Author Archive

The Best Teams: 10 Principles of Exceptional Teams

March 1, 2021

I love it when great leaders point to their teams after being acknowledged for their achievements. Here are some key principles that make teams exceptional. 

  1. Each member focuses on ‘bettering the ball‘, making the overall play better for everyone involved. This is independent of the role of the player, the goal of the game, the state of the ball, or the pressure in the moment. If everyone is able to ‘better the ball’ just a little, the entire play made by the collective team will improve immensely.
  2. Each member of the team believes in every other member of the team. This doesn’t mean that they believe everyone can do everything well, but they do believe that each person can and will do the important things well, and/or speak up if she/he can’t.
  3. When a member of a team flubs, other members provide support and help them to learn from the experience so they can get up and try again. 
  4. Each member of the team is courageous and confident enough to own up to their errors, and get support from other team members to learn from these errors, strengthening the individual member and the overall team. 
  5. Members of the team respect each other for owning up to and learning from their errors.
  6. Each member of the team gives other members the benefit of the doubt that they are working hard to help the overall team. If proven otherwise, the members work with the individual to get back on track. 
  7. Great teams take pride in the accomplishments and potential each member represents. This is especially important if any one member is taking the heat for an error made by herself/himself, or by the overall team/product/organization. 
  8. Exceptional teams will gently call out individual members to help them rise up to the standards set for each team member – whether it’s communicating transparently, delivering results, or supporting other team members.
  9. An excellent team bands together to understand and analyze how to continually improve their track record. Some teams gamify the process to invite friendly competition with the intent of generating results, which provides opportunities for self-improvement and team bonding, and improved results.
  10. When exceptional teams have conflict, they resolve to communicate directly and transparently so they can focus on the learnings and the results.

I hope that we each have the opportunity to be part of an exceptional team at some point in our career. Even if your team doesn’t currently hit all the marks above, striving toward any one principle at a time might help shift your team in that direction.

The Urgent Need for Inclusivity

February 22, 2021
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FountainBlue’s February 19 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘The Urgent Need for Inclusivity’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • Shobhana Viswanathan, Automation Anywhere
  • Ronald Goossens, ASML
  • Tejal Thakkar, Rimini Street

We were fortunate to have experienced panelists with original and well-thought-out perspectives on the importance of inclusivity. Below is a summary of their thoughts and suggestions and attached is the deck.

Inclusivity as a Differentiator

  • There’s a difference between ‘old-tech’ companies who have been around for more than ten years, and who are not attracting Gen Z talent, ‘old tech’ companies like those who are part of FAGMA who are attracting Gen Z talent, and new companies who have mostly Gen Z talent. Watch for the companies which are in general attractive to that multi-generational workforce.
  • Progressive companies are making the question of age matter of fact, profiling senior leaders who are much older and/or much younger than the norm, and opening up discussions questioning our unconscious biases around age (and other qualities).
  • Companies that proactively invite original thinking and innovation from every part of the company, independent or role, level, background, ethnicity, geography, orientation, etc., are more likely be more original and innovative, AND also better decision-makers and problem-solvers.

Below are best practices for embracing inclusivity.

  • Make It Safe: Develop a culture of psychological safety, openness and transparency so that ideas and thoughts are welcome, errors are accepted at learning opportunities, leaders at all levels think, speak and act in alignment with personal and corporate values.
  • Embrace Your Purpose: Collectively make a difference as an organization, and as an individual, contribute to the difference you’re making as an organization. 
  • Raise the Bar for Yourself and Others: Consciously and gently call each other to a higher moral and ethical standard, while achieving business objectives. 
  • Adopt a Process which invites input from all, and ethical execution: Invite input from all, clearly, transparently and openly communicate decisions made and rationale for decision 

The bottom line is that inclusivity facilitates innovation, leadership, collaboration, and ultimately a business advantage. Moreover, it’s leads to more pleasant and productive working conditions and it’s the right thing to do.

Resources

Career Agility in the Age of Digital

February 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s February 12 When She Speaks women in leadership series program was on the topic of ‘Career Agility in the Age of Digital’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Lam Research and our esteemed panelists.

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We were fortunate to have a remarkably talented and centered group of panelists to speak on the career agility topic. They had a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but agreed on many things about career agility.

