Author Archive

Communicate, Connect, Engage

January 14, 2022
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FountainBlue’s January 14 Front Line Managers Online meeting on the topic of ‘Communicate, Connect, Engage’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation: Tammy Sanders, Shobhana Viswanathan, Louise Lamb.

We were fortunate to have such practical and inspiring leaders for this week’s panel, speaking so passionately and eloquently on how to better communicate, connect and engage with your stakeholders.Our panelists shared why engagement was so important from the people, product and business perspectives. Their success stories showed how they overcame obstacles to deliver quantifiable and qualitative results for their teams and organizations. Below is a summary of their advice for how to better communicate, connect and engage:

  • Align on values and ensure that you and everyone else can consistently think, speak, and act on those values.
  • Embrace the opportunities for contemplation and reflection to see how your own view of the world could be a little more flexible, more broad.
  • Hire, retain and develop the passionate doers who will show up and follow through, and support them in adopting others-like-them on to the team.
  • Look also at what’s-not-said/done, for reading between the lines can tell you what motivates others as well as what they meant by the words they said, the actions they took.
  • Create a safe space for people to transparently and authentically share their challenges, opportunities and successes.
  • Understand the motivations of your stakeholders and ensure that you and the team are solving problems of interest for each stakeholder.
  • View the problem from a larger lens/perspective, so that you can better communicate and better connect and engage with others.
  • Speak from a bottom-line/revenue impact perspective to get sponsor and executive buy-in.
  • If ‘snow melts on the edges’ as Andy Grove would say, invite the team to understand what the product, business and customer implications are for today’s circumstances and needs and for tomorrow’s technologies and solutions. 

People have always been a company’s greatest asset, and it’s much more important now when we are all impacted by the ‘Great Resignation’. Communicating, connecting and engaging with your people helps managers and leaders at all levels to recruit, retain, and develop their people, and encourages everyone to go that extra mile to deliver value, while contributing to a positive culture.

Data Meets Healthcare

January 14, 2022

FountainBlue’s January 14 VIP Roundtable: Data Meets Healthcare

FountainBlue’s January 14 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Data Meets Healthcare’, with opening remarks by Change Healthcare. Data is the photon that’s foundational to providing value for all stakeholders, providing energy to solutions which serve all. But the question is how do we optimize the data to provide value, optimize care at minimal costs in an industry with so many stakeholders and so much regulation? 
Although digital transformation has a huge potential to impact the healthcare sector, as it has done for other sectors, the challenges are much more complex in healthcare because of the needs of disparate stakeholders, the regulations around the industry, the slim margins of hospitals and clinics, the disillusionment of patients to the point of not engaging, etc.,
Below are some thought-provoking ideas from an engaged and informed set of executives in attendance.

  • Facilitate interoperability of data between payors, providers, patients, insurers, etc., 
  • Ensure patient ownership and access to their own data, but also provide regulations to ensure the safe, secure, and ubiquitous sharing of data which also protects the privacy of patients.
  • Address the needs of empowered consumers to provide personalized value-added solutions at scale in a way which is collaborative and scalable.
  • Support hospitals and healthcare centers to leverage data for better financial management, more efficient access and improved care metrics.
  • Use data to document and support the end-to-end patient journey from coverage and benefits to payments and insurance.
  • Invite the use of longitudinal care programs to provide ongoing personalized care and also to inform the care of others with similar conditions. 
  • Democratize and expand access to care.
  • Develop and design solutions which build patient engagement, build communities of care, and in general better leverage technology and innovation to optimize care for more people.

The pandemic has accelerated adoption of existing technologies like MRNA to accelerate drug discovery and improve care, and telehealth to expand access to care. 
The Silver Tsunami is coming with a large population reaching 65+ and therefore with the increased likelihood of chronic disease, and the need for constant care, monitoring and interaction. Let’s work together to focus on ensuring a healthy population by providing better clinical, operational and financial outcomes.

