Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Avoiding Stone Age Practices in the Age of the Internet [Kimberly Wiefling]

Albert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying “There are two things that are infinite, the universe, and human stupidity – and I’m not sure about the universe.” Like most people, I usually write this off as an amusing, sarcastic quip he made on a bad day. I mean, it can't possibly be taken literally, right?

Then I wander across a news item or business situation that make me wonder if maybe he was on to something. In spite of common sense, again and again I encounter companies repeating tragically avoidable mistakes, hamstringing themselves with the same ludicrous errors their competitors (fortunately) are also making.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here

Although Steven McConnell clearly mapped out a step-by-step recipe for successful software product development projects over a decade ago in “Software Project Survival Guide – How to Be Sure Your First Important Project Isn’t Your Last”, a surprising level of ignorance seems to prevail in some software development organizations. Here are a few real-world examples that I have encountered in the past year:

· In spite of the availability of free bug tracking software like Bugzilla, one software organization that has been in business for over a decade still didn’t have a bug tracking system. No, I’m not kidding.
· Another, similar decade-old organization pushed changes in the source code directly to the live production server, upon which their customers depended. Really, they did this.
· One software product development team in a Fortune 100 company reported that their schedule had slipped due to the fact that, during the quality testing phase, they’d unexpectedly found bugs that needed to be fixed before shipment. Yes, unexpectedly.

Using one of my favorite thinking tools, called API (Assumption of Positive Intent), I searched my mind for an explanation of why smart, well-educated, experienced people would behave in such seemingly less-than-brilliant ways. I’m sorry to be negative, but I came up empty at that particular moment. Stick with me – by the end of the article all shall be revealed. But until then, more mayhem!

We Can Send a Man to the Moon, and Yet . . .
The widespread availability of inexpensive, even free, internet-based collaboration tools has made working with people scattered around the planet relatively easy compared to even a few years ago. (In the not-so-distant past I was sending memory sticks of big files to Japan through the physical mail!) Today, wikis, Skype, and shared document services such as Sharefile, Dropbox or Box.net have given even small companies like mine the ability to do business around the globe almost effortlessly – at least from an IT standpoint. And yet I’m personally aware of large, so-called global businesses that are still hampered by the following:

· No ability to videoconference from work (although Skyping from a nearby Starbuck’s is a no problem!).
· No storage location where a file can be stored, where every employee in the world can access it (but placing it unofficially on Dropbox is easy as pie!).
· No cross-divisional team collaboration website that can serve as a project dashboard, collaboration space, and team memory for projects (but for $100 you can set up one heck of a collaboration system on sites.google.com).

Naturally my suggestions to explore using commonly available tools like Google Sites (Google’s version of a wiki), Skype (free videoconferencing), and cloud file storage tools are met with the standard retort: “Our IT group won’t let us use that due to security issues.” Point well taken. Security is certainly a valid consideration. But so is getting our work done, eh? And if email were invented today, I am quite sure it would be forbidden by IT departments worldwide due to similar concerns, as would credit cards (they track everything we do!) and cell phones (and they know where we are!).

Any one of these 21st century super-cool tools won’t necessarily work for a particular environment, but it’s up to the project manager and the IT people to work together to figure out what will work. The question we should be asking is “What WILL make it possible to efficiently, effectively, and securely share files, documents, and other critical project information in today’s global business environment?” I’m truly stymied by encountering the brick wall of “It’s not possible.” year after year with various clients. No worries, I’m not tired, and I’m not giving up, I’m just puzzled. Perhaps I’ll be deluged by responses full of cautionary notes, but I personally would prefer an onslaught of email answering the question “What would make it possible?”

Tortured by the Demons of Excessive Workload and Aversion to Planning

As I write it’s starting to dawn on me that stupidity can’t possibly be the explanation for the bewildering examples of worst practices above. But what is at the root of all of this, or at least the largest of the many tendrils?

Last time I checked everyone I know who had a job was more overworked than ever, with at least a half-dozen important tasks or projects on their plate at once, all of which were prioritized either HOT, VERY HOT, RED HOT, or DO IT NOW! The necessity of taking the time to plan - not just what we do, but how we do it - has been understandably put on the backburner. If you haven’t read Chapter 5 of my Scrappy Project Management book recently, you might want to check out this chapter, available free on ProjectConnections.com, for more insights into this “tyranny of the urgent”.

