Archive for October, 2022

Change Management Best Practices

October 24, 2022

FountainBlue’s October 21 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘Change Management Best Practices’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 


Change happens. And it happened to our panelists for this session. There were illnesses, client and executive obligations, personal conflicts, etc., So this month’s panel did not go as planned.

But our panelists persevered. And I picked up the baton as well, joining in the fray. Below is a summary of thoughts and suggestions on how to best manage through change.

Be Bold and Strategic

  • Be bold and brazen about the changes you can facilitate. It’s the only way to make BIG changes happen.
  • Make a plan, but don’t be married to the plan, for it will not go as expected. 
  • Pivot and shift based on how the plan is progressing. 
  • Be clear on what you know and what you don’t know as you plan-fully and strategically embrace necessary changes.
  • Manage the adopters, the naysayers, the protestors, and all other personas as you lead through change. 

Build a Network

  • Connect with a host of others who can support you through changes. It will help you have the courage, perspectives and insights to navigate change, which can otherwise be very lonely. 
  • Share fully and candidly with trusted others in collaboration to navigate necessary changes.
  • Help the Stars shine brighter, the Cows (cash cows) keep producing, the Dogs find new paths, and the Unknowns get clarity on their fit with the product/service/organization. 

Be Empathetic and Supportive

  • Be empathetic and supportive to those who will not fit in when change happens. Delivering a message with grace and constructive advice and support will help them land well, while also helping your team carry on with positive and constructive energy. 
  • Be that sounding board for others as they navigate change. 
  • Create a safe space for all can share the challenges and opportunities around necessary changes. 

Change is not generally easy, but these change-management steps might help you navigate change proactively.

  1. Be clear on your values and your value-add.
  2. Create and/or sign on to a corporate vision which fits your values and where you can contribute in a way which is impactful.
  3. Accept that changes will happen, and that conflict will be inevitable.
  4. Collaborate with all parties to align on principles and goals while agreeing on, delivering on, and communicating business results. 
  5. Navigate the storm around the change with direct, transparent, empathetic conversations with the goal of clarity and connection.
  6. Align thoughts, words and actions around the change.
  7. Own up if there are flubs in the process, if there were errors and problems caused by changes (or because change didn’t happen earlier), and while continuing to build momentum toward that positive change.
  8. Make change not-personal. Make it about business imperatives and the metrics/data. 
  9. Support everyone as they navigate change and keep celebrating incremental successes. 

These steps are not necessarily sequential and don’t lead to a specific end goal, for change is an ongoing process.

The question in the end is not whether change will happen, but which change will happen to who/what and what can we do to navigate these changes.


Local Input, Global Impact

October 14, 2022

FountainBlue’s October 14 When She Speaks program was on the topic of ‘Local Input, Global Impact’. Please join me in thanking our esteemed panelists. We were fortunate to have such a dynamic group of accomplished speakers for this month’s When She Speaks program. They represented different roles and backgrounds, but had much in common:

  • They are continually focused on the needs of the customer, within the framework of the business offerings and objectives.
  • They have a passion for empowering and engaging a wide range of diverse others to collaboratively address and deliver amazing results. 
  • They are focused on learning and growing and bring a mindset of openness and curiosity to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Below is a compilation of their best practices around acting locally, and bringing global impact.

  • Adopt a respect for global customers and their varying interests, perspectives, habits, expectations and ways of doing business.
  • Design solutions with foundational elements of common use for all global customers, and build from there. This is true even if you may not have intentions to serve ALL global customers and markets from the beginning.
  • Local laws and regulations may make management and implementation difficult, so make it easy for your staff to comply with local, regional, state, national regulations by clearly communicating requirements, expectations and actions.
  • Tie social/ERG goals to business goals and metrics.
  • Adopt DEI principles which go far beyond just checking a box or jumping through a hoop and invite opening up, collaborating, connecting and communicating as one organization, aligned to common values, mission and vision. 
  • Don’t assume that your way is the best way, no matter how many successes you may have had. Be curious about the way of the other as it might serve everyone better in specific situations.
    • The not-invented-here ‘NIH” may perpetuate an ‘old’ way to doing things which could close off new opportunities for innovations and positive change. 
  • Facilitate a welcoming and inclusive culture rather than a US-THEM mindset. Creating a chasm between yourself and others not-like-you makes it difficult to provide positive and constructive local input from your team, and global impact overall if you create that divide. 
  • Expand your sphere of influence within and outside the organization, and empower and challenge others to do the same. We are all better together.
  • Break things down into smaller pieces so that you can explain things in ways which are justifiable and explainable, and get local buy-in and executive sponsorship. 
  • Provide detailed specifications and collaborate with local and global parties to deliver to those standards. 
  • Design and grow products and services which would serve local and global markets well. 

