Author Archive

A Note to My 20-year Old Self

November 22, 2017

As we enter into our time of Thanks-Giving with friends and family, and from there into the whirlwind of fun, work and activities of the holidays, I want to stop and write a message to my 20-year-old self.

This message is musings of my wisdom and learnings (such as they are) to the person at 20, so many decades ago, and yet just yesterday in my mind. It is also a message to my own daughter, who will reach that 20-year-old milestone in a few months.

  1. Be bold and keep raising the bar for yourself. Never settle. It won’t always feel good to always be reaching. But in the end, it will be all good.
  2. Know your values and never compromise on them for any reason.
  3. Make a stand for yourself and help others make a stand for themselves, but only if they want your support. This is the only way to overcome injustice and complacency, and help us all as individuals, as leaders, as people do our part in making the world a better place.
  4. “Right” has many definitions, many contexts. Never judge those who feel like they are doing the ‘right’ thing. Beware of people who would judge you for doing what you think is the right thing.
  5. Be ever inclusive, especially with people who don’t think or act like you do. It benefits everyone.
  6. Do the right thing, even if it’s inconvenient, even if there’s no reward, even if there’s a negative consequence.
  7. Have patience and tolerance for yourself and others. It’s a great path for growing and thinking and expanding.
  8. Take a page from Maya Angelou’s book – it’s more important how you make someone feel than it is what you DO.
  9. Celebrate the little things. Don’t take them for granted as they are the essence of life.
  10. It’s all about energy and love. Love what you do, and do it with and for people you love being with. Have the energy to do it well, and enjoy doing it well with and for others.

I hope that you also find it relevant and interesting for yourself and those you touch. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

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Lean In, and Level It Up

November 13, 2017

NovemberWSSPanelFountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Lean In and Level It Up. We launched the panel talking about our greatest take-aways from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’. 

  • Work through your fear and find your voice.
  • Take a seat at the table at every opportunity, no matter what your role or level or background or authority is.
  • Be vulnerable and authentic.
  • Your career is not linear – it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.
  • Have the confidence to be your full self.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator. 
  • Surround yourself with those who would support you in stretching and reaching for what’s next. Be that person for those around you.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for leveling up is below.

Be a leader you can admire.

  • Be confident enough to be assertive, humble and kind enough to be respected.
  • Challenge yourself to identify and overcome your fear.
  • Work hard and be passionate about and good at what you do. 
  • Spell out the problem, articulate the solution and detail the results for the work you do.
  • Try not to take things personally. Focus on the facts and the data.
  • More important than the work you do is the feelings you instill in others. Be the kind of leader who makes others feel good.
  • Be honest, open, transparent and authentic, especially when there’s a lot of ambiguity. 
  • Say what you’ll do. Do what you said. Show the data behind the results.

Seize every opportunity to grow.

  • Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Embrace the risk with every opportunity. Be comfortable with the ambiguity so that you can define and create success.
  • When you come against a difficult ‘either this or not’ decision, try to choose ‘this AND that’.
  • When you’re considering a great new work opportunity, make a choice based on your values and your priorities. 
  • Diversify your training, background and experience.
  • It can be overwhelming to be in the midst of a huge problem, which is also an opportunity. Have the support system around you so that you can take it one step at a time. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
  • Ask for the resources and authority and empowerment so that you can solve complex problems.
  • Learn from your mistakes. See failure as opportunities. Have a resilience to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.
  • Women may get fewer opportunities to lead at the highest level, and even when they do, the opportunity might not be ideal. However, the women who are succeeding even under extreme circumstances are paving the way for more women to reach the highest level, and grow the company and team from that level.

Be Collaborative.

  • It takes a village – be that supportive leader for others. Seek the support from others.
  • Grow your network so that you can have a broad and deep support base, and a broader view of the world.
  • Get the help and support you need to succeed. Delegate the things that you don’t want to do. 
  • Work with your team to get from point A to point B. But remember that not everyone can get from here to there, especially when there’s too much ‘history’ involved.
  • As you rise, always make room for others.
  • Build relationships with teams across the company. Trust others and be worthy of their trust. 
  • Partner with your spouse to divide up the other tasks so that everything is good at the home front. 

