Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Popular Quotes Collection VIII of “Digital Master” Book Series

“Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (12+ books) with five pillars to perceive the multifaceted impact digital is making to the business and our society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the digital journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” Here is the set of popular quotes for conveying the digital vision and sharing the unique insight about the digital transformation.

“Running IT with boldness doesn’t mean IT goes rogue, it means IT becomes more intelligent.”

“The digital philosophy is to live as “customers,” when practicing IT management.”

“In essence, innovation is the use of something that is new and unique, and you are able to create its business value.”

“Silos build the wall in people’s minds and tie the knots in their hearts.”

“For IT, information management is fundamental, and innovation management is value-added.”

“A child-like mind is full of imagination.”

“Insight is vision through the ‘mind’s eyes.”  

“Self-awareness mind helps you build on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.”

“Judgment and decision making are often considered together.”

“The ultimate aim of learning knowledge is to gain wisdom.”

“Innovation comes from the Latin, “Innovare” - It means to change or alter things that already exist.”

“The solution to encourage creativity is to maximize use of employees’ brainpower.”

“Innovative leaders today are digital conductors, problem-solvers, and culture influencers.”

“Innovative thinkers are explorers and synthesizers of new world views or future views of the world.”

“Innovation journey is like taking a hiking trip at the trail very few or even no people ever went before, it takes courage and emotional maturity.”

“To clear the path, whether that be the elimination of obstacles, closing the blind spots, or to provide guidance, so that the business as a whole can take a digital leap and unleash its full potential.”
“Perhaps the difficulty in measuring Change Management is that the very thing we are measuring is changing.”
“It’s probably better and more accessible to measure change readiness rather than change progress.”
“Whatever the measurement system is, it needs to be consistent, repeatable and as unbiased as possible.”
“Change shouldn’t be treated as a singular occurrence when it is an ongoing, continued process and dynamic capability within the organization.”
“You don’t need to be a psychologist to manage change, but you need to understand psychological emotions behind changes.”
Pearl Zhu, Change Insight: Change as an Ongoing Capability to Fuel Digital Transformation

The Monthly Innovation Brief: The Barriers and Pitfalls in Innovation Management Jan. 2017

Innovation takes a cycle of observing-questioning-connecting-networking-experimenting. From a management perspective, innovation is how to transform novel ideas to achieve its business value, due to the hyper-complexity of modern business, innovation is essentially about reducing the unnecessary business complexity to tackle the complexities of business dynamic. Here is a series of blogs to brainstorm the potential barriers and pitfalls in innovation management.

The Barriers and Pitfalls in Innovation Management

 The Achilles Heel of Innovation Management: Businesses today face fiery competition and rapid digital shift either technologically or economically. Most of the organizations are focusing on improving margins by reducing the bottom-line cost rather than top-line growth; because innovation and risk are proportional, also because very few organizations can master innovation and generally it has a very low success rate. So what is the Achilles Heel of innovation management? And how can organizations improve their innovation capability and reap more business benefit from it?

Three Silo Effects to Stifle IT Innovation Forward-looking organizations are reimagining the digital potential of IT and reinventing IT reputation from a cost center to an innovation engine. However, the majority of IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity, running as a siloed function. Despite the mountain of evidence pointing the detrimental effects of these silos, they still seem to be quite common in the organization. What are the root causes to silos? Are silos a mere product of organizational design? Or is their nature tied to human nature? What are silo effects which stifle innovation, and downgrade IT effectiveness and performance? What would be some ideas to assist in breaking down silos in an organization where they are present?

Innovation Gaps and Pitfalls: Innovation is the light every forward-looking organization is pursuing. However, for most businesses, innovation is still serendipitous, not so many people like innovation, because innovation stands for risk, and that associated with trouble, and innovation management has overall very low success rate. It is crucial to examine the causes of failure in innovation, the gaps and pitfalls on the way. The objective is to raise awareness of what’s needed to improve the probability of success and make the innovation journey more delightful.

The Root Causes to Innovation Failures Innovation is the light every forward-looking organization is pursuing. However, for most businesses, innovation is still a serendipity, and innovation management has overall very low success rate. The reasons why innovation failure occurs vary widely, but dig further, here are some root causes to fail innovation.

How to Overcome Innovation Challenges?Innovation is to manage novel ideas and generating business value from them. Even innovation is the light every organization is pursuing, but often the term "innovation" has become so diluted or meaning it is hard to have even a basic conversation about it without problems of definition or interpretation arising - and perhaps in part why all sort of things can feel like innovation - even if they are faking it. So which factors are causes of innovation failure, and how to survive from innovation fatigue and pitfalls?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.7 million page views with about 3300+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

The Gaps between Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge pertains to knowing and to intelligence while wisdom has to do with the soundness of judgment.

Intellectual transformation is the 'realization of 'knowledge to wisdom. Wisdom is not knowledge; one cannot have wisdom without knowledge, but one cannot substitute wisdom for knowledge as well. Knowing what you do not know is at the very least a large part of wisdom, and far too often sorely lacking in people. Wisdom is knowing the truth of it well enough as to be able to discern that from the choices, as to make the one choice that is seen as a wise choice. Then knowledge is the result of lessons we learned by exploitation of our wisdom! As wisdom encourages to keep on gathering facts and learning knowledge. Wisdom + Knowledge = life, a never ending fact-discovery mission.

Knowledge ls learned, and wisdom is earned: Wisdom is a willingness to accept that, there is unknown in life journey: Putting aside all the trained thoughts, systems and boxes, let the open possibility come connect naturally. The way to attain wisdom is to have an open mind, be aware you could be wrong, learn from your experiences and those of others, be aware yours is not the only valid worldview, learn to see the world from different angles. Wisdom is learning what you don't know and then sharing what you have learned. This is acquired over a period of time as you gain experience. Because more often, our own knowledge or knowing is a barrier to knowing more.Wise are those who accept their lack of knowledge and are ready to drop their self-created beliefs systems, preconceived notions.

Knowledge pertains to knowing and to intelligence while wisdom has to do with the soundness of judgment: Many people do wrong things, not because of ignorance, but because of the poor judgment, due to the lack of comprehensive knowledge, bias, or preconceived notions. It is imperative to identify what causes manifestly intelligent people so frequently make such poor decisions. Do they lack independent thinking, critical reasoning or interdisciplinary knowledge? Do they thinking "too fast" without necessary "thinking slowly"? Do they focus too many trivial details, with ignorance of the big picture? Wisdom is to be understood within this context. Wisdom= f(Applying what we think we know, Experience, Learning, Unlearning and relearning, Sharing Knowledge and Experience).

Knowledge is about gaining some useful information via learning; wisdom is about harmonizing thinking, saying and doing: Mastering what instincts are, how they function and how they interact with human intellect and jointly command everything we do would enable one to consciously manage this subconscious mental trend. Wisdom would necessarily be concerned with communication effectiveness and decision maturity, any lapse in any of these would show a lack of wisdom because their instincts erode a huge portion of their intelligence.The ultimate aim of knowledge is wisdom. Every bit of knowledge we acquire either increases our confidence, or betters our judgment, or then does both.

Filling the gap between knowledge and wisdom is taking the path to growing into high-mature human beings. We have a limited bandwidth and hence choose to pursue knowledge that will benefit us in some way - an eminently logical choice. We become wise when we are humble enough to be aware of and admit what we don't know and share what we know. Wisdom and humility go hand in hand. So we can not only get older but also grow wiser.

Digital IT Improves Business Visibility and Maturity

Traditional IT organizations act as an invisible back office and the support function of the business, to keep the lights on, thus, often IT has been perceived as the cost center. Nowadays, information is one of the most valuable business assets, and technology is often the disruptive force of digital innovation. Perhaps the biggest value adds from IT is VISIBILITY for itself and for the business as a whole.

