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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fixed vs. Growth Minds

At traditional organizational setting, people are hired to do their job with compliance; and managers are hired to manage projects or people with control. However, businesses large or small are faced with rapid changes and digital dynamic. Such static management practice based on the fixed mindset is no longer sufficient to adapt to the changes. Which shift is needed for smooth digital transformation.

From fixed mind to growth mind: Fixed mindset refers to those who approach the work with fixed mindset-the assumption that their abilities were innate and not subject to change; while accelerated or growth mindset refers to those who solve problems or target the goals with growth mindset- the belief that their ability level was nothing more than a snapshot in time and eminently changeable as they continued to learn and develop. In industrial era, fixed mindset is OK to survive as the business and world are slow to change; however, at age of digitalization, knowledge is only clicks away, growth mindset is strategic imperative to adapt to the changes and accelerated mind is needed to match the digital speed. The speed in organizations is determined by:
-The speed of transactions
-The speed of decision making
-The speed with which new ideas are created
-How fast ideas are brought to market
-The velocity of capital flows
-The speed which information and knowledge flows through the economic system.

Growth leadership mind is the key to drive business growth: What inspiring leaders want to cultivate a ‘growth mindset’? With this mindset you believe that you can change things through the result into great output and vise verse. Growth leadership mindset must believe - all dreams have the potential to be translated into fulfillment. The key here is BELIEF. Even harder than changing behavior, it is changing beliefs. And, when you effort doesn't translate into desired results trying to understand why. Were you focusing on the wrong things? What can you learn? What would you do differently next time? What can you change? Beats the 'beating myself up' option every time!  A growth leadership mind can inspire more growth mind by making the story VIVID.  Research has shown that when you do a presentation follow these three principles: Tell the Truth, Tell a Story, Tell the Story with Pictures. Extraordinary Presentations CHANGE people. Demonstrate a challenge and how obstacles were overcome - a Hero's Journey. Then instead of perceiving information from your HEAD because you THINK it, the information is in your HEART and you BELIEVE it.
Growth mindset wanted: There are some basic fundamental characteristics will separate a right candidate from a wrong candidate. For example, would you prefer hiring person who has a graduate (know it all) attitude vs. somebody who is passionate about lifelong learning? Would you hire somebody who demonstrates the ability to execute vs. somebody who lacks the capacity to break down a strategy into execution? Would hire a person who is constant negative vs. somebody have positive attitude? Would hire a candidate for leadership position who is strong in keeping hands full, but lacks of thinking and strategy formulation skills? Would you hire a person for coaching position who understand the subject inside out, but not a great communicator? In a business setting, the philosophy, work ethic and values of an organization are established in recruiting people to the company. Then through training and closely monitoring results and ethics, you develop your talent so that they have the growth mind to deliver business results effectively and efficiently in an ethical manner while exhibiting the vision and guts required to lead the organization’s next level of growth.

Mindset is everything. Human’s mind is the most valuable thing to shape every progress, but also the root cause of all mankind problems, And a growth leadership mindset is audacious, adaptive, aggressive when necessary—these leaders are stepping out of their own comfort zone, walking the talk and lead change more confidently.

How to Set Workforce Metrics Linked to Customer Satisfaction

Being a customer-centric business is a digital mantra for many forward-thinking organizations. How to translate such vision into business logic and step-by-step action scenario, how to set up a reporting-assessment-monitoring process; and how to measure the result? Is there any workforce metrics linked to the quality of the products and customer satisfaction?

Build a “behavioral value chain” map: The overall idea is to build a "business logic" or "behavioural value chain" between the inputs - intermediate steps - outcomes. Unpack the employee inputs - product quality - customer satisfaction chain to determine what constitutes each of the parts and the strength, and direction of the various links in the chain. Identify, understand and potentially take account of various contextual factors or environmental factors in case there is more to the story as well. On another side, do not assume product quality is actually the best predictor of customer satisfaction either... but a very important one if you actually want something that will be predictive of actual behaviour.

A reporting-assessment-monitoring process: Once you have your map, look at what data you have to test or support your new theoretical model, and building the evidence that indeed you have found actual predictive pathways. By this stage you will now be able to determine the workforce attitudes, behaviours, and expertise you need shape appropriate workforce strategies that will actually ensure these things happen and put in place a reporting-assessment-monitoring process to act as a feedback loop as things change. The nutshell version is you need to think about the employee behaviours, knowledge and expertise that is potentially linked to the performance outcomes of interest - it would be product quality and through this to customer satisfaction.

