Author Archive

Age of the Customer

September 15, 2017

CustomerFountainBlue’s September 15 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Age of the Customer’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom, who provided on-site support and helped lead the interactive discussion.

Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts on how to lead and thrive in the Age of the Customer. 

Change is impacting leaders and companies across geographies, across industries, across roles. Technology is keeping up with the changes, and even helping facilitate the changes. Customers are becoming even more verbose, more demanding, more specific, and more diverse. In general, they are seeking:

  • An easy, simple, consistent and intuitive interface so they can perform the customized tasks that are most useful to them;
  • Background information and context for new offerings and how they compare to other offerings, and how they would improve how THEIR customers are supported; and
  • Real-time, relevant, ongoing data/information/solutions which provide clear value.

In response to the changing needs of the market and customers, our executives have the following advice.

  • Embrace market-driven innovations. There’s much less tolerance for technologies in search of a customer. If you conclude that a product is missing something AFTER it’s been built, it might be easier to make the product changes rather than to change the minds of the customers!
  • Be ever listening to what customers say AND what they mean. Remember also that the most active/profitable customers are the most important ones and pay close attention to their current and anticipated needs.
  • An acquisition-and-integration strategy can help companies strategically pivot to a more customer-driven offering. When undergoing an M&A, don’t get so distracted by the internal organization that you lose focus on the customer opportunity, the customer experience.
  • Have a clear understanding of current and prospective customers and the segments, niches, and opportunities they represent. Empower these customers to partner with you to serve their current and anticipated needs.
  • Measure and report on results, but don’t focus so much on the data that you’re reporting on the wrong metrics, or making conclusions which don’t make sense. 
  • Filter so that you can tailor messages to audiences, but don’t filter so much that your funnel gets too narrow as you will miss many prospects.
  • Whether you’re a growing start-up or a corporate running a business unit, ask yourself strategic questions about the growth opportunity ahead – what are the trends, why are customers buying, what needs are you serving, how large is the market, etc. Your success will depend on whether you can continually serve the needs of those customers, so you must continually ask yourself these questions.
  • Often there is a complex ecosystem around a solution, so there are many stakeholders playing multiple roles. For example, in healthcare, the ‘customer’ might be a patient, an insurer, a hospital, a pharmaceutical company, a caregiver, a government agency, a nonprofit, a hospital, and/or any combination of the above at any given time. Serving each customer throughout the process is critical to the success of a company and its offering. 
  • While we are all forced to go broad with our communication, with our technology understanding, with our offerings, we are also asked to go deep and be specialists where appropriate. It’s a rare individual who can do both at the same time, but including people who can do both sides each a critical success factor.

Below are thoughts on some hot opportunities ahead, given our focus on customers.

  • If we focus on minimizing the churn which comes from product/technology updating, what are the opportunities ahead for platform and service offerings?
  • Your strategy should focus on where the data is – the platform rather than the hardware, the AI rather than the cloud.
  • Look not just at existing and growing markets, but also at the adjacent markets.
  • Every technologist has a different background, and every company has different processes, technologies, and preferences. There’s a huge opportunity for rapidly integrating tech professionals into tech companies.
  • Beware of hyper-segmenting yourself, doing so much filtering of ideas and information and people that you’re not exposed to other ideas, other ways of doing things. Indeed, these diverse ways of thinking and doing things are the heart of innovation.
  • Offer frictionless engagement and participation which is easily personalized. 
  • Make it easy for users to regularly engage – which would mean recurring revenues and corporate stability.
  • Look for opportunities for the digital leveraging the cloud, ML, AI, databases, etc., while also addressing the physical realm with the IoT, 3D printing, custom-designed products, etc.

In this Age of the Customer, leaders and companies must do things differently. 

  • We must be more strategic, so that we can understand and deliver to the needs of the customer. 
  • We must be more collaborative, working with partners across the ecosystem and with customers to deliver real-time information, personalized products and solutions, and more. 
  • We must be more inclusive, so that every perspective, every voice can be considered in planning and delivering to customers.
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Make Your Own Rules

September 14, 2017

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FountainBlue’s September 8 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Make Your Own Rules. This month’s panelists were full of spunk, confidence, creativity and inspiration. They had practical ideas which delivered results, great things to consider while toeing the line and while breaking the rules. Although they varied in terms of background, education, upbringing, perspectives and even gender (!), they had many things in common.