Working faster, “doing more with less”, and the all-too-common firefighting, heroics, and diving catches can feel like an enlivening experience, even as you’re digging your own project grave. An aversion to planning is characteristic of many human beings (especially engineers), and it never feels like there’s enough time to plan. In a way it’s actually quite a relief not to have the time to do any long-term strategic thinking, especially when the world sometimes seems to be changing so rapidly that any such plans will be obsolete long before they’re implemented. We can just come in to work everyday, sort through what’s piled up in our email inbox, and respond to the crisis de jour, adrenaline coursing through our veins the whole time. Wahoo!

Corporate Culture Trumps All, and Yet is Neglected
Peter Drucker is credited with saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”, meaning that if you can’t get the company culture right it won’t much matter what kind of bug-tracking software you implement, or whether you have a wiki or a place to share files. In spite of a wide array of research, books, and articles on exactly what works with millions of people worldwide, I still find that most work environments fail to implement even the most basic elements required of healthy, vibrant, work environments: corporate cultures capable of fostering and enhancing business results. (See my previous article on this topic if you want more on this rant.) The project leader is the source of culture in the immediate project environment, so we’re responsible for what Mr. Druker claims is even more high leverage than business strategy. What an awesome opportunity and responsibility! Most of the changes required to create a best-in-class culture cost absolutely nothing, except the time to plan and implement practices such as:

· Making sure that everyone who’s working together gets to know each other face-to-face
· Making sure each individual knows what’s expected of them, and has the tools and skills to do it.
· Providing a clear line-of-sight from individual goals to organizational goals, mission, and purpose.

But we’re all still burdened with the fact that we’re human beings, and our nature is to succumb to the overwhelm of extremely demanding work environments. Even I need a reminder now and then that I’m venturing far outside the zone of common sense. Let’s help each other stay out of that well-traveled area, shall we? Make a pact with your teammates early in the project that you’ll raise a red flag when reason recedes.

A Beacon of Light in the Darkness

My friend and former colleague Jateen Parekh is the founder and CTO of Jelli, a company that’s re-inventing radio. I heard him give a talk recently where he shared what he’d learned on the journey from being an engineer to a company founder, people leader, and business manager. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool technologist by background, passion, and profession, and yet in his role as the leader of a very techno-centric company he’s embraced pretty much every one of the business management, process excellence, and people-focused practices referred to above.

Listening to Jateen reminded me that working ON the business – on the WAY we conduct ourselves while doing business - is just as important as working IN the business, especially when it is OUR business. Ignoring best practices proven to work better than chaos, lacking discipline to follow processes that we know make sense, pretending common sense doesn’t apply to our work environment because “our business is different” … these choices are inexcusable for today’s project managers. Surely this is one of the most important roles of a project leader. We have a responsibility to step back and question the processes and practices in use, and ask if there is a better way to achieve our business results, find answers to this question, and thoughtfully implement solutions that enjoy the buy-in, commitment, and support of all key stakeholders.

If you haven’t got time for that, then at least pause and reflect on this bit of advice from Dr. Eli Goldratt, author of—among many books—the bestseller The Goal:. “Just stop doing the stupid stuff! The rest is genius!”

Kimberly Wiefling is the author of Scrappy Project Management, currently ranked #1 on Amazon Kindle US in Total Quality Management. She splits her work time between the US and Japan.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Announcing the Next EL SIG Meeting, May 19 [Robert Lasater]

The next meeting of the Engineering Leadership SIG will be held on May 19 in SAP Building 2 (3412 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA), starting at 7:00 PM. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Topic of the main presentation, Energetic Communication for Engineering Leaders, by Tia Turnbull.

Energetic Communication for Engineering Leaders

The energy of a leader is critical to generating results. How do you impact the energy of your team and other colleagues? Explore the four ways we drain energy and the four ways we lift people’s energy in communication. Become someone who lifts the energy of any environment in the first five minutes of showing up.

Whether at home or at work communication difficulties can interfere with ones ability to concentrate at the task at hand. You will have an opportunity for question and answers.

