Archive for October, 2016

On Being Limitless

October 31, 2016

limitlessWhat if the world were your oyster – if you had all the energy, all the answers, all the resources you need to do whatever you’d like to do, within reason, and address specific problems and challenges? What if you knew, or could easily figure out, the answer to some of the world’s greatest challenges – from the cure to cancer to the challenge of overpopulation, from global warming to the ongoing survival and well-being of mankind, from the origin of the big bang to living outside and beyond our solar system.

In today’s quickly-changing world, powered by ground-breaking technology-based transformations that are dynamic, immersive, relevant and real, it’s hard to imagine what the next chapter will bring, and easy to see that bright minds are focused on addressing remaining challenges one by one.

Assuming that this happens, and we are all so much more powerful – limitless even – what can we do to ensure that we remain compassionate and human, ethical and logical in applying our faculties and resources?

  1. Will we be wise enough to define the right problem to solve?
  2. Will tribal knowledge be collected and also be factored in?
  3. Will we be able to collaborate with the right people to make the right near-term and long term solution?
  4. Will we be patient enough to vet solutions to make sure that they deliver intended results?
  5. Will we be able to prioritize which problems to solve first and how many resources would be allocated to which problems?
  6. Will we be able to get the buy-in from the right people to implement solutions?
  7. Will we be able to test amongst many options?
  8. Will we be able to elegantly rewind a choice already made?
  9. Will we be able to do the ‘right’ thing for all stakeholders involved?
  10. Will we be able to have sufficient oversight to prevent people from unilaterally making decisions that affect others without their permission?

If the answer is no for any of the above, how can we plan-fully prepare for this whole new world?

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Innovation in SF

October 24, 2016

innovationsf2016FountainBlue’s October 21 When She Speaks in SF event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in San Francisco and Beyond. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an energetic, forward-thinking and accomplished range of innovators on our panel. Our panel represented a wide breadth of academic and social backgrounds, upbringings, roles and companies. Their collective advice is summarized below.

Innovation is not just about technology. 

  • Encourage everyone to define innovation more broadly as opportunities to think, speak and do things differently, whether it involves technology, processes or thinking.
  • Look not just at tech innovations but also look into innovations which improve business processes, innovations which help expand into new markets, as well as business model innovations.

Challenge people around you to think, speak and act more broadly and more deeply and gravitate toward people who are doing the same for you and to you.

  • Encourage and support self awareness in everyone around you, so they can see the bigger picture and their fit into the market and business trends.
  • Encourage both girls and boys to be self-reliant and curious, and socialize them equally to enjoy and appreciate science, technology, math and sciences.
  • Create a product, team and company where quality people want to work and stay and help them to be successful.

Focus on the Needs of the Customer as you create your strategy and your plan.

  • The adoption of a technology by paying customers is much more important than the elegance of the technology.
  • Your starting point should be ‘what are the needs of the customer’ and ‘how are you solving the customer’s problems’?
  • With advances in technology such as big data and AI, make sure that the customer still has access to human interactions.
  • Customers will increasingly demand more immersive so adopt the technologies which would address their needs.
  • Be nimble and quick with your innovations and features, resetting where necessary, gathering data to ensure alignment with the needs of the customer.
  • Ensure that the customer consistently experiences exceptional results – no matter how many hats you have to wear to make that happen.

Create a culture which embraces innovation opportunities.

  • Encourage innovators who can in turns be the humble do-er as well as the grand strategist and visionary. 
  • Invite all parties to participate as the collective entity bobs and weaves in a forward motion.
  • Be clear on WHAT needs to be accomplished by WHEN, but allow people to define HOW results will be delivered.
  • Consistently and generously believe that educating and enabling others makes things better for everyone.
  • Relish all opportunities to receive feedback and insights from others, especially from people who don’t think like they do.

Predictions for the Future

  • Customer will continue to demand more real-time digital solutions that are iSMAC (immersive, social, mobile, analytics and cloud) based.
  • Digital transformation will continue to be headline news, transforming all industries.
  • Watch for innovations on the way we distribute and create content.
  • Innovation will be in our world, in our face, in ALL industries (no matter how far we think they are from tech), from virtual reality experiences to driverless cars.

The big take-away is that everyone should feel empowered and enabled to lead and participate in an innovation, and open up opportunities to collaborate with others in being part of the win-win solutions.

