Author Archive

What One Thing Can We Do to Support Black Professionals?

July 1, 2020
2018LeanInRacialWealthGap

Reference: McKinsey/LeanIn 2018 Report and Findings

In this time of civil unrest, of economic insecurity, of medical uncertainty, it is my hope that together, we can build a more Diverse, more Empowered and more Engaged community, focused on increasing the number of recruited, retained and promoted professionals of all colors, for the short term, and in the long term. 

The McKinsey and LeanIn 2018 report on the numbers of men and women of color across the career journey is troubling, and the pandemic, the economic crisis, the civil unrest will further impede the progress on a goal of having more men and women of color recruited, developed, retained and promoted.

I asked Black professionals in the FountainBlue network what one thing can we as non-Blacks do to positively impact our progress. Below are their responses.

Be Informed.

  • Educate yourself – the onus is on YOU to educate yourself, don’t count on others to do it for you.
  • Be discerning about what you read and look for the TRUTH.
  •  
  • Be Curious. Be a Generous Listener with an Open Mind.
  • Listen and feel to their stories of trials and challenges.

Have Acceptance and Fortitude.

  • Accept that you must also change your way of thinking, your habits, your mis-perceptions, your biases, conscious or otherwise.
  • Accept that you will make mistakes and deviate from the course. Be courageous and humble enough to apologize, correct, and carry on. 

Prepare to feel deeply.

  • Be willing to feel uncomfortable.
  • Discrimination runs deep and wide. The level of pervasive discrimination is shameful. Our unintentional compliance with any discrimination can be troubling.
  • Be courageous enough to feel deeply. It’s OK to be sad, but do not feel pity.
  • Be willing to share your uncomfortable stories, feelings and topics with others.
  • Reflect: When you have a “gut” reaction or immediate reaction that is one of: distaste, anger, fear, aversion, agreement to a negative comment or action aimed at a Black person because of what that person is: wearing, saying (e.g. opinion, vernacular, vocal variety, passion, etc.), doing, located. 

  • STOP – REFLECT. Ask yourself why your reaction was so automatic. Was it a personal experience or “a knowing.” Often times, we can’t explain embedded or systemic racism. We just “know” it’s right, because it has been so carefully trained into us from a young age.

Provide Proactive Support.

  • Make a stand for your brothers and sisters, whether or not they are present, whether or not they know you’re doing it.
  • Collaborate with others to communicate a ‘You Can Too’ mindset to our Black youths. Help them to also reach for stars.
  • Intentionally hire more diverse candidates and help them to succeed.
  • Hire on merit, not for looks.
  • Advocate for others. Continue to call out racism and bigotry when you witness it and through social media.
  • Have the grace to offer opportunity rather than just charity, although charity is also appreciated.

Seize the Opportunity.

  • Embrace the concept that diversity is part of a Growth Mindset – something that helps us all.
  • Provide a Platform so that Blacks may speak. Don’t speak on their behalf.
  • Organize group talks to discuss race, social injustices and the role privilege plays in the fight for racial justice. 

Resources and Recommendations:

As a follow-up to this blog, FountainBlue will launch a ‘You Can Too‘, to provide up to 20 Summer Scholarships for youths and young professionals to attend of our semi-monthly Front Line Managers Online programs from July-September, and including a fifteen minute online coaching session once a month for three months. To apply for the summer scholarship for our ‘You Can Too’ program, visit https://forms.gle/RaGBoRqquiFgngNW9.  

This month, we will connect with HR leaders interested in Embracing Diversity, Facilitating Empowerment, Measuring Engagement, so our August blog will feature best practices for doing each. E-mail me if you would like to weigh in on the conversation.

Coming together and making a stand for diversity and justice would not only be a testament to our courageous, proactive and positive natures, our righteous and resilient spirits as leaders and as human beings, it would also increase our likelihood of connecting deeply with each other, and of increasing the likelihood of success. 