Tailored metrics: Any of the prior attempts that have failed have usually been the result of an approach of linking aggregate employee satisfaction with aggregate customer satisfaction. This is far too macro and introduces too many variables. The challenge is that the former is only one driver of the latter, and therefore other ancillary factors such as capital investment, customer expectations, often can impact customer satisfaction and prevent a meaningful trend from emerging. Rather than using standard metrics, you build your own custom metrics that suit your organization. If you have quality of product data and customer satisfaction data, map them out and start to overlay some HR data over. If you're more maths oriented then start mashing them together and see what correlations you can draw. The caution is don't necessarily see a correlation as causation, keep asking why until you have it.

Either mapping the behavior value chain or linking the workforce metrics to customer satisfaction, more often, it is not the linear steps, you have to apply system thinking, take account of various contextual factors, make balance of customer satisfaction and business profitability, engage employees and focus on long term business prosperity.

Three Practices to Sustain Vision

Vision is about zooming into the future as if it were closer. For forward-looking organizations, vision is a “must have” state of mind for leaders, because it decides whether you steer towards the right destination. But how do you sustain vision in practical everyday ways?

Articulate the vision: Vision as 'the guiding light': The vision needs to be a good metaphor so that people can see themselves and their work reflected in it. For example "how well will this goal contribute towards us achieving the vision of. With such clarity and detail that others can see the same picture in their minds. Relate it in terms that align with each members level of education and capacity of understanding. First start by identifying the core values of each individual vision, that would give you an indication of where they are coming from, then take those common values and translate them into strengths for the team. As a leader, you may not be able to include all visions into a single one but you may get one that really unifies the most important ones for the team.

Share the vision: There is a key word that is critical to always associate with the word, VISION, and that is SHARED. Leaders need to be constantly VISIBLE sharing VISION, and enabling others to share it. To share is a fundamental part of any successful organization, group or team. However, those in leadership roles can often get up in the rigour of business as usual they can neglect referencing the vision and keeping it alive. We learn about it in a fundamental way as children, and then in adulthood it gains a new context beyond sharing of things, to sharing of information, self and ideas. This can be vulnerable, but the more a leader shares of themselves, and their commitment to a vision, the more alive it becomes.

Be the vision in action: Leaders have to live and be the vision. If a vision exists only on paper it is useless. It follows the wonderful quote, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
the vision is every day that change is constant there is always something to learn anytime but one must be present at the place and at the right to improve vision every day time. Vision must be translated into personal behavior from leaders to the rest of the team, but also in business structure, to provide for coherence to the organization in order to build up confidence for all stakeholders involved. The executive is paid to translate the vision into work to be done by the team. However, more often that the executives leave strategy to the teams - a problem equally as disastrous; or executives think vision is what their job is all about and they think that somehow if they have vision, magically it will become reality by those under them. Also the vision of the final goal has a tendency to change along the path in the minds of stakeholders. In projects, this is called "scope creep:" If the final vision is not constantly reaffirmed and restated based on the current condition, the single initial vision will diverge into multiple visions or expectations. Straying expectations must be noticed and recalibrated to maintain effective progress towards the end goal. The way to keep the vision fresh is to align each new assigned task with its specific value and purpose towards the final vision. Then, the team member's mental picture of the goal line is refreshed and they can see the part they play in the overall success of the venture.

It is actually a good habit and practice of creating and sustaining vision, and applying it to focus and steer your organization. vision is not just a statement, you have to sustain in in practical everyday ways.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Three Perspectives in Strategy Planning

Strategy-execution is not just linear steps, but an ongoing continuum.

Today’s businesses are over-complicated and hyper-connected, hence, strategy planning also becomes a more challenging and complex scenario. Who should participate strategy making, how are you anticipating and preparing for the road ahead, without anticipation, any strategy you develop is flawed by design. Or what would you consider to be the optimal stage for integrating KPIs into the strategic development process? So how to clarify, anticipate and measure strategy?

