently and securely accessed. 

The bottom line is that it’s NOT about whether we use the data, it will be about HOW we use the RIGHT data so we have the relevant information to make the right choices for ourselves, our teams, our organizations, our customers.

Building Employee Experience as the X Factor

April 16, 2022

FountainBlue’s April 15 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Leveraging Employee Experience as the X Factor’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Gigamon and our esteemed panelists. 

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Clearly, our panelists are great leaders and managers who are consistently passionate about delivering exceptional employee experiences not only because it’s good for business, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They humbly led by example, building trust and follower-ship through authentic, courageous, on-point connection and communication.
  • They worked with leaders at all levels to ensure that clear objectives are declared, that milestones and results are delivered, and that clear and transparent communication is maintained.
  • They each consistently think, speak and act through a lens of inclusivity and empowerment, ensuring that others have the confidence and resources to further support the vision and goals. 
  • They are each curious about the perspective of others, and open enough to learn from others.

Below is a composite of best practices for building employee engagement:

  • Lead the way, while being receptive to the input of others at all levels. 
  • Embrace diversity as a catalyst for innovation.
  • Keep building positive momentum and energy with a learning and growth mindset.
  • Consistently communicate with authenticity, openness and vulnerability. 
  • Welcome the whole person to work, and make it easy for people to fully participate at work. 
  • Just say no to inappropriate and unproductive behavior! It leads to a bad experience for everyone.

The pandemic has made us think differently about how we can keep our employees engaged and inspired. The in-person incentives like free food, ping pong tables and networking events may not be enough/right even if/when we return fully to work.

So re-thinking about how we keep our employees engaged and committed and delivering exceptional employee experience will continue to be that X Factor. It’s clear that our panelists will continue to lead the way in this regard.

Leading Industry 4.0

April 15, 2022
Leading Industry 4.0

FountainBlue’s April 15 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Leading Industry 4.0’, with opening remarks by Intel. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.

Water and steam brought on Industry 1.0, which brought people and things efficiently from place to place. Electricity brought power to a large mass of people, bringing huge transformations characteristic of Industry 2.0.Electronics and IT and the underlying networking around it enabled the advances for Industry 3.0. Now connected devices and networks are bringing on the Digital Revolution foundational to Industry 4.0. This revolution will continue to enable the convergence and acceleration within and between industries, even those not traditionally in tech. Specific advancements across industries include:

  • accessibility to data
  • mobility of devices and robots
  • simulations leveraging hardware and software
  • innovations on the edge
  • advanced connectivity
  • storage on the cloud and on devices

The opportunities are great, but the risks and challenges also exist, including the need to balance privacy, security and access, the need to manage data so that the relevant data informs decision-making, the need to overcome resistance to the adoption of digital technologies, tools and processes, the need to upgrade policies and protocols, etc.,
Below are recommended best practices for leading Industry 4.0 in manufacturing:

  • Manage a ‘dark fab’ which would best leverage automation, robotics and co-botics while also ensuring that humans are actively involved in the design and oversight of the same.
  • Optimize the supply chain to proactively plan to meet manufacturing and customer goals without compromising quality and integrity, while respecting the work-life balance for team members. 
  • Use scenario-based planning to optimize the visioning, planning and execution around manufacturing goals.
  • Leverage the expertise and insights of a wider range of backgrounds and industries – including chemical engineering, data science, energy generation, material science, – to more broadly address the challenges and opportunities.
  • Collaborate to design, plan and deliver solutions which are energy-efficient, cost-efficient, resilient and sustainable, while optimizing for performance and versatility.
  • Innovate in collaboration with others so that you can more effectively design solutions which address a broader range of needs for a longer period of time.

Below are examples of cutting-edge thoughts and ideas which will drive the next level of innovation around manufacturing:

  • Carbon-neutral technology which would help more efficiently and effectively support manufacturing goals
  • AR/VR Immersion solutions leveraged by field service engineers to more efficiently serve customers with personalized solutions
  • LEAN manufacturing solutions which help develop supply chain resilience and even at times make qualified projections for future needs
  • Industrial automation solutions which are seamless and integrated
  • Proactive waste management planning across the manufacturing process
  • AI solutions which help filter and manage data, and make recommendations based on data
  • ML solutions which make projections based on past data trends 

The opportunities and challenges are mind-boggling. But core to success is the ability to: 1) bridge silos and collaborate within and across teams, organizations and industries; 2) jointly create the infrastructure to enable innovation and the platform for collaboration; 3) focus on the ARR (annual recurring revenues) for the choices made for the short-term, while ensuring long term growth; 4) work with organizations to do the right (social, environmental, political, economic) thing by and for others and 5) invest in the people and leaders who will bring it all together, including each of the executives who joined our discussion today.
The bottom line is that the customers are demanding efficient and effective manufacturing to provide the high-quality, customized solutions they need to live and work and thrive. The winners are the organizations and leaders who can collaborate with others to best serve them.

