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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection Apr. 2016

Debating is not for stimulating conflicts, but for brainstorming better ways to do things.

Due to the changing nature of technology, IT leadership role also continues to involve & shift the focus, to move up the maturity level. More and more CIOs are requested to take more responsibility and many CIOs present the breadth of leadership competency. The proactive IT debates help IT leaders to brainstorm innovative and better ways to do things, and improve management capabilities. Here are the monthly CIO debates collections on Jan, 2016.

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection Apr. 2016

  • What are CIO’s Top Priorities? Nowadays, information is the lifeblood of business, and technology is the big brain of the organization, there are so many things in CIO’s agenda, IT is always in overload mode, and CIOs seem to be at hot seat. Therefore, in order to run IT more effectively and efficiently, how shall CIOs prioritize the projects, and what shall be put on the top of CIO’s agenda?

  • Can Money Buy Innovation? It is very important to recognize that innovation is an essential factor for a company success. Organizations need both: out of the box and in the box/core innovation; both breakthrough innovation and incremental and evolutionary innovation, how to accomplish this balance is a crucial issue for organizations. From innovation management perspective, what’re the resources and key success factors to lead innovation success, can money buy innovation?

  • How Should CIO respond to endless internal customer demand for IT solutions? Modern IT needs to both take care of internal customers by meeting their needs, and to delight end customer by optimizing digital touch points; it has to both map out the strategic projects, but also to keep the light on. How should CIO prioritize the limited time and resources to ascend IT maturity, and how should CIO respond to endless internal customer demand for IT solutions? Most of IT organizations fall into the following three types of mentality.

  • IT Transformation Debate: Shall IT Lead or Follow? More often than not, technology is the catalyst for driving business change and digital transformation, however, in most of the companies, IT is still perceived as an order taker and support function, and most of IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity for functional alignment or enabler. So IT is at a crossroad: Shall IT lead or follow? Should IT leadership rock the boat or just keep it afloat? And how to run digital IT with high speed and agility?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.2 million page views with 2500+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. 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 and innovating the new ideas; 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 time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Systems Thinking Skill

System Intelligence (SI) and System Thinking (ST) is well be considered emergent properties of the complex adaptive system we call the human mind.  Systems Thinking seeks to observe a system such as the organizations from outside. It encourages the observer to see himself or herself as part of the system, to put it simply, Systems Thinking is to understand the relationship between the parts and the whole, it is an outside-in perspective of  interconnectivity and interdependence within a system or even cross systems. Digital organization today is a hyperconnected and interdependent system, thus, ST becomes more critical thought process to make decisions and solve business problems. It is still an only small percentage of the population who are equipped with a “Systems Mind” to applying Systems Intelligence for problems solving or decision making, is it possible for 'anyone' to "think systems"? Which questions should you ask to assess a person’s Systems Thinking ability?

Are you a holistic thinker who can think up level to abstract for in-depth understanding? Systems Thinking by definition is a cognitive process (thinking), a profound thinking process to embrace holism and nonlinearity. Systems Thinking is the ability to navigate levels of abstraction or logic as an essential thinking skill for STers. Systems Thinking is a way of understanding complexity; to transposing another term, 'systems,' put an emphasis on 'a way.' It is a descriptive term for an object or an experience. From a personal perspective, there’s observable behavioral change in focus from 'better understanding of solutions' to 'better understanding of problems' in an attempt to address perceived increase in system complexity, a tangible recognition that success is a holistic endeavor that needs collaboration and continuous learning.

Are you a balance thinker who can see the connection between the parts and the whole? Systems thinking is often equated with balanced thinking. Systems Thinking can also be defined as putting on the foreground relations and on the background the components of these relations. ST has to do with the ability to see the whole, and the relationships between parts within those wholes, and to grasp the complexity - deal with nonlinear questions that have the contingent and flexing answers as the conditions change. Systems Thinking engenders new actions as part of the process of creating cross-disciplined understanding. There is a big increase in a cross-silo, cross-discipline, and continuous exploration. What is powerful about Systems Thinking is that it’s concerned with wholes changes of the scope, thereby engendering new action, Systems Thinking is part of the process of creating understanding and striking the right balance either making the strategy or problem-solving.

