Janice Fraser is an Author, speaker and innovation leader who has been in the digital landscape for over two decades. We caught up with her this week to talk about her journey into leadership and what she’ll be speaking about at #mtpcon San Francisco 2023 on June 14.
Pioneering the tech industry
With a career spanning over two decades, Jance has played a vital role behind the scenes, shaping the success of notable companies and championing effective leadership practices. She began her career in tech at Netscape in 1996 when the internet was taking its initial steps into the public eye. This early experience laid the foundation for her deep understanding of the internet’s potential.
Following her time at Netscape, she co-founded Adaptive Path, one of the first user experience companies, in the late 1990s. As the CEO of Adaptive Path, she embarked on a mission to improve the user experience across various digital platforms. The company aimed to address the shortcomings of the early web and explore ways to enhance its usability and reliability.
Later on in her career, she established LUXr, a startup that highlighted the newfound accessibility of entrepreneurship. This experience led her to discover the lean startup methodology, which allowed her to navigate the world of startups more effectively. Shortly thereafter, LUXr joined forces with Pivotal, a rapidly growing software development firm, where her expertise in product leadership and team construction truly flourished. She witnessed firsthand how the landscape of product management evolved during her tenure, with Pivotal expanding from a few offices to over 22 worldwide.
While Jason, her husband, continued his journey at Pivotal and eventually undertook a leadership role overseeing a team focused on federal government projects, she transitioned into innovation. Motivated by a desire to explore novel and transformative ideas, she delved into the application of her startup mindset to new situations. Her foray into innovation paved the way for her latest venture—a book co-authored with Jason.
Today, she shares her journey, the key milestones that led her to this point, and the wisdom she and her husband, Jason, have distilled into their newly released book, Farther, Faster, and Far Less Drama: How to Make Extraordinary Progress Wherever You Lead.
Based on her vast experience in supporting startups and driving innovation, Janice will speak about leading effectively at #mtpcon SF based on findings from her book through years of observing leaders in various contexts. “If you dial in on four essential leadership motions, you’re going to make your job easier as a leader,” she says, “ these motions are:
This stage emphasizes the importance of understanding the current context before setting goals or making plans, Janice explains. “This motion of being aware of one’s starting point often goes overlooked but is crucial for effective decision-making,” she says. We’re taught a lot of alignment goals such as OKRs or GSMs, but very few have taught us how to align on them.
The third motion, “Value Outcomes,” encourages leaders to prioritize outcomes over rigid plans. Adapting to changing circumstances and incorporating new learning is key to maintaining progress. “We can make loads of plans and roadmaps, however, circumstances change which can result in us ending up in the wrong direction,” Janice adds. Value outcomes more than you value the activities.
Leverage the brains
All of the best leaders lead with questions, Janice explains. “Assemble the right brains and invite the wrong brains to stop participating,” In this new leadership method that is forming, you need to know the right questions to reach your goals. By curating a collection of individuals with the right expertise, leaders can harness collective intelligence and achieve remarkable results.
Finally, making durable decisions as a leader is essential. There’s conflict in decision-making for many organisations and Janice believes that there are more leaders can do to work more collaboratively in making the right decisions and reduce the drama.
A touch on AI…
No one knows when disruption is going to happen, Janice explains when asked about the impact that AI will have on our working lives. “It is an all-encompassing, ethically challenging disrupter that will change how all of us work and do business,” she adds. “We don’t have the ethical foundations in place to handle AI responsibility, as leaders we need to keep our feet on the ground, stay calm, and adapt as the storyline unfolds,”
Janice advises using the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, and act) in the face of uncertainty. These are the skills that effective leaders have today. Stay calm, breathe out, and figure out what’s true to make the best decisions.
“AI can be a massive powerful force for good, but it can also be a massive disrupter that injures a lot of people. We need to be aware of what impact this can have and continually maintain our situational awareness,” she closes.
When these big disrupters come up, how can we maintain flexibility, how can we make it a positive thing,
If you could take one thing away
Leadership is a thing you do, there is a new conversation happening about how to do it effectively. “I hope that people from #mtpcon SF will ask themselves ‘What do we believe good leadership entails, and who are the leaders we most want to amplify and emulate?’
Join Janice and other amazing keynote speakers at #mtpcon San Francisco, happening on June 14. Join us in person or online.