Archive for August, 2022

Problem-Solving Strategies

August 23, 2022


FountainBlue’s August 19 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Problem-Solving Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

This month’s panelists spoke eloquently and passionately about the need to solve problems, and the opportunities which arise from solving problems well. They agreed that leaders need to be clear, firm, fair and consistent in communicating, in order to empower everyone to engage and participate in the problem-solving process. Collaboration is key in building team synergy, in securing a wide range of input and perspective, for  leveraging relevant experience and expertise.

There was much emphasis on the importance of having a clear, succinct, direct, metrics-based problem statement, one which is flexible enough to evolve as the program morphs. There were also recommendations for leveraging tools to facilitate collaboration tools like white-boarding, especially when staff members span the globe.

Our panelists also noted that there are also times when people need to meet face-to-face. For example, it’s important to meet in-person when you’re dealing with people issues, when you need to physically interact with a product, when you’re building relationships. 

Below is a summary of best practices for problem-solving:

  • Include a wide range of perspectives when working on a problem.
  • Simplify the problem, and even deconstruct it if appropriate so that you better understand it.
  • Invite wild ideas so you can fully brainstorm options, but also consider only the ideas which are practical.
  • Consider the cost/value of potential solutions, so that you implement solutions which are practical, sustainable, reasonable, and useful.
  • Focus on addressing the most impactful, highest-priority problems first. 
  • People-problems are generally more complex, less straight-forward than engineering or process problems. With process and engineering problems, there can be clearly defined standards and protocols.

It’s not easy to solve complex problems, but listening well and deeply is a key step forward for doing this well.


What He/She Said, What She/He Meant

August 12, 2022

FountainBlue’s August 12 When She Speaks program, on the topic of ‘What He/She Said, What She/He Meant’. Please join me in thanking our hosts at Renesas and our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such experienced, other-centric, and strategic leaders for this month’s When She Speaks panel. 

Our panel talked extensively about why it’s important to have a diverse talent pool and open minded outlook. Benefits include improvements in innovation, culture, retention, talent acquisition, etc.,Our panelists also shared many thoughts on how to better communicate and connect with others, especially if they are not-like-you.
Connect for a Purpose.

  • Focus on connecting on a common goal which is of mutual importance.
  • Drive conversations around achieving that goal, rather than around personal issues.
  • Invite all parties to take a seat at the table, and contribute to that common purpose.
  • Trust in the good intentions of others.

Be Open-Minded.

  • Be open and curious about others and their differing perspectives.
  • Ask someone not-like-you what you might be missing. 
  • Individuals, gender and styles will vary, just as culture and gender varies. Connecting with people not-like-you will help you to grow personally and professionally.

Be Other-Centric.

  • Meet people where they are. Include people because of where they are.
  • Be the mediator and translator where appropriate, to help connect the team to a common purpose.

Keep Growing and Learning.

  • Do your homework and research the backgrounds and perspectives of others not-like-you.
  • Embrace the opportunities to stretch and grow yourself and your team. 
  • Ask questions so that you can better understand the perspective of others. 

Communicate and Connect.

  • Communicate clearly and continually to ensure that’s alignment, clarity, and a shared sense of purpose.
  • Check your assumptions, and the assumptions of others with whom you interact.
  • Voice your intentions and goals while inviting others to do the same.
  • Think, speak, and act in alignment with your values. 
  • Be clear of your intentions and ensure that the impact is as you’ve intended. 
  • Own your words and actions and strive to be better, do better. 
  • Listen closely and deeply with empathy. 

Our panelists closed by encouraging us all to embrace our differences while connecting to a purpose and a sense of belonging. 

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 12, 2022

FountainBlue’s August 12 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Balancing Privacy, Security and Access’, with opening remarks by Samsung. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance for their remarks and input.

Our executives in attendance represented a wide range of roles, backgrounds and industries, but they share many common perspectives around balancing privacy, security and access.

  • Balancing privacy, security and access will continue to be of primary importance. 
  • No longer will companies be able to rely on single individuals or teams to proactively manage privacy, security and access. 
  • It will take a concerted and collaborative effort, driven by senior leaders, and implemented across the organization.

Balancing privacy, security and access is not easy. 