Our panelists spoke often about the importance of building respect and trust with a wide range of individuals and groups, and challenged us all to open up to people, ideas, and groups around you who are not-like-you, for this is the path to impact which is lasting and global.

Hyperautomation Use Cases

October 14, 2022

FountainBlue’s October 14 VIP Roundtable was on the topic of ‘Hyperautomation Use Cases’ with opening remarks by IBM. We were fortunate to have such an eclectic, experienced and diverse group of executives for this month’s VIP Roundtable. 

The conversation began with mention of the Gartner definition for hyperautomation, a top business trend over the past few years:

Hyperautomation is a business-drivendisciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Hyperautomation involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms, including:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Machine learning
  • Event-driven software architecture
  • Robotic process automation (RPA)
  • Business process management (BPM) and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS)
  • Integration platform as a service (iPaaS)
  • Low-code/no-code tools
  • Packaged software
  • Other types of decision, process and task automation tools

Our executives point out key aspects of the hyperautomation definition –

  • It’s an initiative that’s driven by the business, but it leverages technology and counts on execution by people.
  • It’s a disciplined, methodical approach which leverages a wide range of data, in collaboration with large swaths of people, while focused on generating rapid results.
  • It rapidly integrates strategy, planning and execution, and agilely moves from one problem to the next, while serving the organization and its people as a whole.
  • It leverages a wide host of technologies and solutions and relies on ongoing collaboration, communication and leadership.

The adoption of hyperautomation use cases is a key differentiator for leaders and organizations, and will continue to evolve for greater impact because businesses are inundated by data and need to quickly collect, filter, process, manage, communicate, store, distribute, that data to better strategically plan and run operations, processes, and the organization overall.

Below are best practices for adopting hyperautomation use cases for your organization:

  • Think BIG – broadly and widely about how to design and implement hyperautomation use cases for workflows which are complicated, involve a lot of people, works with a wide range of data, and must be done efficiently.  
  • Hyperautomation is not just for specific use cases, people, organization, offering, etc., It is for all aspects of a business which 1) works with a lot of data, 2) relies on workflow and processes which touch a number of groups and people, 3) can be more efficient/resilient/sustainable and productive if automated, 4) can help better serve internal and external customers, and 5) is the inevitable wave of the future.
  • Consider creating a center of excellence (COE) to collect and manage a repository of (reusable/adaptable) individual hyperautomation use cases as well as an Advisory board on the adoption of hyperautomation use cases.
  • Think not just about the tools and solutions which can be used for any individual solution, but also about the unique combination necessary to solve the current (and anticipated) challenges.
  • Measure and report on the impact of each adopted hyperautomation use case.
  • Keep evolving hyperautomation use case solutions so they continue to be relevant and useful for internal and external clients and their evolving needs.
  • Consider using internal customers as ‘Customer Zero’, designing hyperautomation use cases which address internal needs makes your organization more effective while also potentially piloting a solution which might be useful for other organizations.

Our executives also mentioned the double-edged sword brought on by the huge volumes of data brought in from on-site sensors for everything from temperature to usage, or pressure to light, etc., 

We did not go into detail on this data, for next month’s topic is on the data collection and management itself, but the point is that hyperautomation use cases 1) are reliant on this on-site data, 2) must quickly filter in relevant data, providing automated responses where appropriate, 3) provide a dashboard of recommended actions with detailed charts, graphs and data, 4) connect the right internal and external people to facilitate joint problem-solving and decision-making, 5) track and report on historic, current choices made and consequences, and even 6) make recommendations based on historical and current and projected future data.