Attending this talk will help you to:

· Create more uplifting communication that builds rapport, trust, a safer environment and more effective results.

· Stay present and think clearly in the moment.

· Not have your energy drained while you are working in a draining situation with people who need your help.

· Be aware of subtle choices in communication that could be causing conflict.

· Improve listening skills.

· Stay focused, decide and take new and effective actions.

· Question assumptions and make more empowering choices.

· Confidently enter into communication to resolve any issues.

What you will learn:

· The four simple ways to drain energy that encompasses all communication problems.

· The four ways to lift energy in communication.

· The six mental entities that show up in every conversation between two people.

· The most powerful and rewarding way to really listen to what someone else is saying.

· A quick script using non-violent communication that can help you to take responsibility and resolve communication issues quickly.

Learning these skills will help you to:

· Create more uplifting communication that builds rapport, trust, a safer environment and more effective results.

· Stay present and think clearly in the moment.

· Not have your energy drained while you are working in a draining situation with people who need your help.

· Be aware of subtle choices in communication that could be causing conflict.

· Improve listening skills.

· Stay focused, decide and take new and effective actions.

· Question assumptions and make more empowering choices.

Learn a quick process to help people to question assumptions and make more empowering choices.

Tia Turnbull is a professional life coach who has worked with thousands of people to help them get where they want to be in their lives. Today she will be presenting Energetic Environments. Communication tools and skills for empowering yourself while lifting others. How particular communication choices can lead you away from your goals with your clients, and in any relationship, and how to make choices that have you get what you want more often.

Cost: $20 at the door for non-SDForum members, No charge for SDForum members

BOOK SWAP - Every month! Bring books to share.

JOB SWAP - Check out our Yahoo! Group here: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SDForum_EL_SIG_JobSwap/

PEER-to-PEER Roundtable - Every month! Join us to share insights and advice with peers each month prior to the 7 PM event.

BLOG Write or read EL SIG blog posts here: http://sdforumelsig.blogspot.com/

For more information, go here.

SNACK & BEVERAGE SPONSOR: LongView International is a innovative Silicon Valley consulting company specializing in semantic technology and software architecture. Together with our clients we achieve success through understanding business goals, formulating the strategy to execution, and building the right solution.

PROJECT CONNECTIONS ONGOING MANAGEMENT SPONSOR: Project Connections is our EL SIG Management Sponsor. ProjectConnections.com is dedicated to practically and affordably supporting individuals as they do their jobs day-to-day and helping them grow their management abilities and careers. We also provide management development and support resources to organizations, through group subscriptions, methodology content licenses, on-demand virtual training programs, virtual coaching, and more - all to help managers improve how critical project work gets done, and to help grow the capabilities of everyone on their staffs and teams.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

April 21 Meeting Notes - Product Management [Robert Lasater]

The April 21 meeting of the Engineering Leadership SIG of the SD Forum featured a talk on Product Management by Rich Mironov. His presentation was outstanding, one of the best I have seen at an Engineering Leadership SIG event. Here is a summary of Mironov’s talk.

Overview of Product Managment

Mironov began by stating Product Management engages in four areas:
· Product
· People and Organization
· Process
· Technical Knowledge

and an effective Product Manager must have some knowledge and background in all four areas.

Before proceeding further with his actual talk, Mironov asked the audience to take a few minutes and list some good and some bad experiences with Product Management.

Examples from the audience of good experiences with Product Management:
· Focus
· Good technical knowledge
· Made decisive product decisions
· Infectious enthusiasm
· Good financial analysis
· Voice of the customer

Examples of bad experiences:
· No business plan
· Senior management undercut product management
· Undefined product management role
· Threw specification over the fence
· Feature du jour
· Old product preconception
· Product management thinks they have good technical knowledge
· “I know what the customer wants.”
· No view of competitive product

Not all bad experiences were the result of product management.

What Does a Product Manger Do?
· Drives delivery and market acceptance
· Targets market segments, not individual customers
· Resolves competing priorities
· Drives acceptance and adaptation
· Makes money
· Even internal projects need to have willing customers

How Does Product Management Interact with the Rest of the Organization?