  • They have built their reputation and their credibility so that they are well positioned to facilitate change.
  • They are respectfully confident and know how to engage all the leaders and stakeholders to make shifts small and radical to address the long-term and short term needs of the company.
  • They break rules because they know that it’s core to innovative and transformational thinking, the heart of business success.
  • They are passionate and empowering communicators who made others want to work with others, to make a stand for the greater good.
  • They know themselves and keep choosing positive, proactive learning environments and experiences – so that they can better perform, better support those around them.
  • They are open-minded, curious and innovative by nature, and embrace opportunities to expand their perspectives and opportunities.

Below is a compilation of their advice for others who want to make their own rules.

Know yourself. Be centered. Stretch yourself.

  • Trust yourself, your judgement, your gut.
  • Surround yourself with those who can keep you centered and strong and reaching for stars. People who will help you keep changing and growing and breaking and bending rules, even when it gets uncomfortable.
  • Know your own unconscious biases. 
  • If you’re not happy, do something to change the circumstances. Consider getting more education, following a different discipline or role or company or industry.

Be strategic.

  • Keep an eye on the big picture, while also knowing how the individual pieces fit under the overarching vision. With this perspective, you can help ensure the broader view fits the market and customer needs, and that the tasks, projects and technologies are in alignment with that vision.
  • Decide on what’s important to change and whether it’s the right time to change it.
  • Know the circumstances around the rules, and choose to strategically choose conform, acquiesce, resist or transform based on your own moral compass.
  • Evaluate your actions individually, rather than scripting responses based on the ‘rules’ and circumstances. 
  • Be willing to lose a battle so that you can win the war.
  • Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  • Look for opportunities to innovate collaboratively.
  • Understand the mentality, the thinking, the rationale for all new strategies and directions. And get on board if you can, or bring up objections respectfully, making a stand for principles, for customers, for staff, for products. But when the decision is made, fall in line so that all can roll forward together.
  • Know the consequences before you break a rule. Be willing to live with them.
  • Learn from the risks you’ve taken yourself and encourage risk-taking in others. 

It’s about the people.

  • Be with the people, projects, processes and team who will help you stay productive and optimistic and positive.
  • Be curious about people who are not like you, as their perspectives are also valid.
  • Be around the people and culture who believe in you. And then BE the biggest, best YOU possible. 
  • Build momentum, allies, partnerships behind a new direction, reversing a rule you’d like to break.
  • Invite the ideas and participation of all people, especially if they are not inclined to actively participate.

When others are driving change

 

  • Agree and commit or disagree and commit or offer another solution.
  • Do not stay silent, or do nothing – you become part of the problem

 

Resources:

  • Consider Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development when evaluating whether to break the rules: 
    • hedonism – because you can get away with it (probably not best for long-term goals or relationships)
    • pleasing – because you would perceived as the good girl/boy (following rules is generally good, especially if it’s adaptive for your safety . . . but don’t blindly follow rules)
    • intentions – consider the intentions behind the actions
    • law & order – because you would perceived as the good girl/boy (following rules is generally good, especially if it’s adaptive for your safety . . . but don’t blindly follow rules)
    • majority rules – rules can be changed by majority vote (if you don’t like a rule, change the rules within the system)
    • moral mandate – do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the above 

I’ll conclude by saying that understanding deeply what rule needs to change and why is only a beginning. A leader must also communicate with all stakeholders to get them on board with the new direction. With these communications, the leader is metaphorically tossing a stone in a pond and embracing the ripple effect, spreading rule-breaking change to all, for all.

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Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s September 8 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Make Your Own Rules and our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, Chief Revenue Officer, 888 Steps 
  • Panelist Alex Gorjanc, Area Director, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Daniela Busse, Director, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Citi Ventures
  • Panelist Rajni Dharmarajan, Product Line General Manager, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Suruchi Kaushik Sharma, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, Flex

A Magnet for Positive Energy

August 24, 2017

PositiveEnergy

There’s power in positive energy – all good things are based on one’s ability to create, attract and build on that positive energy.

This month’s post reveals my strategies for attracting positive intentions, positive people and positive results.