Below are some interesting and exciting new offerings in this space:

  • Digital Blueprinting so you can more efficiently generate user cases and acceptance test criteria 
  • Designing Modules of solutions rather than full customizations 
  • Hyperautomation use cases for robots and cobots (collaborative robot – a robot intended for direct human robot interaction within a shared space, or where humans and robots are in close proximity)
  • Leveraging Citizen Development Frameworks to manage local (especially edge case) hyperautomation use case implementations using no-code and low-code tools.
  • Adopting Value Stream Mapping and other LEAN strategies to optimize value and minimize risk

The bottom line is that again leadership and innovation will win the day as successful organizations increasingly adopt hyperautomation use cases, but only if there is collaboration and communication to support it.

Making Decisions That Count

October 7, 2022

FountainBlue’s October 7 Front Line Managers Online program on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’. Please join me in thanking our panelists. 

  • as a Program Leader – Amber Barber, Jade Global
  • as a Business Leader – Melissa McDonnell, Dolby
  • as an Operations Leader – Lora Muller, Tektronix

Our versatile and accomplished panelists have certainly made a wide range of impactful decisions in their respective careers. They were generous and gracious enough to share their wisdom.
Be Strategic.

  • We don’t know what we don’t know, so enlist a wide range of people and perspectives around the problem, not just people who share your own viewpoint.
  • Clearly communicate WHY decisions are made, factors and people involved in making the decision, desired results of the decision, revision or pivot plans around the decision, etc.,
  • Leverage the data to make business cases behind decisions. Different stakeholders might need different business cases. 

Be Plan-ful.

  • Have a clear and complete problem statement, including input from a wide range of perspectives.
  • Strategize on how to get classes of resistors or individual resistors onboard with a decision. (Hint: Start by understanding their motivations and fears.)
  • Create a win-win framework for all involved, where possible.
  • Err on the side of action, once you’ve worked through your strategy and your plan.

Connect and Align.

  • Connect with humility and open-mindedness, inviting open inquiry and input, and aligning on common goals. 
  • Manage through any miscommunications and misalignments with honest, direct, empathetic communication, building connections of trust.
  • Make the distinction between alignment and agreement. You might insist on alignment on goals, but might not agree on how some task is performed to achieve that goal.
  • Debate all sides when coming to a decision, but align behind the decision once it is made. 
  • Help everyone be open, transparent, collaborative and communicative, working as one team to achieve a common goal.
  • Empower everyone to be accountable and responsible. Follow the DACI/RACI (Driver/Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model to optimize decision-making. 

When things go south…

  • Own a bad decision and learn the lessons from these choices.
  • Pivot agilely, strategically and plan-fully.

We learned that there might not be much difference between the BOB (best of the best) decisions and the WOW (worst of the worst) decisions… It all depends on how we lead, manage, communicate, and navigate through the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

October 1, 2022
Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

I had a big birthday recently, which invariably invited reflection and introspection. A common theme through my varied career is the desire to stretch myself and raise the bar, even if it means hardship, challenges, and uncertainty in the short term. This approach has served me well, considering the global health, economic, social, political, and sustainability challenges affecting us all. 

Out of all this mindset and experience, I’ve developed a framework shown below for how you can make choices for a life of no regrets.

  1. Values First. Choose opportunities that match your values.
  2. Make a Difference. Select a company whose mission and vision makes a difference.
  3. Embrace the Uncomfortable. Try doing something which makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way.
  4. It’s About People. Work with people you admire and trust. Make consistent effort to be worthy of their respect and trust.
  5. Add Some Spice. Never settle for complacency. Embrace every opportunity to grow, learn and improve, adding spice to your regular routines.
  6. Keep Learning and Growing. Challenge yourself to learn and grow. It helps to work with people who can support you in doing so.
  7. Allow Past Lessons to Guide You. Contemplate the choices you’ve made in the past and use those learnings to inform your choices today and in the future.
  8. Lead with Passion and Purpose. Be clear on your goals while leveraging your passion and your purpose. Make strategic choices toward that goal and consistently execute on them.
  9. Err on the Side of Boldness. With that said, consider the timing of the choices you’re making – the boldest choice is not always the best choice, depending on what else you’re currently juggling.
  10. Have Faith that Things will Work Out. Fear can hold us back from even trying. Choose courage in the face of fear and set yourself free. 

I invite you to cultivate and embrace a life of no regrets. There are no promises that every choice will go as planned (especially in the beginning), but when all is said and done, you won’t have to wonder ‘What if?’. Instead, you might just discover what you’re truly made of.