What are  inside your ST toolbox? Everyone performs Systems Thinking to some degree, whether they're aware of it or not. Any new thing to acquire is a change. And to be accepted, it needs to fit the mental model of the person, meaning either she or he wants it in the first place, and so adapted her/his  mind to accepting it and working enough to bend its mind to fit the new change, or the change is presented in a way that is already acceptable to the person. ST is also a set of tools that you can use - success comes from knowing when to apply which tool and when not to. A possible remedy is by using ST as a high level "philosophy" create practical methodologies/ packages. It aims at solving a particular class of tasks in particular domains.

Systems Thinkers shape a worldview based on the realization of interconnectedness. Simply a lot of us as humans can and really think systemically, even if we are not aware of this fact or don't use the specific terms by default. There is a significant philosophical difference between different forms of Systems Thinking. The evidence of the evolution of Systems Thinking is more than an interdisciplinary activity, but a transdisciplinary one. Perhaps there is a measure of Systems Intelligence that can signify to what extent any individual is able to apply or understand systems concepts.

Three “Aha Moment” of an Innovative IT

IT must be managed in two ways; the utility side of the house where IT constantly drives costs lower; the second being business innovation which is the only way to lift IT from commoditized service to strategic partner; from the cost center to value creator; and from the reactive service provider to the proactive game changer. IT sustenance and business innovation are on every CIO's roadmap, especially in the well-established enterprises. What are the “Aha Moment” of IT to transform itself an innovation engine and create a new competitive advantage for the organization?

The moment that IT “Smells the business growth Opportunity”: Too often IT is not involved at a goal level but instead at a task level. This creates an environment where the IT folks focus less on the strategic goals and more on the rules and processes that are defined for their department. Nowadays, technology is often the innovation disruptive force, and information is one of the most invaluable assets in business. IT is often at the right position to oversight business processes and build business competency, to both recognize growth opportunity as well as diagnose early risks. Every opportunity has risk in it, and every risk could also has opportunity in it. IT and the business need to work together in the planning process. This is becoming ever more important, due to increasing speed of changes and continuous digital disruption.IT needs to play different role to situation at hand. What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes, smell growth opportunity and identify the critical business issues by working closely with a business partner from a long-term perspective, and leverage technology to manage innovation across the enterprise boundary. IT leaders need to identify the issues associated with innovation in an enterprise and actually have developed a unique model and platform for open innovation. Therefore, IT needs to become business’s innovation engine, rather than just tools.

The moment to “Capture Customer Insight”: Digital is the age of customers. It’s important for IT to be more innovative from an outside-in customer’s lens. Customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways the application can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. Focusing on customer needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit.To run an innovative IT, it’s critical to listen, comprehend and understand the people and the business they are part of, before embarking on any new way of thinking to know where you have come from enables you to move to a new place even quicker.  If you're going to innovate without knowledge of "evident customer needs," then "the things that you are good at may distract you to build something which can really increase customer value and help business success for the long term. Business information is the very clue to understand every step of customer purchasing; and technology is digitizing every touch point of customer experience. Through catching customer insight and understanding their need, IT can reinvent itself as a customer champ and see it as an opportunity to reboot IT mentality as the “digital brain” of the business.