Start-Ups Changing the World

June 15, 2020

June12Panel

FountainBlue’s June 12 When She Speaks program was on the topic of Start-ups Changing the World’. Our panelists represented a wide range of industries, backgrounds and roles, but also had much in common.

  • They are clear and passionate communicators with a track record for doing things big and small to change the world for the better.
  • They have a breadth and depth of experience which they leverage to solve the strategic and tactical problems facing them today.
  • They think about the big picture, engage the larger network, and focus on making things happen, delivering toward specific outcomes.

Below is advice they provided to the audience, regardless of whether you decide to be an entrepreneur.

  • Be collaborative and inclusive. Develop networks and allies who are passionate about the cause.
  • Be respectful of everyone. Be mindful of your purpose.
  • Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures as they are great growth opportunities.
  • Choose to be consistently excellent. Make this your brand.
  • Keep your mind open, your network positive and broad, your outlook curious.
  • Be strategic, engaging an ecosystem of partners to drive results.
  • Make a plan, pivot that plan if you need to.
  • Pay it forward, help others to also succeed.
  • Be gentle with yourself.

Below is advice for entrepreneurs.

  • Be all-in, but don’t let it be all-consuming.
  • Whatever you do, do with purpose and with passion. Focus on making a difference that matters.
  • Respect the down-sides of being all-in – you may be sacrificing your own health or the needs of your loved ones. Timing is everything, so maybe the entrepreneurial path is not right for you at this time, if you have other obligations.
  • Look for a big idea that will make a difference, one that will inspire you, one that will help make the lives of many people better, leveraging technology which helps you customize and scale the solution.
  • Dare to create something from nothing.
  • Turn a challenge, a failure into an opportunity.

As we face these very real, very traumatic challenges brought on by the pandemic, the resultant recession and the civil unrest, our panel tells us to:

  • Have faith, following each winter there’s a spring.
  • Accept the data. And then link arms and do something to make a difference, engaging others.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 12 When She Speaks program on the topic of Start-ups Changing the World’ and our hosts at Cisco.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Heather Callender-Potters, Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman and Chief Business Officer, PharmaJet
  • Panelist Karthi Gopalan, Product Line Director, Mobile Power BU, Maxim
  • Panelist Lata Hariharan, President and Founder, SVAST
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Venture Capital, Micron
  • Panelist Julia Zhu, Sr Manager, Analytics and Quality, Cisco

The Future of Work

June 12, 2020

FutureOfWork

FountainBlue’s June 12 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Work’.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around the Future of Work.

We have all been impacted by the worldwide pandemic, and more recent by the re-boarding pressures and more recently the civil unrest across the nation. Our thoughts turned to how these game-shifting events will be changing the way we work in the new normal.  

The Future of Work will be digital, leveraging the technology and tools to ensure that people can work productively and securely from anywhere, with full access to tools and information, and in full compliance with regulatory and privacy standards.

Difficult as the technology, process, compliance, security, privacy and other hurdles are to solve, technology leaders and innovators will work together to indeed resolve these issues and provide more versatile, more scalable, more customized solutions for a very demanding and growing customer base. 

Some of the challenging questions are highlighted below:

  • How do we help our people manage work-life integration when work can be done 24×7 from home?
  • How do we facilitate collaboration between staff, partners, customers and executives when we are all working remotely?
  • How do we continue to build current relationships and make new connections when we are not meeting face to face?
  • How will you deliver tradeshow-like experiences for the masses?
  • How do you replace the relationships of trust online which have historically been built in-person?
  • How do we conduct immersive training for our workforce while still sheltering in place?
  • How will schools and universities again survive and thrive while still sheltering in place? and when we re-board?
  • How do we help a remote worker become a fully autonomous worker, with full access to standard operating procedures, roles and responsibilities and priorities?

Below are some suggested best practices in a new normal at work.