Leverage technology solutions to address any friction for providing digital services, leverage data to ensure accuracy and progress of treatments, leverage hospitals and healthcare systems to support patient acquisition and adoption of digital solutions, and work together to ensure that payers own payments, insurers embrace technology and data, and regulations facilitate the adoption of digital transformation in healthcare. 

More YOU, More TRUE in 2022

December 29, 2021

It’s quiet in the workplace, not a meeting this week, not even a touch-base.

The office is full of chairs all tucked-in, wWith echoes of past comments from guffaw to chagrin.

The voicemail, when triggered, repeats with good care: “We’d love to help out, but we’re simply not there.”

Downtime and leisure were once dreams in our heads, now visions from Netflix and shared bottles of red.

Laugh full, learn much, dive deep into a book, make all the good dishes you once labored to cook.

Take a breath, sing a song, put the laptop on ice, make a friend, play a game, take my advice.

Stay centered, replenished, more YOU, more TRUE, let’s keep “making it work” in 2022.

Fourth Annual Men Who Open Doors

December 10, 2021

FountainBlue’s December 10 When She Speaks program was our Fourth Annual ‘Men Who Open Doors’ topic. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Nova Measuring Instruments and our esteemed panelists. 

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We were fortunate to have such passionate and diverse panelists speaking on the sponsorship topic this month. Although our nominated executives represented different backgrounds, roles and industries, they had much in common, and generously shared their best practices for sponsoring women and people with diverse backgrounds.

The business imperatives for sponsorship of people with diverse backgrounds range from innovation to product design, from culture and leadership development to team chemistry and market expansion, from problem solving to conflict management. Our sponsors all consistently think, speak and act like sponsors who lead diverse teams to collaboratively achieve outrageous goals which positively impact all stakeholders.

Below is a compilation of advice on how to better sponsor diverse others.

Lead On

  • Listen to truly understand the needs of the other, and frame offerings based on the needs of that person.
  • Be calmly, eloquently, passionately consistent about your sponsorship agenda and the business case around that agenda, and collaboratively work with others to deliver impact on objectives.
  • Be inspiring about the vision, strategic in your planning, diligent on your execution, collaborative and empowering with your style, and relentless in your pursuit of that diversity agenda.
  • Recognize people, celebrate successes, and build a diverse community aligned not just on noble ideas and causes, but also on delivering customer value. 
  • Encourage disruptive and respectful inquiry.

Step In

  • Step up and step in against every infraction, with every injustice, and make it safe for others to do the same. 
  • Take a chance on others and help them succeed in stretch assignments which fit their passion and skills, and the needs of your organization.

Raise the Bar

  • Hold yourself to a higher standard and monitor your own unconscious biases.
  • Hire for attitude and growth mindset and a willingness to work hard and learn. 
  • Have zero tolerance for bullying, discrimination, and other disempowering behaviors and unequal treatments. 
  • Make a stand for meritocracy and call out inequities and outdated practices which unfairly favor one person or group over another for reasons that don’t make sense and reasons that don’t support the bottom line.

This year’s ‘Men Who Open Doors’ honorees give us hope that we too can practice the types of empathetic, collaborative and emotionally intelligent thoughts, words and behaviors, while achieving business results. 

Smart Cities, Smart Buildings

December 10, 2021
FountainBlue’s Dec 10 VIP Roundtable: Smart Cities, Smart Buildings

FountainBlue’s December 10 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Smart Cities, Smart Buildings’, with opening remarks by Intel. As usual, our executives in attendance had deep technical expertise and work with a wide range of business models, all designed to support specific and relevant use cases for today, and to create more integrated and robust solutions and opportunities for tomorrow. For decades, an increasingly larger proportion of people are moving from rural to urban and suburban areas, which necessitates companies, leaders, cities and governments to optimize our cities and buildings so that we can better connect, manage, secure and support larger populations of diverse people. Below is a compilation of thoughts and advice for creating smarter cities and smarter buildings.