Be the best YOU you can be.

  • Keep reaching for stars. 
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Have mentors and heroes, but don’t try to replicate what they do. Be original.
  • Be versatile and broad in your impact so others can’t box you into a specific label. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate all your little successes.

The bottom line is that YOU are the best YOU there can possibly be. And YOU are in charge of Leaning In, to get the support you need, and Leveling Up, to the level that works for you.

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

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Madhavi Deshmukh, Head of Product Management, Security Products, PayPal
  • Panelist Laura J. Durr, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Polycom
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Please join us also in thanking Polycom’s CEO Mary T. McDowell, who provided such inspiring introductory remarks to launch the panel discussion.

In Search of Unicorns

November 3, 2017

FlyingUnicorn

FountainBlue’s November 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘In Search Unicorns’. Thank you to this month’s participating executives and to our gracious hosts at Western Digital. Below is a compilation of ideas and thoughts from our conversation.

Our executives this month had extensive experience with both large companies and with start-ups and even investment/corporate development experience. They had the following advice regarding the search for unicorns.

  • No matter where you are in the start-up-to-enterprise spectrum, remember that:
    • Companies big and small are challenged with integrating new technologies and solutions into their offerings in order to stay relevant to their customers and keep up with market demands.
    • Leaders from start-ups and companies need to balance their desire to manage innovation from within or create innovation at start-ups and get integrated into the enterprises. 
  • Work efficiently and effectively, within the environment, culture and ecosystem you’re in. 
  • The flexibility and excitement of a start-up might be better than the stability and resources of a corporation and vice versa, depending on your current objectives and perspective. Choose the best option for yourself and be open to re-evaluating your selection.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for creating, nurturing and growing technologies and ideas organically from within a company, and also strategically identifying and integrating start-ups worthy of acquisition.
  • Find adjacent technologies and markets for current solutions so that you can expand into new areas.
  • Create and manage an ecosystem of partners to support development and business expansion goals.
  • Keep passion and innovation alive, even when a company gets big and processes slow down how quickly things can get done.
  • Watch how the Terrible 5 (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, FaceBook) are impacting other companies in your space and respond accordingly.
  • Ensure a culture fit with potential acquirees to increase the likelihood of a successful integration.
  • The hiring of quality technical people will challenge the growth trajectory of companies big and small.
  • Focus first on the trend, then on the people who can create a solution to address that trend, and then on the idea.
  • When creating a new solution in the same market, having the same clan of co-founders makes sense. When creating a new sector and market, recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and help the team work together.

Here are some hot new areas to watch for:

  • Machine Learning and AI solutions which automate reporting and processes
  • Technologies and solutions around self driving cars 
  • Fitness and health-tech solutions for the consumer, but perhaps paid for by insurers, companies, even the government
  • Hardware and software solutions which leverage open source modules
  • Aggregating, managing, organizing, searching, storing huge volumes of digital content
  • Practical wearables which are also disposable
  • Device/IoT security and management
  • Edge computing as the evolution of embedded computing
  • Block chain use cases in finance, healthcare, transportation etc
  • Integrated services and solution will be more prevalent than individual devices/units/sales

The bottom line is the unicorns are not born overnight. There are plenty of technologies and leaders who have the potential to become those billion-dollar-unicorns. Actually achieving that unicorn status will take collaborative, systematic execution on plans extended periods of time, riding market waves and serving customers over five to seven years.

Peeling the Onion

October 30, 2017

OnionThe end of the year is a time to celebrate successes, reflect on learnings, plan for what’s next, and appreciate all that you have. This year, I see my gifts in layers, like the layers of an onion.