  1. Consciously choose to feel happy, healthy and alive, embracing your current circumstances – living your today rather than wishing for a future to come, a fond memory of the past. Note that those who are more grateful for simple everyday things will be much happier and will have much more positive energy than those who see these gifts as tiresome, same-old things.
  2. Decide to break a habit, whether it’s a good one or a bad one. Simply doing things differently will bring positive energy and help open up more possibilities.
  3. Along those same lines, adopting a routine of someone you admire is another way to choose more paths to happiness and positive energy. It also attracts more positive and happy people to your circle.
  4. Celebrate the little things regularly. It will help you better appreciate the journey of life. Don’t wait until someone/something happens exactly a certain way – a circumstance which may never occur.
  5. Challenge yourself regularly to level-up something – your goals, your energy, your exercise routine, your pampering plan… something that stretches how you experience your life and your world.
  6. Laugh deeply and often and spend time with people who make you love doing so.
  7. Ask someone how they accomplish the things that you do every day and consider adopting their way of doing it.
  8. When you share about your day, highlight both the roses and the thorns, but spend much more time detailing the roses – the good stuff.
  9. Know what it feels like when you enter a vortex, a download spiral of energy, ideas and people. Spin out of it – don’t let it draw you in. If you *must* engage, protect yourself, bring a support system and make sure that you can successfully climb out of it!
  10. Those who have positive energy treat failure like a badge of courage, learning the lessons from each experience rather than feeling fear, shame and inadequacy.

May positive, constructive energy surround you.

From Hard-Ass to Bad-Ass

August 24, 2017

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The next time you hit a crossroads in your life path, consider the options – Should I be half-ass about it, or choose to be a bad-ass? There’s something to be said for being half-ass. It’s safe, it’s predictable, it’s necessary (depending on what else is going on in your life).

But if you choose that bad-ass path, it may be kind of scary. It’s choosing to be consistently great, being confident that you can do it when you may not be sure you can, choosing to level yourself up, knowing that you’ll inevitably fail. If you have the courage and insight to choose that path, perhaps this post will help you succeed.

  1. Set and respect your moral compass. It is the foundation you need to succeed. With it, you’ll know that your successes will matter to yourself, your team, your company, the world. Without it, nobody else will really care if you succeed.
  2. Know your strengths and cater to your strengths. Do the internal work necessary to know unequivocally what your proven and aspirational strengths are, plus any areas of weaknesses you need to bolster in order to succeed.
  3. Follow your vision – it has to start with a passion to change the world and a strategic idea which can be tactfully implemented.
  4. Follow your instincts, but make sure that the data backs up your instincts. Your gut is seldom wrong so listen closely to it. But be curious about the facts behind your feelings.
  5. Embrace the uncomfortable. Staying comfortable made you good at being half-ass. If you’re choosing bad-ass, be open to ideas, people, functions, protocols, technologies and everything else which makes you shiver in fear, shudder in disgust, cringe with dread.
  6. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. Empower people around you to succeed.
  7. Find your best fit within a group of great people. Park your ego and seek and realize the greater good. Disassociate from people who do this in thoughts and words only.
  8. You’re going to fail, so accept that fact and be stronger and smarter with the next iteration. Not even bad-asses can bat 1000.
  9. Make a statement, don’t stand on the fence. Even if it means swimming against the tide.
  10. Believe that you can change the world. We need a world of change agents.

Share YOUR bad-ass story.

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 11, 2017

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FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Balancing Privacy, Security and Access.  

We were fortunate to have such a passionate, experienced and diverse set of panelists, who covered a broad range of areas around the privacy, security and access topic. They shared some common characteristics:

  • They are curious about both the technologies and the business models, and industrious, intelligent and flexible enough to embrace new learnings and experiences so that they can fully explore business opportunities, and add value for their teams, their products, their companies, their industries.
  • They are forging new ground in many ways in the short term and for the long term, so that those who follow will be better prepared to successfully balance privacy, security and access.
  • They regularly navigate a delicate balance between being both philosophical and practical, both prescriptive and fluid, both confident in existing best practices and curious about how to stretch the envelope to the next level, and are both consistently principled and innovative. 

Below is a compilation of their thoughts and advice on how to best balance privacy, security and access.

Consider the career and business opportunities ahead.

