Welcome to our website. Open forum to discuss global thought leadership, Tao of IT Leadership .

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 best practicing the Tao of IT leadership: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Net Promoter Score

The intent behind NPS is well conceived ... but it is not the magic silver bullet that is necessarily relevant everywhere.
“Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer. The provider can be a company, employer or any other entity. The provider is the entity that is asking the questions on the NPS survey. The consumer is the customer, employee, or respondent to an NPS survey.” (Wikipedia). On one side, it is a very popular and well-accepted term to  measure customer experience; on the other side, some worry there are declining relevance of NPS, so what are the pros and cons to measure NPS?


NPS only goes one inch deep, businesses shall dig three-feet in-depth to find the root cause of business problems. Organizations are hiding their inefficiencies behind a good NPS score instead of addressing the real issues that are plaguing their organization. Back office inefficiencies and lack of stakeholder buy in rank top on the list of issues why NPS score is losing its relevance. NPS is so well marketed and has become so widely known that is almost a fashion accessory that senior executives automatically assume it must be good without necessarily really knowing what they are signing up to; or in the other cases, for many companies and consumers, NPS is still a very new / emerging concept, and so many consumers don't yet suffer from NPS burn-out. Either way, many users of NPS do not understand how to extract real strategic value from the system but still go ahead with surveys and/or inappropriate applications at the wrong point in a customer relationship. The 'Recommend Question' is now so widespread that it has become meaningless to the average customer who is staggering under the survey fatigue. The market is moving on continuously.


Customer surveys to measure NPS are not one size fits all, they need to get tweaked or tuned. Customer Loyalty, which is at the heart of the NPS, will always remain key to all;  but sometimes it’s the most short term and exploitative business relationships. The "recommendation" question does not work in all circumstances and may require tweaking or changing with something more relevant. It does though often add significant value. Overall relationship and "touch-point" surveys may require the use of different questions! Gathering data and creating KPIs is the easy part! Once obvious quick-wins have been taken, driving systemic change in the Customer Experience is hard work and often is challenged by other business imperatives which may be shorter term and more easily understood.


The further analysis of interactions with customers is complementary to NPS: Companies want to use NPS to drive operational excellence - but don't get the insights they are looking for to help them decide what to focus on. Do analysis of actual interactions with customers (phone calls, letters, emails, Web chat etc.) - to identify how well and how consistently front line staff are building relationships with customers - and how proactively they are representing their organization. Focusing on helpful and unhelpful behaviours - tone of communication, relevance and clarity of information, acknowledging concerns and rapport building, for example - can be more productive than tracking an overall score only.


The true business optimization is Employee Engagement (EE) x Customer Experience (CX). One issue is that an excessive focus on statistics and an absence of validated evidence that prolonged use of NPS actually delivers continuous economic improvement and so supports sustainability! The other problem with NPS is that it fails to address the reality that customer loyalty is the child of high levels of employee engagement preferably compounded by meaningful community involvement. Human Sigma tells us that true business optimization is Employee Engagement (EE) x Customer Experience (CX) so companies that measure and manage only CX will never discover the full potential that a comprehensive engagement strategy can deliver! The consensus that careful selection of the measures that are meaningful to staff, are worth asking customers and which focus time, resources and attention to fix are what matters.


The intent behind NPS is well conceived ... but it is not the magic silver bullet that is necessarily relevant everywhere. That said, NPS is ultimately just a tool, and like any tool only works if used correctly. Implementing surveys is easy, the hard part is getting people to take meaningful actions based upon what is learned.

How to Grow a Wise Leader via Learning Life Cycle

A wide leader does not just follow, but discover the path; not just learn, but challenge the convention.

“Knowledge is power.” "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know." "The less men think, the more they talk."....There are many good saying about thinking or learning or talking. From leadership perspective, how shall one grow from “teachable” to “knowledgeable” to “insightful,” and ultimately become wise leaders?