  • Ensure that staff has self-service access to HR and IT related support so that they have the infrastructure they need to work seamlessly from remote locations.
  • Embrace digital solutions to optimize both working from home, and also re-boarding.
  • Plan to have sufficient emergency equipment so that those who need to report to work are protected in a future scenario similar to COVID.
  • Provide the equipment and resources so that staff can make productive use of their time.
  • Focus on the result, rather than on when staff can turn in work or how it is done.
  • Think, speak and act like your people are your greatest resource, bringing positive employee experiences to all.
  • Be data-driven so that you can plan-fully address issues and measure and report on outcomes.
  • Generate actionable reports based on specific data.
  • Provide access to contact-less support so that field engineers can access remote experts.
  • Allow customers to personalize their offerings so that they can also efficiently support their staff.
  • Further enable video and audio communications to do everything from telehealth to video conferencing.

Below are some thoughts on the future of work.

  • Look for machine-to-machine communications.
  • Grow the network and infrastructure like 5G/6G to support telecommunications and cell phone usage – there will increasingly be more data to integrate and manage.
  • Design Robotically-based telepresence solutions.
  • Adapt past learnings to new situations/real-world problems.
  • Automate workflow by providing access to self-service applications, incorporating standard modules.
  • Design digital solutions which will replace in-person participation in large conferences.

We concluded that the Future of Work is upon us – with the timeline accelerated through the pandemic. These changes are here to stay. The flexible, the collaborative, the tech-philic leader will be best prepared for this new way of working.

Is Everyone OK?

May 31, 2020

Conflict

“Is Everyone OK?” That has historically been my first response when someone brings up the word ‘conflict’. But with each decade, my view of conflict has shifted – from a must-avoid/must-fix mindset to one of more acceptance, tolerance, understanding and appreciation.

Conflict easily comes to the forefront in stressful times, including during the pandemic, when so much is unknown and many are feeling out of control.

Being ever solution-minded and analytical, I found a recent article about conflict, Eight causes of conflicts according to Art Bell and Brett Hart, Feb 14, 2020 . The article categorized all workforce conflicts into eight different types:

  • Conflicting Needs
  • Conflicting Styles
  • Conflicting Perceptions
  • Conflicting Goals
  • Conflicting Pressures
  • Conflicting Roles
  • Different Personal Values
  • Unpredictable Policies

Below are my thoughts on what to do about each of these types of conflicts.  

1.First accept that Conflict is a Part of Life @ Work.

Avoiding conflict may lead to much more conflict, or much more serious conflict. It’s far better to accept the fact that conflict will happen, and to find a way to accept that fact, and a strategy to ensure that relationships remain intact, communication remains transparent, and alignment is made between people, teams, and organization.

2. If you have conflicting Needs, find a way to negotiate a win-win.

This may involve an open discussion about resource management, or a prioritization of need, or even arranging for more resources and information so that all parties are happy.

3. If you have conflicting Styles, it’s critical to be able to understand the position of people who are not-like-you.

Being open-minded and curious will help all parties understand different viewpoints, different approaches. Welcoming other input will in general make teams and products stronger.

4. If you have conflicting Perceptions, it’s hard to agree on how to plan, how to act, how to progress.

It’s only when you understand first that you have mis-matched perceptions, and then work with the other parties to align on perceptions before you can plan, act and progress in a common direction.

5. If you have conflicting Goals, it’s hard to act as ONE, on the same team.

So it’s up to each of us to ensure that we focus on common goals, and understand the inter-relatedness of goals we set for ourselves and others across the organization.

6. If you have conflicting Pressures, work as a team to ensure that you’re delivering for others, and that others are delivering for you.

Trust, communication, planning, are all excellent strategies to help manage conflicts brought on by the pressures of performing when the team is relying on you.  Being a team player, and helping others to perform will help, as will celebrating successes and learning from failures.

7. If you have conflicting Roles, then it’s hard to meet expectations.

When a role doesn’t fit somebody, it’s hard for her/him to perform. Making sure you have the right people in the right role with reasonable expectations will help to address this conflict.