Strategy clarification: More often, the word strategy is just another word for "Planning" or "Game Plan." Strategy gaps exist because strategy is done by the 'top managers in the executive suite,' and implementation is left to those lower in the organization just to get on and do. Also its relevance is defined in the context of within different layers of the business. It is a very broad term now and it could mean different thing to different people, hence, it causes confusion. Either Porter’s five forces or Minszberg’s 5Ps (plan, ploy, position, pattern and perspective) are still relevant and illuminating. The point is that you have to clarify it when deploying it. Strategy could be at various levels, you could have a group strategy which shapes all the strategic domains of an organization which would be in the scope of the executive management group. You could have a operational strategies that would entail project strategies which would thrive to align itself to the program strategy, and then you could have a organizational development strategy that would align to the business strategy. It is being pursued within. Strategy is a very broad term now and encompasses everything from analysis of business intelligence, vision and values, business process management, marketing and viral social media communications through to leadership style and change management. It has been broken down into many sub-strategy with specialized fields. So in order to ensure strategy execution is going smoothly, you have to clarify your strategy content and context.

Strategy anticipation: Anticipation is absolutely necessary, but anticipation is too often missing in strategy development indeed. "Strategy" is definitely a different beast nowadays, because the speed of change is accelerated, it might be less about five years planning horizons and more about how to continually adapt to changes in the marketplace caused by disrupting technologies and consumer behaviors. Also, strategic development is too often seen as a linear process, but it is in fact a cyclical process that needs constant attention and tuning within bounds. It might be more about listening/sensing/learning and less about grandiose top-down visions but it remains the backbone of any successful organizations. Too many organizations rely on current data only to "predict" the future and are disappointed when that future doesn't come about (and is also why so many businesses fail). A strategic foresight approach enables the staff anticipation that is necessary for future success. Strategic foresight is a methodology by which an organization anticipates a range of alternative futures and then scenario-based planning to adopt a strategy that enables an adaptive stance for the organization, from which it can flex plans and execution as the actual future unfolds. A more cyclical approach also allows more checks & balances and makes it easier to evaluate progress vs. reality & market trends, which are moving too quickly to be taken for granted.

KPI metrics: KPIs and other benchmarks provide a basis for effectively evaluating progress vis-a-vis strategic direction. To boost the chances that you can execute effectively & efficiently, based on the added front-end work you are doing related to strategic foresight, you need to integrate critical KPIs/benchmarks that play to the survival instinct of your team. KPIs should be defined at some point in this ongoing, continuous strategic development cycle. At the start a set of objectives should be defined and the evaluation of these objectives plus added knowledge about markets, environment and performance will automatically lead to the best possible KPI's to implement. The thought leaders need to help create/manage/expand/assess that ongoing process. Too often the KPIs and benchmarks are selected too early, before you actually understand the market environment and the problems you must overcome to succeed. The KPIs and benchmarks ought to "emerge" from your thinking and learning about the future, not be dictated by fiat without that thought leadership. KPIs among other benchmarks should be dynamic, not static. More knowledge whether generated through market intelligence or otherwise, provide a basis for evaluating performance and making appropriate adjustments. Helping secure strategy commitment involves connecting it
1) directly to the survival instinct,
2) to impactful quantitative and qualitative benchmarks
3) into a larger framework for organizational success

Hence, strategy-execution is not just linear steps, but an ongoing continuum. Getting people on board is key. No matter how good the strategy, people at all levels of the company must be engaged, involved, and see the importance of change to buy in and make things happen, because culture would trump any attempt to create a strategy that was incompatible with an organization's culture. And then, you need to apply certain benchmarks, among other checks, along the way as a means of evaluating progress of executing strategy.

Is Leadership about Change

Fundamentally leadership is about change and influencing people to change.

The world has changed significantly, and the speed of change is acclerating. Not only has it gotten flatter (globalization), but also it’s gotten hyper-connected (digitalization). This is where leadership must invoke great vision, good tactics and innovation comes into play. Leadership is about future, future is full of changes, is leadership all about change as well?

Fundamentally leadership is about change and influencing people to change. Leadership is the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, birthed by a conviction of a sense of purpose of why you were created. Leadership is moving yourself and others...and it is about change and evolving to what is needed next. Three things that are inexorably linked together are change, growth and learning. It may be human nature to resist change but not for great leaders. Effective leaders have a very high comfort level with change and understand standing still is not an option in today's world. Doing things differently is just part of everyday life for a leader who is always in the midst of change--envisioning it, planning it, or leading it.

You have to define change. If it is improvement, that's fine. Change is not for its own sake, change is necessary for progress and growth. In reality, there are too many changes introduced by leaders that have no real benefit. A new manager might say 'we'll do it this way now.' Those who have been there years will mutter 'that's the way we used to do it, and the change won't make things better'. Wait a few years and it will be changed again, and still be no better. It's no wonder workers become cynical about leadership initiated change. Hence, change needs to get “buy-in” by those get affected first, it takes both strategy and methodology, and building a culture of change is a necessity for any behavior changes or process changes.