  1. I appreciate the roots of the onion, which connects it to the ground. It provides for our basic needs like food, water, air. I see the victims of the many disasters this year, from floods to fires to human-related calamity. My heart bleeds for them, and I feel grateful to have ongoing access to basic needs.
  2. The tough basal plate at the bottom of the onion is connected to the roots, and to me represents the basic connections between people which allows us to get along with each other, embracing our similarities and differences. We are all ONE, connected to the root, connected to the earth.
  3. The tunic of the onion – the paper-like outer piece – represents the infrastructure we often take for granted. I’m grateful for the predictable, stable infrastructure in my life – the rules, operations, processes, agreements, procedures, materials – which helps everyone make plans and get places and get things done.
  4. Then there are many ‘scale leaf’ layers of the onion. One of them to me represents the variety of people and experiences around me. Living in a dynamic and diverse region is in turns perplexing and annoying, while also being energizing and fun. I’m grateful for the diversity of people, thoughts and ideas which surround me.
  5. Another scale leaf represents exposure to the brightest, most creative technologists and professionals. I’m grateful for these brilliant others who have helped me to connect the dots in new, novel, different ways which benefit and serve others.
  6. Another scale leaf is the tangible results of connecting the dots – the technologies, products and solutions which have the ability to change the world. May we all be fortunate enough to have access to the tools and information and people who stretch my imagination, build my knowledge, exercise my mind and expand our outlook and perspective.
  7. The most unsavory, but also necessary scale leaf is the way which represents failure and under-performance. I’m grateful for the adversities in my life, and to those who helped me perceive them as a gift, a lesson to be learned, a stepping stone for what’s next.
  8. Another scale leaf represents the ecosystem of associates, family, mentors, and friends who help us overcome that adversity and be a better version of ourselves in many ways.
  9. The scale leaf closest to the center of the onion are the most trusted people – those who provide unconditional love, those who see you at your worst and at your weakest and stand by you still, those who provide support when you feel all alone, those who are just another piece of your very self.
  10. At the heart of the onion is the immature flower. It represents hope for the next generation and opportunities for the future and celebrates all things and people who help us each build and embrace a better tomorrow.

My wish for you is that you can choose an environment which welcomes measured risk-taking, applauds new ways of thinking, speaking and acting, and embraces opportunities for DOING things differently.

ISMAC is Where It’s At, SF

October 24, 2017

 

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FountainBlue’s October 20 When She Speaks in SF event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. Our panel this quarter was quite diverse, representing a wide range of industries, backgrounds and perspectives. But they had much in common:

  • They shared a passion for doing things well, for doing things differently, for constantly raising the bar to better understand the needs of the customer, and to better deliver solutions which solve problems.
  • They each had a wide breadth of experiences, which they developed and learned from, and which proved invaluable as they continued on their professional and personal journey.
  • They generously and regularly shared their wisdom, advice and learnings to those around them, ensuring that they also benefited.
  • They had an innate curiosity, an astounding passion, and a drive to innovate, perpetuate, expand and grow. Therefore, each team and company and industry they worked with benefited greatly from their leadership and participation.

Below is their compiled advice on how to lead innovation, wherever you’re sitting at the table.

Be Strategic

  • Be consciously disruptive when it makes sense for the long term, and practical and efficient in your day-to-day operations, continually raising the question – how can this technology, this process, this team function better? What problems can we solve today and for tomorrow?
  • When an innovation goes wrong for whatever reason, own up to it, make up for it, learn from it, and move on!
  • Be careful generalizing innovation successes. What works in one context may not work in another. However, DO consider when an innovative concept may be applicable to another context.

It’s About the Customer

  • Being customer-focused is the heart of innovation. Delivering to the trends of the market and the needs of the customer is integral to the success of companies.
  • Technology is so pervasive and growing so rapidly that it’s difficult to stay ahead of the curve. Having a finger on the pulse of market trends and customer needs will help leaders design and develop relevant and customizable technology solutions.
  • Focus not so much on the sexiness of the technology, but rather on the potential appeal to the customer. Even if it’s the next best thing to sliced bread, if nobody buys it, it’s not an innovation which is sustainable.
  • Understand there may be an aversion to adoption before you design and develop a solution. Understanding why the aversion exists might lead you to a more relevant, more promising solution.
  • When appropriate, think not just about your customer, but also about your customer’s customer. 
  • Provide omni-channel solutions which take into account the desired communication channels of the customers (web, mobile, social media).

Be Collaborative

  • Build an ecosystem approach to innovation, which invites input from marketing, sales, operations, finance leaders from within the company, plus partners, vendors and customers outside the company.
  • Speak in the language of data to make your case to all stakeholders. 
  • Make friends in places high and low. You never know who will be instrumental in bringing an innovative idea to market – it takes a village!
  • Find a way to fund your novel idea from grants, executives, investors, etc., It’s hard to innovate without the resources to support that innovation.
  • Embrace diversity in your team as it will stimulate innovative-out-of-the-box thinking.