  • Proactively collaborate to better manage your company’s strategy, plan, processes, and vision.
  • Manage manufacturing, supply chain, operational and distribution processes to optimize the end-to-end envisioning, development, distribution and integration cycles.
  • Create modules which would allow developers and partners to design custom solutions to solve specific problems, while addressing performance, power, cost, and integration challenges.
  • Be curious about the needs of the customer, as well as the trends in the market so you can offer practical solutions for current customers, while creating the infrastructure, products and support needed to serve future needs.
  • Collect the data and create algorithms focusing on the most relevant, actionable data, rather than working on assumption-based models. Look also beyond the immediate implications of the data to the longer-term impact and implications for the data collected.
  • Embrace the technology while looking also at the business models and market trends, and focusing on the longer-term impact of the solutions and choices we’re making today.
  • Empower lower-skill and new workers to collect the data and work with them to understand how that data can make our buildings and cities smarter, and why that matters.
  • Question not just why the technology is cool, but also how we can leverage the technology to serve a real-world need, making our buildings and cities safer, more integrated, more connected, more customized.

Today’s solutions will be complex – from a technology perspective with hardware, software, cloud and integration issues, from a business perspective with adoption, partnership, development and people issues, from an execution perspective with integration, infrastructure, implementation, operational and distribution issues, from a governance perspective with regulatory, compliance, alliance and other issues. And solutions will require individual leaders, teams, organizations, industries and countries to work together. But if we work together, we can leverage technologies such as AI and ML and edge computing and beyond, to better support the economic, environmental, social, and community needs of people in the buildings they occupy, in the cities where they live.

Open Hearts, Open Minds

December 3, 2021

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FountainBlue’s December 3 Front Line Managers Online meeting on the topic of ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. We were fortunate to have such open-minded, open-hearted leaders for today’s program. Below is a compilation of best practices for leading and following with an open heart and an open mind.

Think Strategically and Start with the Why

  • Make sure that the change is a necessary one, and worth the effort.
  • Know what success looks like and what needs to be measured to achieve the change objectives. 
  • Accept that not everyone can make the shifts needed to embrace the opportunities around the challenges of change.
  • Manage by objectives, ensuring alignment on goals and measured, time-lined outcomes.
  • Communicate the whys behind the changes in a language which resonates with the intended audiences.

Be Authentic, Transparent and True, Making it Safe for Others to Do the Same

  • Consistently think, speak and walk the talk.
  • Be vulnerable and human, and make it safe so that others feel like they can be the same way.

Embrace Opportunities to Learn and Grow – Change is a part of life, so embrace opportunities to learn and grow from the change, or risk being left behind. 

  • Know why you (or others) are resistant to change and work with them to make it happen. 
  • Help others connect the dots for themselves.
  • Be curious and ask open ended questions.

Focus on Positive and Constructive Thoughts, Opportunities and People

  • Make the best of what you’re given.
  • Help others find that right fit, even if it’s not within your team or organization.

Collaborate and Work with Others – together we are better

  • Model and reward collaboration.
  • Create a platform where internal and external stakeholders can work together, aligned on common goals.

Our panelists challenge us to embrace that growth mindset, to collaboratively work together, with open minds and open hearts to address challenges and opportunities for a future we can’t predict.

Start with the Truth

December 1, 2021

Over the past month, there have been many questions and conversations around truth. Indeed, whether the coaching, advising or consulting questions were around decision-making or problem-solving, innovation or engagement, retention or conflict resolution, truth was the foundational step toward progress. I have therefore summarized a list of criteria to guide the search for truth. I hope that you find it useful.

  1. Validity: 
    • What is the data and how do you know that it reflects past, current and projected conditions?
  2. Usefulness: 
    • Would it be helpful to share the truth? If so, which people and groups would benefit (or not) and why?
  3. Urgency: 
    • Is there an urgent need to take action on the truth? If so, why so and which groups or people are urgently impacted?
  4. Timing: 
    • If there’s not an urgent need, when *is* the right time to share this truth and to which people or groups and why?  
  5. Impact: 
    • Who is impacted by the truth? How would you communicate the truth to the different groups of impacted people?
  6. Agendas: 
    • What are the motivations of the parties sharing information? How would their motivations taint what they portray to be true? How would the truth support them in achieving their goals?
  7. Transparency: 
    • Are all parties being transparent about what’s true? Will you be communicating the full truth to all parties? Why or why not? 
  8. Options: 
    • What are the best options for being firm but kind and fair but consistent?  
  9. Morality: 
    • What are the moral, legal and ethical issues of the dilemma, given the best options available for responding to the truth?
  10. Ripple Effect: 
    • What are the ripple effects of the actions taken on culture, brand, relationships, business, etc.,?

What are your thoughts? How can focusing on the truth support yourself and your team in reaching corporate and cultural objectives?

Mentorship Best Practices

November 12, 2021
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FountainBlue’s November 12 When She Speaks online program was on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. We were fortunate to have such a dynamic and diverse panel of mentors and mentees to share best practices and advice around mentorship. Their sage advice and inspiring remarks provide great food for thought as well as suggestions and ideas on how we can better support each other through mentorship and the personal and business reasons for doing so. Below is a compilation of best practices from our esteemed panel.

How to Make the Best of Mentorship Opportunities

  • Share thoughts on how things can be done and how to better collaborate and innovate.
  • Work together to transition to new challenges in different roles, for different products, teams and industries. 
  • Get support as you navigate challenging work and life circumstances.
  • Brainstorm how to stretch your vision, your goal, your direction.
  • Develop clarity on your values and stand strong to those values when times are tough.
  • Lean on each other through dark periods and help each other find the light, leveraging the learnings.

Below are some recommended best practices for growing a mentorship program.

  • Create broad and inclusive plans to include and connect a diverse range of employees at all levels.
  • Start small and make incremental changes as you grow your mentorship program. 
  • Always ask for and integrate feedback to help make yourself, your mentor/mentee, the program better.
  • Be clear on your goals and measure your progress on those goals. Align all to those goals and empower all to make progress on those goals.
  • Leverage your learnings, your scar tissue, to support the other, whether you’re the mentor or the mentee.
  • Don’t stop at mentorship. Also provide sponsorship and project/program participation.
  • Be open-minded about how to plan and implement a mentorship program.
  • Create and nourish a culture where mentorship relationships will flourish.
  • Make mentorship bi-directional, with the assumption that both mentors and mentees will benefit.
  • Ensure that those who are more reserved or more other-centric don’t get left out of the sponsorship or mentorship opportunities.

The bottom line is that both mentors and mentees can gain a broader perspective on what to do, how to do things, who to meet, and ultimately expand their view of themselves and how they fit into the world, providing personal and business benefits for all.

Please join me in thanking our hosts at Pure Storage and our esteemed panelists for FountainBlue’s November 12 When She Speaks online program on the topic of ‘Mentorship Best Practices’. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by Niki Armstrong, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Chief Compliance Officer, Pure Storage
  • Mentors:
    • Peter Holland, VP of Supply Chain, Lam Research 
    • Milissa Kubal-White, Manager, Global Sales Enablement, Coupa Software, Empower Board Member, Coupa Software
    • Ellen Lail, Regional Sales Director, Pure Storage, co-chair Women @ Pure
    • Umesh Lakshman, Head of Solutions Architecture, West, Lumen Technologies
  • Mentees:
    • Misa Crocker, Education and Training Program Manager, Pure Storage 
    • Lilian Hall, Program/Product Manager – Logistics & TMS, Lam Research
    • Andrea Rein, Lead Talent Management Consultant, Lumen Technologies
    • Aimee Stevens, Operations Coordinator, Coupa Software
  • with closing remarks by Dena Sikes, Director, National Partners, Pure Storage, co-chair, Women @ Pure

Data is the New Black

November 12, 2021

FountainBlue’s November 12 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Data Is the New Black’, with opening remarks by Coupa Software. As usual, our group of executives in attendance were seasoned with their experience, varied with their background, and thought-provoking with their comments. Our lively discussion was peppered with rich insights, varying responses, and diverse approaches toward the mining, management, adaptation and usage of data. Below is a compilation of thoughts and best practices.The amount of available data is overwhelming, and gathering more data is not the key challenge. The challenge instead is to ensure that the data is:

  • vetted to be correct, complete and consistent
  • collected and managed in a way which serves the product/project/corporate/customer objectives
  • filtered efficiently, especially when there’s an urgent need to have real-time data
  • leveraged to gain insights and actions which are relevant and useful
  • managed in a way which is ethical and sustainable

But with challenges come opportunities. Some of the questions raised in the conversation are listed below.

  • How do you efficiently integrate data sets to best inform and drive decisions and outcomes?
  • How do you ensure the integrity of the data, and the causality of the data?
  • How do you measure input and impact real-time?
  • How do you ensure that the connections/correlations between data are both intelligent and important?
  • How do you integrate historical data to plan for today and project for tomorrow?
  • How can you make decisions with minimal data?
  • How can you extend findings from one scenario/industry/product/customer to others?
  • How do you protect the privacy and security of customers while providing layered access to various stakeholders?

Specific examples of use cases around data include the below:

  • databases of bloodwork to document rare diseases
  • data on image insights
  • algorithms to modify facial features so we can track people while respecting privacy
  • supply chain predictions based on algorithms of past and anticipated future demand
  • leverage data to make the invisible visible so that you can gain insights and better manage health and disease

The conversation was eye-opening as well as inspirational. Clearly data is at the heart of how we as leaders, as organizations, as human beings will grow and thrive. The challenge is WHO will do WHAT to better serve us ALL with data?

Embracing Gratitude

November 5, 2021

FountainBlue’s November 5 Front Line Managers Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Embracing Gratitude’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. We are grateful for our wise and dynamic panelists for today’s Front Line Managers Online program, on the topic of ‘Embracing Gratitude’. Below is a compilation of their advice and best practices around gratitude.

Thinking, speaking and gratitude is not always easy, but there are many benefits when you do it well.

  • Acts of gratitude tend to build networks, relationships and understanding, which benefit all.
  • Gratitude positively impacts culture and therefore discretionary/volunteer activities or engagement, retention, recruitment and development.
  • Gratitude is a key ingredient of a positive, growth-driven mindset, which helps build resilience and agility. 
  • Virtuous cycles of gratitude may lead to increased respect, camaraderie and trust, as well as a groundswell of positive energy and good will.
  • Habitually embracing gratitude as a practice helps build self awareness and centeredness and appreciation for the little things.

How you show gratitude really matters.

  • Be authentic and sincere when sharing your gratitude. Platitudes and empty praise will not be seen or felt like gratitude.
  • Be specific about what you’re grateful for.
  • Be authentic, be human, feel grateful when you’re expressing your gratitude.

Our panel challenged us to see the up-sides for having a grateful mindset and challenged us to:

  • Feel grateful for the challenges you face, and make them into learning opportunities. 
  • Try keeping a gratitude journal, to document things you’re grateful for each day, and to frame the way you interact with others around you and the circumstances facing you.
  • Embrace gratitude as a way to bring joy and wisdom and perspective to yourself and others.
  • Meet unexpected and unwelcome input and feedback in an open-minded, gracious and curious way, so that you may receive deep insights and learnings. 
  • You can’t control many things which happen to you, but you can choose to more actively manage the voice-in-your-head so that it helps you be more grateful, more positive.
  • Make someone feel appreciated, rather than just going through the motions expressing gratitude. (There’s a difference between experiential vs conceptual gratitude.)

Our panel experienced their fair share of challenges in these uncertain times. But they consistently embraced any dark experiences with a lens of gratitude, and inspired us to believe that we can too.