  • Embrace opportunities for continuous learning.
    • ‘Learn from every opportunity, good or not so good.’
  • Know yourself – what your skills are, what you’re looking for, what you enjoy doing, how you’d like to grow, what’s fulfilling for you. This increases the likelihood that you will seek a role which best fits your current and projected needs.
    • ‘Know what you don’t know, what you don’t like.’
  • Seize the opportunities to stretch yourself so that you can grow strategically in a direction which meets your needs.
    • ‘Make the unexpected stepping stones to what’s next.’
  • Solve a problem presented by your team or organization, even if it’s not your problem to solve, even if you don’t yet have the skills to solve the problem.
    • Become known as someone who has the skills to solve a problem, not someone with a specific title.
  • Work for a greater purpose a deeper cause.
    • Be a passionate world-changer, working with people who also want to make a difference.
  • Stop comparing yourself negatively to others. Be uniquely you.
    • ‘Pretend that your career path to date is something that you meant to do, even if it’s not.’
  • Accept that you are where you are, where you are meant to be. There’s time to reach higher, be better in specific ways.
    • Make each career step an opportunity to learn about yourself and make a difference for the team and organization.
  • Work with leaders and colleagues you like and respect.
    • Build relationships with quality people and deliver results consistently for them.
  • Never settle.

The bottom line is that the pace of business, the pace of technology is rapidly increasing, and we must all be resilient enough to withstand the ugly side of change and agile, courageous and bold enough to keep reaching for what’s next despite the shifting landscape.

Resources:

Bigger Solutions with Smaller Devices

February 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s February 12 VIP Roundtable on the ‘Bigger Solutions with Smaller Devices’ topic included executives representing a wide breadth of backgrounds and perspectives, but they agreed on many things.

  • Hardware will continue to become smaller while gathering a wider assortment and larger amount of data real-time. Software will become bigger to optimize functionality and performance around the data and ensure its ongoing usefulness for all stakeholders.
  • The Future of Work will be remote, and hardware and software options need to fit the functionality, accessibility and security requirements of the (internal and external) customers. 
  • Optimizing managed services will help enterprise IT departments focus on the employee needs and the employee experience, rather than on the infrastructure functionality like privacy, security and access.
  • Enterprises need to proactively update and integrate all in-house and partner solutions, especially legacy solutions, to ensure their ongoing usability, performance and security. Reactively responding to issues could waste a lot of time and money and reflect poorly on the corporate brand.
  • Enterprise and government infrastructure must be enablers of the hardware and software functionality adopted by staff and citizens, and this infrastructure must be upgraded to meet the ongoing needs of these customers.
  • The functionality will expand with the demands of the customers, demands of the market. Form factors such as the body or a car offer guardrails for the range of solutions created – they must fit the user/target! But the connectedness between the solutions and the functions themselves can be more adaptable and fluid. 
  • Solutions may become much more complex, but users still want the solutions to be easy to use and customers expect a great immersive experience.

Below are some opportunities in this space.

  • As we provide more software functionality into smaller form factors, the phone and other ubiquitous devices must provide even greater functionality – including healthcare monitoring applications, decision-making of real-world devices and equipment based on real-time reporting, and other functionality. This is particularly true with the roll-out of 5G.
  • There will be an increasingly HUGE appetite for optimized hardware and software solutions which are high-performing, scalable, true-to-spec, and even self-monitoring/self-correcting. 
  • We will all continue to develop hardware solutions which are flexible, small and sleek, with a shape and size that would fit the target destination. 
  • Individual hardware solutions will be integrated with multiple software solutions to optimize functionality, usability, and form factor. 

The bottom line is that the hardware will get smaller, the software will get more integrated, more scalable, more versatile.

Efficiency in the Next Normal

February 5, 2021
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FountainBlue’s February 5 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Efficiency in the Next Normal featuring:

  • Bruce Berkoff, LCD TV Association
  • Kris Kelly, Renesas
  • Luciana Vecchi, Amazon Web Services
  • Aaron Wruthmann, ROAMSEC

Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panel this week represented a wide range of backgrounds and interests. We agreed that we were all impacted by the events of 2020, and will continue to be impacted in the next normal. Below is a summary of their advice on how to be more efficient, more effective in this next normal.