Product Management works with:
· Developers
· Executives
· Marketing and Sales – more broadly, markets and customers.

Product Management provides some specific inputs to developers:
· Market information
· Priorities
· Requirements
· User stories
· Roadmaps

And the developers provide Product Management a working product.

Product Management provides a different set of inputs to marketing and sales:
· Segments
· Benefits and features
· Prices
· Qualification
· Demonstrations

And Marketing and Sales provides Product Management with field input and market feedback.

It is essential for product managers to talk with actual customers. Ideally, one-third of their time they should be engaged with customers. A more realistic goal is one-fifth of their time with customers.

Product Management provides a third set of inputs to executives:
· Strategy
· Forecasts
· Competitive intelligence

And the executive team provides Product Management a Yes/No decision on a particular product or project, along with budgets, staffing and funding.

Mironov noted engineers become product managers as a path to becoming part of the senior executive team.

Planning Horizons and the Agile SW Process

From the Agile framework comes the hierarchy Daily – Sprint – Release – Product portfolio – Strategy. Product managers start in the center of this hierarchy – Release and Product Portfolio – but will find themselves from time to time engaged at all levels of the hierarchy.

The Nature of Product Management’s Role

There is no rational sequence for Product Management.
· All aspects must be worked in parallel.
· It is interrupt driven.
· Bottom-up shapes top-down and top-down shapes bottoms-up.
· Product Management must provide strategy, judgment and integration as well as execution.
· Every Product Manager should spend a significant amount of time with customers.

Good Product Managers drive decisions despite uncertainties and contradictory goals.

Since Product Management is a collection of people-related skills, it requires mentoring; difficult to get it on your own without strong role models. And one the most valuable aspects of Mironov’s presentation was his emphasis on how Product Management can fail. Knowing what can go wrong can be much more helpful than merely learning about successes.

Example Product Management Failure Modes

The first set of examples show how a Product Manager can fail when working with an Agile team:
· Product Manager only works part-time on Product Management.
· Lack of detail on stories (e.g. why the product is superior, or what are customers looking for in the product line)
· Hand waving and bluster.
· Best of intentions but pulled in too many directions
· “Build what I meant”
The second set of examples show how a Product Manager can fail in the market:
· Weak on the real world – pricing, discounts, upgrades and packaging
· Disconnected from other teams.
· Belief in rational users
· Trade off company-wide product strategy for product level features.
· Assume a few customers represent the market.

Mironov closed on a very positive theme, how you can help Product Management.

Seven Ways to Help Product Management
· Ask about Use Cases and customer problems
· Do not demand that Product Managers be as technical as engineers.
· Not every user story becomes a feature
· Expect Product Managers to translate features into customer-relevant benefits
· Ask about forecasts, shipments and revenue
· Quietly sit in on some customer meetings
· Channel your Inner Product Manager


Monday, May 2, 2011

Project Leadership Lessons from a Heart-wrenching Tragedy [Kimberly Wiefling]

As you may know, Kimberly Wiefling has extensive business and personal contacts in Japan. Here she discusses her reaction to the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster, and finds some lessons for product management and engineering leadership.

Pardon me if I’m not my normally humorous self. I’m obsessing on disaster these days after the recent quake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant tragedies in Japan. While there have been plenty of tragedies in the past that could have consumed my emotional bandwidth (see the complete list on Wikipedia if you don’t already feel like self-medicating with tequila), this is much more personal. Just about every month for the last five years I’ve flown to Japan to work for a couple of weeks. From my home in the Silicon Valley, Japan seemed a long way off. Until now, that is.

On March 11 at 4:00 AM the iPhone on my bed table rang. It was my dad calling from my parents' home in Florida. “Get up! Your friends are in trouble.” he said. I don’t know what he thought I could do about a natural disaster occurring over 5,000 miles away, but that’s my dad -- no matter how dire the circumstances, he always thinks there’s something a person can do to make a positive difference.

Through my work with global Japanese companies I’ve met thousands of people who live in Japan. Many I consider friends, and some are as precious to me as my dear ol’ dad. I had just returned from Asia two days ago, and I was in Tokyo only five days before the quake struck. So up I got, and immediately scoured the internet for news from Nippon. Needless to say, what I saw was tragic beyond comprehension.