Change management vs. change leadership: There’s difference between “change management” and “change leadership,” and whether it’s just a matter of semantics, these terms are not interchangeable. The distinction between the two is actually quite significant. Change management, which is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control. The goal is often to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change. Change leadership, on the other hand, concerns the driving forces, visions and processes that fuel large-scale transformation. Leadership is all about change management and also the ability to take initiative (change leadership). Leadership is the ability to influence with or without authority. It is the power of example that frees people to do willingly and well that which needs to be done. Strategic responses by the leaders towards change management which restructures business strategy, functional strategy and operational strategy. Only Change Management would bring these values to organization, competitive advantage, best standards for the brand they own. Best Practices for the actions they do,

Leadership is about role modeling. While there are many components of leadership, one of the most important ones is the ability to adapt, model and influence change. We live in a world where change is the norm and if we don't embrace it, accept it, roll with it or make it happen, we're not going to be successful. Change capability is strategic skill on leadership qualities. Change isn't always in our control, but it is amazing how much control we have in adapting to it. So accepting and embracing change has put leaders more at ease because of its consistency. It's also given leaders confidence, because you know you are able to positively adapt in any given situation. A true leader will model these attributes and lead the way by example.

So leadership is about change, the purpose of change is to getting a optimal solution or creating a better future.

Think Growth, Think Hybrid Cloud

The real challenge is to manage the various environments to best business benefit.

More and more organizations are reaping the benefit from their “cloudification” journey, especially, many enterprises have started realizing the benefits of deploying hybrid cloud models to save time and provide the agility needed to speed up core IT services in adaptation of business dynamic. What are the real challenges for cloud migration and such IT transformation? Shall IT take such digital mantra: Think growth, think hybrid cloud?

Embracing cloud journey is a must to do item on IT transformation agenda. It is inevitable that you will end up with a hybrid cloud environment for your applications and solutions. It would be surprised to hear of a senior IT manager who is not using a hybrid environment to some extent, but it has become clear, that to feel confident in doing this requires confidence and trust in your infrastructure. Hence, migration strategy is very important, you must find the key point to break for pilot, which is not only thinking business outcome, cost, GRC, but also thinking technology complexity, organization readiness, supplier and so on.

The real challenge is to manage the various environments to best business benefit - knowing when to use the cloud or your own resources according to the task, risk, etc. Getting these skills into your team - either by development or by recruitment - is the key to making it really work. In turn IT partners need to develop these skills better so a managed and secure hybrid environment becomes a viable sourcing option, allowing businesses to better focus on their core business, moving their focus away from infrastructure to solution. Lastly, ensure the legacy is built as a platform (X-as-a-Service) that supports projects by providing capabilities that project can leverage rather than build their own. This will reduce infrastructure (legacy) spend in projects, and ensuring IT investment is focused on building new growth capability, not just adding capacity.

“Think Growth, Think hybrid cloud”: Hybrid cloud is the model which will suit most enterprises. They will however need to decide how much control they cede to vendors and where they set their risk management perimeter accordingly. The reality is not yet dawned on many IT managers that cloud computing is a path to growth. Even though that business are constantly seeking new flexible tools that total exceeds what the available arms and legs can provide. Cloud computing and specifically "Hybrid cloud" can and should do that, save time and improve IT agility, shift focus to what's differentiating to the business, the "what" value and IT services rather than "how" to do it. However, It can be tricky, implementation of Hybrid Cloud computing solutions and services can be time consuming during implementation and at the beginning, there's still a lack of full documentation and qualified partners.

Cloud is the trend, but either hybrid or not, it’s not IT panacea, IT leaders have to build overarching, solid cloud strategy first, and push the cloud envelop step by step, always keep the end in mind, to improve customer/user satisfaction and IT agility.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #65: Do we Handle Problems at the Level of the Mindset, or Shall We?

Mindset is the "software," and software is eating the world.
We live in the rapidly changing digital era full of paradox: on the one side, human world is running at internet speed, the physical distance is no longer the barrier to separate the world, the information is only a click away, the knowledge cycle is significantly shortened; on the other hand, people’s minds, mainly shaped in their early age, with change inertia, are far lagging behind the era we live in, they turn to be the true obstacle to distance the heart and stop human progress. And it is also the deep root cause for many business and societal problems. So would it be possible to handle the problems at the level of the mindset, but how.