IT provides hindsight, insight, and foresight of the business and overall business visibility: IT allows business departments, stakeholders, and executive clearly see what is happening in the business. From producing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to generating reports, to publishing information on a centralized portal. Too many organizations focus on the “T” in IT which is Technology in the past, high performance IT should focus on the ‘I’ for Information, because IT provides hindsight of business operation, customer insight for understanding what the customer really needs or will want, technological vision, and the foresight of the business and overall business visibility. CIO needs to be an enabler of the business strategic objectives. The general expectation from IT has changed. Not only are they being seen as an enabler, they are now mandatory required to give ROI for the investments.

IT needs to increase its own visibility via guiding the company level business conversation, not just being an order taker: There are two categories at the very top of the CIO’s responsibility: Listen to the needs of the company and perform to the ultimate level to meet those needs. Those two have many subcategories. CIOs need to guide the company's conversation to define a clear vision for the IT department. More often this is easier said than done. But once roadmap is defined, keep the executive staff engaged and do so often. Make it clear that the direction and accomplishments of IT are directly affected by the entire company's involvement.  Make IT integrated into the company while avoiding making it a separate "stand alone" department. Digital IT should put emphasis on three “I”s: Interaction, Incrementalism, and Improvement. Communication Enforcement in developing a trusted, working relationship with correct stakeholders: The connection between IT and business lies in using the common language to help businesses cross that bridge to IT.  They should promote training and robust communication policies that keep enterprise-wide goals in sight, yet do not stifle collaboration and creativity.

CIOs can provide the visible innovative leadership and support that is required as traditional hierarchies are challenged and dismantled: Digital IT needs to think and act as the effective change agents because IT is overseeing the underlying business functions and processes for driving changes and digital transformation. Success is far more likely if CIOs and IT professionals are seen as integral team players whose efforts add real value to the deployment of collaborative team structures within the organization. CIOs need to rise above the status quo, gain the leadership visibility and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go and manage innovation systematically. Innovation is about thinking differently, acting differently, delivering differently, adding value differently, from the status quo. The top leadership team needs to understand that IT as a function is also business related and revenue generating in that the information systems used for business decisions are always being applied to make important decisions for the overall company, and reap the benefit from innovation.

The faster both understand that IT is not just technical, but rather business-driven, the high visible IT can elevate its maturity from “reactive to change” to proactively driving business transformations. IT also helps varying business functions improving visibility and hence enforcing cross-functional communication and collaboration, and ultimately make the entire organization more visible via building a strong business reputation and strengthen the organizational band.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As (VIII) for IT Reinventing and Branding

The digital CIOs need to reimagine IT as the business growth engine and lead changes via inquiries.

Modern CIOs face many challenges, it is not sufficient to only keep the lights on. Regardless of which industry or the nature of organization you are in, being a digital leader will need to master the art of creating unique, differentiating value from piles of commoditized technologies and take advantage of the emergent digital trend as well; digital CIOs also have multiple personas, “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Insight Officer,” “Chief Improvement Officer,” “Chief Information Officer,” and here, we discuss CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer,” with a set of Q&As to reinvent IT and lead digital transformation.

Tough Choice for IT: Change the Name, or Reboot Mindset: IT is being treated as a cost-to-be-controlled for years -It may be reasonable because many IT organizations are seen as IT help desk to keep the lights on, or simply cannot give a fair accounting of where the money is going in terms of business capability or, more importantly, directly identifying the business value -- which leads to an inability for IT to its value to the lines-of-business. However, with business across sectors moving from industry speed to digital speed, IT becomes so pervasive and critical, information is the lifeblood of the organization, and IT is the business’s “digital brain”; many companies started with marketing driven, then finance driven, consumer driven, lately become IT driven...Can IT really be a game changer to drive business growth? Should the name then reflect the IT contributions and have people aware of the criticality of its value?