The moment to “Spot talented innovators”: Creativity is the #1 wanted skill for the digital workforce, this is particularly true for IT professionals because technology is often the innovation driver and IT professionals are innovation harbingers. The forward-looking organizations always look for innovators, or the talent with leadership potential, who can make a positive influence. Both information and technology are not for its own sake, but to discover the new and better way to do things, it’s the means to the end. The innovators are likely to make a change to the structure for better problem solving. These are IT talent people who can think differently, always shape the new box of thinking, mind the gap of the traditional way to solve the problems, establish insight into approach and style in different situations. The IT workplace needs to be designed to build a culture of innovation, and help employees at all levels within an organization, from leaders to front-line, understand and develop their creative capacity to solve problems and exploit opportunities in new and innovative ways. There is no a global or universal solution to building innovation and creativity at the organizational level. It’s business leaders’ responsibility to establish an environment with a high-risk tolerance, where people can grow and develop, be curious and creative without fear. It’s about management that can strike the right balance between increasing productivity and encouraging innovation; between setting standard and let “out-of-box” thinking flow; between risk management and risk tolerance; between discovering the new way to do things and “we always do things like that.” IT  can become a truly innovation engine when it can not only grasp new business opportunities, but also discover and grow more innovators to multiply creativity effect and unleash its innovation potential.

An innovative and value-driven IT needs to understand stakeholders’ expectations and propose an innovation solution portfolio that corresponds to both demand and cost drivers with a focus on business priority, IT develops the professional competencies needed for successful business solution delivery, IT captures organizational knowledge to continuously improve performance, and harness innovation, ultimately improve the organizational level efficiency, effectiveness, agility, and maturity.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 4/29/2016

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and sharing the new thoughts and ideas.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.3 million page views with 2700+ 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. Here is the weekly insight about digital leadership, and Talent Management. 

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO”  4/29/2016
  • Five Mental Characteristics in Systems Thinking to Shape Digital Leadership Systems Thinking (ST) is the ability to navigate levels of abstraction or logic as an essential thinking skill. Most folks follow the conventional way of thinking, it is what they have always been taught and learned to do. But digital leaders need to understand things and circumstances in a more holistic way or think differently in order to clear the vision and navigate the uncharted water to lead digital transformation seamlessly. But how can they leverage Systems Thinking, what are specific mental characteristics in Systems Thinking to shape digital leadership effectiveness?

  • "CIO Master" Book Tuning XVII: IT’s Digital Portfolio:  IT plays a significant role in the business’s digital transformation journey. To reimagine IT potential, reinvent IT management and maximize IT value, it is important to build a balanced IT digital portfolio with a set of differentiated capabilities to enable business growth and improve IT and overall organizational operational excellence. Generally speaking, a capability is an ability that an organization, person, or system possesses. Capabilities are typically expressed in general and high-level terms and typically require a combination of people, processes, and technology to achieve. Digital Capability Portfolio management is essential to successful strategy management. So What’s in an IT digital portfolio?

  • "Digital Valley" Book Tuning I: How to Apply Creativity Wisdom in Problem Solving?Creativity is expressive, productive, inventive, innovative and emergent. The innovators are simply those who can see what's around, and easily and effortlessly discover a better way to do things. Every one of us has creative strength. Some have strength in “thinking” - generating ideas and options, reframing issues or queries in understanding things via different way; other people excel at “seeing,” or observing - spotting interesting challenges and opportunities, trend surfing or noticing the significant details that others do not; and some others are good at “acting,’ they take thoughts and notions and figure out a place, manage logistic to make the idea a reality. So how to build a highly innovative team or organization, and take a structural approach for applying creativity in problem-solving?

  • CIO Master Tuning: XIV: How to Overcome Three Pitfalls to Accelerate Digital Paradigm Shift  Digital means the increasing speed of changes, hyperconnectivity, and always-on business dynamic. Corporate change can be a simple modification of strategy, a business process improvement or a more radical digital transformation. Either at the individual or organizational level, in the static industrial era, change is often a one-time project; in the Digital Age, change has to become an ongoing capability. But what are barriers you need to overcome in order to manage change more effectively?