Resources:


Please join me in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s October 21 When She Speaks in SF event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in San Francisco and Beyond as well as our gracious hosts at AppDynamics!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Coach, Adviser and Consultant
  • Panelist Anne Evans, Global Head of Recruiting, Unity
  • Panelist Camila Franco, Head of Product Management – Browser Experience, StubHub
  • Panelist Balwinder Kaur, Principal Software Engineer, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Jessica Mah, CEO, inDinero
  • Panelist Katie Penn, Global Head of Platform Growth, Twitter
  • Panelist Kayti Sullivan, VP of Account Management, Yelp

Five Minds of the Future

October 20, 2016

5mindsforthefutureHarvard Graduation School of Education Professor of Cognition and Education Howard Gardner Hobbs is ahead of his time. His Feb 2009 ‘5 Minds of the Future‘ book made me think and be more relevant. Perhaps my thoughts are also helpful to you.

1. Choose to have a more disciplined mind, backed by logical and methodical thought in disciplines including science, math, and history.

Fact-based, logical, methodical thinking is foundational to knowledge, and filtering out distracting, non-information data will lead to understanding.

2. Choose to have a more synthesizing mind so you can organize, understand and interpret the massive amounts of information and communicate its impact on yourself and others.

We are immersed in a world inundated with data. Once we filter out only the data that is true and real, synthesizing the implications of that data will help us make informed decisions.

3. Choose to have a more creative mind and revel in unasked questions – and uncover new phenomena and insightful inquiries.

Having that creative mind set will help us deviate from the norm and solve larger problems in adjacent spaces.

4. Choose to have a more respectful mind, appreciating the differences between human beings, embracing the nuances of differences.

Embracing the diversity amongst us will help us work together to solve bigger, broader, larger problems.

5. Choose to have a more ethical mind and fulfill one’s responsibilities as both a leader, worker and contributor for today and into the future.

It is incumbent upon all of us to contribute to the greater cause even if nobody invited your participation, even if you don’t think it’s YOUR problem, even if you feel so small in a problem so vast.

I’ll conclude by referring to Howard Garner’s book on Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and the picture below created by Mark Vital. What types of intelligences do you possess? What could you/would you like to develop? How could this intelligence help you deliver any of the above?

intelligences

Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond

October 14, 2016

women-leading-innovationFountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at FireEye and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, FireEye
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Director, R&D Engineering – Memory, Samsung
  • Panelist Sunitha Kumar, Technical Leader, Software, Security & Trust Office, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Sr Director, Engineering – QA, Nutanix 
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Sr. Director of IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an energetic, forward-thinking and accomplished range of innovators on our panel. Although they represented a wide breadth of academic and social backgrounds, upbringings, roles and companies, they had much in common:

  • They learned early about their passion for technology and the magic that it can create.
  • They invite opportunities to learn and change and shape the technology and business landscape.
  • They embrace opportunities to lead people, products and technologies.
  • They generously share their wisdom and insights, believing that educating and enabling others makes things better for everyone.
  • Get feedback and insights from others, especially if they don’t think like you do.

Below is a compilation of their advice and recommendations.

Know yourself and your value-add

  • Have the self-awareness to know what you do well, what you like to do and how that intersects with companies, people and products.
  • Invest in yourself. Take the time to rejuvenate, to refresh, to learn and do something new.

About innovation

  • Technology continues to evolve quickly, so embrace opportunities to change and shift with it, quickly providing viable and practical solutions.
  • Embrace the opportunities to become uncomfortable. Beware those who hang on to the status quo.
  • Know what market your innovation will be entering. Confirm that there’s a valid and paying customer in that market. Collaborate with them to deliver that innovation to a larger market. 
  • Having new use cases for the same technology can be a valid innovation.
  • Hear the music, the magic by expertly filtering out the randomness, the noise.
  • Innovation is not just about technology – it’s also about the needs of the customer, the implementation hurdles and challenges, the timeline and roadmap. So don’t just ask ‘can this innovation be done’, ask also ‘is it a compelling need and is it practical to deliver what they need?’
  • In today’s world, the market will speak forcefully and quickly. There’s an innovate-to-stay-relevant mindset and leaders must embrace that mentality to stay relevant.

About Leadership

  • Be clear, transparent, trustworthy, and communicative. Truly care about the people you work with.
  • Select carefully for each role on your team. It does take a village to make something work, and everyone needs to perform and have great energy and attitude in order for the team to succeed.
  • Align everyone from the executives to peers to team members and partners on the strategic vision. Communicate clearly on goals and progress toward that shared vision. Enable all parties to succeed in achieving their part of the vision.
  • It’s unrealistic to expect innovative thinking and acting all the time, every time from everyone. Everybody has a role in the innovation pipeline, and the leader expects everyone to fulfill their role in a manner that works best for each party.

Pay it Forward

  • Develop a culture of innovation, one that encourages people to think differently and to apply practical solutions to real problems.
  • Embrace the geeks-rule mind-set for both genders, at all ages.
  • Raise the bar for all those around you.
  • Make it fun and cool and magical to innovate at all ages, in all roles.

