Archive for September, 2014

Leading Beyond Complacency

September 24, 2014


What’s the opposite of innovation? I say it’s complacency, the thought that the status quo is good enough, and will always be good enough. Standing still in an age where technology and business just keeps moving faster is a recipe for extinction, a disaster for all stakeholders.

As a leader for companies large and small, consider that Data, Sensor, Software, Network and Operational Advancements will continue to automate, connect and serve people at lower costs. Understanding how and when that will happen for your company and industry is the key.

Kudos to industry giants who are taking their expertise, customers and knowledge from their established, and sometimes old-school industries to the new-new. Examples include what Ingersoll Rand, long known for its industrial products, is now impressively offering Nexia Home Intelligence featuring electronic locks and thermostats from standard manufacturers including Schlage and TRANE and managed over mobile and web interfaces. Consider also what Philips, the giant Dutch electronics company with a large footprint in healthcare, is providing for 7 million people and at-risk individuals with alert systems for falls, a medication dispensing service, and remote monitoring, and what corporate giants GE and IBM and Siemens are doing to move into the clean energy, big data and healthcare space, and what Samsung and Apple are doing to expand from mobile phones and software to healthcare monitoring and apps.

Below are ten factors to consider as you lead from the old way of doing things, to the new opportunities ahead.

Industry Considerations

  1. What are the opportunities ahead for your company and your industry as a whole? How close are you to a commoditization, where price is the main factor to consider? What will you do about it?
  2. What are the market and customer trends leading to this state, and what can you do to continue serving current customers in a new way? What are your customers’ suggestions and feedback?
  3. What’s right about what you’ve done in the past and how can it be adapted to what you need in the future?

Technology Considerations

  1. What are the hardware, software, operational, and other innovations that are transforming your industry or adjacent industries?
  2. How does your company’s offerings fit with these technological innovations?
  3. What are your strategies for innovating technologies internally or in collaboration with others?
  4. What are your customers asking for that you can’t provide, and what opportunity are they pointing to?

Leadership Considerations

  1. Are you the right person to get your company from here to there? Are they the right people above, around and under you to deliver?
  2. What does complacency look like, sound like, feel like? How do you pose opportunities to shake up those that are too comfortable? How do you make it an idea they want and would lobby for?
  3. What if you, your company, your technology/product, your industry can’t go from here to there? What’s an elegant plan B? What would it take to get from here to there, and is it worth it?

We hope that the questions above help you expand your perspective beyond your usual thinking, speaking and doing, and shake up the complacency inside, around and over you.

Follow our blogs and curated content at or find out more about FountainBlue’s Pivot-or-Perish Approach to advising tech leaders.


The Next Generation Workforce

September 16, 2014

Ring of many hands team

The age of personalization will provide filtered, data-driven, relevant and actionable reports so that people, teams and businesses can better serve their customers and partners and other stakeholders. As businesses and business models morph in this direction, we will see a corollary shift in the workforce, reflecting these changes. Below are some anticipated trends.

There will be fewer full-time employees and Contractors Will Rule.

  1. As there are fewer full-time positions available, hiring managers want to make sure that the person who is hired is actually the right person for that job. Hence, there will be a marked increase in the temp-to-hire trend.
  2. Some workers like the opportunity to work flexible hours of the day, of the week, of the month, and some companies and hiring managers like only offering seasonal jobs, or only hiring to supplement current workforce for clearly identified pockets of time.
  3. There will also be an increase in per-project consulting, as there are fewer full-time employees and there may be less of a need for specific types of projects.
  4. Additionally, there will be an ongoing need for services not part of the core business function, be it operations or HR management or IT support.

The Roles We Assume at work will shift.

  1. There will be a greater need for generalists, people who have moved across functional areas and have the intelligence, efficiency and competence to work and communicate with a range of other people and groups.
  2. With that said, there will also be a need for people who have deep expertise in specific areas, particularly when it comes to mission-critical areas such as security and software development and technical oversight and leadership.

An Collaborative, Consultative Leadership Style will be favored.