  • CIO Master” Tuning:XV: How to Build a Trustworthy Relation between IT and Business Business Change Management is managing everything that is necessary to get people to adopt new ways of working such as stakeholder management, communications, process or organizational change, training, business readiness and technical change management. etc, also helps to close the gaps between IT and business. Trust is the key, which means IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business. But how to build a trustworthy culture within IT, between IT and business, and within the organizational scope?

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and sharing the new thoughts and ideas; 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 diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Vision

A vision is a future state of being.

Vision is about having a positive outlook on the future that is not predicated on the past or present. The vision needs to be a good metaphor - 'the guiding light,' so that people can see themselves and their work reflected in it. It is through identifying the "destination" for all, charting the route for all from their own respective positions toward the destination, and then guiding along the way when some for a time deviate or supporting the ones who are lagging behind. There is also a passionate connection to a vision. When a vision is realized, people live with change. Which questions should you ask to assess a person’s vision?

Is vision equal to a dream? A vision is larger and more realistic than a dream, it’s a responsibility. Vision is a foresight with a proactive understanding of cause and effect, not reactive 'seeing.' It is a clear choice among future scenarios that promotes certain behavior. Vision is something you see, others don't, and a visionary mind is able to and not afraid to leverage contrarian views to shape a holistic picture. A great vision is one which relates itself to a purpose greater than itself which contributes to the common good. Vision is not a dream. Vision is a motivation act one plans to see happen in the life, businesses and the society we live in. It often takes turns positively or negatively, but it has been and always will be the genesis of uncountable success stories we all know. The "aha" vision is an "entrepreneurial" attribute; the ability to envision a solution to a perceived or not-yet-perceived need. A visionary mind has the ability to think the past, perceive what is now and foresee the future. Maybe it is about shaping an idea that comes with a commitment to push it through via personal dynamics and guts, determination and single-mindedness. The vision if understood in this perspective becomes a reality achievable and a comprehensible dream beyond words.

Is vision a “must have,” or “nice to have” leadership quality? Leaders have to live and be the vision. The top leaders are visionary. 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. A passionate connection to it doesn't mean you will always be excited about it, or "love" it. It means you will be willing to suffer for it as you realize you are responsible for the life-changing effects of its realization - the world is waiting for it. A clear vision is circular, not tunnel-like; multi-dimensional, not single lenses; colorful, not black and white; it should be vivid enough to tell the story and positive enough to overcome barriers; it touches the heart and mind to drive the actions. Digital leaders today need to have a clear vision to zoom into the future and broadened knowledge to zoom out the reality, in order to guide the business through uncharted water or blurring boundaries during the journey of the digital transformation.

What does a good vision statement include? A good vision statement either for personal development, business growth, or societal progress, should motivate us continually to "reach beyond our grasp," in pursuit of longer-term goals to be realized through achievement of nearer-term objectives, against which performance can be measured and reported to those who care to know. A vision is never "achieved" in the sense of being "completed" (with nothing more to be done) -- not in any number of years or even lifetimes. A vision statement describes a journey rather than a destination. The steps along the way are described in goal and objective statements made "real" in terms of measurable performance indicators.

Vision is an important trait of digital leadership. Vision inspires you to move forward; vision zooms into the future as if it were closer; and vision makes you feel passion about what is going to happen - the opportunities; vision is the great work through both mind and heart orchestration. Vision" and "innovation" are different but complementary skills. If vision is about the "end" status, then innovation is the means to the end. "Vision" is a destination and 'innovation' is the management process including the better process, tools, cultures, etc., to get you there. The “vision" thing has to go hand in hand with execution and value contribution.

Running a Highly Responsive IT Beyond Just Fixing Things

A highly responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, optimization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc.

The majority of IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, spend most of resource and time to “keep the lights on,” play as reactive maintenance center to fix things. The bottom line IT support is still fundamental, but not sufficient to run a digital IT. Nowadays, uncertainty and ambiguity are key challenges for business leaders today, with increasing speed of changes, IT organizations have to move from a reactive order taker and back-office support function to a proactive strategic partner and highly responsive business catalyst.