A wise leader sometimes looks like a 'fool' with such "conscious ignorance": The ignorance has a great value only if it's a "conscious ignorance." Because the more you know and more experiences you have, it's amazing how much you already know about things you learn. Your mind simply recognizes a pattern, but do you really discover the truth? Sometime ignorance is a necessary pre-condition for searching and seeking the truth. It is clear that ignorance is not an ideological purpose to be achieved. But, Without having a conscious ignorance you'll not find any motivation for seeking the truth and you will take decisions based on a partly and selective point of view without the elementary liberal criticism. In other words, to ignore the fact that any human knowledge is always a partial and selective and to consider that knowledge as an absolute truth is a big mistake as Socrates mention and without any reason to have doubts, it is also a potential of great danger. In this sense, "conscious ignorance" deserves its glory.

A wide leader does not just follow, but discover the path: All of the different approaches are out there to suit different minds to learn. Some people need a more analytical approach, some prefer a more people-centered approach, etc. many like simplicity, and feed all that information into an intuitive approach. Of course, we all have weaknesses, blind spots, and areas of personal ignorance. Wisdom is the application of knowledge suitable to the time and situation, to be wise you need all the knowledge you can get if there is enough, and then capture insight and foresight from it. As far as learning experience, one gets more knowledge but this knowledge in principle can't be considered as absolute truth. Therefore, your learning brings you closer and closer to the truth in that sense you know much more than before what is wrong. Knowledge is the human's only tool for reaching the truth. It is a limited tool since it might just get you closer to the truth but it never be able to finalized the way.

The basic principles of leadership, are simple. Figuring out all the ways to apply them in a multitude of situations with a variety of people, it takes a lifetime to master. Blanchard has talked about learning less more, meaning to learn fewer theories and lessons but learn them more deeply by trying something learning from your mistakes then applying those lessons next time. Put emphasis on the importance of getting feedback (a very critical one that is very candid and that helps you improve) to make practice perfect and eventually become a wise leader.

Agile Paradox: Is “Prescriptive” Agile Practical?

Agile is a paradox because Agile is not lack of disciplines, but needs to be more disciplined.
As an emergent software management methodology, Agile advocates interactive communication, iterative collaboration and continuous improvement. Based on its 12 agile principles, there are all sorts of agile explorement and deployment -Agile as management philosophy and principle; Agile's best practice or next practice; when, where and why should you be prescriptive in Agile software development approach? In other words, when, where and why should you be disciplined?


Agile is a paradox because Agile is not lack of disciplines, but needs to be more disciplined than any other development method. There is no hiding in Agile. Everyone has to tow their weight or the failures in the team would be immediately exposed.

"Prescriptive" Agile includes incremental recommendations to the team as they build experience. In most cases, organizations are not in a good position to leap directly to a mature agile team structure and supporting policies and culture, and to deliver effectively using a lightweight method that depends on "people over process" to assure high quality results. So "good prescriptive" agile would be well grounded and ideally, with really best practices and principles.


It is more about agile guidelines: You can measure whether practices are being done and to what degree, but each team is different, hence it isn't really prescription but more guidelines and heuristics. When doing agile, some of the permutations need to be adapted to:
* Team gets the principles but are unsure how to get started.
* Team has been told they must go agile so just want to know what it involves!
* Team understands the principles, want to do it their own way, but there are constraints (stemming from scaling agility to a whole organization)
* Team recognizes the new way of working, but wants a solid foundation on which to inspect and adapt
* Team assumes that a guidebook will be given to them and that the agile practices completely replace everything else.
There will only be a few invariant across the whole agile spectrum. What you shall worry more about is when teams 'inspect and adapt' without understanding the consequences.


Get it working right as it was designed to be used and then start stretching the envelope as required. The challenge for Agile in general, is to identify a universal set of foundational ideas that are both more fundamental (described in Agile Manifesto) and more specific (Agile practices). The philosophical foundation will identify key aspects of human nature that must be served - things being talked around in the Agile community. More specific are disciplines including the best parts of Scrum and XP.