As the disaster unfolded before my eyes, I watched a tsunami wash away an entire village. At that moment, any illusion of separateness I may have felt was washed away with that village and those lives. This was not an event that I perceived as happening to “strangers,” people distant from me. No, at that moment, with so many ties to people living in Japan, I strongly felt that this was happening to “us.”

Shared Pain Focuses the Mind

Immediately I felt an overwhelming urge to help. Figuring out how to help took a while, but there was no question that I needed to be a part of the solution. I could fill this article with the personal stories of people I know, and how they are carrying on in the face of a continuing series of threats and disasters, but there are plenty of places you can read about that. Instead, let’s honor the memory of those who have suffered and died by exploring what this experience can teach us about being better project leaders. I’ve boiled it down to the following three insights for starters, though there are surely more lessons to be learned:

· “We-centric thinking” clarifies the goal and focuses people on finding solutions.
· The human mind has a limited ability to imagine risks. There is no bottom to “worse.”
· “Possibility thinking” is effective even in tragic and seemingly impossible situations.

Crisis Creates Clarity

The moment I grasped the situation in Japan (thanks to horrifyingly vivid videos on the web and graphic descriptions of events from my friends living there), I was immediately willing to do whatever necessary. The overarching goal was so clear, and the need so immediate and compelling, that I was willing to do whatever I could to help. I started contacting people on both sides of the Pacific to see what could be done, and so did many others. Perhaps most inspiringly, the people of Japan reached out to help each other with a depth of compassion and selflessness that left the world in awe. One American woman living near the affected region wrote us that, in this time of food shortages, she returns home each night to find that someone has left food on her doorstep. Heck, after forgetting to pack my lunch for a recent university alumni picnic, I sat, foodless, with a couple who never even offered me so much as an olive.

Imagine if everyone involved in a challenging project first and foremost had an attitude of “What can I do to help?” What if each of the people involved on your project – teammates, sponsors, executives, suppliers, and customers – brought that attitude to every meeting and discussion? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that most people intend to help, even if that intention is buried deep within their psyche. But it gets obscured by time pressures, differing perceptions of the goals, and competition for resources, not to mention pride, turf wars, and ego.

Over the years I’ve noticed a sort of fragmentation that occurs in some project ecosystems that can be summed up as “us vs. them.” In stressful project environments (which is basically all of them, but who's counting?) I’ve noticed a variety of different schisms:

· Our company vs. the customer
· Our project team vs. the execs
· Me vs. “the others”

When I facilitate team effectiveness workshops, I sometimes divide the participants into two groups and locate them in opposite corners of the room, giving both groups the same instructions: get the other group to come to their corner of the room. Then I sit back and watch. Even when the entire group is comprised of people from the same company, even the same division – people who know each other, for crying out loud – successfully completing the task by simply having the groups switch positions is a solution that eludes them for as long as 23 minutes. (Yes, that’s the world record, but I’m sworn to secrecy which company it was.) Separating people by as little as 4 meters is enough to cause the “us vs. them” syndrome.

On projects, as long as the illusion of separateness persists we can find ourselves working at cross-purposes with the very people needed to achieve the project goals. When instead we view ourselves as “we,” we’re unencumbered by the obstacles of ego, hierarchy and competition. Adrift on the same iceberg, we’re instantly united in helping each other find solutions that enable us to step safely onto the shore of success. When we create this sense of unity among the various stakeholders in our projects (ideally without the presence of an external hazard, natural or man-made) we get everyone involved and focused on making a positive difference.

There Is No Bottom to Worse

In view of the fact that multiple layers of backup systems failed in the Fukushima nuclear power plants, I’m of the opinion that human beings have no imagination for disaster.

In “Scrappy Business Contingency Planning” the author (and my friend), Michael Seese, admonishes those doing disaster planning not to focus on what kind of disaster might interrupt power – only on what to do when that power is interrupted, as it will surely be. Michael has a talent for gloom and doom thinking, but I doubt that even he could have imagined all of the ways things could go badly wrong at the power plants. When I asked him to comment on the unfolding nuclear nightmare he said “In some sense, I see the Japanese response to the events at Fukushima as being like our Y2K preparation efforts. I worked on several Y2K remediation projects. I couldn't help but smile when – after the clock struck midnight and our world didn't grind to a halt – people said, "Nothing happened! Look at all that money that was wasted." Of course, nothing happened – because we spent that time, effort, and money. It's the same thing in Japan. Who could say what would have happened had they not pumped in sea water, and dumped more water in by helicopter?

