Author Archive

August 5, 2022

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FountainBlue’s August 5 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Managing Up, Down and Sideways’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as an HR Leader – Kerry Perryman, Samsung Research America
  • as a Product Leader – Sondra Bollar, Oracle
  • as an Engineering Leader – Stephen McGrath, Trimble

We were fortunate to have such experienced and diverse panelists for this week’s front line managers online program. It’s been a tumultuous week with challenges and changes for many organizations, so it was a great time to learn about how to better manage up, down and sideways.Our panelists agreed on many management principles:

  • Build relationships with a wide network of people will help everyone better manage and lead. Healthy long-term relationships are built on respect and trust, developed from ongoing, proactive, authentic, transparent communication between all parties.
  • Be clear on your plan, based on the information you have to date and the objectives and goals defined for you. 
  • With that said, be nimble and agile should the direction change or if the data indicates other strategies and actions would better serve the goals.

Below is some advice for better managing up, down and sideways:
Be a Leader

  • Err on the side of action, even if your information set is incomplete and the result is uncertain.
  • Be curious about your blindspots and the blindspots of others with whom you work.
  • Manage your emotions and stay calm, even if you feel that you’ve been wronged.
  • Encourage everyone to learn from mistakes, and take advantage of teachable moments.

Be a Project Leader

  • Make specific plans for minimum deliverables, based on input from a wide range of sources.
  • Plan-fully allocate the right resources for the right talent, in alignment with overarching goals.

Empower and Engage Your Team

  • Provide exciting opportunities which challenge your team members individually and collectively.
  • Help your team manage and prioritize tasks and projects, and explain how everyone’s work fits in to the overall plan and why specific projects and tasks are more important than other ones. 

The bottom line is that management is an art and a science. 

Great managers help others feel secure and safe while also focusing on clarifying changes in goals and objectives and how they impact the organizations, teams, products, and individuals.When teams are managed well, there is deep trust and exceptional results made by productive and empowered team members. 

Empower and Engage while Improving Performance

August 1, 2022

Performance Reviews make the most courageous, most resilient of us shudder. 

It’s cringe-worthy whether you’re giving or receiving the performance review.

Complaints and gripes run the gamut and stakes are high as promotions and job security are on the line. Below are some suggested strategies for conducting reviews and managing staff which makes them feel empowered and engaged.  

For details on how FountainBlue supports our clients with performance reviews while engaging and empowering employees, e-mail us at info@whenshespeaks.com or schedule a meeting by visiting https://cal.mixmax.com/fountainblue/15

Embracing an Agile Mindset

July 15, 2022

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FountainBlue’s July 15 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Embracing an Agile Mindset’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a Business Leader – Louise Lamb, Coupa
  • as a Program Leader – Mona Hudak, Cisco
  • as an Engineering Leader – Pooja Agrawal, Renesas

Our Agility panelists represented a wide range of roles, organizations and backgrounds, but they have much in common:

  • They navigated their career with agility and grace.
  • They build deep networks and relationships which transcend roles, organizations and opportunities.
  • They embrace challenges as opportunities and stalwartly march forward to learn and grow, facilitating success for their teams, their products, and their organizations.
  • They are passionate and eloquent communicators who enjoy sharing their wisdom and advice.

Below is a compilation of best practices on how to embrace agility.
Be Strategic

  • Be purposeful and intentional about what you do and why you do it. 
  • Be open about the challenges in front of you and inclusive and collaborative as you address them head-on.
  • Welcome opportunities to fail quickly, and to fail forward, learning what to-do and what not-to-do along the way.

Manage Through Change 

  • Align everyone to a common purpose, but be open about HOW each person or group might implement/perform their tasks. 
  • Focus on your performance, but also on the perception others have of you, and the politics which may complicate your ability to perform well.
  • Accept that change will always happen, and be positive and constructive when facing these changes. 
  • Focus on delivering the business imperatives as you integrate changes. 

Overcome Obstacles to Change

  • Identify and address the root causes for the problems and challenges in front of you.
  • Encourage everyone to be resourceful problem-solvers and data-centered decision-makers. 
  • Break problems into smaller pieces so that you don’t boil the ocean.

Overcome Objections to Change

  • Distinguish between practical and emotional resistance to change so that you can better manage the adoption of necessary changes. 
  • Be empathetic and supportive to people who are change-resistant, and provide training, support and information so that they can better accept change. 
  • Be patient and persistent and positive as you agilely manage others through change.
  • Be positive, dynamic and proactive as you lead through change. 

Change is a constant, but agilely and resourcefully responding to the need for change will help yourself and your team deliver business results which satisfy customers. 

