Archive for November, 2016

In Search of Clarity

November 23, 2016

Arctic landscapeWith the dramatic end to a colorful and divisive election, most of us realized that the world is not what it appears to be. Some have responded with retreat and anger, disbelief and shock. Some have celebrated in quiet disbelief, some have lamented in public outrage. To me, it’s a message that things are not as they appear, that people are not who we think they are, that feelings are deeper and closer than we once thought. It’s an invitation to double-down on understanding ourselves and the world we live in, the people we live with.

  1. Respecting people for who they are is fundamental to understanding them. Judging people based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion or anything else is not respecting them as individuals. There is no way to find clarity and understand the world we live in when these types of classifications happen.
  2. Proactively seek to understand the viewpoints of those who don’t think like you.
  3. Appreciate the time and energy it takes for someone not-like-you to share his/her viewpoint.
  4. Be curious about their reality – their background, world view and experiences are likely different than your own, in ways that are hard to imagine.
  5. Ask relevant and poignant questions and LISTEN at all levels to what is said and what is not said.
  6. Express compassion for the trials and challenges they describe.
  7. Share a connection through common experiences, common obstacles.
  8. Sit comfortably with the differences you have with others’ viewpoints, accepting without judgement.
  9. Concisely and clearly respond to questions without the ulterior motive of converting someone to your own point of view, without anger or judgement.
  10. Agree to disagree where appropriate, still embracing the thoughts above.

This Thanksgiving, I hope that we will all sit together as one, come together as one, grow together as one.

Diversity

November 14, 2016

nov11diversitypanel

FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity. Below are notes from the conversation.

Today, more than ever, it’s important to bring the diversity business case to the forefront of the conversation. Being open to diverse points of views and backgrounds, being truly inclusive independent of gender, age, political and cultural backgrounds, facilitates the success of individuals and teams and companies overall. Leaders who think, speak and act with open-minded and empathetic inclusiveness draw out a wider range of perspectives, ideas and input, which ultimately leads to increased innovation and an increased ability to meet the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders. (See resources below.)

The twenty years of globalization has not only led to expanded operations and increased market share, but it also to an increased pace of innovation, a more empowered, more demanding, and more diverse customer base. Successfully serving the needs of the market and customers involves increased complexity, increased partnerships, as well as a more diverse and more educated worker. 

Recruiting, retaining and developing the diverse workforce is core to success. Below is an aggregated list of best practices for embracing diverse perspectives into the workforce.

  • Create a culture that thinks, talks and walks in alignment with diversity values. From the top down, from the bottom up, with each and every conversation, work toward embracing diversity, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable. Take specific and immediate action if the alignment falters because of specific words, actions, and events.  
  • Be curious about what others around you think and invite their perspectives at every turn, building bridges in every direction, at every opportunity.
  • Work with allies and partners to communicate directly, clearly and transparently, and follow up with clear and consistent, measurement-based actions.
  • Be curious especially when their may be an ‘unconscious bias‘, one that is so engrained that you didn’t know that it existed.
  • Be selective about the thoughts, words and actions you use, to make sure that you’re making the impression you want, whether you’re the one being evaluated, or the one that is doing the evaluating.
  • Enable managers and leaders to succeed, proactively welcoming their questions and curiosity, while also providing training and education, and even rewards specific to diversity and inclusion measurement improvements.
  • Adopting tactical practices such as blind resume reviews, interview panels  and anonymous code review may help managers more consistently address unconscious biases based on gender and other factors.
  • Offer job rotation opportunities so that people can participate in different functions and see the business from a wide range of perspectives.
  • Be emotionally intelligent, so you can recognize and read your own emotions, and that of others, so you can discern what is said and what is meant, so you can manage the labels placed and mis-placed, and ultimately so you can guide thinking and behavior – your own and that of others.
  • Be Patient for change takes time.
  • Be the Role Model you want to see.
  • Find the Role Model who will stretch you, and give you the opportunities to succeed.
  • See the promise in others, and allow them to step up, while giving them a leg-up.
  • No matter what your background, do a good job – be competent, work hard, be pure of intent. Your thoughts, words and actions will build momentum and catch attention.