Regardless of which flavor of Agile practices you explore, you need to follow Agile principle, people over process, change over documents, make continuous adjustment for your “prescriptive” agile formula, being agile rather than just doing Agile.
                            

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Empathy as a Key Element of Digital Leadership

Empathy is about thinking as if you were in the other party's position.

Business today is overcomplex and the world becomes hyper-connected; what’re the key success factors in leadership effectiveness, and what does it mean to become an empathetic leader?


Empathy is about thinking as if you were in the other party's position. Empathy is a great leadership quality that's often overlooked. Showing empathy helps a great leader infuse their employees with the company's mission and even better, their own life purpose or career goals. Transformation is dependent on motivation...and the two feed each other in a virtuous cycle. Such soft skill that can help is the ability of a leader to communicate with empathy, that it's better to be open to new ideas and risk having failures than to be close minded and miss a brilliant idea. Frequently those brilliant ideas come from empowered knowledge workforce and empathetic leadership.

Empathy can be developed via listening and learning: Valuing people as your assets is so important. You keep your team happy and they would keep the customers happy. And sometimes the most difficult for developing leaders is the ability to listen. Giving people the time to voice an opinion or perspective is as powerful way to demonstrate your respect and build trust. Remaining calm and offering a view with perspective will make people want to engage you on any topic. The single most important soft skill is the leaders’ ability to motivate others to take a leap of faith into the unknown with them. Transformation can't happen unless and until the critical mass of knowledge workers are prepared to work in 'greyscale' and accept a large degree of unknowns. Empathy can help understand the challenges that the teams, customers and all other stakeholders face. Only when a leader motivates employees by creating an environment of risk taking and tolerance can employees take that leap of faith to achieve greatness. That 'greyscale' area is often murky, and it can be frightening.

Empathy means using the right language with the right people."Nothing in the world, in business or in life, is black and white. It could be hinting at another important skill for great leaders, which is respecting other people as if you were in their position. What you say to one person in a culture that stresses independence and individual performance, for instance, may not be as effective when speaking to a person whose culture stresses collaboration and group consensus; judging the right language to use in different situations only comes from wisdom and experience. It's not born to a leader. Empathy is a very important soft skill that is frequently undervalued. Too many business leaders have a "my way or the highway" mentality and don't value the opinions of their employees enough.


Communicating effectively at the correct time is invaluable skill for showing empathy. Communication is an important "soft skill" for leaders and managers. The ability to not simply have empathy, but to exercise and convey that in a genuine and accessible fashion. The nature of the managerial position can be isolating; but to move from manager to being an actual effective leader requires scaling that boundary and remaining closely engaged to the people who are relying on you to provide thoughtful and meaningful direction. Opening your mind to diversity of culture and opinion is extremely important in learning empathy. In today's global marketplace and interconnected world, such flexibility is becoming a necessity and even imperative.


Empathy is absolutely one of the most critical elements of digital leadership, it means an open mind to understand how others think and value; it means proactively gaining cognizance of your environment and adapt to it; it means the thoughtfulness of not only knowing what to say, what not to say, also how to say, and when to say;  it means appreciating the diverse thoughts and opinions and converge them to capture the new knowledge and insight, and it helps improving leadership maturity.

Digital Master Tuning XXVI: How to Leverage Talent Analytics to Run a Smart HR?

Start with creating a data-savvy mindset in HR.
People are the most invaluable asset in businesses. however, many organizations still run their workforce management/HR department as a back office administration function, hire and fire mechanically. At the age of Big Data, how to apply talent analytics to make the right persons to the right positions and how to invest human capital to achieve its full potential and catalyze the business growth. And what’s the systematic approach in running a smart HR?