Collaborate to Innovate

July 8, 2022
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FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Collaborate to Innovate’.  It was inspiring and innovating to hear the wisdom and best practices around innovation and collaboration from our esteemed panelists. Below is a compilation of their advice and best practices for collaborative innovation.
Be Purposeful

  • Invite creative problem solving and focus on producing functional results which wow customers. 
  • Create and grow a culture where your leaders and innovators feel connected and important, designing and delivering solutions which serve others well.
  • Have a plan to collaborate and innovate, but also be willing to prove yourself wrong if the input, data and experience reflects that’s the case.
  • Proactively invite synergistic opportunities between people, between product lines, between geographies, between groups, etc., 

Bring Out the Best in Others

  • Be intentional about how time is used, and respectful of everyone’s stress levels and conflicting needs in this time of great change. 
  • Distribute ownership, empower others and invite engagement from a wide range of potential innovators, even if they are not necessarily the key engineering/technical staff.
  • Be fully present (rather than multitasking) when interacting with others, so that they feel important, that their words are important, and that the work they do is important.
  • Reward and recognize risk-taking and experimentation, making it safe to fail forward.
  • Accept that there are many valid ways to collaborate and innovate, and that everyone has a right and responsibility to participate in the process, not just people with the right title/experience/gender/role etc.,

Make the Business Case

  • Measure and report on the internal or external value for collaborative innovation projects.
  • It’s hard to make a business case to solve tomorrow’s problems, but having open conversations full of healthy dialogue, and leveraging past successes and market data to inform strategies might help you do just that!

Connect Silos 

  • Invite opportunities to build bridges between different people, products, locations, etc., which lead to diversity in thought, in perspective, in ideas, in experience, etc.,
  • Include non-tech leaders at all levels to contribute to innovation challenges or brainstorming/ problem-solving meetings where appropriate.

Our panelists have challenged us all to think outside the box on how we can all better collaborate to be part of something bigger, for both collaboration and innovation are foundational to changing the world for the better.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Samsung and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Collaborate to Innovate’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Chinmoyee Deshpande, Digital Supply Chain – Transformation Strategy Leader, IBM
  • Panelist Sanchita Gupta, Senior Director Human Resources Business Partner, Samsung Research America
  • Panelist Kate Mulligan, Communications & Innovation Programs, Strategy & Innovation for the Office of the CTO, Lam Research
  • Panelist Stacey Moser, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), GE Digital Grid Solutions
  • with introductory remarks by Roxanne Dos Santos, Director, Workforce Communications and Engagement, Samsung Research America 

Next Generation Hardware

July 8, 2022

FountainBlue’s July 8 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Next Generation Hardware’, with opening remarks by Honda. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.Collaboration and integration were both themes in this morning’s far-ranging discussion about the next generation of hardware. Hardware must integrate with software and processes to deliver full-featured customized solutions which add value, are safe, protect privacy, and, ideally, also be cost-effective, efficient and sustainable. This is no small task, but our experienced and dynamic executives in attendance shared many best practices on doing this well.

  • Embrace carbon-neutral, sustainable solutions because the customers demand it and because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Look for interconnections between solutions, problems, customers, etc., as it may be a basis future innovations.
  • When designing hardware prototypes, understand the stressors which would impact the integrity of the hardware, including temperature variations, SW integration requirements, power needs, etc.,
  • Accept that managing material availability and supply chain challenges is part of the hardware innovation challenge.
  • Optimize for efficiency and effectiveness while ensuring low-failure rates, sustainability, reliability, and compatibility. 
  • When designing and producing prototypes, assume that speeds will continue to double and that there will be a shorter time to market.
  • Differentiate on user experience and ease of use.
  • Work with researchers as well as engineering, business and operations staff to address the design, prototyping, manufacturing, production, and distribution challenges inherent with hardware innovations.

Below are some thoughts on some hardware innovation ideas to watch for:

  • Scenario-based, photo-realistic renderings are driving real-world innovations
  • Optimization for power consumption
  • Novel memory processors which don’t require additional capability, packaging or overhead
  • 3D Printing options which minimize risk and optimize for efficiency and functionality
  • Digital Twin technology to do prototyping with software to better inform hardware design and layout, hardware requirements and even hardware development and integration.

The bottom line is that hardware innovations are continuing to evolve at breakneck speed, and it’s the innovative leaders, like the ones in attendance, and their organizations who are collaborating with others to stay in front of the curve.

Growing Your Emotional Intelligence

July 1, 2022

FountainBlue’s July 1 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Growing Your Emotional Intelligence’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a Business Leader – Sheri Simmons, Philips
  • as an HR Leader – Roxanne Dos Santos, Samsung Research America
  • as a People Leader – Susan Norton, BOLD
  • as a Product Leader – Ashwini Lahane, Freshworks

Our EQ panel represented a range of organizations and roles, but had much in common:

  • They humbly navigated their career up, down and sideways, always looking to learn and grow and become a larger and better version of themselves.
  • They are highly aware of their impact on others, and leverage their power and influence for the greater good, driving bottom line results while also developing their people.