To bring in a change, there needs to be a paradigm shift - a mind shift: Mind doesn't like getting ignored, it keeps on driving even without one's awareness. Everything flows from the people's mindsets which are shaped by education they receive, the historical event they experienced, the medias, the books or the other minds they follow. Some are serious, some casual.. yet it is mindset of a few (who have ‘privileged channels” to amplify their voice) that makes or changes rules for the masses. Unfortunately, some of such leading minds are actually lagging, that’s the very reason why the mind is far behind the time we live in, it results in the vision getting blurred, the change getting distracted and the gap between strategy and execution capability getting enlarged.

The mind gets wire up to shape the perception and drive attitude: The mind interprets how one sees the world -the perception, and decides one’s attitude to solve the problems. Now coming to ‘problem’ is a situation that keeps changing its intensity, breadth and width, color and cause according to the people involved and affected. The facts of the problem remain same that are measurable and observable. Interpretation of a ‘situation’/’problem’ depends on various factors like the maturity, fore thought and attitude of the individual and many more. Now if we consider the problem; where did it come from? Most often the problem does not come from somewhere else, but brood from the existing situations, with the roots in human's thoughts. As Einstein wisely put: "You can't solve the problem with the same thinking you create it." So to make it simpler, mind is the storehouse of thoughts and experiences, memory. Only the new fresh thoughts help resolve a situation and through applying the experiences, these experiences in turn become the reservoirs for resolving the next ‘situation’ with the fresher thought as well.

The different mind takes different approach to solve problems: Problems are the gap between what we have and what we want to have. But many times, actions of people are unthought-of, they rarely carry any deep thought or attitude. Problem can be handled either, with a fixed mindset or with an open mind. A fixed/rigid mind is a limited mind; it usually won’t allow the person to think beyond a point....Hence, the focus may be on getting away with the problem or just disposal, rather than taking it up as challenge, finding it as opportunity for learning and discover the new way to do things... which can happen with an open, learning and growing mind. It is especially important to learning from mistakes or failure, and moving forward with great zeal to do better.

Mindset is the software, and software is eating the world: First, change the mindset (the software), then other “hardware”change will follow: In many circumstances, organizational or social are only mended and amended by rules, policies and processes, they sound practical. Perhaps that’s the only way most of managers have learnt to handle problems. Mind has always been ignored. Whenever there is a discussion touching about the mindset, most of people tend to appear confused, because it seems abstract or intimidating, and moment they start to begin talking at an operational level they sound comfortable. However, change in rules or laws or systems or processes will only become sustainable if someone out there changes his/her mindset. There are always some influential people whose word carries weight in making such changes, and that word has to be based on the mindset or the beliefs they have, or put simply, only the authentic leaders can convey the change messages which can touch the minds and hearts to create synergy; and only the visionary and growth minds can lead the world forward, not backward, to mind the gap between the lagging “mainstreet” mindsets and the digital era we live in.

The collective consciousness plays a role in influencing the mind. If the lower states of mind include a rate of egoism, the primitive thinking or the conventional wisdom, then the mind with high and multi-intelligence will show the humility to learn and catch up, the vision to look forward, the insight to look beyond the surface, to avoid the lagging mind symptom (focus more on behavior than attitude, more on processes and not enough on the mindset.) This is why when people initiatives are taken, they are often not sustainable. Some kind of compliance is ensured, but the hearts of the people are not behind it. So problem solving starts with mindshift.

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

Can Creativity be Taught

The truth is, the positive thinking + creativity is the powerful combination to push human world forward.
Creativity has emerged as one of the top picked 21st century skills (critical thinking, creative thinking, learning agility, leadership capability, etc.). Is creativity nature or nurtured, can creativity be taught, how can today’s education system produce more creative souls, are modern educators the human engineers or talent artists?

Creativity is like a muscle, you must exercise it daily or it atrophies. We have to admit, some people are just more creative than others. One of the things is essential for education in creativity to really thrive is that people understand that creativity is a way of being, it must be practiced, it's very personal, it requires internal motivation and self-awareness. Unless these factors are present, 'creativity' will only be known to mankind as a fad or superficial set of steps in. A creative person seems to be childish, naive and inquisitive. Picasso said, "It took me a few years to learn how to paint like Braque, a lifetime to paint like a child." A person must find ways to stimulate creativity. breakdown the convention thinking, be original and be yourself; try putting two totally different things together to make something new, if you're writing, beautify your science, or rationalize your art; if you are paining? Make the sky yellow and the trees blue. "Think Different." Mostly think positive, think fun, think beyond your reach. Knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world.