  • The technologies, the business models, the leaders are changing rapidly. There are tremendous opportunities ahead for every company, in every industry. 
    • We have so quickly gone from wired to wireless, from wireless to mobile devices, from mobile to phone to IoT and are rapidly evolving still. We don’t give up the old technologies, but do keep embracing the new ones!
  • Think about solutions that reach traditionally non-tech sectors. These are great, practical use cases for technology solutions.
  • In considering new opportunities and solutions, think about how technologies like Blockchain, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, might factor in.
  • Consulting and specialized services in this area may be on the rise, in response to the growing and complex demands.

Embrace best practices in managing the balance between privacy, security and access.

  • Define the norm, the standard processes and procedures in detail, in collaboration with other business and technology stakeholders. Clearly defining baseline requirements, worse-case scenarios, rapid-response protocols and the like, will help ensure that you keep your customers happy, your company compliant, your product secure. It will also help position your company for success, making good choices in the short term and for the long term.
  • Nurture partnerships and relationships to build a community of supporters representing a range of needs and motivations.
  • Communicate clearly, often and transparently. Opening the kimono and speaking candidly and authentically and inviting collaboration can work wonders in building empowerment and engagement, thereby distributing responsibility, commitment and ownership.
  • Speak to the overarching need for complying to processes and procedures as well as the implications for divergence from accepted norms. Speaking about consequences in logical, non-emotive terms will more likely build cooperation than rantings and threats to those making questionable choices.
  • Be ever plan-ful and strategic, while also allowing teams to innovate quickly and maintain access with minimal hassle.
  • Be customer focused. Customers will help you define direction, and your internally policies will help you create a solution which is safe, secure and scalable.
  • Consider outsourcing some of these solutions to specialists if it’s not a core competency.
  • Assume positive intent, but plan for external infractions and attacks and for user negligence.

Manage your career opportunities in this space.

  • Keep stretching yourself and providing value. Be open to new roles and responsibilities and positions in this hot and emerging space.
  • Consider both entrepreneurial and corporate opportunities.
  • Be open to taking classes. Technical coursework and certifications would allow you to drill deeper, business classes would help you get a broaden perspective. Both are important.

It’s inevitable that we must continue to leverage tech to fight tech hacks and vulnerabilities so there’s an ocean of opportunity ahead! Make sure that you, your team and product, your company and industry, are well equipped to stay above water and swim underwater. 

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FountainBlue’s August 11 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Balancing Privacy, Security and Access. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks and our panelists!

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, Chief Revenue Officer, 888 Steps
Panelist Shruti Gautam, Cofounder – Firecode.io, Senior Software Engineer, eBay
Panelist Sujata Ramamoorth, CSO, Cloud Platform and Services, Cisco
Panelist Geetha Rao, CEO, Springborne Life Sciences
Panelist Paola Zeni, Global Privacy, Senior Director, Palo Alto Networks

Balancing Privacy, Security and Access

August 4, 2017

PrivacySecurity

FountainBlue’s July 28 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Balancing Privacy, Security and Access’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks. Below are notes from the conversation.

As a responsible customer, government official, executive, vendor, partner, consumer, parent, citizen, we must continually look at balancing the need for convenience and access with the need to remain secure and compliant, the need to get things done efficiently and the need to protect against malicious and unintended negative consequences.

It becomes increasingly more important to do so as technology is enabling more people access to more solutions, devices and technologies. With the increasing occurrence of alarming security breaches and astounding examples of privacy breaches, governments are implementing policy updates to protect its citizens, corporations are implementing mandates and requirements, and partners and customers, and professionals and consumers are left wondering how to proactively manage their data, their devices, their security.

It’s a fact that leaders in companies and governments and households have a larger view of the impact should there be breaches in security and privacy. However, should mandates, policies, devices and other limitations on usage and access become too inconvenient for those under management, they may be less cooperative, less complicit as their focus is more on getting something done, and not necessarily on what the implications are should a risk actually be realized.

It’s clear that companies are required to track, manage and enforce regulations and policies, but it’s also clear that they must proactively secure themselves and their staff and proactively communicate about any compromising hacks. Companies are also required to track staff information, but also be able to report information which is to be retained by the company even after her/his departure. It’s also incumbent upon the staff member to ensure that private information remains private – not on company cloud or e-mail for example.

The trick is to align all the stakeholders to agree on the larger goal – to get things done while minimizing associated risks around security breaches. It takes a combination of mandates and policies and cooperation between all parties to successfully and proactively manage that balance. 

Equally important is the ability to provide the customer what they need, and even anticipating their need, while also complying with the privacy and security requirements of the companies and the governments involved.

There’s a clear up-side to collecting data – products and services would be more customized to personal needs and preferences. It’s great when that happens as it saves people time, but there’s also a nagging ‘big brother’ feeling if the predictions are intrusive, if they are wrong, if they force customers to do something they didn’t sign up for…

Change is happening quickly, and many are weighing in to influence policies and directions are there are business, political and social implications. For example, many eyes are on the EU and the May 2018 decision for the GDPR, even for those who aren’t European residents/EU members. 

I’ll conclude with a comparison mapping this balancing act with driving. 

  • Within the US, drivers know what the speed limits are, how to drive, which side of the road to drive on, how to obey signs and signals. Although accidents and problems happen, it generally works.
    • But cars are able to go much faster than the speed limit, and drivers can generally do so without negative consequence unless there’s a ticket or an accident. Similarly, staff members may know that they shouldn’t keep private information on the company cloud, and many may do so without negative consequence, unless there’s a privacy breach.
    • Traffic rules and protocols vary outside the country and even between cities. Similarly, security and privacy policies vary across companies and countries.
  • The rules and protocols are much more clear, more accepted, more established, more supported through documentation, etc., But the rules around balancing privacy, security and access are not at all clear in many circumstances. Thus we are all feeling our way through the many variables, trying to align all the motivations involved for all the players.

It’s a complex time with many factors and many leaders and companies weighing in as this balance impacts our daily work and home lives. 

Stretching the Technology and Business Envelope

July 28, 2017

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FountainBlue’s July 28 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Stretching the Technology and Business Envelope’! Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Texas Instruments, who on-site support and joined in the interactive discussion. Below is a compilation of their ideas and thoughts for stretching the Technology and Business Envelope.  

Be Strategic

  • Have a core strength and value-add and build on that strength.
  • Strategically target markets and leaders with specific needs you can address.
  • Understand how your offering stands out from the competition. 
  • Strategize on which markets to approach and how you can build momentum.

Operationalize for Success.

  • Create an infrastructure and platform and partner with clients to launch products and services.
  • Identify the pain and provide reports with dashboards of information the customer defines as important.
  • Identify the earliest root causes for a known problem and notify stakeholders when these scenarios occur.
  • Understand the policies and mandates and their implications for your target industries and customers.

Support Innovation and Creativity.

  • Balance structure and requirements which sets the direction with flexibility and fluidity to welcome creativity and innovation.
  • Design opportunities to innovate from within, using corporate funding and resources and channels and incorporating entrepreneurial teams and ideas.

It All Comes Down to Leadership.

  • Invest in the seasoned leaders who can deliver the software requirements and the hardware needs.
  • Be creative, persistent, courageous, while also being prepared and strategic.

Lean In and Level It UP

July 22, 2017

FountainBlue’s July 21 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Lean In and Level It UP! Below are notes from our conversation.

We had an energetic, experienced and fun panel who shared their wisdom and stories about leveling up within an organization. They had a wide range of experience and backgrounds, but they had much in common: 1) they succeeded despite their reservations, 2) they stretched themselves at every level regularly, 3) they learned from their experiences, 4) they share their experience and learnings with those around them, and 5) they have a passion and curiosity which fuels them internally. Below is their composite advice on how leaders can rise and succeed within an organization.

Be strategic.

  • Choose to be comfortable when you need to be, and to push for change if complacency sets in. Don’t just go through the motions!
  • Raise a flag for a cause that would benefit yourself, your team, your company, your industry.
  • Don’t wait for the right role/title/assignment/invitation to solve a pressing problem.

Make positive and proactive choices.

  • Be passionate about what you do, and confident that you can do it well.
  • Be curious about why some things work and some things don’t. It may lead to serendipitous results!
  • If a jerk thinks you’re a failure before you’ve started or if a bozo throws you under the bus or your boss won’t give you the resources to succeed – see that as a positive opportunity to succeed despite the odds.
  • Embrace failures as learning opportunities. 

Empower your people.

  • Communicate the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and empower others around you to figure out the details.
  • Get the energy and support you need so that you can get out of your own comfort zone. 

Work your network.

  • Choose to work with people who are not like you.
  • Look for the best of everyone around you. Learn from others. Emulate the best qualities of others.
  • Work and grow your network. Make it deep and broad.
  • Manage your self-talk and other things  and people which may limit your ability to succeed.
  • Be a great listener – learn from what the staff, the customer, and other important people are saying.
  • Find a way to fit the style of those you work with.

Our panel’s closing thoughts are to ‘Dream BIG. Dream ON!’


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at BigCommerce and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Maranda Dziekonski, Vice President, Customer Operations, HelloSign
  • Panelist Angela Griffo, VP, 10Fold
  • Panelist Linda Tong, VP of Innovation, AppDynamics
  • Panelist Andrea Wagner, Head of Design, Bigcommerce

Conflict Resolution

July 17, 2017

FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are HighBelow are notes from the conversation. 

We were fortunate to have such a fun, experienced and practical group of panelists, representing a wide range of companies, projects, educational backgrounds and perspectives. They also shared much in common: their competence and leadership got them noticed by important people, their successes and results facilitated introductions to larger-impact opportunities, their passion and leadership helped them serve their team, product, company and industry, and their practical experience made them the wise leaders they are.

They deal with a wide range of conflicts: 

  • the engineering vs business unit conflicts which pit developers against business unit managers and sales and marketing leaders;
  • the finance vs product vs operations vs sales/marketing conflicts around costs, timelines and deliverables; 
  • the management vs staff conflicts around the strategic direction and how and when it is implemented;
  • the merger-mergee integration conflicts which come with all M&As;
  • the generational conflicts across age groups;
  • the cultural conflicts across geographies, and/or cultural conflicts within the same physical geography;
  • the personal conflicts at home, the personal conflicts brought into work . . . 

Conflicts are everywhere. Below is a compilation of advice for resolving conflict.

Accepting Conflict within Companies 

  1. Accepting this fact, and embracing the learnings and opportunities around conflict resolution is the first step to positive, constructive conflict management.
  2. Align to corporate goals and missions.
  3. Assume positive intent.
  4. Embrace the opportunities to learn from others not-like-you, to experience things beyond your comfort zone.
  5. Choose your battles – not all conflicts are worth having.

Being Fact-Based

  1. Make decisions based on data – what are the pros and cons for all stakeholders? Identify the factors for each decision. Have each stakeholder give weightings for the importance of each factor.
  2. Quantify the inefficiencies rather than pointing a figure at who is causing the inefficiencies.
  3. Focus on areas of compromise.
  4. Collaborate with stakeholders to deliver tangible win-win results. 

Managing Emotions

  1. Make everyone feel recognized and important. Encourage and support their engagement.
  2. Stay away from personal attacks and judgments.
  3. Know and manage your own hot buttons.
  4. Give yourself and others a cooling-off period when emotions run high.
  5. Give the object of contention a time out, so no parties get access.

Managing People and Networks

  1. Be curious about motivations.
  2. Identify all stakeholders.
  3. Understand the other perspective.
  4. Build networks of relationships you can trust.
  5. It is more important to respect the feelings of the other party then to be ‘right’.
  6. Be a great listener. 
  7. Lobby for buy-in, rather than mandating it.
  8. Stand behind your team/product/company, and do all you can to help it succeed.

Communicating Clearly

  1. Communicate clearly and transparent and directly, especially when things are not going well.
  2. Try this formula for gender (or other) conflicts: 1) Call attention to the behavior. 2) Associate a feeling with the behavior. 3) Request an alternate behavior. 4) Check for understanding and commitment.
  3. Spell out assumptions. 
  4. Spell out boundaries for discussion.

The steps to resolving conflict can be summarized in 5 steps: First gather the data. Next recognize the motivations and feelings of all stakeholders. Then deliver measurable results and lastly communicate successes. 

Resource: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer


FountainBlue’s July 14 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Resolving Conflict When the Stakes are High. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists!