8. If you have different personal Values, it’s sometimes hard to see the others’ reality, and sometimes easy to unintentionally offend someone.

Being open and accepting will help us each be less reactive and judgmental. Being sensitive and thoughtful will help us maintain connections with people not-like-us.

9. If you have Unpredictable Policies, it’s hard for everyone to explain or follow the latest expectations.

Focus only on creating and updating the important policies to ensure you have a functional team and organization. Only making policy changes when necessary, and welcome input from the team.

10. The bottom line is back to the beginning – Conflict WILL exist. These are some keys for managing it well.

    • Create a Culture where Trust is earned and respected.
    • Communicate Continuously, Clearly and Authentically at all levels across the organization.
    • Welcome Collaboration, Diversity and Empowerment.
    • Be Positive: Celebrate Successes. Embrace Learning Opportunities.
    • Align Thinking, Speaking and Action for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

So embrace those opportunities for proactive, positive conflict. Everyone will be OK, and maybe better than OK because of it!

What He Said, What He Meant

May 8, 2020

FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’.  

WhatHeSaidPanel.png

Our panelists represented a broad range of backgrounds and roles, but they had much in common:

  • They shared a passion for growing people and companies.
  • They work with leaders and managers to create a culture which is vibrant, inclusive, and growth-oriented.
  • They think deeply about human and business issues, and solve problems big and small, focusing on creating meaningful, strategic outcomes.

Below are some of their suggestions for improving communications between men and women in the workplace.

  • Be straightforward, direct, structured and specific in communication with men, especially if they are engineers.
  • Speak to the problem statement rather than the emotions.
  • Be plan-ful, have an agenda, know what you’d like to accomplish and why it must be done.
  • Own any communication challenges or hurdles. Address any confusion directly, immediately, calmly, respectfully.
  • Do well by others, for others, and help them to spread the word about how and why to work with yourself or your team.
  • Be specific with an ask, and clear on why you’re asking for something, what’s in it for others, what success looks like.
  • Welcome all dimensions of diversity – not just race and gender and age, but also disability, child-status, culture, etc.,
  • Know your audience – not all men, not all people are built the same. What are their motivations? 
  • Prove and know your value, your worth, then communicate this with confidence.
  • Be confident in your communications, comfortable in your own value, your own skin.

In closing, our panelists recommend that you be the type of leader who:

  • invests in relationships and people, focusing on the needs of each individual;
  • helps get teams and leaders productive and un-stuck;
  • facilitates forward momentum, forward movement;
  • is a community organizer, standing for the individual and the team and the organization;
  • is vulnerable and authentic and a good story-teller; and
  • embraces a larger vision, acts with high-integrity, focuses on continuous learning and collaboration.

Resource:

======

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Oracle and our panelists for FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘What He Said, What He Meant’:

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Marilyn Becker, Senior Director, People Analytics, Western Digital
  • Panelist Carina Fang, Director, Program Management IoT Division, Synaptics 
  • Panelist Regina Lawless, Global Director, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron Technology 
  • Panelist David Ortiz, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Oracle 
  • Panelist Stacey Porter, VP of People Operations and Strategy, Outset Medical Inc.

The Last Mile

May 8, 2020

AutonomousDriving

FountainBlue’s May 8 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Last Mile’. We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around the last mile opportunities and challenges.

There were discussions about the challenges for delivering products and services to the last mile and the complexity of tasks necessary to make this happen, including navigating (often crowded, inconsistent and poor) road conditions, and the contact-less movement of parcels for the sake of efficiency and safety. 

Our executives agreed that most of the expense and resources are around delivery to the last mile, and of that distance, the delivery to that last 100 meters – from the curbside to the right door, to the right person. 

Solutions ranged from simulations to robotics to drones, all taking into account privacy and security issues, all leveraging AI and data to optimize results. Below are predictions on how we will be delivering to the last mile going forward.