CIO role has never been about just managing the status quo: Digital transformation starts with mind shift, business value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. The more important thing is to work on the activities and considerations that need to be addressed to enhance the IT-business relationship to help organizations become agiler and proactively adapt to the changes, moving up from efficiency, effectiveness to agility; from functioning to firmness to delight. A large part of the problem for IT transformation is that while there are both long and short-term goals for the business, far too often these goals are in opposition to each other. The tough choice needs to be made: when should you reap the quick win, when shall you focus on long-term growth. Since the rewards are highest for the short term goals being met, the long-term goals tend to suffer, and uncertainty gets blamed rather than managers focused on the short term goals and the associated rewards. IT is in the middle of a sea change, therefore, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. CIOs must set the principles, guideline and rules to run a digital IT. IT transformation has to go a step further and involves internalization of the new values and conceptual model so that the newly required behaviors don't require the same kind of effort and vigilance.

A Responsive IT needs to be more innovative: IT needs to be able to provide innovative solutions or supply differentiated solutions that contribute to both top line growth and the bottom line success of the organization. IT needs to become business’s innovation engine, rather than just tools. IT must lead in reaching high-level performance. So the digital shift in some industries is to be innovative with systems of engagement rather than systems of record. In saying that, some industries have been also doing this for some time. The available technology just makes innovation easier to do now than in the past - less costly, more easily accessible, thanks to the "lightweight' digital technologies and mosaic style of the service model. So IT leaders have to continue self-checking: What business value are you helping to create? Which business team members determine the priority of your work? If you don’t receive straightforward, consistent responses – you have a problem with alignment and accountability – most likely across IT and business. Instead of just fixing the things, digital IT should always embrace the new way, the new process and the technology to do things innovatively.

What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes to be highly responsive: IT involves co-creating business strategy. This will allow IT to shine in both roles –as enabler and driver. IT proactively works as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via leading the transformation, or IT delivers the best solution to the business problems which meet business’s requirement or tailor customer’s needs. Even the speed of change is increasing, businesses still do have contexts of relative certainty, while simultaneously having contexts reflecting both complexity and chaos. Each of these contexts requires a different management approach. IT should proactively facilitate the business partners to the right solutions and help to implement them with speed. Neither of these is wrong or right and choosing which is best should be dependent solely on the situation at hand. These roles will switch in all departments between leadership and support depending who takes the charge of a given project, and where the company's priorities lie.

A highly responsive IT means a lot of things for the digital transformation: speed, innovation, agility, integration, modernization, optimization, intelligence, value creation, and maturity, etc. It is the way to run a digital IT and an overall digital organization.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Digital Valley" Tuning III: Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Decision Wisdom

A “ decisive mindset,“ with decision wisdom is information-savvy, knowledge-empowered, insightful, intuitive, philosophical, and methodological.

The business world has become over-complex than ever, making decision right is both art and science. The majority of leaders and professionals spend a significant amount of time on making large or small decisions in the work and life. The biggest mistake some people make is limiting the definition of "decision making" to the decision itself. Decision-making is not an event, but a process, capability, and it takes wisdom to make sound judgment and effective decisions. Decision making is an art only until the person understands the science, and build the solid decision intelligence. Which questions should you ask to assess a person’s decision wisdom?

Is decision maker Information savvy, also knowledgeable and insightful? Information and decision-making are intimately connected and interdependent. Information applies to the context and environment in which decisions are made. While information is an ingredient of knowledge; but in order to interpret information; you need knowledge. The information allows you to build an actionable insight as how to move from one level to the other. It applies to the context and environment in which decisions are made. For decision-making to be effective, the decision-maker must have sufficient knowledge to make their decisions. If you look at the information life-cycle, any decision-makers as information agents are key in converting and processing data into information and knowledge as well as consuming that information in their decision-making. Information is gold, and knowledge is power. In the human context, information drives awareness, which can include all of these characteristics, uncertainty, surprise, difficulty and entropy, although it can also trigger a sense of confidence, confirmation, validation, verification. The mind equipped with updated information and sufficient knowledge can have better chance to make effective decisions.