One takeaway from this disaster is that business contingency plans need to tested, and re-tested. Of course, it's not practical to test a nuclear meltdown. But hopefully the lessons learned at Fukushima Daiichi will enable Japan – and other countries – to make their nuclear power plants safer.”

Yes, let’s all hope so. I know some people think “dilution is the solution to pollution”; our vast oceans can only absorb so much radioactivity.
The human mind has a limited ability to imagine risk. Even in Japan, where risk aversion, attention detail, and avoidance of failure are legendary (almost a national pastime), engineers failed to imagine the recent catastrophic string of events and design around them. In my experience, no amount of risk assessment and planning captures all possibilities. Things can always be worse than we imagined.

The Best Is Always Yet to Come

“We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” John W. Gardner, US administrator (1912 - 2002)

Faced with the choice to either give up hope or trudge on in a hopeless cause, I'm prone to choose trudging. Why? Because if I’ve learned anything in 20 years of leading, and working on, all kinds of projects with varying degrees of impossibility, it’s that human beings – myself included – are notoriously poor judges of when something is hopeless.

Even in the most dire circumstances, asking “What does this make possible that wasn’t possible before?” helps open the mind to creative ideas and breakthrough thinking. I’ve been pondering this in relationship to the quake/tsunami/nuclear triple tragedy, and so far I’ve come up with a few possibilities:

This will bring the world closer to Japan. People all over the world have voiced their admiration of the dignity, compassion and selflessness of the people of Japan. My friends in Japan are a bit amused by how much attention the press is giving to the headline “There’s no looting!” To them, they can’t imagine why anyone would loot. While some cynics say it’s just that negative events aren’t being reported, I disagree. I can personally testify to getting my wallet back with over 30,000 yen in it after leaving it in a Tokyo taxi. The driver delivered it to my hotel for free, left it at the front desk, and it was returned to me the next morning.

This will bring Japan closer to their neighbors. After years of icy relationships, Korea and China sent help to Japan . . . and Japan accepted.

This will bring the people of Japan closer to each other. Disasters have a way of recalibrating us about what’s important. In a country where avoiding risk is almost a national pastime, living with the daily threat of aftershocks and longer-term consequences of nuclear contamination are likely to shift thinking about risk. Now that daily life is risky, perhaps other kinds of risk-taking, like innovation and breakthrough thinking, won’t seem quite as dangerous by comparison. As Helen Keller said, “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”

I think it’s pretty safe to say that any project you or I may be working on can’t be nearly as dreadful as the situation unfolding in Japan. Consequently, I’m quite certain that we can find some “great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems” in whatever project currently stymies us. Even if it’s true that the situation is hopeless, the illusion that we can make a difference can inspire us to build capabilities that make the next situation less so. There are advantages to leading your team as if the best is yet to come while dealing with the current reality. Jim Collins labeled this “The Stockdale Paradox”:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” - Rear Admiral James B. Stockdale

The New Normal

Some of my colleagues at ALC Education in Tokyo slept on the 19th floor of their office building the night of the quake as they waited for trains to resume operation. Others – parents with stranded children – walked for six hours or more to get home to them. In the weeks that followed they weathered power shortages, devastating news of the missing and the dead, and ongoing scares from aftershocks and radiation. Through it all the people of Japan are inspiring the entire world through their stunning examples of selflessness and compassion—two ingredients that I feel quite sure I can use to improve my next project. I hope we’ll all emerge committed to applying these and the other lessons learned to our projects and our lives as life on Earth returns to the “new normal.”

If you’d like to donate to the Japan Relief Fund, one option is through the American Red Cross:

Kimberly Wiefling is the author of Scrappy Project Management, one of the top-ranked project management books on Amazon in the US, published in Japanese, and growing in popularity around the world. She splits her work time between the US and Japan.