Archive for May, 2022

Resolving Conflict When Stakes are High

May 20, 2022
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FountainBlue’s May 20 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Resolving Conflict when the Stakes are High’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Where there are people, there will be conflict. It’s a part of life, agreed our panelists. And the stakes are often high in the conflicts we oversee, manage and navigate day-to-day. There are many causes for the increased amount of conflict and the increased stakes around the conflicts.

  • We live in a connected world and the pressure to perform and deliver is high, and the range of needs is broad.
  • There are constraints to what each party can do to address the changing needs of customers, partners, staff, etc., yet the demand for quality and efficiency remains high.
  • The interdependence between disparate parties requires coordination and active management to ensure that everything is aligned to deliver exceptional service.
  • The need to deal with a wide range of technologies and integrations makes coordinating and working complex, and more likely to lead to conflicts.

Below are some best practices offered by our esteemed panel for proactively managing conflict.
Be Strategic

  • Align on the overarching vision and goals, and be less rigid on how things should get done.
  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities and push back if you see words and actions which conflict with them. 
  • Proactively manage the expectations of all parties, and ensure alignment with common goals. 
  • Collaborate with the right niche parties to ensure that every facet of a project is addressed.
  • Take an ecosystem approach to managing projects, so you learn about all the key players and their motivations as well as the inter-dependencies between each entity in the ecosystem.

Grow the Network

  • Build relationships of trust and keep growing those networks.
  • Recruit others to your team who can complement your own personal style.
  • Create win-win agreements as you work together on conflicts. 

Be Strong, Clear and Direct to Manage through Conflicts

  • Speak courageously, transparently, and authentically when there is conflict, and exercise openness, empathy and compassion to understand the needs and motivations of others. 
  • Speak with data and without emotion to address political maneuverings, self-serving behaviors, and inflammatory communications which may damage relationships, deliverables, productivity, etc.,
  • Have the meeting before the meeting to head off conflict at meetings or one-on-one.

The bottom line is that we must accept that there will always be conflict, and with proactive management, we can all grow stronger and better if we manage it well.

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

May 13, 2022
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FountainBlue’s May 13 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Expanding Your Circle of Influence’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Texas Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 

We were fortunate to have such inspiring, accomplished and influential panelists for this month’s When She Speaks program. Although they represented a wide breadth of backgrounds and experiences, they had much in common:

  • They proactively navigated the challenges and opportunities in their personal and professional lives to continue to learn and grow, while inspiring and empowering others around them.
  • They embraced opportunities to try new things, even when it was intimidating to do so, and learned from their successes, but learned more from their failures.
  • They have the self-awareness and the strength to challenge themselves and choose to be better, to do better for themselves, and for those they touch.

Our panelists commented on how being influential can help them better:

  • Run fast, run well, and move slowly when necessary.
  • Feel heard, be heard, drive strategy and impact results.
  • Collaborate, connect, and conspire with others to move the needle forward.

Below is a compilation of their advice on how to be more influential. 
Be Strategic

  • Clearly communicate and connect on the business and social/sustainability value of what you’re doing, and empower and inspire everyone to contribute to that common goal.
  • Embrace a learning and growing mindset, and humbly empower others around you to grow and succeed.

Communicate with Influence

  • Communicate with transparency, authenticity and purpose. Listen deeply and well so that the thoughts and ideas of others can contribute to that purpose, and so that all can be engaged with that purpose.
  • Let the data inform your communications, decisions, and strategies.
  • Think, speak and act in alignment with your values and the vision, and be resilient and focused on delivering measurable results. 
  • Understand the motivations of others around you who may be resistant to a concept, technology, project or idea you’re advocating.
  • Consider the words you choose and the way you speak them, as well as the profile and interests of the audiences you’re addressing. 

Expand Your Circle of Influence

  • Collaborate to make things happen, for we all have pieces of the puzzle – independent of role, seniority, organization, gender, geography, etc.
  • Invite people with diverse backgrounds into the fold, and inspire, empower and enable them to speak their ideas and their truth, for the betterment of all.

Below are thoughts on how to expand your own influence.