  1. Leaders who are collaborative and consultative by nature will better communicate and engage with a diverse and broad range of stakeholders.
  2. Leaders who are visionary and inspirational in their thoughts, words and actions will command respect and attract the best people.

There is an increased need for workers who are Strategic Thinkers with Global Experience.

  1. Workers will be rewarded for shifting across industries, across geographies, across roles. Their range of experience will help them better understand the business, the needs of the customer, and better perform under a range of circumstances.
  2. Workers who have a broad and deep network are more connected with others and more influential.

For more information about the data behind the predictions above, or for a consultation on what-these-trends-mean-for-YOU, please contact us at

Women Making Their Own Rules

September 15, 2014


FountainBlue’s September 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules, featuring:

Facilitator Brenda Rogers, HR Strategies

Panelist Erna Arnesen, VP Global Channel & Alliance Marketing, Plantronics

Panelist Petra Hofer, Chief of Staff to Mark Carges, eBay

Panelist Xiaolin Lu, Fellow and Director of IoT Lab, Texas Instruments

Panelist Shveta Miglani, Talent Development Manager, Sandisk

Panelist Monica Shen Knotts, Senior Manager, Senior Manager, Enterprise Technology Strategy, Cisco

Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a range of women leaders on the panel. There was much diversity as they represented different companies, different educational backgrounds, different cultural experiences, and divergent paths to success within the corporate sector, but they also had much in common:

  • They consciously made their own rules for success, in environments which did not necessarily embrace women in leadership in general;
  • They rose to positions of impact, where they influence the executive direction, strategy and tactics for tech organizations across the valley;
  • They have touched the lives of many, and supported the growth of those around them;
  • They are clear, inspiring and direct communicators who speak from their heart and their experience, for the good of all.
  • They have changed roles, perspectives, product lines, and even industries, and continue in their forward growth personally and professionally.

They were generous enough to share their advice and wisdom.

  • Women who make their own rules don’t always get what they expect from doing so, but those who do it well, always benefit from doing so, and positively impact those they touched because they did so.
  • Being open to what others think, say and do helps you understand where others are coming from and why specific rules are in place. Understanding the purpose of these rules helps anyone break them in a way which makes better sense for all, should that be the choice.
  • Focus on whether a rule should be broken, and what the long term and short term consequences are for breaking these rules.
  • Build relationships with others so that you can socialize a concept before you take actions to shift, change, transform a rule.
  • Understand the spoken and unspoken rules, and always question whether these rules are the right rules and why.
  • Do what it takes to keep yourself and those around you engaged and impassioned, even if it means stirring the pot and breaking a few rules.
  • Know yourself and the values you stand for, and keep connected with that core self, as it will help you see rules which are overtly or subtly imposed on you, rules you may not necessarily choose to shape you or the direction you choose.
  • Be courageous enough to transcend social and other rules, letting your results and impact speak louder than social norms.
  • Consider the motivations of others who support or obstruct you from the breaking of rules.
  • Communication is key. Know your message, your purpose and your audience before you break any rules.
  • Celebrate creativity and innovation: Embrace the opportunities to think, speak and act differently. Do the uncomfortable by surrounding yourself with people who don’t think like you.

Memorable quotes from our dynamic panel:

  • Be the bamboo that bends but does not break.
  • Prove yourself in the boardroom, and go in wearing your Birkenstocks.
  • Ignore the voice on your shoulder that keeps telling you that you’re in over your head.
  • Assume positive intent from others who question your words, thoughts and actions (even if you know they don’t have your best interest in mind). It will help you be courageous enough to break a rule that must be broken.
  • Strategy, empathy, and passion are magical elements of the emotional intelligence you need to break those rules.
  • Effective rule-breaking must be a conscious, strategic choice.
  • Eggs will break when you make an omelet. Be prepared for the backlash, but also embrace the possibilities and up-sides.
  • An acronym for FEAR – false evidence appearing real.
  • Be respectful and appreciative of those who come before you, breaking the ground. Namaste, I honor you by bowing down