Below are some innovation ideas worth exploring.

  • Develop a solution which can lead a transition from paper to digital in volume for any one industry at a time. The slow-adopting industries might be the most challenging, but may have the most potential for adoption.
  • IT and IoT innovations which make life easier and more automated will abound and change the way we work and play.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots and devices will continue to flourish in the marketplace. Creating a platform where they can interact, a standard which keeps them secure and interchangeable may be a great opportunity ahead.
  • Infrastructure solutions including storage and security will become increasingly more important.
  • Process innovation is a form of innovation which can’t be ignored. It will ensure that the right products and services efficiently get into the hands of the right customers.
  • Online learning will be hot, both for corporations and for individuals.
  • Collaborative communication solutions will continue to abound, solving problems across the enterprise.
  • Small businesses will adopt enterprise-level solutions which help them innovate better, collaborate better, serve customers better.
  • The empowered consumer will have much power – they will be wealthy, specific and demanding. This spells opportunity for those who can efficiently deliver personalized solutions.

The bottom line is that we can each facilitate a culture of innovation by making it SAFE to think differently, rewarding those who communicate differently, and celebrating those who are doing things differently – like creating new widgets, gadgets, and systems.


Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 20 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud and our gracious hosts at AppDynamics.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, CMO, 888 Steps
  • Panelist Michelle Chen, PhD, Executive Director, Business Development & Licensing, West Coast Innovation Hub, Merck
  • Panelist Yvonne Chen, Head of Marketing/Sr Director of Marketing, Udemy
  • Panelist Shanthi Ramamurthy, Managing Director, Accenture Technology
  • Panelist Alexandra Shapiro, CMO, BigCommerce
  • Panelist Megan Slater, VP of Business Technology, AppDynamics

ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud!  

October 12, 2017

FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud!  

OctWSSCollage.png

We were fortunate to have such a talented and diverse panel, so passionate about innovation and leadership. Although they represented a wide range of companies, backgrounds, education and roles, they had much in common. 

  • Each was curious and passionate about math and science and learning, even from a young age, even when a technology is complex and evolving.
  • Each was brave enough to keep raising the bar, competent enough to keep delivering results, connected enough to keep sharing results to larger circles of others.
  • Each shifted and evolved and grew in many ways, trying different technologies, roles, and companies.
  • Each continued to push the technology envelope in new ways, with an eye on the needs of the customer, and an eye on the needs of the market.
  • Each has delivered tangible and useful products and services to happy customers and growing markets, and plans to do so on a grander scale.

Below is their compiled advice on how to lead innovation, wherever you’re sitting at the table.

  • Keep taking measured risks and reaching for stars. Technology will keep changing the world.
  • Surround yourself with people who can support you, and reach out to them frequently and strategically.
  • Find or create projects which would allow you to collaborate with others.
  • Be highly focused on what you’re doing AND deeply connected with others in your partner ecosystem.
  • Map your direction, chase with enthusiasm and perseverance.
  • Be detailed enough to do a great job and productive enough to get things done efficiently.
  • Manage the relationships and networks around your project and proactively manage support for your innovation project at the meeting and prior to the meeting.
  • Build relationships before you need favors and resources.
  • Build a brand and reputation of success worthy of funding and supporting.
  • Try the entrepreneur, corporate AND investor paths and see where you best fit.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate technologies across products, across teams, across companies.

It’s exciting how technology has shaped our world in the last few decades. And there are so many more opportunities ahead. We concluded the discussion with some thoughts on how to remain human in this digital age:

Core to the success of any innovation is the relationship between the people collaborating on the project. And core to building deep relationships is genuine, open, transparent communication – like the conversation we had at this event.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at PayPal and our panelists for  FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ISMAC is Where It’s At: Immersive, Security, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Preethy Padman, Director of Business Operations – Global and Strategic Accounts, Nutanix
  • Panelist Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Head of Product, Catalina Labs, Inc
  • Panelist Arthi Rajan, Senior Director, Strategic Risk Partnerships and Credit, PayPal

Collaborative Innovation

October 6, 2017

Collaboration

FountainBlue’s October 6 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Innovation Collaborations’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Techlab Innovation Center and 888 Steps, who provided on-site support and helped lead the interactive discussion.