  • There may be more of an emphasis on commercial vehicles rather than on autonomous driving. 
  • There may be smaller and more frequent deliveries.
  • Enabling people to better work from home is not just relevant now, but also for the foreseeable future as the Future of Work has fundamentally changed.
  • Simulations of how we move and travel might help companies and leaders better plan for last mile deliveries.
  • AR/VR solutions might help companies serve their customers in their homes and businesses, without having to be physically present to do so.
  • Software and automation might help customers to personalize and troubleshoot on their own, with contact-less support.
  • Rural areas which have previously been beyond the reach of delivery services may soon receive deliveries to the door.
  • The use of lockers might become more popular, allowing delivery services to deliver to a local store or market rather than directly to the door of the customer.
  • Leveraging the data around how we commute and travel will help us better plan optimal transit options for workers and citizens.

Our final thoughts were around how we can all plan better to serve more people, including those in most need. Every company, every leader, no matter the background or industry, must be a digital leader, to better serve everyone in that last mile.

Doing Well, While Doing Right

May 1, 2020

image.png

There are overwhelming down-sides to the COVID-19 pandemic – the isolation, the inconveniences, the uncertainty, the economic impact all take their toll.

But one of the up-sides is that people have the time to realize what’s for real and even who’s for real.

This time has helped me to focus on the types of leaders and companies that would make a difference doing well, while doing right, for these times of the pandemic, and forever thereafter. 

I personally use this ‘doing-well-while-doing-right’ filter to decide what I want to work on, what I’d like to support, how I help make things happen, who is part of the team. I hope that you also find these guidelines useful.

Doing Well

  1. Demonstrating Traction – A great company might start with a great idea, but the traction and momentum really define whether the company will succeed. Look for companies who have happy customers, sustainable revenues, growing market opportunity.
  2. Embracing Excellence – Anything worth doing is worth doing well. A successful company will have high standards of excellence, and the policies, leadership and commitment in place to perpetuate a culture of excellence.
  3. Leveraging Technology – Running excellent and scalable operations and delivering personalized products and services are increasingly required to grow companies and returns. It’s difficult to do these things consistently well and at scale without integrating technology.
  4. Streamlining Operations – Collaboration across business units, partnering with customers and partners will help streamline and scale operations and optimize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  5. Managing Change – Change is a given. Planning for change is a necessity. Banking on those plans is a recipe for disaster. So well things don’t go as planned, leaders will step up to adapt, pivot and shift. Sometimes there’s opportunity in the chaos, given the right mindset and perspective.
  6. Overcoming Logjams – No company, no leader can be in the flow all the time every time. When logjams happen, leaders are in the spotlight – to see how they respond, how they adjust and pivot, how they learn, how they support everyone to work through the obstructions.
  7. Learning from Miscues – Nobody’s perfect. Companies and leaders who survive miscues, even serious ones, are proving that they’re learning from them.
  8. Positioning for Scale – Companies that do well think strategically about the market opportunity, plan based on models for success, execute based on their plans, shift based on their findings, and ultimately position themselves for scaling, when and where it makes sense.
  9. Involving an Ecosystem of Partners – Successful companies know what they do well and partner with whole ecosystems of providers to optimize service to the customer.
  10. Reaching for the Next Opportunity – Complacency is not an option. Change is a given, and the successful company, the successful leader is continually reaching for the next adjacent opportunity.

Doing Right

  1. Taking Care of People – Doing right means providing goods and services which ultimately help people live, work and connect better.
  2. Taking Care of the Earth – Doing right means supporting the earth – the air, the soil, the nutrients it needs.
  3. Taking Care of Staff – Doing right means treating your people well, and empowering and engaging them with challenging and fulfilling work.
  4. Taking Care of Ecosystem of Partners – Doing right means creating mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations which better serve all parties.
  5. Leading By Example – Doing right means thinking, speaking and saying what you’ll do and standing behind what you do, while learning at every opportunity, with open-mindedness and humility.
  6. Adhering to Morals and Values – Doing right means being clear on your own morals and values, and making decisions based on these values, while also accepting and supporting others for the values they live by.
  7. Inspiring Others – Doing right by all of the above will inspire others, and help them to do the same.