Creativity can be nurtured by encouraging and rewarding "creative thinking," in which people learn to solve all kind of problems, generate ideas, implement life changes. Then focus on how creativity is viewed, citing two views -one being innate and the other a result of teaching. Creativity isn't necessarily a paint-by-numbers process, more as ‘connect-the-dots” adventure. It usually, perhaps more often than not, involves some level of discomfort and interdisciplinary transcendence. The problem is that we can't order and classify creativity in the typical worldview. Where do you put transformative abstraction on an analytical scale? And how do you measure extreme creativity when it may look like eccentric and dysfunctional behavior, precisely because it is off the deep end of a spectrum of social conventional thinking. But the truth is, the positive thinking + creativity is the powerful combination to push human world forward.

The educators need to be creative enough to encourage creativity: It is educators who must first be creative enough to recognize divergent thinking and oddball answers from students as sometimes indicating a different slant or insight. We know now from brain research that young brains create a huge amount of connections, that if they are not stimulated, will dissolve over time. For instance, it is much easier for children to learn foreign languages than it is for adults. The brain structures present in an infant's brain that facilitate language learning decrease as the child ages. It is still possible, but much more difficult and more expensive to teach an old brain new tricks. Same as many other skills, if we wait until young people reach the adult to teach critical thinking and creativity, the education system is out of date in certain way. Learning to question and to devise one's own answers is as important as learning math and language. We should let creativity run wild, with a clearly defined end goal. Kids should be allowed to use their creative brains and get them exposed to everyday problems to help them come up with solutions. Both hemispheres of our brain are equally important.The whole brain thinking needs to be encouraged and practiced from earlier age.

Creativity education is also about education in the area of creativity. Creativity is the end in this case. The core to the mission of the creative education is “developing the next generation of innovators and thinkers. There are some techniques/strategies to implement in education such as PBL (problem based learning) Collaborative/Cooperative learning and Project Oriented Learning, all of them foster creativity, but we have to remember that creativity is not something you can learn as a topic, is something you acquire and use, not just for learning, but for life itself, and, of course, to be creative you have to rely on freedom (of thinking, failing, trying, experimenting, saying, learning, doing, etc).

Collectively, as human society, inclusiveness is the soil to fertilize creativity, and educators are just like those skillful craftsmen or dedicated gardeners, to discover the innovative way to educate, to nurture creativity and keep it grow and mature.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Run an Innovative IT

The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture.

Modern IT continues to move up its maturity from a reactive help desk, back office function into a proactive business partner and innovation engine. What are the tips and stories to create a culture of innovation? What are the innovation implications when IT leverages the Cloud model? How shall IT assess their partners for delivering innovative business solutions, should business pay IT for being innovative thereby enabling business proactively?

The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture; but creating an "innovation culture" involves the well alignment of people, process and technology, otherwise, it won’t sustain. For example, some organizations offer employees certain percentage of free time to think and experiment the new idea; and other companies build out a physical space with flexible rooms, a small team to manage it (they'd meet with business clients to establish goals), and guarded the room from being demoted to 'the cool meeting room.' Every innovative company experiment on their own ways to spark innovation.
Evaluate partners’ innovation capability: Assess business and technical partners not only through the normal lenses based on scope, on-time and on-budget; but also evaluate their innovation capability and optimal attitude. With the mantra to run IT shifting from “doing more with less,” to “doing more with innovation,” IT will also request their partners to do the same. Defined projects are hard enough in such dynamic environment to keep within the scope, as they will, in some cases anticipate benefits that may not be part of the original delivery of the project, but be seen as a potential by-product, within the agreed budget. Where the innovation element comes to the fore,  it's expected to be delivered as part of business as usual, and therefore provided with no additional cost. So as IT vendors, you should be aware of trends and upcoming innovations that are relevant to the projects you are about to take on.

Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility and attitude: CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo, so the digital shift for IT in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. The available digital technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible. IT now can leverage cloud on-demand model to charge back or charge forward. IT- business alignment is shifting to IT-business engagement, and IT as an integral component of business, plays more significant role in catalyzing business growth. However, besides top line contribution, IT shall keep bottom line with the continued focus on being economically aware, all overheads are scrutinized, but invest more resource for innovation.