Be Strategic

  • Be Agile with your Strategy, Planning and Execution. Nobody knows what the future will hold, but we know that being agile, plan-ful and flexible will help you better succeed.
  • Adopt Collaborative, Ecosystem Approaches to optimize the ability to deliver to the needs of your customer. Having a consultative style of communication will help yourself and your team better understand the problems faced by our customer, and better partner with them to address their needs in the short term and for the long term.
  • Manage the risks involved and fund the risk mitigation strategies.
  • Do the research and gather the data, the input, but draw a line in the side and make a choice, select a direction, erring on the side of decisiveness. Nobody can predict the future, but making a calculated choice will give you feedback and more information, and can help you better understand what’s next.

Support Your Team

  • Empower your team to better communicate, better deliver on measurable goals. 
  • Help your team create healthy boundaries between work and life, supporting them to resources and services which would help them better manage their work loads. 
  • Engage your team in collaborative projects. 
  • Connect regularly with your team members.
  • Help your team members address emotional and logistical challenges of working from home. 

Provide a Secure and Efficient Infrastructure  

  • Train your team on how to keep work laptops secure and private. Provide resources, including housing so that your junior team for example has private space to perform their work tasks at home in a secure environment. 
  • Create an expectation that everyone is responsible for the security of the network and devices and data.
  • Leverage bots and devices and processes to efficiently and securely serve our hybrid workforce.

Build Long Term Relationships through Consultative Sales 

  • Build long-term relationships with your customers and collaborate with them and with other partners to continue providing exceptional service to these customers – understanding where they want to go, brainstorming how to get there, iterate on the deliverables in getting there.

The bottom line is that we must all facilitate the Thinking, the Planning and the Execution to be more efficient in the next normal.

Measuring Goals

January 25, 2021
JD Dillon, CMO, Tioga Energy: Measuring to Optimize Goals

JD Dillon prepared slides for FountainBlue’s January 8 Front Line Managers Online program, and shared some thoughts on how to optimize goals based on metrics. With his permission, we are sharing top ten best practices as well as his charts.

  1. When optimizing goals, be specific on what your metrics are, and get agreement on whether what’s being measured actually reflects the goals for the product, team and organization. In the example above, JD comes from a semiconductor manufacturing background and shared metrics around cycle times and defects and %EDI.
  2. Once you’ve decided what’s being measured, consider creating three separate goals:
    • The ‘Plan’ is the formal and official commitment, one that is signed and approved and widely understood by people throughout the organization, and by partners and even potentially across the industry.
    • The ‘Model’ is the best possible result, given current resource levels. Knowing this number may help facilitate discussions on how additional people, financial or equipment resources would impact established goals.
    • The ‘Entitlement’ is the best possible result, if everything goes well. If you commit to the ‘entitlement’ goal, the odds are high that your project will fail, for by definition, you would be committing to a ‘best possible’ result.!
  3. Commit to a Planned goal, and provide regular updates on how your actual work is mapping to these goals.
  4. Negotiate for additional specific resources so that you can deliver on planned goals in specific ways.
  5. Be clear how having specific additional resources would impact goal timelines and product/service quality.
  6. In general, aim high for an attainable goal. If you miss the target, you would have more information and can realign in specific ways.
  7. If you aim high and HIT the goal, there’s much to celebrate, and you would learn so much about how to do it right.
  8. If you aim low and miss the plan, then you would totally fail altogether. If you aim low and succeed, there’s not as much appreciation, it’s not as valuable. People may consider it a ‘sandbag’, like you’re aiming low to do something which may not be as impactful.
  9. To increase the likelihood of success, work as a team to be clear on what the goals are, what the timelines are, who has what roles, what could go wrong, etc.,
  10. The bottom line is plan well, aim high, communicate regularly and clearly, and collaborate with all parties to deliver on your committed goals. Learn from each success, each failure.

Networking to Expand Your Circle of Influence

January 22, 2021

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FountainBlue’s January 22 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Networking to Expand Your Circle of Influence’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • Roxanne Dos Santos, Samsung
  • Linda Christensen
  • Shruti Gautam, PayPal
  • With input from Susan Norton, BOLD and Preethy Padmanabhan, Freshworks

Below are notes from the conversation.