A lot has to do with creating a data-savvy mindset in HR. A lot of HR professionals are not used to applying data to support the decision-making process. Regular discussions about HR data, reports, definitions and dashboards should go along way in creating a sense of awareness. Having the data isn't worth anything if HR is not conscious enough to provide the context and interpretations of the data. Solution designing approach based on understanding the business problems will be most ideal. use available data, create a case, test the model and further refine to make it more suiting.  From leadership perspective, managers need to have confidence with the data and have at least a basic understanding of where it comes from and how it is derived, they need to be comfortable with data, and have confidence in their validity  and how to make evidence based decisions.


It really is going to ultimately depend on what you're looking for, the fundamental business goals. What are you trying to solve for? What metrics are important to your stakeholders? Do you want analytics (historical/current), planning (predictive), or both? What does the analytics team look like?
- Figure out what your overall business objectives are ;
- Figure out how HR/workforce analytics & planning align to those business objectives;
- Come up with a list of requirements out of an analytics/planning system;
- Figure out which, if any products out there fit those needs.


HR data should be integrated with business information: HR data has to be "interpreted" including recommendations...indeed, it is not "ideal" but critical to do so. If you are not adding value to the basic data in this way, then what are you doing? It is just like to have a computer spit out some numbers...without interpretation, "sense-making" and application of judgement within the business context, then why should you do it? What are the biggest challenges need to overcome? The biggest problems are not with IT or complexity. The biggest issues are the lack of understanding of how the business operates, lack of building the "business logic" that links the HR/Workforce data to business outcomes and the lack of an overall strategy that binds them.


Applying the right tools to solve the talent management problems you encounter. Which tools shall you select depends on your internal capacity and what you're trying to do. There are analytics tools that are strong at historical and current state analytics. Some of other tools will do the predictive/ workforce planning but generally require you to set up your own models and are not tailored to HR. These systems generally need more work than an out of the box solution, in terms of querying, building data links, setting up predictive models, etc. The other option is to go with a solution designed for workforce Analytics/ Planning. that has workforce-specific driven metrics, dashboards, and predictive capability out of the box.

Organizations are at the start of a positive shift, making data part of the conversation will invariably produce the required change over time. Reporting via dashboards has the potential for meaningful impact. It needs hard work, persistence, resilience, and a deliberate strategy to make it happen. Furthermore, you need a range of stakeholders and business processes to come together to make it happen, from senior management, to frontline managers, to HR, to IT. Overall, it is a journey, but without concerted effort and consideration of the change management issues, then a culture of data driven decision making will not just "spontaneously" appear. It needs to be embedded into the business culture - the collective mind to make effective decisions and the very habit to run a smart business.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:





A System Thinker’s Mind

You don't need to be a system engineer/scientist to master systems thinking; just like you don't need to be a philosopher to think philosophically.

Systems Thinking is the thinking about how things interact with one another, and get insight of the whole. As a social construction, system thinking is positive because it helps understand the links between one action, a solution, and the different behaviors it might influence. By comparing different actions, solutions together, gives you a better understanding of the potential impact of each action and helps identify the one that will have a better chance of success overall.


Systems thinking is a type of synthetic thinking with complex mix of several components; typically it includes:
  • Dynamic thinking: positioning your issue as part of a pattern of behavior that has developed over time;
  • Scientific thinking: using models to test hypotheses and discard falsehoods, not just to ascertain ‘the truth;’
  • System-as-cause’ thinking: constructing a model to explain how the problem behavior arises;
  • Forest’ thinking: seeing the ‘big picture’ and taking a more holistic view of that system;
  • Operational’ thinking: analyzing how things actually work, the cause and effect relationships, and how performance is actually being generated;
  • Closed-loop thinking: moving away from laundry lists of exacerbating factors and describing the ‘feedback loops’ that interact to create the performance of the system;
  • Quantitative’ thinking: quantifying not just the hard data but also the soft variables that are operating in the system;


Systems thinking involves identifying systems and studying their dynamics. Systems thinking seems to catch the thinking of humans in a way that conforms as much as possible to the way nature simply unfolds - day after day after day.... Systems are alive: they come/grow, they go/deteriorate, they adapt… Understanding what is going on is one positive result -- it satisfies curiosity. When a system produces "bad" side-effects, you may wish to intervene. Understanding a system is a necessary precondition to an effective intervention. Anything else is a shot in the dark. One of the negative impacts of system thinking is associated with the rectification process. If you start thinking that a system is an object, you take away the responsibility in the creation of the social environment you live in. Perhaps the relevant social construct is the system thinkers' wish to intervene for the sake of improving situations.