Trends and Predictions:

  • Expect continued improvements with hardware and software so that we can better connect and communicate with each other. 
  • With that said, expect a wide range of offerings around managing privacy, security, scalability and access. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud solutions will be huge.
  • Accept that there will be breaches in security sometimes and quickly mitigate any breaches while proactively managing risk.
  • The agile method of development will continue to rise and there will be increased standardization which would make it easier for customers to plug and play hardware and software solutions from different companies.

Resources:

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Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Women Leading Innovation in Silicon Valley and Beyond and our gracious hosts at FireEye. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, FireEye
  • Panelist Indira Joshi, Director, R&D Engineering – Memory, Samsung
  • Panelist Sunitha Kumar, Technical Leader, Software, Security & Trust Office, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Sangeeta Relan, Sr Director, Engineering – QA, Nutanix 
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Sr. Director of IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

Best Practices in Collaborative Innovation

October 8, 2016

innovation

FountainBlue’s October 7 VIP roundtable was on the topic of Best Practices in Collaborative Innovation. The executives in attendance at this month’s roundtable represented a wide range of industries, roles, functions and company sizes. Therefore, their perspectives on what it means to be innovative, what it takes to collaborate, how to remain relevant and provide value differed greatly, but they agreed on the following:

  • Innovation centers around having open, honest, transparent conversations between a wide range of stakeholders within and outside an organization.
  • Everyone sees innovation with a slightly different slant, and all have valid perspectives which could be integrated into solutions.
  • Everyone has a role in facilitating a culture of innovation, so that the best, the most diverse, the brightest want to remain and can succeed on their terms.
  • The pace of innovation is rapidly increasing, and convergences across teams, product lines, companies and industries will geometrically increase that pace of innovation.
  • Being aware of the larger business and technology trends will help tech leaders keep themselves and their products and companies relevant.

The collective advice of our executives is summarized below.

  • Choose to be nimble and agile, tech-philic and client-centric in order to stay relevant, and move the needle forward.
  • Collaborate with customers and partners to deliver a collection of custom and/or reusable solutions which may serve other purposes. Adopting this reverse-hackathon mindset means that you start with a specific problem and a specific customer in mind – a problem painful enough so that funding and resources are allocated to address the problem.
  • Talk about applications and use cases, not just the technology for its own sake, brilliant as it may be.
  • Create opportunities for being entrepreneurial within a big company, so that you get the stability and funding of the big company, and the new ideas for R&D and innovation.
  • Balance the big company and small company mindset when managing teams through integrations. You want to make sure the technology and engineers are cutting edge, but it must also fit within the processes and requirements of the larger company as well.
  • Embrace open source options where possible, engaging the larger ecosystem and community. With that said, make sure that there’s an appropriate business model for the product line and the company so that the solution is sustainable.
  • Engage in side projects beyond your normal day-to-day scope of work. 
  • Have an agile structure for moving projects forward, a model for engagement, for rapid adoption, for prioritizing for repositioning. This is true whether it applies to software development or marketing and business model creation.
  • Combine and connect solutions to develop seamless, integrated infrastructure layers and solutions which would build value.
  • Collaborate with researchers, other tech companies, customers, partners, manufacturers,  even competitors etc., Sometimes you’ll have awkward fre-nemy-like relationships, but finding a way to collaborate for that win-win could benefit all parties. With that said, use your best judgment on whom you can trust in the short term and in the long term, what to share when, etc.
  • Develop international partnerships to deliver solutions to different global markets. Or build the expertise in-house so that you have a vetted and valid strategy for approaching different markets with specific products and solutions. 
  • Build communities of practice to foster internal collaborations and vendor forums so outside vendors can connect and communicate.
  • Develop automations so that you can efficiently create, communicate and collaborate, within and across companies.
  • Allow customers to self-select their level of interest so that you can focus on the customers you can best support, and who has the most interest and funding for your solution.
  • Provide ‘air cover’ for your most promising engineers so that they can have the time and resources to innovate/seek that executive who could provide you with that air coverage so that you can innovate.
  • Beware of the leader who keeps talking about leadership without doing anything, the innovator who keeps talking about innovating without doing anything, who keeps espousing the merits of diversity without doing anything.
  • Reward failures.
  • Consciously and methodically create and capture value while you innovate collaboratively.
  • Facilitate open and honest dialogue, especially with people who don’t think and act like you do.
  • Pay it forward, give back, without the expectation of getting something in return.

There was overwhelming agreement amongst our execs: collaborative innovation must begin and end with the needs of the customer, and delivering to those needs in an agile, iterative, replicative, personalized way, leveraging hardware, software, data, mobile and cloud solutions.

Please join us in thanking our execs who generously shared their time and insights for this conversation and to our hosts at Cisco.

Resources: