Archive for February, 2014

Web 3.0 Leaders

February 21, 2014


Last month, we talked about the evolution of the web, and discussed ten dimensions of how the web evolved, from the technology evolution to the role of marketing, all facets leading to the empowerment of and delivery-of-service-to the customer. This month, we are profiling ten leading companies who are taking leadership roles in the evolution of the web.

1. Amazon: From Aggregated Deliveries of Everything      

Amazon is leading the way, delivering goods to the door, leveraging the web, cloud, IT, morphing from an online bookstore to the selling of everything, expanding and addressing the needs of the customer, and the many devices they use, all delivered to their door. Sophisticated tools and algorithms track what you’ve ordered and predict what may be of interest to you as well and efficient operational processes and deep and broad relationships with a range of manufacturers and distributors assist in the aggregated delivery of products on-demand. Look for the growth of AmazonFresh for same-day deliveries, and even a partnership with USPS for Sunday deliveries.

2. Apple: Sensors and Devices   

The ‘What’s Next’ question has hung over Apple since the passing of business icon Steve Jobs, but there’s no denying that Apple products are flying off the shelves – most recently the 5s and 5c, with 9 million sold in the first weekend. Congrats also on the new light iPad design, the ultra-loyal Mac following, the proliferation of apps, etc., May I suggest that the ‘What’s Next’ question might be related to the fingerprint sensor in the 5s. What are the implications for innovations in mobile sensors?

3. Cisco: The Internet of Everything        

Cisco facilitated the growth of the internet with its hardware and software offerings – from broadband internet to routers to security, sensors and software solutions. They leading the Internet of Everything efforts, connecting the data, people and processes for a more connected world. Cisco will continue to facilitate the age when physical sensors and the data they generate will help people and things better evaluate and manage resources and make data-based decisions, real-time.

4. eBay: Connecting Buyers and Sellers, Optimizing Deliveries to the Door 

eBay’s network of buyers and sellers and its processes for creating trusted connections quickly between them have made them a force to be reckoned with. The focus on local shopping and on one-hour deliveries through the eBay Now program make them a leader in the delivery-of- b-to-c, c-to-c products to-the-door.

5. General Electric: The Industrial Internet    

Known for decades to businesses as an energy, power and water company and to consumers as a lighting, appliance and home improvement company, watch what they will do, pushing the Industrial Internet – the Boundaries of Minds and Machines. See how they will support clients like railroads and airlines to proactively manage malfunctions, and how they will support our healthcare needs through devices and the cloud and our pure water needs through tech-driven filters.

6. Google: From Search to Video, Communities to Devices

From its beginnings as a search engine and even following its incredible adoption and expansion, nobody projected. It’s impressive how Google is weeding out things-that-don’t work, and making video solutions like YouTube outstanding and easy to use. Indeed Google is proactively managing the volumes of data so that they are relevant to the user, and to niche groups of users. Couple this with their solutions delivered to the door, to the home, and the device innovations from Google Glass to Chrome Dongle and they are a force to be reckoned with.”

7. IBM: Big Data Evangelist, Real-World Problem-Solver   

IBM evangelism for cities and universities also showcase its sophisticated problem-solving abilities leveraging data storage and analytics to solve real-world problems. See examples of what IBM is doing for French city Lyon to improve traffic flow, and follow what IBM is doing to introduce big data curriculum into universities. There are huge consulting contracts around big data to be had, and IBM will be in the thick of it.

8. Microsoft: Embracing SaaS and Mobile 

Give Microsoft credit for bringing personal computers and software to the masses, and for continuing to grow and expand through the evolution of the web. It also takes courage to expand into devices and phones and applications sold online, rather than shrink-wrapped. Look for Microsoft to continue to find its way as it works with partners to usher in Web 3.0.

9. Netflix: Beyond Streaming Movies, to Custom Content

Breaking the mode first with its mail-in movies on DVD, then its migration to streaming movies and shows on demand, and now custom content creation, Netflix has consistently led the way with a grand vision and exceptional execution. We have every confidence that Netflix will continue to efficiently deliver customized, quality content to an ever-demanding and widening user base.

10. Yahoo: the Future of Content

Started as a search engine like Google, Yahoo grew like wildfire, and then had an identity crisis. I see it finding its way – making the world’s daily habits (whether it’s games or groups or movies or news or weather) both inspiring and entertaining. So don’t discuss Yahoo, still (barely) a Fortune 500 company with revenues at around 5 billion. In fact, I see it as a platform for customized content, delivered to individuals and niche groups, a core Web 3.0 capability.

How does our list compare to your own? Who would you add or take out?  E-mail us at with your thoughts.


Who Floats to the Top

February 21, 2014


There’s a war for talent developing . . . if our budgets can only accommodate the best-performing, highest-potential staff, whom do you keep and whom must you release? As the way-we-do-work changes and as tech evolutions challenge and stimulate all of us, who will keep up and lead the way? As the work becomes more specialized and more valued, the role of the multi-tasking generalist also becomes important – how can you have it both ways?

The answer is in attracting and retaining and growing the highest potential talent you can. Below are some thoughts on ‘Who Floats to the Top’, as you evaluate and consider the A players for your team.

Character Traits

1. Integrity – It’s about doing the right thing, regardless of whether someone is looking, regardless of whether anyone would ever know, regardless of whether there’s a consequence. An integrity breach is the greatest cause of concern for any leader, for the trust connection will be broken and difficult to heal. With that said, people have different standards of what it means to do the right thing, and flexibility about what’s right and wrong might be called for.

2. Passion – Showing energy and passion around projects and people is an essential element of leadership. Nobody wants someone complacent on their team, but remember that passion may display itself as an Energizer Bunny or as a quiet storm, depending on personality and communication style. Leaders need to have the judgment to know if the bunny will spin in a productive direction or just around in circles, and whether the storm is proactively focused, or just unnecessary drama.