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Vicki Sam, Chief of Staff/VP, EFI
  • Panelist Joy Taylor, General Manager, Product Line Director, Texas Instruments
  • Panelist Prajakta “PJ” Gudadhe, Director Software for Consumer Products, Virtual Reality and Mobile, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Liming Wang, Sr. Director, Manufacturing Finance, Western Digital

Navigating a Multicultural Workforce

June 25, 2017

FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce.  Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such an outspoken, fun and engaging panel to speak on navigating a multi-generational workforce. Despite their differences in academic, educational, professional, cultural background, our panelists shared an uncanny ability to make things happen, working people, products and processes, and habitually overcoming extraordinary circumstances.

When asked to speak to the value of having diversity in the workplace, the reasons ran the gamut for our illustrious panel, but the consensus is the same: Diversity in the workplace benefits the business and the people in many ways. Whether it supports market share by including staff members which represent the broad swath of users across the globe, or whether a think-differently mind set helps long-standing engineering teams to think, speak and act differently, studies and results show that including a diversity of perspective benefits all.

Whether you’re just building awareness of gender and age differences for your organization or whether you’re one of the lucky companies with strong diversity and impact figures, companies big and small are all striving to recruit, develop and retain the most talented, the most versatile, AND the most diverse workforce.

Our panel of executives and millennials had a wide range of suggestions on how to embrace that other-focused, open perspective in the workplace. 

  • Lead the diversity initiative for your team and organization, no matter where you sit at the table. Choose your company wisely and work with company leaders to think, speak and walk the talk around diversity and its impact on innovation and business results. 
  • Embrace opportunities to learn many things and make broad and measurable impact. Our panelists’ breadth and depth of experience was remarkable, as was their ability to succeed under such a wide range of circumstances and requirements. 
  • Be aware of your own skill set and take ownership of your own growth. Adopt a high level of self awareness and raise the bar for yourself, while seeking to learn from and provide support for others around you.
  • Invite those who don’t think like you into your circle. Recruit team members who came from different backgrounds and perspectives and reap the social and professional benefits.
  • Facilitate social and professional connections between different people, groups, ethnicities, genders. Understanding the humanness of others who don’t think like us will help us all get a broader and more compassionate world view, which benefits everyone we touch.
  • Encourage everyone to have a voice and reward them for sharing their perspective. What the timid and reclusive say may likely surprise everyone in a good way, and encourage broader and more vocal participation overall.
  • Work with a diverse set of companies and products, and welcome the opportunity to grow a start-up. Having a varied background will give you rich and broad experience and leave you even more open to embrace new people, projects and ideas.
  • Develop relationships with partners to help recruit millennials into the workforce pipeline. Recruiting Interns is a popular strategy for test-driving and recruiting young talent into an organization.
  • Be clear, authentic, transparent and vulnerable in your communications, especially when you’re talking to a broad range of people who don’t think like you. Conflict will be inevitable, but having direct, drama-free, no-nonsense conversations will help every find a common ground, and work toward a common cause and purpose.
  • Learn the vocabulary of the millennials/boomers, and have fun doing it. Or you’re be in the dark and experience FOMO (fear of missing out) when there’s a QBR (quarterly business review) going on.

The common consensus was that it wasn’t about age or gender or role or company or industry, or any other bucket. We are all ONE, and embracing the vast differences within that broader ONE will help ALL within it to succeed.


Please join us in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 23 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Navigating a Multicultural Workforce and our gracious hosts at eBay:

Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps

Our Executive Panelists include:

  • Panelist Tiffaney Fox Quintana, Vice President of Marketing, HelloSign
  • Panelist Helen Kim, VP of Business Operations, eBay
  • Panelist Kerry McCracken, Vice President: Flex Connect, Flex
  • Panelist Jennifer T. Miller | Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Gigamon
  • Panelist Michele Taylor-Smith, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Nutanix

Our Millennial Panelists include:

  • Panelist Maliena Guy, Senior Product Manager-eBay Search, eBay
  • Panelist Nikita Maheshwari, Sr. Product Manager, Nutanix
  • Panelist Ama Misa, Senior Manager, Business Development, Strategic Partnerships Group, Flex
  • Panelist Claire Murdough, Content Marketing Manager, HelloSign
  • Panelist Catherine Stevenson, Human Resources Representative, Gigamon