Have you thought more deeply about who you are, who you want to work with, what you want to do? 

May you find joy and purpose through these challenging times, and centeredness and strength to help you pull through stronger than ever.

People-First Mindset

April 10, 2020

PeopleFirstMindset

FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’.  Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives, roles and backgrounds, but consistently thought about, spoke to and acted on the people-first mindset in their teams, in their companies, in their lives.

Below is a compilation of best practices for putting people first, as advocated by our panelists.

Be Strategic

  • Be fact-based when making decisions, but always make decisions framed by the impact on the people.
  • Understand how everyone fits into the ecosystem, and also what motivates everyone and what success looks like. Then work together to provide the resources and support so that people will succeed.
  • Align the thinking, speaking and actions around putting people first, last and always. Do it from the top down, and also from the bottom up.
  • Provide the team with the information and resources to make informed decisions. Support them through tough changes, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be Empowering

  • Empower everyone to have a voice, to have influence, no matter where they are sitting at the table.
  • Focus not just on what you do, but on how the thinking, words and actions make people feel. 
  • Don’t just look at the bottom line results. Look also at how those results were delivered and the cost to the people. If the people cost is too high, the results may not be sustainable.
  • Celebrate and highlight successes. 
  • Make the opportunity to be your authentic self. Welcome others to do the same.
  • Invest in the front-line leaders who are your interface to customers and partners.
  • Practice deep listening so that you can better understand someone else and learn from them.

Choose Direct and Positive Communication

  • Err on the side of transparent, efficient communications which builds connection, trust and empathy.
  • Working with people is not always easy, but if you deliver a tough message in an unemotional way, and provide a specific way to improve, you can help them understand that you are still putting them first.

Keep Raising the Bar

  • Remember that without people, we have nothing. So rise above the ‘I’ – there is no ‘i’ in team. 
  • Move with agility to embrace new ways to show people they matter.
  • Establish guardrails to facilitate brainstorming, and encourage everyone to think outside the box and welcome new and different perspectives.
  • Know your walking point if you reach a scenario, team or company which does not value having a people first mindset.
  • Incentivize managers and leaders to grow themselves and their teams.
  • Embrace fail-fast mechanisms so that you can quickly learn from successes and mistakes.
  • Keep asking the ‘why’ questions until you deeply understand perspectives and motivations.
  • Choose to experience and do something a little bit differently.

The bottom line is that putting people first is something you think about, speak to, act on – all the time, every time. Doing this well is contagious and will spreads well to all you touch.

Notes are available online at  and bios are online at https://www.tikkl.com/fountainblue/c/people


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 10 When She Speaks event on the topic of ‘A People-First Mindset’ and our hosts at Maxim.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Sharawn Connors, VP, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, Micron
  • Panelist Rita DeStaso, Services Account Executive, Strategic Enterprise, Microsoft
  • Panelist Monica Kaldani-Nasif, Chief People Officer, Kateeva
  • Panelist Tracy Laboy, Executive Director of Human Resources, Maxim

Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges

April 10, 2020

Industrial Revolution IT Integration Smart Manufacturing Innovat

FountainBlue’s April 10 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for our fascinating, wide-reaching and thought-provoking online discussion, featuring our hosts at Honda.

