Archive for February, 2022

Embracing the Creative in a Tech-Philic World

February 25, 2022

FountainBlue’s Feb 25 Front Line Managers Online meeting on the topic of ‘Embracing the Creative in a Tech-Philic World’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation:  

  • as a People Leader – Tammy Sanders, Lam Research
  • as a Product and Business Leader – Mariah Manzano, Cisco

Our panelists spoke eloquently about how their earliest experiences helped them to be more divergent and creative thinkers, decision-makers and problem-solvers, and how they applied these skills to their day-to-day lives in a world with many technologists. Below is a compilation of their best practices:

Be a Leader

  • Accept that there will be mandates and milestones and diligently push through to accomplish these tasks. But also make it fun to do so, drawing on the ideas of the full community.
  • Ask probing questions which make yourself and others think more broadly and more openly so everyone is more likely to embrace new ideas and suggestions.
  • Conduct scenario planning with clear guidelines and invite creative input within those constraints.
  • Align to the core values of the individuals, teams and organization.
  • Liberally invite creativity, but ensure that the ideas are ethical, practical, and respectful.

It Takes a Community

  • Invite participation from a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Make sure that everyone feels included, empowered and involved, and make it safe for them to contribute.
  • Feel and express gratitude for everyone’s contributions. 

Be Open-Minded

  • Be curious about the things that make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be empathetic and supportive when divergent ideas are offered.
  • Believe that you too can be creative, even if you ARE an engineer.
  • Humanize the metrics.
  • Just because it’s always done like this, it should be done this way, it’s never worked before doesn’t mean that it’s not what’s needed to solve a problem, make a decision, etc.,

Speak to Your Audience

  • Adopt the voice of the user.
  • Communicate in pictures.
  • Have a basic understanding of technical concepts and the technical world.

The bottom line is that we should embrace the creatives within and around us, for they can be key business and cultural attributes for tech companies.


Leading with Passion, Agility and Resilience

February 18, 2022

FountainBlue’s February 18 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Leading with Passion, Agility and Resilience’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Micron and our esteemed panelists. 


Our esteemed panelists spoke eloquently and passionately not only about the ‘why’ behind leading with passion, agility and resilience, but also about the ‘how’. Their teams and organizations have definitely benefited from their leadership, fortitude and drive during this type of great change. Below is a compilation of best practices for leading with passion, agility, and resilience.

Know Yourself and Manage Yourself

  • Know yourself and understand your skills, desires and motivations so that you can better manage and lead, no matter what your role and level.
  • Proactively navigate your career path, but do it with fluidity instead of opting for a lock-step strategy for advancement.
  • Take advantage of serendipitous opportunities, for fortune favors the bold and prepared.
  • Manage the voice in your head and consistently make happiness your choice.
  • Have faith that you may not always get everything right, but that you will always continue to learn and grow, even when the future is unpredictable.
  • Internalize the key leadership qualities you need and keep raising the bar for yourself and others around you.

Focus on Business Imperatives

  • Be proactive with your decision-making, so that you can continue to lead with passion and make a difference.
  • Change is a constant, so be flexible and energetic as you lean in to drive a change for the good.
  • Make a business case for the leadership and management changes you desire – for that will more likely get you the funding and support you need to make it happen.

Empower Others

  • Make learning accessible for all, and support everyone in achieving their development and advancement goals.
  • Be empathetic, supportive and authentic so you can better empower others to also lead with passion and purpose.

Keep Reaching for Stars

  • Agilely navigate challenges, and doggedly work with resilience to collaboratively impact the bottom line.
  • Learn to be more professionally compassionate, more authentically and transparently communicative. 
  • Be confident enough to ask questions and curious enough to learn from the responses to those questions.

The bottom line is that if we act as all-one, all-in, we would greatly increase our odds of success while also improving our personal development and satisfaction. 

Supply Chain Optimization

February 18, 2022
Feb 18 VIP Roundtable: Supply Chain Optimization

FountainBlue’s February 18 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Supply Chain Optimization’, with opening remarks by Lam Research. Our executives in attendance represented a range of backgrounds, organizations and industries, but all are successfully navigating the supply chain challenges and opportunities to benefit their teams, products, organizations and customers. Below is a summary of their best practices for supply chain optimization:

Be Strategic

  • Provide a platform which would allow disparate corporate functions (such as manufacturing, operations, hardware and software development) to collaborate and proactively manage supply chain challenges.
  • Proactively manage the supply chain of the wide range of parts throughout the development, customization, integration life cycle.
  • Leverage technology such as AI to understand the current and future risks for your individual vendors, and consequently your own supply chain optimization needs for each of your product lines. 
  • Design foundational architectures which are modular, versatile, and dynamic, while also being easily integrated, easily replicated, and easily adjusted.
  • Upgrade or phase out outdated copy-cut/locked-and-loaded supply chain optimization strategies which served the needs of past products, past eras, past customers.
  • Consider working with simulators and models to plan-fully strategize on a range of supply chain needs.
  • Proactively manage and mitigate the risks around the supply chain flow, making vendor, process and people adjustments as needed. 
  • Work with business professions to ensure compliance with local, national and global part standards, especially around security, materials and quality. 
  • Practice AI-based hyper-automation optimization, enlisting the support of an ecosystem of internal and external stakeholders.