Resources: 

Contact us for a list of measurement-based resources which may help you measure your diversity efforts.

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Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of The Business Case for Diversity and to our gracious hosts at Symantec! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue – Executive Coach, Tech Adviser and Leadership Consultant
  • Panelist Weiping Cai, Sales Director » Product Development & Marketing | Sales & New Account Acquisition, ASML 
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Director of Pricing Product and President of Unity, Women@ PayPal
  • Panelist Andria Jones, Senior Corporate Counsel, Office of Ethics and Compliance, Symantec 
  • Panelist Chhavi Upadhya, Head of Engineering, Strategy and Operations, Nutanix

In Search of Unicorns

November 4, 2016

pegasusFountainBlue’s November 11 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘In Search of Unicorns’ hosted by Samsung.

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 entrepreneurial, what’s hot and what’s not varied greatly. However, there’s agreement that:

  • The innovation ecosystem will include investors, entrepreneurs, executives and providers. Interactive conversations and collaborations will become increasingly more important.
  • We should all value the openness and creativity of the entrepreneurs, the resources, channels and funding of the corporate partners, as well as the funding and vision of the investors, for each has a piece of the puzzle.
  • Perhaps we should re-think whether we’re looking for ‘unicorns’. So many companies are captivated by the mythical element, or the horn, and miss the importance of the wings – wings which transcend what regular horses can do. So perhaps a winged horse, a ‘Pegasus’, will more likely lead us to that billion dollar company.

The collective advice of our executives is summarized below.

  • What you’ve learned throughout your business journey may feed into your future entrepreneurial efforts. So take the time to learn about what worked and what didn’t work in terms of business models and processes and in terms of technology. The answers will lie in efficiently delivering what customers are looking for.
  • Work within the needs of the customer, the mind-sets of the players in the industry, the processes embraced over decades. But find ways to provide innovation which would fit into all these forces as well.
  • Corporates may value the technology innovation over the current adoption rate of the start-up. A company’s R&D and manufacturing centers, network of partner and channel contacts, access to funding, etc. may help that promising unicorn realize its potential.
  • Whether you’re facilitating innovation conversations between teams within an organization, encouraging customers to adopt of the latest solutions, or fostering the introduction of a new hardware, software or government standard, it’s always about getting influential people to adopt a new way of thinking or speaking or doing something, and encouraging others to do the same.
  • All industries will be transformed by the immersive, social, mobile, analytics, IOT and cloud solutions.

Below are opportunities ripe for innovation.

  • Seek opportunities to transform how we do things now, leveraging IT, big data and automation. 
  • Seek opportunities to provide integrated end-to-end solutions.
  • Voice recognition leveraging Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence will continue to be of foundational importance. 
  • Automate functions which connect vetted providers with those-in-need, UBER style. Whether it’s connecting substitute teachers to classrooms, or connecting companies with excess food to nonprofits who distribute food (like gocopia.com), automating that connection adds value to all.
  • Innovative ways to digitally vet health status of patients with certified health professionals may save people and companies time and money in spades.
  • Look inside out and outside in to find those upside-down ways of addressing existing challenges. Embrace people with diverse perspectives who can help solve problems in new ways, leveraging IT, software, and devices.
  • Look for solutions beyond our world, and into the stratosphere to address a whole new layer of solutions – above the realm of drones, and within the earth’s atmosphere.
  • Connect the digital solution to the physical world. 

We are on the cusp of innovations in all markets at an astronomical scale. The world as we know it will become much bigger than we could ever imagine, and we can all choose to participate and shape that direction, to create a bigger, brighter, more collaborative and more efficient future.