  • Be other-centric rather than self-centric. It’s hard to follow and support someone who has a WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) attitude. And it’s very clear to all who has that attitude.
  • Choose carefully who you spend time with and how you give and receive energy with every conversation and connection. 
  • Challenge yourself and others to do better, be better, while being positive and constructive at all times. 
  • Help everyone “be the change they want to see”.

It was my pleasure to facilitate such an inspiring and powerful panel of influential world-changing leaders. They challenge us all to not only be more influential, but also to inspire and empower all we touch to do the same.

Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions

May 13, 2022
FountainBlue’s May 13, 2022 VIP Roundtable: Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions

FountainBlue’s May 13 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions’, with opening remarks by GE Digital Grid. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.

Our executives in attendance exclaimed many times about the major shift in focus toward  carbon-neutral energy solutions over the past decade. No longer do we need to make the business/social/ sustainability/practical business case about WHY we must adopt more carbon-neutral solutions.

Our executives agree that the focus will now be on WHICH options we adopt (try them all), WHAT we do collaboratively (everything) and HOW we can work better together to drive leadership and innovation to better adopt more technologies and solutions for each of us today, and for the future. Our executives are bullish about the market and technology opportunities over the next decade for carbon-neutral energy solutions. They agree that it will not be easy to implement and realize these solutions because they:

  • must leverage hardware and software designed to manage energy generation, storage, distribution, and usage. 
  • must support the reliability, sustainability, safety, sustainability, security, policy, affordability, demand goals from a wide range of customers. 
  • must collect and manage, filter and process huge volumes of data real-time in order to provide meaningful dashboards of information to stakeholders so that decisions can be made, actions can be taken.
  • must manage the integration of both traditional and renewable energy into a common grid, ensuring that customers only receive usable energy sources. 
  • must work with utilities and their customers, using the infrastructure around the electrical grid, and selectively integrating devices on the edge. 

Below are some thoughts on opportunities and innovations for carbon-neutral energy solutions:

  • Leverage digital twin technology may help utilities and organizations plan for energy management and distribution scenarios.
  • Gather data from the edge can better inform energy usage and generation patterns real-time and also make projections for future energy usage.
  • Connecting a network of disparate renewal energy generation sources so we can help better manage the energy in the grid.
  • Providing temporary power solutions to customers with utility/infrastructure challenges may be necessary if customers adopt solutions before the infrastructure/utilities are ready. 
  • Consider last-minute drone and robot solutions for providing more carbon-neutral solutions for the delivery of goods.

Below are thoughts on how we can drive innovation in this space.

  • Invite the participation of a wide breadth of scientists and technicians to collaborate on designing and implementing carbon-neutral energy solutions – from chemical engineers to data scientists, from physicists to pharmacists, from geologists to rocket engineers.
  • Technology will play a major role in creating, designing, planning, and delivering a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Create demand from the ground up, and visioning and execution from the top-down so we can drive more momentum for a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Be consistently vocal to policy-makers and influencers, and insist that they rise above the politics and support the carbon-neutral solutions which serve us all today and in the future. 

In closing, we agreed that there is no silver bullet, but we brainstormed what each of us today today to embrace and support carbon-neutral energy solutions:

  • Start now, and do something little and big every day.
  • Educate yourself on practical carbon-neutral solutions and integrate them into your day-to-day work and life.
  • Adopt electric vehicles which offer better torque/acceleration/power at lower cost.
  • Choose a role/job/activity/vision which would support a carbon-neutral future. 
  • Push for policy and legislative changes using your influence in ways big and small.
  • Push the boundaries on what’s possible.
  • Support your local utilities and policy-makers in upgrading and updating the infrastructure which will take us from here to there.
  • Be open-minded about the technology and market opportunities for carbon-neutral solutions. 
  • Collaborate with others to make commitments and sacrifices for the greater good.

It is conversations like this that give me hope for a better world – one that leverages innovation and leadership for the greater good. Please join me again in thanking our participating executives and the larger FountainBlue community for their insights and participation.

Embracing an Agile Mindset

May 6, 2022
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FountainBlue’s May 6 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Embracing an Agile Mindset’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. Below are notes from the conversation. 

Our esteemed panelists concur that change is an inevitable part of life. They have each navigated much change:

  • in their own career paths, going from one role/function/organization/industry to another
  • in their personal lives through major life events
  • in their day-to-day lives at work, working with a diverse range of stakeholders

All this change has been amplified with the pandemic, and will continue to impact us all as the future remains uncharted and unclear. But fear not, they have some best practices and resources to share:

Be willing to lead the change.

  • Be open minded, and invite others who are not-like-you to the table, to support the inevitable decision-making/problem-solving/strategic planning/sustainable execution and other challenges in front of us.
  • Ask the ‘why’ question around change before you talk about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of change.
  • Create psychological safety so that everyone feels empowered to participate in the change management process.
  • Accept what you must accept, and adapt where you must adapt, but keep centered on your core values and on your strategic goals as a leader, as an individual, as a team, as an organization.
  • Listen patiently and deeply from a wide range of stakeholders about the need for a change before moving to the planning and execution of a change.

Build an Engaged Network and Ecosystem

  • Build an ecosystem of trust, working with trusted parties to plan and execute on the goals for a change.
  • Be cognizant of the motivations of your team, and work with them to ensure they are empowered and engaged.
  • Build a culture and network where learning opportunities are celebrated, where collaboration and divergent thinking are encouraged and rewarded.

Grow Momentum Behind the Change

  • Be mindfully focused on the goals and objectives and ensure alignment with the values of the organization and project.
  • Override resistance to change with quick wins, win-win negotiations, strategic conversations focused on goals, and building relationships of trust.
  • Break down complex solutions into manageable achievable pieces and reasonable timelines.

Deliver Results with the Changes

  • Follow an efficient process for agilely managing change, but don’t let that process lead the change itself, as the focus should remain on the change objectives. 
  • Ensure that the data clearly reflects the need for change, and what success looks like in numbers.
  • With that said, look not just at the quantitative data, but also at the qualitative data which indicates the need for change.

Strategically Manage the Changes

  • Consider these frameworks and vectors when managing change:
    • the speed of change/execution
    • the amount of receptivity to the change
    • the level of detailed response to the change
    • the level of openness to type of change
    • the level of involvement in the change
    • the derivative impacts of a change
    • the complexity of a change
  • Provide POSITIVE, CONSTRUCTIVE, AND ONGOING feedback to help everyone feel more comfortable with change. See example below.

With that said, you can’t be all-in for any one person all the time, but if you could be all-in with some of your key people most of the time, it could make a huge impact for you both!

The bottom line is that we must all embrace changes, especially now. If we’re open and positive and proactive, we would all more successfully manage through the changes.

Play to Win!

May 1, 2022
Play to Win

We are all experiencing the ‘Great Resignation’, the ‘Great Reallocation’… 

Whatever we call it, we are all feeling the effects in the workplace. Many of us are under-staffed and losing good people. We are being challenged to do more with less when so much is unknown. We are resorting to strategies like ‘stay interviews’.

So logically, many leaders are playing the retention game – playing not to lose with additional benefits, raises, shifts in responsibilities and projects, etc.

But I propose that leaders adopt a ‘play-to-win’ mindset. Below are some thoughts on how to do so.

  1. Embrace Succession Planning to empower and engage your staff.
  2. Consistently speak with a sense of shared purpose, meaning, and commitment.
  3. Think and speak with passion, and follow up by investing deeply and consistently in people’s capabilities.
  4. Be warm and gracious to all, even if they are seeking to exit. Welcome them back with gusto if they choose to recommit.
  5. Show deep and authentic empathy for the journey of others, especially in this time of great change when the future is so uncertain. 
  6. Cultivate a culture of one-ness, where we all stand distinctly separate yet loosely conjoined for a purpose of serving our customers, where it is safe to ask questions, to be curious, to fail forward.
  7. Empower people at all levels from all backgrounds to fully participate in strategy, planning, execution (where reasonable).
  8. Have the plans and strategies and tools to address problem areas, but wait until that problem area receives enough attention and urgency before taking action.
  9. Err on the side of positivity, with a growth mindset. 
  10. Celebrate your successes as much as you relish your challenges.

Let’s ALL Play to Win by strategizing collaboratively, planning diligently, and executing religiously, while embracing challenges as opportunities.