3. Self-Awareness – Knowing yourself for all your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your values and desires and motivations is essential for success. High-potentials are well grounded in who they are and what their value-add is, but they are also open to how they can be better at who they are and what they do! On the one extreme are those who are *too* open to feedback and input and criticism, and on the other hand are those who are closed-minded and want to only do things in ways which have worked in the past. Again, the challenge is to manage others and yourself so that you and they can find that middle ground.

4. Entrepreneurial – An entrepreneurial person is always looking for a product, service, process or solution that would help better solve a problem at hand. Having the curiosity, flexibility and open-mindedness to always ask questions and entertain other-ways-of-doing-things is generally an asset for most teams. The only caution is to include the perspectives of those consistently out-there, beyond the realm of practicality, to the point of being non-productive themselves and distracting to others.

Track Record

5. Measurable accomplishments – There’s no substitute for results, and everyone knows who’s delivering on them. But not everyone is good at communicating what their role was and what the tangible outcomes were for the team. And the opposite is also true: some people are really good at taking credit for work they did not have much participation in. Helping the good people communicate what they’ve done and tackle projects that would build themselves and their team and company would serve all well. Calling out the others would also help sift out who floats to the top.

6. Working across teams and roles and companies – Embracing the perspectives of those-who-think-and-act-differently than you facilitates collaboration and more balanced, integrated solutions. Commanding the respect and support of a wide range of stakeholders is a testament to the capabilities of leaders.

7. Credentialed training – Sometimes that’s necessary, and sometimes not so much, provided you have the foundational knowledge you need to succeed. I believe in programs which are 20% about knowledge and information and 80% about applying it into a real-life setting. When someone itemizes a long list of tech credentials for example, I would ask specific questions about how each were applied and what business results were generated.


8. Focus on Measurable Results – In business, it’s about doing the right thing and showing the measurable results that align with corporate goals and serve the customer. Promising leaders continually focus on delivering and communicating those measurable results, and continually adjust, based on the needs of the individual stakeholders.

9. Team Player – Nobody wants to work with a self-centered jerk, no matter how brilliant they are. Sometimes these jerks can be charming for short periods, but then they show their true colors. Don’t spend time trying to train them and integrate them, no matter what they are achieving for the team in the short term. In the long term, if they don’t speak and act like team players, there’s no room for them on the bus. Period.

10. Politically Astute – What I’m noticed about people who are good at what they do is that they are both politically astute, and in some measure, politically adverse. They get that where there are people, there will be politics, but they don’t want to play games for the sake of the game, especially when things get personal and sneaky.

These are our thoughts on Who Floats to the Top – the same kinds of traits that have always been important, and more so in today’s business environment. What did we miss? What shouldn’t be there? Share your feedback to

Expanding Your Circle of Influence

February 15, 2014


FountainBlue’s February 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence. Below are notes from the conversation. Our panelists this month represented a variety of backgrounds from product management to CSR, marketing to engineering, and a variety of educational backgrounds and experience – some technical, some not so much, but they all had successes in the business arena, influencing with or without authority. They were generous in sharing their advice and insights, which are synopsized below.

  1. All successful leaders work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and motivations. They take the time to understand the mindset, perspective and motivations of the people that they work with, and build a relationship with all stakeholders at all levels. They are great leaders for a cause, great cheerleaders for their team, authentic communicators to their range of stakeholders.
  2. Listen to all communications of others – the verbal, non-verbal, the things-that-said, the things-that-others-say-about-them. Use this along with direct communications to figure out what makes someone tick, what’s important to him or her, and work with her or him to create a win-for-all.
  3. People who are great at influencing others are authentic in their communication, transparent and clear about their motivations, invested in the success of the company, humble about themselves and what-they-know, and genuinely care about the people with whom they connect.
  4. Influencers embrace change, and find a way to communicate why change is good for all the constituents they work with.
  5. Leaders who influence broadly and deeply have a track record for making things happen and delivering results for and alignment toward a corporate goal. Often, they leverage data, including market research and social media data, to help influence decision-makers and implementers to align behind a vision or goal or cause.
  6. No matter what they are feeling, influencers don’t make it personal – remaining focused on the relationships and the results. This unwavering commitment, coupled with their credibility and authenticity helps instill loyalty and commitment from the people they work with, even if there isn’t yet a deep personal relationship.
  7. Rather than trying to impress others with who you are and what you do, focus instead on solving the problems of the people with whom you’d like to connect and you will make an impact on them.
  8. Help the people you work with focus on the business objectives, rather than distractions and personal agendas and platforms.
  9. Sometimes influence occurs in the incremental changes made. Make a stand for a goal, and accept every concession toward achieving that goal, especially if you can help someone take the credit for the results.

10. Above all, build trust with all the people you work with directly and indirectly, and deliver results in the name of the higher cause, rather than for your own personal motivations. The bottom line is that you should keep a bank of influencing skills ready for use, from listening to direct confrontation, from bartering to negotiating. Remember to focus on relationships between stakeholders, and delivering results in alignment with corporate goals. The successful influencer challenges the status quo, facilitates new ways of thinking and doing, and ultimately fosters change for companies and leaders, in a good way. Resources:


Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s February 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Expanding Your Circle of Influence, With or Without Authority and our generous hosts at LifeScan:

Facilitator Lucie Newcomb, President & Chief Executive Officer, The NewComm Global Group, Inc.

Panelist Tonie Hansen, Director, CSR and Sustainability, NVIDIA

Panelist Karen Pieper, Director of Synthesis, Tabula

Panelist Dawn Torres, Project Manager, CLS PMO, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems

Panelist Kelly Vincent, Senior Director of Product Management, eBay