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

‘Innovation’ comes from many surprising backgrounds, roles, faces and places. Below are some best practices to facilitate and encourage that openness to innovation for your team and company:

  • Begin with the end in mind, and persevere to gain measurable returns, despite the obstacles.
  • Create collaborative solutions to complex problems which would benefit all parties. Measure outcomes, communicate wins, and engage larger ecosystems of partners and people.
  • Have a curious, humble mindset and be eager to learn from those not-like-you. With that said, make sure that the technology and strategy is validated by the data before adopting.
  • Be customer focused. Innovation won’t mean anything if it’s not solving something of interest to the customer.
  • Build traction and credibility by enlisting the support of partners and customers. The ‘fre-nemies’ mindset should be focused on win-win results, and repeatable processes, and based on clear and transparent communication. 
  • Choose a range of professional experiences – between roles, between companies, between industries. It will help you be more inter-disciplinary and connect the dots.
  • Be clear on the type of innovation you’re working on. It’s not always just about the technology innovation. Process, business model, operational, communication and other efficiency upgrades can also lead to great results.
  • In this global world, you must work with companies and leaders from other cultures. Knowing tendencies of others will help people, products, teams and companies to succeed.
  • Established companies must embrace new technologies to stay relevant and current. In turn, emerging technology companies must understand the processes, people and operational challenges which stymie the adoption of new technologies for established companies. 
  • Recruit and train people who work hard, produce results, AND are open to change. Four free ways to encourage team members to get training for new technologies and processes include: 1) talk about the new materials, 2) explain why learning new materials need to happen, 3) organize and index the training materials and 4) highlight successes. 

Below are predictions for some innovation opportunities ahead.

  • Open source solutions will be a big part of innovations of the future. Services behind the open source solutions will be where the money is.
  • Security and cryptographic solutions will be integrated into all solutions.
  • Practical IoT use cases will be adopted by companies looking for the next level of automation and efficiency, provided they are convinced of measurable and early ROI.
  • Blockchain solutions and the decentralized-network thinking behind them will start a new paradigm for innovation. The challenge now is to develop practical, easily-implemented applications for blockchain in many industries, from healthcare to finance to banking.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics will be integral to most solutions. We need the data in order for the automated programs to run.

Innovation is occurring at an increasing pace, making it difficult to adopt. It will continue to take experienced, open-minded leaders connecting in transparent conversations and projects to facilitate collaborative innovation across teams, companies and industries. 

Create a Friction-less Experience

September 26, 2017

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In this age when we are inundated with so many choices, and the ‘do-nothing’ choice is so attractive to many, it’s important to provide a friction-less experience in order to build mind-share and revenues.

  1. Being friction-less means knowing what you’re providing, and delivering it to those in need in a way that works for them.
  2. Provide a product or service which is both relevant and sustainable, both scalable and versatile, one that is configurable with many standardized elements.
  3. Everything end-to-end – from ordering to integration, from support to billing – should be easy, intuitive, seamless and elegant.
  4. Documentation should be freely and easily available. Support should be patient and understanding. User communities should be welcoming and helpful.
  5. Make the product or service available in modes most convenient to the customer – desktop, mobile, device, etc.
  6. Build a community of users who can connect to each other, and work together to help improve the offering.
  7. Allow this community of users to customize the product or service offering and provide feedback for desired future functionality.
  8. Track the right metrics, and know what the metrics mean about the needs of the customer, so you can deliver the experience they’re seeking.
  9. Be laser focused on the value-add of your product or service. Collaborate with partners for elements which are not part of that core offering, but make sure that your partners are delivering an exceptional frictionless experience.
  10. The bottom line is that the leaders and the product and service offering must provide a stellar service offering, and inspire trust and loyalty by consistently delivering results which customers define as exceptional.

Sounds easy and obvious right? But few are able to execute well on all elements. Maybe your offering will be one of those lucky few.

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.

Make Your Own Rules

September 14, 2017

WSSSept8

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