Keep balance of bottom line and innovation effort: If you can innovate across the business, regardless of which function you are involved in, be it IT, HR, Finance etc. then you can surely change the shape of what you deliver, not just how it's delivered. Any organization that can capitalize on innovations, be they in-house or externally derived and delivered, is going to be more agile, and ultimately more successful. Although those that put too much emphasis on innovation over delivery may well lose sight of the importance of balance and could inhibit the businesses ability to grow.

That all being say, running an innovative IT is not rocky science, but it takes collective attitude and aptitude, principles and practices, strategy and methodology. It is a digital transformation journey.  

#1 HR-related metrics in predicting achievement of an organization's objectives?

In many cases, it is actually a weighted index reflecting several underlying metrics.
Talent is always the most invaluable asset in organization today, HR analytics also becomes the emergent trend in managing talent life cycle more effectively. As old saying: we can only manage what we measure. Which HR-related metrics are most effective in predicting achievement of an organization’s objectives? And how to leverage them in strategy execution?

Varying KPIs are thought provoking, but there’s no “dominant" one in predicting achievement: Regardless of the organization's objectives (as varied as they might be), HR related metrics will never solely be the most effective in predicting achievement. This isn't a slight on HR Related metrics, the finance related metrics would also fall short of providing a stable prediction. Rather, HR related metrics should be able to predict the relevant composite parts of an organization's objectives namely. Behavior, performance, direct employee related costs, the sustainability of performance and the capability of the internal workforce, Net Promoter Scores, employee engagement, attrition even alignment (though how you would enter objective and reliable data on alignment is in itself a tricky issue) are all means by which HR attempts to triangulate the answers to what do people contribute? what do they cost? and what are they worth? Can employee well being or stress at work metrics predict or forecast the productivity? To ensure organizational objectives are achieved, the HR strategies should be aligned with the business strategy of the organization. t

Like many other puzzles, the answer is “it depends” – in this case, It's on the nature of both the objectives (how performance is defined) and the business model (how human performance relates to corporate performance). Similarly, metrics which highlight the prioritization of work and choices made about the distribution of finite human energy/attention can have strong predictive value – for example, staff utilization on (inorganic) business development vs. client delivery (for professional services), or allocation of time to sales vs. service (for contact centers). There is always a trade-off between alternative solutions; and there is natural tendencies to game the metric or inadvertent influence through the simple act of observation (“what gets measured gets done”, etc.) can therefore be self-constrained to some extent.

In many cases, it is actually a weighted index reflecting several underlying metrics. Employee engagement has long been misunderstood; in many organizations the headline results are a lot more widely communicated than the underlying insight/transparency into what those figures mean. That is a recipe for over-use and under-met expectations in many areas. In the context of “predicting achievement,” the issue with employee engagement is that it can be both a lagging and a leading indicator – depending on how it is defined and measured. In many cases, it is actually a weighted index reflecting several underlying metrics. Some of which have more predictive value than others. The advantage of simplicity (having a single composite indicator for broad people management performance) has to be weighed against the disadvantage, that the same figure cannot simultaneously be a targeted, optimal measurement of both past achievement and future potential. Some factors of employee engagement are important to measure, to recognize and highlight the outcomes of demonstrated people management performance, but have low predictive value.

This balance point is contextual. The traditional 'HR Related' metrics is that they tend to aggregate individual responses, employee engagement which provides only minimal insight into team/collaborative performance that underpins organizational performance. Academic studies in this space tend to indicate peak performance is achieved when an appropriate balance between cohesion and diversity is achieved.
FOCUS - teams and individuals have a clear understanding of business goals and direction, why they are important, and how their work contributes to their achievement.
LEARNING - teams and individuals take opportunities to grow and develop through training and self-development and take responsibility for sharing work based learning.
OPPORTUNITY - people are able to utilize the full expertise and capability of every team member, and have the autonomy to do so.
WORTH - people are widely recognized for their capability and achievement, praised and thanked for their efforts and results, and appropriately rewarded for their contribution.
SUPPORT - every team feels it has the resources, information and management support and commitment it needs to be able to perform at the highest level.

Although there’s no such magic metrics to predict the achievement of organizational object, how to measure depends on what the organization’s objectives. The point is to well define the business goals and objectives,  and the HR strategies, needs and metrics that support it.

