Today’s Wednesdays for Women is another in our occasional series titled “Lessons from Leaders” featuring learnings of interest to anyone seeking insights and experiences to grow their leadership skills.  In today’s blog, Judy Fearn, product director and member of the JDA Winning Leadership program, shares what she learned from Jean Yatska, RVP, Product Management. Jean most recently led the Integration Management Office (IMO) the Blue Yonder integration at JDA. She offers insights about collaboration and how it shaped her leadership style.

“I know I work best when I work with others.” This comment clearly reveals who Jean Yatska is. From her first role as a systems analyst, talking to users, understanding their requirements and customizing software to meet their needs, Jean realized that collaborating is essential. Today collaboration underpins her role at JDA, interacting closely and daily with customers and many internal teams.

Blue Yonder and JDA Integration

As the IMO lead for the Blue Yonder integration, Jean uses a “team of teams” approach: 14 teams covering all aspects of the business. She finds that the best cross-team collaboration is achieved when each seeks input from the others’ subject matter experts, increasing the level of cooperation. From the outset she established an engagement tone of “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” one of Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “We came together by putting the right people in place to learn from each other and we never just made assumptions,” observes Jean.  Her method is extremely successful as the teams worked closely together for the last nine months. US-based Jean spent time in Germany every month, facilitating integration as the one consistent leader who was always accessible, listening, approachable and on hand.

Customer Collaboration

As one of the founders of JDA’s User Group and Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Jean built on her core value of collaboration when she formulated the groups’ operating structure. From the outset, her desire has been to offer something different and much more interconnected to facilitate communication and partnership. The SIG structure, unique in the industry by being led jointly by customers and JDA, permits all parties to network with increased collaboration, generating better customer value. Today, JDA’s SIG community consists of over 4,800 members representing more than 1,400 companies which speaks to the value of this approach.

What Can We Learn?

“Collaboration doesn’t work if you come to the table with a closed mind. Just getting people together isn’t collaboration,” maintains Jean. Instead she promotes a spirit of listening and gathering feedback. “It’s fine to go into a meeting with your point of view, but always expect to reach the final solution based on input from others.” Her guidance is to listen, encourage others to have their say, and be open to having your point of view critiqued. It’s all about bringing mindsets together which is compelling advice for us so that we can truthfully say “I know I work best when I work with others.”