Manage Your Vendors

  • Map out all the individual parts needed for each of your product lines and adopt a multi-tier view for your vendors.
  • Diversify your vendor options, and ensure that your vendors represent the sustainability, diversity, and versatility requirements of increasing interest to partners and customers.

Customers First

  • Strategically plan for and proactively deliver to the needs of the customer, being as flexible and agile as possible to address their changing needs.
  • Manage your customer needs based on supply chain bottlenecks which are beyond your control.

Empower Your People

  • Respect the work-life integration needs of our people – supply chain optimization must be more plan-ful, less emergency-driven and less stress-inducing.
  • Build relationships of trust across ecosystems of vendors, partners, suppliers, customers. 

The bottom line is that leaders and managers at all levels must adopt collaborative, agile and flexible leadership and management standards which would 1) manage the risk, 2) maintain the security and functionality, 3) ensure the optimal amount of quality supplies and 4) ensure the people have a coordinated, informed view of the needs of the customer, and the ability to deliver to those needs. 

Negotiating for a Win-Win

February 11, 2022

FountainBlue’s Feb 11 Front Line Managers Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Negotiating for a Win-Win’. To our panelists, negotiating is more about influence than about money, although business and financial interests are often important factors. 

Our panelists spoke eloquently about the importance of building relationships and alliances, so that everyone understands the motivations of other parties during a negotiation, and to increase the likelihood that the negotiated result would serve the long-term and short-term needs of all parties. Below is a compilation of recommended best practices.

  • Communicate in tradeoffs between resources, timelines, and features.
  • Be an open and generous listener so that you can understand the needs and motivations of the other parties.
  • Be curious as you ask about the motivations and perspectives of others, and empathetic to their needs and desires. 
  • Embrace opportunities to see options in shades of gray, delineating factors and weightings which impact available options.
  • Take the time to accept the negotiating process, engaging multiple stakeholders.
  • Enlist the support and leadership of executives and ensure alignment with corporate goals.
  • Make the relationship more important than a short-term win. 
  • Manage your tone and your emotions. Don’t make the negotiations personal. 
  • Ferret out underlying assumptions which might make it difficult to come to a consensus.
  • Look for the double-accounting or win-win – when both parties/products/teams/companies can win!
  • Focus also on delivering more engaged and more empowered people as a victory sometimes, not just the financial benefits of a negotiation. 
  • Strategically plan your negotiations by doing your homework and planning for high-impact results.
  • Sometimes negotiations take place over small nudges rather than one heavy push. 

Negotiating happens at many levels – within and between teams, within and across roles, organizations, industries, individuals. 

The bottom line is that if we look at negotiations with more positive connotations and see negotiations as opportunities to more deeply connect and collaborate, we will more likely find that win-for-all.

Fear, I see you

February 1, 2022

I see you, Fear. You have been my constant and unwanted companion, but you have also served me well. I’ve learned from you. And I’m stronger because of you. 

Now that I’m bigger and better, I’m sharing the qualities and questions which helped me combat my fears.

  1. Permanence – Are you permanent and here to stay? If so, I will find a way to change circumstances or cope. If not, I will ride your tide and weather your storm knowing it will end.
  2. Pervasiveness – Do you overwhelm me all the time? If so, I will find a way to cope or change circumstances. If not, I shall shelter where I can, and withstand you at your worst.
  3. Personal – Are you targeting me personally? If so, I will inquire into what makes this personal. If not, I will connect with others who share this fear so we can share the weight and support one another. 
  4. Perplexing – Are you too nebulous and confusing to be understood? If so, I will ask input from trusted others to shine light on this fear. If not, I will seek the data and input so that I can better understand you.
  5. Prideful – Are you threatening to embarrass me and hurt my pride? If so, I will take a dose of humility and give up my fear. If not, I recognize it is one less hurdle to overcome.
  6. Perpetual – Do you come and go? If so, I will find and manage your triggers and buff your impact. If not, I will be patient and upbeat while I persevere.
  7. Projected – Are you a fear I have on behalf of someone or something else? If so, I will recognize this, and my role in addressing someone else’s fear. If not, I will accept it as a fear of my own.
  8. Persistent – Do you keep coming back? If so, I will manage you better each time, every time. If not, I will accept fear as a one-off.
  9. Proportional – Is my response to the fear in alignment with the danger I’m facing? If so, I will get more support and plan a concerted response. If not, I will scale back my response to the fear.
  10. Preposterous – Are you so fanciful as to be un-real? If so, I will combat you with logic, and watch for the triggers which invite you to my thoughts. If not, I will arm myself with the data and support to endure.

Come walk with me, Fear. We will BE better, GET better together.