We were fortunate to have a diverse range of executives in attendance who shared a wide range of perspectives around Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges, especially they are impacted by COVID-19. Although we came from different roles and responsibilities, we agreed on many times:

  • Adopt and create technology that is more data-driven, more sophisticated, more integrated, more pervasive. Automation and process improvement is necessary to efficiently bring customized solutions to customers.
  • Remember that it’s always about the people. We need people as part of the solution – to adopt and integrate the technology, to run and implement and improve the processes, to continually update everything based on the needs of the customers, the needs of the team, the plant, the company.
  • Collaborate with business units and R&D teams will help improve our manufacturing and operations. 
  • Adopt innovative new solutions only if they are relevant and helpful now and in the long term, and not too difficult to implement and scale.
  • Collect masses of data and quickly filtering to collect relevant data points help us better understand the problem (and the opportunity) and better make informed decisions.
  • Understand the problem statement and articulating it well will help teams of engineers, data scientists, business professionals to collaboratively design solutions, create and vet prototypes, revise and refine models, and ultimately more efficiently manufacture goods.

Below are some thoughts of fundable opportunities:

  • Provide an offering which would help companies better bridge simulated scenarios with real-world results.
  • Focus on special edge cases/corner cases for manufacturing or distribution
  • Machines in manufacturing plants will continue to be monitored by sensors, which will in turn generate huge volumes of data. There are opportunities to leverage that data to get insights about maintenance, performance, anomalies, etc., and therefore make better informed decisions and forecasts. See Why TinyML is a Giant Opportunity.
  • Invest in sensors which would help better see environment and obstacles on the manufacturing floor
  • Design solutions which let manufacturers go from manual to automated, from automated to intelligent solutions, and learn and adjust.
  • Design Augmented Reality solutions with digital modeling to help manufacturing leaders better optimize for efficiency, accuracy, performance.
  • Create an offering with addresses the question ‘how do we go from screwdriver to software so that we can better optimize for Industry 4.0.’?
  • Design solutions which are both robust and reliable, while address edge and corner cases.

Below are some philosophical thoughts about Industry 4.0 opportunities and challenges.

  • Whereas it might be more difficult for manufacturing plants to convert into the production of N95 masks to support our healthcare providers during the pandemic, it may be more feasible to produce medical grade plastics, rubbers, mechanical parts – items which are just as useful.
  • The pandemic has further facilitated the convergence across industries – where industry leaders with manufacturing facilities are all supporting our healthcare workers as they serve those impacted by COVID-19.
  • Infrastructure innovations need to take place to ensure that people are better prepared for and better able to respond to the next crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in our personal and work lives, and will have a lasting impact on everyone. 
  • Globalization will lead to localization, with a focus on customized local solutions. In turn, localized solutions will be applicable to global markets. The trick is knowing how to quickly and optimally manage the high variability of scenarios and deliver timely solutions.
  • Let’s design better contingency plans so that we are better prepared for another unforeseen scenario with global impact and ripple effects.
  • There are opportunities for each of us to collaborate as leaders, as technologists, as industries to better run our businesses while better taking care of everyone – doing well, while doing good.

Our final thoughts are around what we are all seeking: sustainability, continuity, innovation for ourselves, our companies, and all those we serve.

Building Community In the ‘New-Normal’

March 25, 2020

NewNormal

For leaders of companies big and small, there’s a looming question: ‘How do you carry on, business as usual, when circumstances are SO unusual’, when things happen so quickly, when we’ve never seen such happenings before? 

And ‘What if this is the ‘new Normal’, and this ‘Work from Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ scenario becomes the defacto standard?’

Yes, the COVID-19 has hit all of us personally, socially, professionally and economically, and in ways deeply felt, and never before seen. 

I can’t see the future any more than anyone else, but I will share some thoughts on how you, as a business leader, can help build culture for your team and organization given the ‘WFH’ and ‘SPP’ directives, given these uncertain times.

  • Be organized and collaborative.
  • Be informed and act with prudence but don’t over-react and do un-productive, energy-zapping things.
  • Practice deliberate calmness and optimism, tempered with data and reason.
  • Connect with others emotionally, if not physically. Have more time for each other, for our people matter more than ever in these times of change.

During these strange new circumstances, we as leaders and managers must take measures to support our people – whether they are employees or partners, customers or teams. Below are some thoughts on how to maintain a feeling of community, a sense of culture, a belonging to a team when you’re Sheltering in Place or Working from Home.