A system is a dynamic series of processes whose relative nature define the emergent behavior we see...the "whole greater than the sum of its parts" concept. It is the emergent behavior of sub-systems within super systems that define the nature of the gestalic processes we see ...consciousness, social behaviors, businesses...etc. Systems Thinking, is a representation of how we see patterns in life, it is also an emergent property of the basic aspects of nature, layer on layer of systems, each with their own emergent behavior, coming together to create super systems we interact with daily. They are the interactive and layered systems that exhibit behaviors that both allow us the interaction of our minds to that of what we create with them...contributing to systems layered above us in the nature of the emergent behavior we collectively play a part of in its creation.


System thinking is an approach on how we view nature. Social constructions are by their very nature created views of reality; more for what we don't know than we do, but systems thinking, much like the scientific method, is an approach, to how we view nature. It is a tool, maybe even an algorithm of how the universe actually works. Filling in the details of course and understanding them may take life times...even nature is a social construction. Everything we can refer to is a social construction since we use social/socialized terms/sets of terms to talk about it. From such perspective, all sciences are social, since we use them to explain ourselves to environment we are into. One aspect of systems thinking is a basic understanding of differential equations. The key to a system; is the dynamic aspects of these waves, whether it is sub-nuclear patterns, or patterns layered up to the point of our consciousness and the social dynamics that are rendered from it, define the cloud of polarized waves of activity that most of us tend to reduce to static components, losing the nature of our understanding in the snapshots we think are real.


Systems thinking is nothing more than the well combination of analytic and synthetic thinking,  see the trees without missing the forest; quantify not just the hard data, but also the soft variables; go beyond the surface to dig through the root cause of problem arising, and take a scientific approach to explore the nature and universe.     

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CIO as Chief Innovation Officer

Digital CIOs have the appropriate balance of technical, business/management, creativity, domain, and interpersonal skills.
Nowadays information is the lifeblood, and the emergent technology is more often the business disruptor. And due to the change nature of information & technology, IT is always in the changing environment creating unexpected situations and requiring quick and appropriate responses based on the conditions. As businesses embark on the “digital Era” of computing (Cloud, Big Data, Mobile, Social). how will IT have to change? What is the nature of the new IT leadership and what is the primary role of the CIO in harnessing the IT leadership?


CIO’s role has to shift the focus from a Chief Infrastructure Officer to a Chief Information Officer and now to be a Chief Innovation Officer. There are many roles to be served by an enterprise's IT leadership. Some of these relate to ensuring that supply-side IT management issues are handled well (building infrastructure, designing architectures, operating technical and business platforms efficiently, building the IT skill sets, etc.), others relate to demand-side IT management (building relationships with business managers and business professionals; seeding ideas for IT-enabled business strategies and innovative uses of technology; designing, building and evolving systems and platforms; project management; etc.), and yet IT also has to establish policies and enforce governance disciplines to manage enterprise wide risks & compliance, ensuring appropriate returns on technology spending and investment. A digital CIO is like a symphony conductor, who will step up to orchestrate whatever it is to be.