Where are the Focal Point to Brand IT Effectively Most of IT organizations today are still being portrayed as the back-office cost center, to re-in-imagine IT, IT branding needs to be part of IT transformation effort, and IT branding strategy should be an integral part of IT strategy. Your brand identity will be the face you put on your IT organization and it flows from your brand strategy. IT brand identity should be supported by the message you create and distribute to your customers. After you have your IT brand strategy and your IT brand identity in place, your can actually market the IT brand inside the enterprise.

How IT Perceived by Business? There’re discrepancies between how IT evaluate its own performance and how IT perceived by business. Here is a brief summary. Statistically, less than half of non-IT people consider their IT teams integral to the business, the survey finds, and about half consider IT a support or maintenance organization, and not an innovator. But the other half of them say technology’s becoming more critical to the business.

How to rebrand IT? IT is being treated as a cost center and technology controller for years, because many IT organizations are seen as a help desk and a maintenance center to keep the lights on, or simply cannot give a fair accounting of where the money is going in terms of business capability or, more importantly, directly identifying the business value. Now with the accelerating digital speed, IT organizations are at the crossroad, either to reinvent its tarnished image or become irrelevant in the digital age. So the challenge facing IT leaders would how to re-imagining IT and unleash its potential.

How to Promote IT Effectively? It is no secret that IT can often only be noticed when things are broken, the CIO and his/her team should be the leading persons driving that message of IT value throughout the enterprise. They are, after all, the face of the IT organization. The key challenge is to demonstrate what you provide can help the client achieve some critical purpose of theirs.

The digital CIOs need to reimagine IT as the business growth engine and lead changes via inquiries. They need to keep asking open-ended questions such as, "Why? Why not? What If?" They have to focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation, and create unique business value because IT is the significant element of any differentiated business capability and the defining factor for competitive advantage.

Likability vs. Respect vs. Trust

From a leadership perspective, the liking has to be qualified and be able to garner respect.

Respect is based on being trustworthy and authentic. Likeability is subjective, people often like people who are similar to themselves, or have a certain charisma. Being likable or popular does not always earn you the respect. Trust starts with respecting. There are differences between likeability vs. Respect. Vs. Trust.

From a leadership perspective, the liking has to be qualified and be able to garner respect: Otherwise, a leader who just likes to be liked can be detrimental and indicative of someone trying to compensate for leadership and technical deficiencies. Therefore, for the leaders, you need to surround yourself with people who can complement your skills, with independent thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking capabilities, who may challenge your status quo at some point, it could mean the higher level of respect since the homogeneous setting and like-minded leadership team will execute with blind spots. Same as likability, the people's communication or interaction need to enhance the value such as time/energy management or mutual trust, no need to give up the principle for likability.

Doing the right thing at the given circumstances will earn a leader respect: When a leader or a professional consistently makes sound judgments and takes the right decisions and is perceived to be fair over the longer term, she or he earn the respect and is also liked by the majority. Earning respect comes first, liking eventually follows. People may have different value systems for trust, leading in such an environment requires acting in ways that follow the golden rule to treat others as you want to be treated, provide clear reasons to respect different POVs and decide to trust.

Trust starts with respecting: Mutual trust is that linchpin without which leadership is hollow and ineffective. The more we understand its vitality and the anatomy, the better will be our ability to lead in different situations. From talent management perspective, there are so many things employees will not tell their managers what's in their mind, and unfortunately, there are not so many things that are positives. It is an indication of a lack of trust. Communication is the very way to build trust, and lack of trust is an often overlooked barrier to communication as well.

Trust is based on credibility: Credibility is not the same thing as being likable. Credibility requires competence as one of the factors that encourage where credibility emerges. It is a perceived quality that others assign to you based on the interplay of a number of elements, such as integrity, competence (expertise), sound judgment, relational sensitivity, and likeability. Likeability and Credibility are two complex qualities that emerge from a handful of factors.

Mutual trust, mutual respect: No blind trust or trust too little. Leaders need show staff that you respect them, first, understand what they care, trust them in a safe environment. Help them not to fail, and if they do, show yourself to be trustworthy by supporting them. That will motivate them more than just throwing out some platitudes about trust as the opposite of micro-managing.