Set up for Success

  1. Ensure that there is clear, inspiring, top-down communication around mission and values, timelines and goals, and that they are adopted bottoms-up, with questions welcome, and regular updates as appropriate.
  2. Work with Company leaders to commit to the success of everyone – from the top-down, from the bottom-up, at each and every meeting as a group, as individuals, in thoughts, words and actions – all the time, every time.
  3. Ensure that there’s full buy-in from everyone, and positive, productive energy from everyone. (Take measures to assess whether each person can consistently adopt this mind-set, for this is critical to the success of the individual, the team, the project.)
  4. Provide clear projects and timelines which fit the talents and abilities for each team member, and which fit into the larger mission of the product, team and organization.
  5. Promote a digital company culture, leveraging technologies and tools, data and information real-time so that everyone can be productive and connected.
  6. Adopt processes and standards that protect un-interrupted ‘work-time’ without chatter, as well as structured ‘project coordination’ time to share status, and ‘social/other’ time to build bonds between team members.
  7. Help each person separate work and home life physically, mentally, emotionally.

Establish Clear Standards and Processes

  1. Be open and authentic, compassionate and human
    • Focus on making positive and constructive remarks, comments and input, and ask everyone on the team to do the same.
    • Welcome input and feedback without judgement or consequence. 
    • Build trust to help people feel that they can share freely and safely. 
    • Forgive mistakes and transgressions. Help others to do the same.
    • Be compassionate, giving and vulnerable.
  2. Practice virtual meeting etiquette. Use the mute button, manage ambient noises. Get cameras and audio tools working well. Pay attention to intonations, facial expression and body language.  
  3. Honor everyone’s preferences around meeting timing, topics, length, etc..

=============

Thoughts on How to Creating a More Connected Remote Workforce

Build Teamwork

  1. Allow and encourage mindless chatting, ‘off-task’, but very relevant discussion
    • Spend meeting having team members share something about themselves or share how working remotely is impacting them.
    • Pose open-ended questions, with the intent of getting to know everyone better.
    • Brainstorm with each other how to address specific challenges around WFH.
    • Help everyone feel that they are all alone on doing their (very important piece of the project), but also they are all inter-connected and all on the same team.
  2. Create and use different layers of celebration and different formats for celebrating the different types of successes real-time and incrementally, short term AND long term; team AND company; milestone achievement AND bug fix, etc.,
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for in-person social gatherings, group trainings, cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.
  4. Reward choices made to support the team AND individual progress on key initiatives.
  5. Reward initiative and drive around creating social and team initiatives – both online and in-person.

Build Relationships

  1. Assign a buddy-system to do periodic project-based, or role-based check-ins.
  2. Create regular ‘bonding’ time (by role, by buddy-system, by mentor/mentee, etc.,)
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.

Encourage Curiosity

  1. Welcome conversations about how company/team/product values are being upheld.
  2. Encourage and reward curiosity on how things are done, why things are done this way, why things are going well or not, why customers prefer one feature over another.

Practice Compassion

  1. Be curious about how people are responding to the changing requirements and processes, and how personal circumstances might be impacting work requirements.
  2. Be supportive of those who need logistical support to address WFH, SiP mandates.
  3. Regularly assess how WFP and SiP challenges are affecting individual team members and the team overall.
  4. Be flexible on timelines and deliverables while your team and their families adjust to new circumstances.
  5. Do the little things to let people know that you’re aware of their challenges and that you’d like to support them in navigating these challenges. It may be as simple as sending them a new webcam or mailing them a handwritten letter.

Build Engagement

  1. Reward people for bringing something to Share or Give at a meeting – data, tool, resource, learning, ideas, patterns, etc.,
  2. Reward process-improvement suggestions so that everyone has the tools and information they need to get the job done, the plan is clear on how to get what kind of support
  3. Encourage and reward team members who contribute to meetings, written communications, team projects – online or in-person.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but we will keep building on it. Your thoughts are also welcome.