The IT leader of the future (and the exemplars of today) must move away from pure IT manager,  and be a true business partner & strategist; especially as more and more enterprises are leveraging IT for revenue generating initiatives; what some refer to as IT "is the business". IT will not "be the business" if it does not focus on the top prioritized business initiatives. With the growth in enterprises leveraging IT for revenue generating initiatives, but IT has the history/tradition of being a very expensive cost center, often with little demonstrable value that typically misses its commitments. To improve maturity, IT organizations need to be assertive in preparing and engaging effectively and efficiently with their business partners in these strategic initiatives. As conveyed, these new initiatives cannot proceed without the appropriate operational foundation/platforms, and there will be times that you need to step back and lay the groundwork with these platforms. However, these are exciting transformational times for the IT trailblazers that are prepared to engage their business partners. Leading only with operational considerations is not the way forward. It needs to be accomplished by working with business partners to leverage opportunities for changing how the business competes in the marketplace. Business is the driving force for anything you do. No clients = no revenue = profit = no jobs = no people = no company and therefore no need to discuss IT from that perspective.


Digital CIOs have the appropriate balance of technical, business/management, creativity, domain, and interpersonal skills. IT Value comes from how the business changes what they do, that takes advantage of the applications, that run on the infrastructure. If the business does not change what they do, it just "does not matter". A Competitive edge will be geared toward responding to a market, and markets will become more diverse and complex. The CIO leader will oversee departments, because increased data will decrease the CIO's visibility, and therefore, they have to create an in-house culture, with all department heads, whistling - One mismanaged department will mismanage all departments. Hence, a digital CIO needs to have varying capabilities and thinking skills:
- Critical thinking & analytical reasoning
- Complex problem solving & analysis
- Application of knowledge & skills in real-world settings
- Location, organization, & evaluation of information from multiple sources
- Innovation & creativity


CIOs needs to be technology visionary, to stay one-step ahead of the enterprise leadership team's view of IT-related priorities. The critical, continuing concerns for the collective IT leadership team are to ensure that the talent exists (internally or externally-sourced) to get things done and to fill talent gaps; to maintain an on-going awareness of what technology issues are of most importance to the enterprise leadership team and to communicate the alignment that exists between IT and these important technology issues, to fill alignment gaps, to be an enabler than just a controller. Now, no organization will have strong leaders and strong capabilities in all of these areas ... improvement programs are always underway, talent gaps constantly break out as staff leave or as the business moves in new strategic directions. The objective is to recognize what needs to be done, to assess how well things are being done, to assign and reassign priorities to what needs to be done, and to invest in improvements in mindful ways.


Develop the IT leadership capability portfolio. So, what is needed is flexibility in IT leadership (that is, ideally, an organization should develop a portfolio of IT leaders having a variety of skills with the CIO - or whatever this executive is called - both interacting with other enterprise leaders, interpreting the appropriate IT emphasis (enterprise-wide and within units) and orchestrating the full portfolio of IT leadership capability. And the most critical IT emphasis for any organization (value innovation, operational excellence, architectural flexibility, etc.) changes over time and varies by organizational unit. And, these 'most critical' IT capabilities are not the same across an enterprise (today’s value innovation might be most crucial for some units but operational excellence might be most crucial for other units ... depending on each unit's situation and strategic emphasis). So, an innovative IT organization has to continuously take initiatives to improve business processes or delight customers.


What then is the future role of the CIO? Besides being a Chief Innovation Officer -catalyzing business growth; he/she also needs to become Chief Interaction Officer - building relationships across the enterprise leadership team, key customer executives, key vendor executives, and the IT leadership team; build an effective IT leadership team whose capabilities align with the current enterprise IT posture with envisioned future enterprise IT postures; Chief Integration Officer-work with the enterprise leadership team to fabricate incentive systems for the IT leadership team such that IT leaders will be rewarded for behaving in enterprise-benefiting ways; work with the enterprise leadership team to integrate governance structures and processes to ensure the right people make the right critical IT-related decisions following the right criteria; and, Chief Improvement officer- measurement systems for assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of IT services (broadly construed) and for communicating IT services effectiveness and efficiency to enterprise leaders, etc. Last but not least, CIO is the leadership role, digital CIOs always need to be a Chief Influence Officer - make positive influence in their organizations and our society.


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