Overall, as a digital leader or professional being respected with fair value, it is important to make effective decisions for the organization and majority of people, also live fulfilled life with the energy and consistency, be athletic, learning agile, build professional capabilities, and keep the positive emotion flow.

Achieving IT Premium via Three Excellences

The ultimate goal is to push the IT organization to be clear about its position via the company's core business strategy and pull all the resources for achieving the multilevel of the business excellence.

Businesses large and small are on the journey of digital transformation, nowadays IT becomes the change driver and the business differentiator. Companies that lacked the skills to manage information technology effectively suffered compared with competitors that had mastered those skills. Business needs IT to deliver services/ solutions that drive business productivity and effectiveness, and IT needs to achieve premium via the multitude of the management excellence.

Operational Excellence: IT plays a crucial role in optimizing business operation management capacity with a keen eye to grasp growth opportunities, manage risks, and improve operational efficiency via applying lightweight technologies seamlessly. IT helps to integrate/optimize/orchestrate business processes to facilitate the business outcomes and build an effective digital ecosystem. By nature, technology is complex, every intelligence has complexity behind it, though it doesn’t mean IT should make things more and more complicated. In fact, “Keep it Simple” should always be one of the guiding principles and management cultures for running IT to achieve operational excellence. IT is the lubricant to a well-designed business system, hence, IT management needs to be in the continuous tuning mode through consolidation, modernization, integration, and optimization, streamline IT processes, and tighten coordination and collaboration with the business partners. Many IT organizations suffer from overloaded tasks and overwhelming information, prioritization brings transparency and aligns IT portfolio management with the strategic business goals and objectives. When a CIO is able to position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," to achieve operational excellence, they have earned their stripes.

Innovation Excellence: It is not enough for IT to just “Keep the lights on,” CIOs need to reinvent IT via “Doing more with innovation.” Leadership towards true value creation for any organization will come from the willingness of its leaders to knock down the barriers separating insulated IT teams and the revenue generating business ownership teams. CIOs need to become business leaders within IT and seek ways to grow revenues, profitability and spur innovation. That's a completely different mindset than managing technology only. Running IT as an innovative outlier is truly about bringing the new perspective to grow businesses and delight customers; to both capture opportunities and manage risks timely, to become customer-centric and business focused. To run an innovative IT organization, the more difficult challenge is not just launching successful teams, but maintaining the motivation and focus of the people. The intersection of IT and people is where innovation happens; companies need to invest in IT necessary to advance businesses through either incremental or radical innovation. IT can achieve the innovation excellence if IT is regarded as a strategic business partner and given the role in catalyzing innovation and driving the business transformation.

Digital Workforce Excellence: As the digitized world becomes hyper-connected, over-complex and interdependent, the bar is actually raised higher either being a digital leader or being a digital professional. Because, nowadays, the line between our professional life and personal life is blurring, thanks for the technology to make everything so transparent. Being a digital professional means consistency to be who you are, thinking independently with the capability to make a good judgment, being clear about his/her responsibility and added value in the organization; and corporations also should inspire people to grow and become who they want to be. The advanced digital workforce continues to depoliticize working culture, dismantle bureaucracy, solve business problems via multi-dimensional thinking processes and multiple choice of solutions, think out of the box, pack it in a new box which then creates a new innovative idea. IT also plays a crucial role in empowering digital workforce with efficient tools to improving productivity, achieving workforce excellence, and integrating people, process, and technology into the differentiated business competency.   

The multidimensional digital effects provide impressive advantages in term of the speed of delivery, the quality of information for decision making, the responsiveness of the business, and the wisdom of digital workforces. The ultimate goal is to push the IT organization to be clear about its position via the company's core business strategy and pull all the resources for achieving the multilevel of the business excellence. Once that's clear, the CIO must re-enforce that position by demonstrating every day how IT contributes to it, to do more with less, but also do more with innovation.

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