Digital Master Tuning #64: How to Strike the right Balance along the Spectrum of Listening and Telling?

 The true leadership may be achieved only if you have both a listening and telling organization.

Today’s organizations are hyperconnected and over-complex, the traditional “command-control” management style is no longer effective enough to build a collaborative working environment to embrace cross-functional communication and outside-in customers’ feedback and perspective. So businesses today have to do some self-assessment: Do you have a listening & learning organization, or keeps running as a telling only organization? And how to strike the right balance along the spectrum of listening and telling?

"Asking questions can build consensus": and asking questions is crucial to learning for everyone involved. However, without being able to listen with an open mind and heart, just asking questions may fall on "deaf ears" and the sound of crickets might occur if there is no trusting relationship developed. Asking questions, besides telling is an important tool to make a positive change. You can work out what organization you have by looking at the problem solving style, are all problems solved by the manager in the board room with the solution then given to the staff on the floor, or are staff on the floor involved and given a chance to offer their solution. Two ends of the decision style continuum are authoritarian command and control - do what you're told and don't ask any questions; or more open style -where all production floor suggestions are implemented. The latter both requires and inspires trust between production and management.

The best way to improve communications is stop talking and listen: The biggest communication mistake is to assume it has occurred:  Communication has occurred when the message is received and understood. To have this happen reliably requires a bidirectional and reciprocal cycle of questions and answers. It is a leadership responsibility to provide a safe environment for everyone at any level to question and speak candidly without anxiety or fear. So it is important to build an environment that is conducive to collaboration and consensus decision making. The top project critical success factor in both sequence and importance is to get the right people in a room together. Consensus does not mean everyone agrees, it means that everyone is committed to supporting a decision and wholeheartedly, following a course of action after everyone has been heard and understood, and feels heard and understood. Everyone has a voice and every voice carries weight.

The true leadership may be achieved only if you have both a listening and telling organization: It is important to LISTEN to what the collaborators say. If you do not listen, you will never get the two sides of story. So you have to learn the hard way that true leadership may be achieved only if you have both a listening and telling organization. If you do not listen, you will lose the goodwill of the collaborators, if you don't tell, you collaborators will not know what is required, and thus, you cannot achieve the results you want to achieve. People down the organization need to be encouraged to speak up, to TELL truth to power. It is difficult to do and it's often uncomfortable to hear. But leaders recognize the value of the information and what a great advantage to their organization it is to have people with the courage to speak up. Encouraging people to speak, actively listening to what they say, engaging in candid give and take communication, and ensuring that there is no retaliation for raising difficult issues, is a powerful way to build trust and loyalty. A learning organization as listening organization must be able to use critical thinking well; participants must be able to use logic evidence and avoid personal attacks, appeals to authority, and misrepresentation of ideas.

The “HEAR” model for active listening: When you are in a position of authority you have lots of opportunity to tell and lots of leeway in how to do the telling. It's the default and for some managers (not leaders) the almost exclusive way of doing business. For these people the message is LISTEN! The HEAR model for active listening may be helpful:
* Hear
* Encourage
* Analyze
* Respond

The difference between dialogue versus discussion lies in the orientation: Basically, Dialogue is “an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.” Dialogue is more of an exploration without winners or losers; discussion is more hierarchical and thus there is a desired outcome. Debate is a discussion involving opposing viewpoints; deliberation; consideration – or to dispute or disagree about. And debate can be formal contest between competing ideas engaged in with the express goal of winning. But it can be more than that. Think of dialogue as being transformational and collegial; while discussion is more operational and managerial. There are times and places for each communication format. But, the outcome of a successful discussion would be a decision, the new perspective, knowledge and possibly some discussion on how to use this new perspective and insights. It's great to be a strong advocate for the position you consider best; but that means it becomes more and more important that you're willing to fight fair in the contest of ideas.

So building a learning organization really depends not on style but on substance. If your organization is going to survive through change, it would better be a listening and learning organization. If not, its survival horizon can be really short. One way to ensure the message was received and understood was to just ask "So what are you supposed to do?" Some of the most authoritative organizations are actually very much listening organizations. Some of the seemingly most listening are very much telling organizations. It really depends not on style but on substance. But, only a listening organization where dialogue and discussion is possible, there is a difference, by the way -- and sought after by all levels of leadership can develop into the flexible, responsive and agile learning organization.

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

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