Digital Transformation

April 8, 2022

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FountainBlue’s April 8 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Customer-Led Digital Transformation’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an experienced and engaging set of panelists, representing a diverse range of backgrounds, roles and organizations. They had much in common:

  • They took an ecosystem-approach to digital transformation which is strategic, collaborative, and customer-oriented.
  • They addressed technical, business, operational, customer, and other challenges to create the opportunities provided by digital transformation.

Indeed, our panelists agreed that digital transformation:

  • is impacting a wide range of leaders, industries and solutions;
  • is now and will continue to be a key differentiator for adding value for customers,
  • is integral for managing the customer journey, bridging silos across an organization,

Below is a summary of best practices proposed by our esteemed panel.

Be Strategic

  • Create and communicate a vision around digital transformation and the value it provides for all parties.
  • Although nobody can see the future, make an effort to anticipate what the future trends are and how they will impact customers. 
  • Strategically decide which products or solutions would add the most value for your customers and agilely pivot as necessary as things evolve.
  • Understand the factors and weightings which impact product/solution choices made and strategically manage directions and milestones accordingly.

Be Collaborative and Bold

  • Build alignment at all levels around the transformation objectives, milestones and timing.
  • Embrace a growth opportunity rather than hanging on to how things used to work.
  • Enable your workforce to fail fast, and fail forward, so that learning takes place.

Be Efficient

  • Provide personalized solutions for your clients, but make it easy to efficiently do it. (Sometimes that involves creating modules of code around micro-services…)

Be Customer-Focused

  • Be clear on who your customers are and how best to serve them.

Communicate Clearly and Consistently

  • Ensure that the message, messenger, and metrics are clear across the customer journey, navigating multiple groups across the organization.

Our panelists concluded that digital transformation is one of those inevitable directions. Leaders at all levels need to choose how and when digital transformation is adopted. The Winners will do so efficiently and proactively, with a focus on the needs of the customer.

Building Engagement

April 1, 2022

Experience is that X-factor, but the goal of experience is Engagement. Engagement is the secret to recruiting, retaining, reskilling, developing, growing and advancing the workforce. And the workforce, our people, make-or-break an organization’s success.

Sure, you have to start with creating a product with high and growing demand, and yeah, you have to compensate fairly, providing ample opportunities for growth. Indeed, you need a culture where it’s safe for people to bring their full selves to work, an organization who cares about the community, sustainability, and social justice. So right that you need to inspire with the vision, mission, and day-to-day work…

But let’s say those foundational pieces are solidly in place, and leaders at all levels are well positioned to grow traction in many good ways. This does not mean that your work is done.

It means that you can focus on building the kind of engagement which makes your people proud to show up at work, eager to go the extra mile, excited to bring impact in ways inside and outside their job descriptions. Below are some best practices for building engagement in the workplace.

  1. Be authentic and true: Consistently think, speak and walk the talk at all levels.
  2. Build connections and community within and outside the organization: These intertwined connections and sense of community are the fabric which helps people stick together.
  3. Make it safe to show up fully: Model and reward engagement, inquiry, and commitment.
  4. Showcase successes at all levels of the organization: Celebrate wins and empower, encourage and reward all to contribute to these wins.
  5. Reward curiosity and out-of-box thinking: Stretching our view of what’s normal and what should be done will help us all be more agile and more innovative.
  6. Fearlessly model the way: Authentically communicating with vulnerability and transparency builds trust and culture as well as commitment and loyalty.
  7. Value the divergent mindset: Encourage serendipitous discovery – find the magic in coloring outside the lines, in unintended innovations.
  8. Focus on the why and the what and not the how: Inspire with the why, communicate clearly on the what, provide resources and support on how things get done.
  9. Provide ample access to resources, data and support: Enable outstanding execution through generous support.
  10. Connect people to the projects, connections, and technologies which would stretch them: Provide continued access to the people, technologies and processes which would help your people to grow and thrive.

The bottom line is that providing our engaged people with rich and fulfilling experiences will support everyone and make for a richer culture and better business results. The opposite is also true: providing enriching experiences will also lead to more engaged employees!