Our panelists spoke extensively about Daniel Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence, as profiled in his Sept 2005 book entitled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

  • Emotional self awareness: Knowing what one is feeling at any given time and understanding the impact those moods have on others is a foundational quality of emotional intelligence. Staying attuned to your feelings and sensitive to how others are responding to what you’re thinking, saying or doing will help develop EQ.
  • Self-regulation: Putting up filters to control, redirect or otherwise manage one’s emotions supports one’s emotional intelligence. In addition, anticipating consequences before acting on impulse helps ensure smooth interactions and communications and build relationships and rapport.
  • Empathy: Awareness of and respect for the the emotions and feelings of others is another core EQ quality. This other-centeredness helps build understanding and connections between people, even when they are very different.
  • Social skills: Leveraging EQ skills can help manage relationships, inspire, empower and engage others to participate in the larger cause. 
  • Motivation: Leaders with high emotional intelligence can better achieve goals, enjoy the learning process and persevere in the face of obstacles, and mobilize those they touch to do the same.

Below is a compilation of advice on best practices for growing emotional intelligence:

Stretch Yourself

  • Embrace challenges as learning opportunities and grow from each experience.
  • Have the courage to invite and accept feedback, and the fortitude to grow and learn from it.
  • Manage your ego, which may not respond well to the thoughts, words and actions of others. 
  • Be aware and manage the triggers and buttons which may not bring out the best in yourself, and lead to less than desirable responses to others.
  • Know when to Endure, when to Engage, when to Embrace the challenging situations (and people) in front of you. 
  • Challenge yourself about your perspective, about your pace, about your areas of focus, about the processes adopted, about the scale you’re striving for.
  • Do what you need to do to keep centered and balanced, including journaling, meditating, reflection, education, etc.,

Challenge Others to Also Grow

  • Have the compassion and grace to support others as they also navigate challenges during these times of great change.
  • Help others to feel safe and supported while raising the bar for them, and providing them with the resources and support to feel engaged, empowered and successful. 
  • Be direct with your feelings, but in a non-emotional way. Try this formula when you face people not-like-you, ‘When you do X, it makes me feel Y. Could you do Z instead?’ 

Grow the Team and Organization

  • Proactively manage your own emotions so that you can optimize for a productive and constructive response and relationships with the team and the organization. 
  • Help your team tie passion to purpose and collaboratively drive toward measurable outcomes.

The bottom line is that your EQ will always be more important than your IQ, and growing your EQ will grow yourself and all you touch.

The Choice Is Yours  

July 1, 2022
The Choice is Yours.

It’s often difficult to choose to be optimistic and productive, especially now when so much is changing and the future is uncertain,but making a proactive choice can help you remain centered and productive while staying happy and resilient.

  1. Rather than fantasizing on what’s next and what you need, focus on moments of  happiness and gratitude.
  2. Rather than comparing yourself to others or to an idealistic version of yourself, celebrate the journey you’ve been on, and the many facets of yourself which have developed along the way.
  3. Rather than begrudging a colleague for a success you’ve coveted, find inspiration in their example, celebrate what’s possible, and channel your inspiration into productive thoughts and actions.
  4. Rather than catastrophizing world news and events, focus on the local impact you can make and stay informed on how we can optimize making a difference. 
  5. Rather than belaboring all the things that went wrong, celebrate all the learning opportunities and knowledge which make you a bigger version of yourself. 
  6. Rather than coveting more new and novel shiny objects, appreciate all the things already within your grasp – material, physical, emotional and spiritual.
  7. Rather than bemoaning a lost opportunity, be curious about the unique opportunities offered by the options in front of you.
  8. Rather than spiraling on the overwhelming challenges out of your control, focus on the projects, tasks and people you *can* influence for the better. 
  9. Rather than settling for a project, role or task to simply fill time, get curious about how you can integrate your real dreams and passions into life by doing what you deeply desire. 
  10. Rather than enumerating all the things you want to change about yourself, find compassion and acceptance for all that you are as you would a friend or family member, and celebrate the opportunity to continue evolving.

The old adage is true – it’s not what life dishes out to you, it’s how you frame it and how you respond to it. Choose to see the gifts in every experience and respond with optimism, positivity and fortitude.

Show Me the Data

June 17, 2022

FountainBlue’s June 17 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Show Me the Data’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a People Leader – Sanchita Gupta, Samsung
  • as a Business Leader – Shari Begun, Renesas

Below are notes from the conversation.

There’s no escaping the data – it’s everywhere affecting the way we live and work. And it helps us be more efficient, more effective, more strategic. Our panelists gave us some rules of thumb on how to better manage and leverage data into our work and our lives.

