Archive for December, 2017

Be a Bigger YOU!

December 29, 2017

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-11,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

As we embrace the shiny newness and promise of 2018, reflect on what you’ve learned last year, and resolve to be a bigger YOU in 2018. The picture was taken in front of a sculpture of a tree near the Santa Rosa mall, and reflects the promise of new growth following the 2017 fires. The thoughts below represent my learnings from 2017.

  1. See competence and consistency as two sides of the same coin. Keep reaching for one, and let the other catch up before leveling up.
  2. Have the confidence to keep reaching for stars, and also the humility and openness to welcome input and feedback.
  3. Communicate boldly, clearly and transparently, but listen and observe more than you speak.
  4. Be open and imaginative enough to see through your own filters, as frightening and as confusing as it may be to do so.
  5. Have a strong moral compass around your values, but respect that others may have the same.
  6. Be youthful and energetic in your approach, wise and open in your perspective.
  7. Be compassionate and supportive, while also being wise and reserved for those who might take advantage.
  8. Strive for courage, and temper it with common sense.
  9. Be calm, especially when circumstances are extreme, but err on the side of measured action.
  10. Be slow to judge, quick to learn.

Wishing everyone a 2018 which surpasses your hopes and dreams!

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Collaboration Best Practices

December 13, 2017

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FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices. We were fortunate to have a wide representation of companies, roles and perspectives for our panel discussion. Despite their many differences, our panelists had much in common:

  • They had an inquisitive nature and moved from many different types of roles, developing a broad background and perspective.
  • They witnessed and responded to the many changes in the tech sector related to both technologies and businesses. 
  • They built deep and broad connections which helped them to learn and grow and make measurable impact in collaboration with key stakeholders.

Our panelists agree that the pace of change is accelerating, so it’s becoming increasingly important to collaborate with others to keep up and remain relevant. This is true independent of role, company, gender, industry, geography, age, etc., In general, we must be more collaborative so we can be more:

  • inclusive, with many parties working on the same project. 
  • communicative, so we can share information real-time, and coordinate with people working on other facets of the same problem.
  • responsive to the real-time needs of our customers, working with many internal and external partners. 
  • comprehensive in our ability to address problems end-to-end.
  • efficient and accurate in delivering results.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for facilitating collaborative innovation is below.

  • Adopt a collaborative mindset.
  • Develop a skillset and adopt the tools which will help you communicate at the speed of business and coordinate with other stakeholders.
  • Make sure that you have the full information so that your project can succeed. Create a culture where the generous sharing of information is rewarded.
  • Seed a conversation with important stakeholders before an official meeting. They should not be surprised about a collaborative initiative at the meeting.
  • Sometimes there’s a been-there, done-that mentality for a change initiative which is more collaborative than the current standard practices. Patient management and data-based communication will help many people overcome these reservations. But there may still be hold-outs, as sometimes the older ways die hard. Focusing on the ‘loudest’ protesters might help everyone transition to a more collaborative mindset.
  • Be analytical in your orientation, detailed and thorough and frequent with your communications.
  • Model the collaborative management style you would like others to emulate. Show gradual and immediate improvements and measured results.
  • Facilitate an elegant hand-off between people and teams to ensure that the ball doesn’t get dropped between parties.
  • Authentic, honest, low-ego communications welcomes direct communications and transparency. These qualities help keep projects moving forward, especially when complications arise.
  • Be curious about the motivations for other parties. Find a common ground, based on their motivations.
  • Invite and respect the participation of all stakeholders. Keep them apprised of progress and reward for results.
  • When new collaboration partners come onboard, be proactive in your communications to all stakeholders. Everyone should know the strategic reasons for the new partnership and also be informed on partnership results and empowered to participate when it makes sense. In short – Inspire everyone about WHY something should happen; then Align stakeholders behind the partnership; then Change or Adjust where necessary, and then Measure for success.

Today, many corporate cultures embrace Collaboration as part of their DNA. Others tie collaboration as a key to Innovation. The bottom line is that creating CLEAR shared goals and managing by these objectives will encourage everyone to collaborate in achieving results. 

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Nutanix and our panelists for FountainBlue’s December 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Collaboration Best Practices!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Ruth Cotter, CHRO, SVP Worldwide Marketing and Investor Relations, AMD
  • Panelist Nolwenn Godard, Head of Pricing Product & President of Unity Women, PayPal
  • Panelist Marissa Schmidt, Director Product Management, CITRIX
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Sr. Director Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix
  • Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, VP of Product Management, FICO

M&A Best Practices

December 1, 2017

Mergers

FountainBlue’s December 1 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘M&A Best Practices’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Intel.

Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives in attendance emphasized several times the importance of leadership and transparent communication, especially when companies and teams are undergoing great change. Below is some advice to support a successful M&A experience.

  • It helps to have an experienced team representing the acquiring company, with exceptional communication and listening skills.
  • Escalations and conflicts will happen, but if you work with a proven playbook, if you’re open about processes and procedures and cultural expectations, it increases the likelihood of success.
  • Knowing the reason for the merger and acquisition in the context of the larger market trends will greatly impact its acceptance from within the company and also externally.
  • Marketing and operations and IT all have roles in ensuring a smooth integration. Inspirational and authentic communication of intentions and progress will go a long way in growing the trust factor, which helps everyone involved better perform despite ambiguities.
  • Empowering those in charge to take risks and make things happen during an integration is a key strategy for helping two parties get better connected. 
  • Cut back in areas you need to as you integrate, but also make sure that you invest back in strategic, key initiatives.

Below is advice for start-ups who are seeking to be bought out by big corporations.

  • Be big enough in size and stable enough in technology before you seek an acquisition. Consider also corporate investment opportunities even while you’re small.
  • If you’re not ready for an acquisition, consider partner with an existing partner of the targeted acquiring company.
  • Understand the larger market trends and technology needs and see where your solution might fit into these needs, and which companies might have an interest in your technology.
  • Be ready for a culture shock going from start-up mode to corporate, which is by nature more slow-moving and process-driven.

In the end, start-ups are known for innovating, but not scaling. Larger companies are known for scaling and systematic processes, but not necessarily R&D. A successful marriage between the two would help all parties better deliver to customers, and better meet market needs in general.