Humans are social beings, and networking helps humans to better connect with a broader range of other people. Below are some best practices shared by our speakers on the topic.

  • Align with others in the network (team/project/group) on a purpose and a vision. Know the ‘why’ before you think about the ‘what you’ve doing’ and the ‘how it will get done’. Measure to see if you’re successful in getting it done and iterate. WHY => WHAT => HOW => MEASURE
  • Take a customers-first mindset and deliver to the needs of the customer. Be curious about what they want and need, what they think about your product or service. Build relationships, networks and ecosystems of customers to help you better inform them, and deliver value to them.
    • Seek the feedback, integrate the feedback, inform them of how the feedback is help you shift the policy, strategy, offering, support, etc.,
    • Speak in a language of platform which would work for the customers, whether they are internal staff or partners or customers. 
  • Take a Culture-First approach to networking, building on the values of the executives, ensuring that people at all levels feel that they are important, are treated as if they matter.
    • Engage and connect with people throughout the organization and drive toward common goals. Help make them feel connected to each other even when we can’t meet in person. This may involve gamifying activities, making the time to have fun and connect at a more social level, rather than just being Zoom-Zombies.

The bottom line is that Networking is about making deep ongoing connections with a wide range of others so that you can better learn and grow yourself, and support others in doing the same. Together, we are all better.

Linda’s Top Ten Truths About Networking

1. Be other centric.

2. Networking is not transactional.

3. Be courageous.

4. Be authentic and empathetic.

5. Be genuine, without an agenda.

6. Be helpful.

7. The more the merrier.

8. No ulterior motive.

9. Make a mark, be memorable. Remember the other person.

10. Leverage technology.

Resources

We Are ALL ONE

January 15, 2021

We were fortunate to have such an inspirational, fun, passionate and diverse set of women leaders for FountainBlue’s January 15 When She Speaks program on the ‘We Are ALL ONE’ topic. Our panelists shared their wisdom about how to be agile and lean during challenging times, how to embrace the opportunity in any challenge.

Their resilient and growth-minded leadership in a time of great change really helped themselves, their teams and their organizations to rise to the next level, even while others struggled.

Their focus on the people side of change, their focus on how to be more other-centric and empathic because of the extra burdens brought on by that change has really set them apart as leaders of leaders.

Their emphasis on humbly being curious, embracing the diverse perspectives of others helps them to be more nimble and agile in managing through change, in anticipating the implications of the change.

Below is a compilation of advice for leaders who want to build more collaboration, more inclusivity, especially during times of great change.

  • Be human, be vulnerable, be candid and authentic. When change is pervasive running deep, lean into each other as colleagues, as teammates.
  • Challenge yourself and others to reach for stars, even when it’s a scary thought. Help each other learn from the inevitable mis-steps, and support each other in taking additional steps forward.
  • Stretch the capabilities and offerings of your team, focusing on how you can help other teams and customers. 
  • Build connections within and outside your organization so that you can better understand a broader point of view, and get input and feedback from people outside your standard network.
  • Step up, step in to lead when there is chaos, when there is an opportunity. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait for the title. Don’t do it just for the compensation. Don’t do it just for the credit. Do it because you can, because it helps others, because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Be empathetic and supportive and make others feel important and valued.
  • Invite out-of-the-box creative thinking.
  • Provide yourself grace and acceptance. Indulge in guilty pleasures. Find joy in the little things.
  • Take every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Use your time wisely. Be especially selective with what you do in your own spare time. 
  • Practice resiliency every day. Help others celebrate resiliency in themselves as well.

The boundaries have permanently blurred between work and life. Proactively managing these fuzzy boundaries will help leaders at all levels plan and respond to the next normal, which doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

In addition, the waterfall of change may be just an indication of the level and speed of changes to come. Fortune will reward the open, the agile, the lean, as it has our panelists.

Data Meets Healthcare

January 15, 2021

FountainBlue’s January 15 VIP Roundtable on the ‘Data Meets Healthcare’ topic included executives representing a wide breadth healthcare industries – from pharma to biotech, from healthcare services to digital health, and even tech companies in semiconductor and consumer electronics had perspectives on the topic. We all agreed that the advances in technology and in healthcare have facilitated the amazing response to a worldwide pandemic and other pervasive and emerging health issues.Although their backgrounds and strategies varied, our participating executives agreed on the following regarding data meeting healthcare.

  1. Data will continue to be pervasive and overwhelmingly available. And the challenge will continue to be in selecting the relevant, true and actionable data which would best serve stakeholders across the ecosystem, which protecting their privacy, and providing selective and immediate access.
  2. Focusing on getting the data right alone can help improve how quickly and accurately we diagnose, treat and care for our patients. Indeed, it could also help prevent diseases and conditions and help mitigate risks.
  3. There may be opportunities to extrapolate from large volumes of data to draw conclusions and help develop initial diagnosis and treatment strategies.
  4. Proactively managing the usage of equipment and materials and pharmaceuticals with data will help ensure logistical and operational excellence in support of the healthcare needs of our patients, and the bottom line of the providers and caretakers across the ecosystem.
  5. The more data we gather about people with similar conditions, the more we learn about each individual person, and the more generalities we might be able to make about a particular disease. But every person will respond differently to different things, so respect the collected data without making direct correlations and conclusions on how any one person might react and respond to any particular scenario.

We all remarked on the value of collaboration across the ecosystem so that we can all better benefit. Below is a compilation of thoughts on the market opportunities ahead, which might benefit from collaboration.

  • Personalized medicine can be a real opportunity if we can overcome the privacy, security and access challenges and if the technology continues to evolve so that we can design custom diagnosis and treatment for patients.
  • Empowering the consumer with data will help them as patients better partner with others across the ecosystem to make better decisions in researching their own conditions, and also in making treatment and care decisions.
  • Identifying and treating a niche market may have ripple effects in supporting others. The example of an expectant mother comes to mind.

Throughout the discussion, there was a message of hope as we all grapple with the different challenges and opportunities offered as data meets healthcare. It’s significant that companies far outside the healthcare sector are looking closely at how data meets healthcare, and what the business and market  opportunities are, and also significant that each executive is exploring how we can better connect and provide more impact for all.
Please also see Frost & Sullivan’s Top 10 predictions for healthcare in 2021.

Goal-Setting Best Practices

January 11, 2021
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FountainBlue’s January 8 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Goal-Setting Best Practices’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

Lori Kate Smith, Health Wildcatters
Shobhana Viswanathan, Automation Anywhere
JD Dillon, Tigo Energy (not pictured)
Lynn Marie Viduya, Intermedia

Below are notes from the conversation.

Goal-Setting is important all the time, every time, but especially important in times of great change. To optimize for impact, focus on the vision and mission of the organization and ensure that your team’s goals and your personal goals are in alignment with the corporate mission, vision and objectives.

Indeed measured outcomes should be mapped to these overarching goals, and when market/people/technology change happens, and goals need to be re-visited, the new goals must be checked for alignment with the organization’s strategic mission/vision/objectives.

  • Communicating regularly within and outside the team will help create collaborations and help coordinate to achieve results. 
  • Having clarity on your target audiences and the definition of success will increase the likelihood of success.
  • Being clear on metrics – what to measure, what the commitment is, what the best case scenario is – will help everyone focus on driving results.
  • Being clear on the variables which impact whether a goal is reached will help all parties coordinate and collaborate to shift configurations in order to reach identified results.
  • Understanding the motivations of all parties will help you manage toward outcomes and build engagement.
  • Create a common agenda, a common goal, and empower and engage stakeholders to contribute in specific ways towards achieving that goal.
  • Understand the market needs and focus on the markets which best sustain your products and services in the short term and for the long term.
  • Base goals on the needs of the customer.
  • Treat your people well as you help them achieve their goals. Make sure that they have the resources and support they need, and that they are realistic about what they can achieve, particularly with current work from home mandates.
  • Measure your performance through OKR frameworks (objectives through key results), QBRs, etc.,

Make sure that the goals you’re targeting are in alignment with your personal needs, those of your team, and those of your organization.

Notes from the discussion are available at  

and attached is the slide deck.

Resources