  • Managing to ensure compliance is complicated as the data volume is huge and growing, individual users are untrained, uninformed or even unethical, and the ways data is used and the number of users continues to grow.
  • Cultural and international standards vary greatly, and many companies have employees and customers all over the world.
  • It’s hard for executives to manage the data when each data set might have different associated experts, and multiple data sets are integrated into individual applications and programs.
  • The stakes are high and are continuing to grow, so bad actors are more motivated to access sensitive data.
  • Consumers and end users are becoming more adamant about their rights around privacy, while also insisting on efficiently accessing the information they need.  

Below is a compilation of thoughts and best practices.

Be Strategic

  • Be fully aware of the type, flow, storage and distribution of data and proactively manage that data to ensure the right people have the right access at the right time for the right reason.
  • Build a partnership between the legal, technical, executive, and product/engineering teams so you can plan-fully manage product development and support.
  • Create standards and agreements so collaborations can be made to proactively manage secure access to targeted information, while respecting privacy needs.
  • Consider the needs of the team and organization over the rights of individuals, while also respecting the rights of individuals.
  • Manage to the weakest link – perhaps the human who does not set up proper passwords for access to the corporate network.

Leverage Technology

  • Leverage technologies and tools so that you can easily identify data or users or systems who may be at risk.
  • Create dashboards for your network so you can proactively manage potential data breaches.
  • Factor in different types of data (transient, persistent, meta, etc.,) as you manage, collect, store and distribute that data. 

Manage the Give and Take

  • Focus on business outcomes while respecting technical requirements. 
  • Minimize exposure and risk, especially when mission-critical applications are at stake.

Empower and Enable Your People

  • Support product and engineering teams, who are constantly challenged to create and update code to meet the shifting security, privacy and access requirements.

The bottom line is that we can all collaborate to build a Zero Trust network – where only the right Users, have the right Access, to the right Data, for the right Reason, all the time, every time. 

Managing Up, Down and Sideways

August 5, 2022


FountainBlue’s August 5 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Managing Up, Down and Sideways’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as an HR Leader – Kerry Perryman, Samsung Research America
  • as a Product Leader – Sondra Bollar, Oracle
  • as an Engineering Leader – Stephen McGrath, Trimble

We were fortunate to have such experienced and diverse panelists for this week’s front line managers online program. It’s been a tumultuous week with challenges and changes for many organizations, so it was a great time to learn about how to better manage up, down and sideways.Our panelists agreed on many management principles:

  • Build relationships with a wide network of people will help everyone better manage and lead. Healthy long-term relationships are built on respect and trust, developed from ongoing, proactive, authentic, transparent communication between all parties.
  • Be clear on your plan, based on the information you have to date and the objectives and goals defined for you. 
  • With that said, be nimble and agile should the direction change or if the data indicates other strategies and actions would better serve the goals.

Below is some advice for better managing up, down and sideways:
Be a Leader

  • Err on the side of action, even if your information set is incomplete and the result is uncertain.
  • Be curious about your blindspots and the blindspots of others with whom you work.
  • Manage your emotions and stay calm, even if you feel that you’ve been wronged.
  • Encourage everyone to learn from mistakes, and take advantage of teachable moments.

Be a Project Leader

  • Make specific plans for minimum deliverables, based on input from a wide range of sources.
  • Plan-fully allocate the right resources for the right talent, in alignment with overarching goals.

Empower and Engage Your Team

  • Provide exciting opportunities which challenge your team members individually and collectively.
  • Help your team manage and prioritize tasks and projects, and explain how everyone’s work fits in to the overall plan and why specific projects and tasks are more important than other ones. 

The bottom line is that management is an art and a science. 

Great managers help others feel secure and safe while also focusing on clarifying changes in goals and objectives and how they impact the organizations, teams, products, and individuals.When teams are managed well, there is deep trust and exceptional results made by productive and empowered team members. 

Empower and Engage while Improving Performance

August 1, 2022

Performance Reviews make the most courageous, most resilient of us shudder. 

It’s cringe-worthy whether you’re giving or receiving the performance review.

Complaints and gripes run the gamut and stakes are high as promotions and job security are on the line. Below are some suggested strategies for conducting reviews and managing staff which makes them feel empowered and engaged.  

For details on how FountainBlue supports our clients with performance reviews while engaging and empowering employees, e-mail us at or schedule a meeting by visiting