Be Strategic

  • Focus on your core objectives and ensure that the data helps you to manage and align toward those objectives.
  • Filter out the noise and focus on the relevant data which would drive your business imperatives.
  • Use data to support and refine your strategy and make shifts where necessary as the data changes.
  • Focus on delivering on your highest impact projects, based on the data. 
  • Tell your story and make your ask based on the data provided.
  • Be cognizant of the agenda of others and the stories they share about the data.

Manage Your Data with Care

  • Ensure that the data generated has integrity – is valid and true.
  • Protect your data, to ensure privacy and security are maintained.

Respond to Data with Agility and Grace

  • Let data inform your decisions and respond quickly based on the data provided. With that said, make pivots and shifts as the data set changes.
  • Include a diverse range of data sources to help inform problem solving and decision making objectives. 
  • Use your best judgment and trust your gut about the validity of the data and the recommendations based on the data provided.

Use the Data to Empower and Engage

  • Use the data to better understand the needs of your people, whether they are customers or staff, so that you can better serve them.
  • Leverage the data to better address current needs and even anticipate future needs.
  • Ensure that everyone gets the right amount of data, with the right clearance, based on whether they need to be informed only, to be involved in some way, or to be partly or fully responsible for decisions around the data.

There’s every indication that there will be more data involved and more at stake around the data as everything becomes more complex, more global, more interconnected. As you make decisions and solve problems leveraging data, err on the side of action, but respond with agility as you become more informed based on the actions taken, the new data generated.

Start-ups Changing the World

June 10, 2022

FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘Startups Changing the World’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Intel and our esteemed panelists. 

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We were fortunate to have a range of amazing leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs for this month’s panel. They represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • Passionate, intelligent and hardworking, our panelists were not intimidated by the STEM subjects they mastered, and all took their technical abilities into business roles.
  • Ever fearless, resilient and unflappable, our panelists thrived on adopting and conquering business, technical, and operational issues, earning them leadership roles in companies big and small.
  • Each panelist has had experience working in companies, start-ups and some even in investment groups, and each is contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Below is a summary of advice for supporting start-ups changing the world.

  • Work with engineering and product teams to create solutions which address core world issues.
  • Focus on growing a business which does the right things to support people, the earth, and others while doing well financially and operationally.
  • Create and support an ecosystem of partners and providers who can collaborate with you to increase influence and impact.
  • Build momentum with customers, sales, partners and others and keep focusing on the needs of the customer.
  • Look for a start-up leadership team which is resilient enough to ride the ups and downs of start-ups and also market variances which impact us all, especially now with so much variance and so many unknowns.
  • Passionately tell your start-up story in a way which is compelling, and fill your story with data.
  • Let your customers help you define your feature sets, milestones and timelines.
  • Help successful companies and leaders keep growing and learning.

The bottom line is that start-ups aren’t easy to lead or manage, but it is these start-ups that will help us all change the world for the better.

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The Future of Work

June 10, 2022

FountainBlue’s June 10 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Work’, with opening remarks by Cisco. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.Our executives in attendance all sat at different leadership seats through this pandemic, and shared many similar perspectives about how the pandemic has affected the future of work.

  • We are leveraging networking, collaboration and security technology more, making hybrid work scenarios work for each of us and our organizations.
  • There are mixed receptions to the range of company requirements on return-to-work policies.
  • We have raised our standards on the value of our health, our families, and the role of work in our lives. 

Below is a compilation of thoughts on opportunities around the future of work.

  • When a distributed workforce is hybrid, networks, devices, applications may all put individuals, teams and companies at risk for privacy and security breaches. Hence there is an opportunity to more proactively manage the security and privacy of individual users, and minimize the risk, and isolate and quickly recover from any breaches.
  • AI-driven bot solutions will continue to automate workflows and processes so customers are more efficiently served, so humans can handle more complex issues. (It also follows that the workforce of the future must be more prepared to address more complex issues.) 
  • Telepresence robots will help increasingly more employees participate in in-person activities which support collaboration, community-building, and engagement, but social and technical issues will still provide barriers to adoption – at least for now.
  • Creating and growing communities of experts will help distributed and hybrid workforces collaborate and connect with others to share best practices, while developing, supporting and influencing each other.
  • Securely providing access to common data and information will continue to support an organization’s collaboration, engagement and innovation goals.
  • Immersion AR/VR experience will take video-calling to the next level, adding more life-like audio and visual experiences. 
  • Solutions which enhance the employee experience and customer experience, providing them easier access to informed support, will drive customer and employee retention and engagement.
  • There may be a trend toward broader engagement from a wider range of people to manage cloud-based no-code and low-code solutions which manage the data captured.

It’s hard to make predictions on what the future of work will look like, but it’s clear that roles will change, tasks will change, and robots and automation will work closely with humans and that leaders must leverage technology to proactively manage and optimize employee and customer experiences.