Can you frame the right questions in the process of decision-making? Inappropriate farming is being the root cause of most bad decisions. It’s also due to the lack of inquisitive minds. People need to ask questions, not only ask self, but also ask around, to discover not just one answer, but multiple answers to help decision maker understand issues from different angles. Asking managers "What decisions do you make?" But rephrasing the question, try asking them what steps in the process they have to approve, or how they decide which product to invent, support or market. Ask them how they choose their vendors. Ask them what was a difficult decision in the past. Keep mixing up the questions until you get one that seems to "trigger" the kind of answer you're looking for. At the digital Era, making data-based decisions means to leverage analytical thinking, intuition, and add the wisdom in the decision process to improve the overall effectiveness of decision making. The thinking approach being used is informed at some level on subjective, intuitive sources of information, but it is calibrated and employed in the structured guiding process that gets everyone to slow down and think through the implications of their intuitive, subjective assumptions. Decision wisdom is about making a sound judgment vis inquisitiveness, informativeness, and intelligence.

Do you have Paradoxical Intelligence to weigh varying factors in making fair decisions Decision-making is an ability that is learned or unlearned and can swing both ways (making decisions or avoiding) depending mostly on upbringing and cultural circumstances. The paradox of decision is that sometimes you have to sacrifice to save and sometimes you have to disable one thing to enable another. Often challenges are: When the options are too close to each other in similarity. The outcome of each option is either unclear or undesirable. The circumstances leave no visible options. The decision making is situational. The process of decision making may differ in a different situation. The decision maker with high paradoxical intelligence can leverage pros and cons, balance the opposite viewpoints in making more thoughtful decisions to dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity.

The biggest challenge is knowing what you don’t know, it is a reasonable moniker for decision-making blind spots and biases. Good judgment is a must for good decisions. Some consider decision making is a skill, others think it’s a leadership quality. Either way, it starts with such a “ decisive mindset,“ with decision wisdom: information-empowered, analytics oriented, intuitive, philosophical and methodological.

"CIO Master" Tuning XVIIII: Three “Hybrid” Elements in Digital IT

Digital IT has a “hybrid” nature. IT management philosophy is also transforming from “built to last,” to “wired for change.”

There is no one size fits all formula to run a highly effective IT, because, different IT organizations and the business as a whole are at the different stage of business maturity, IT can be used as a tool, enabler, catalyzer, or a digital game changer to meet the ultimate goal of an organization's short-term quick win and long-term strategic advantage. IT also has to strike the right balance between the “old way” to do things and the new way to reinvent IT as a digital change agent. There are a few “hybrid” elements in IT management to ensure a seamless digital transformation.

Cloud & On-Premise IT Service: From IT service management perspective, Cloud brings unprecedented opportunity for IT to speed up and improve IT agility. However, it takes step-wise strategic planning to push the cloud envelope. In quite a long period of time, IT organizations will have to keep both models: the on-premise models to keep IT stable and reliable, and the hybrid cloud model to take the path for IT growth and expansion. Cloud has different flavors and types, Hybrid, Private, and Public; SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, etc. There are important considerations such as mission criticality, integration requirements, data volumes, pricing model, and competitive differentiation required. There is no denying that Cloud is a disruptive IT strategy that drives a services-oriented delivery model, which, in most instances, can provide a tangible measurable, quantifiable value, but not everyone is ready to get the most of the value from Cloud. The cloud shift needs to focus on what's differentiating to the business, the "what" value of IT services rather than "how" to do it. So it makes sense that businesses are constantly seeking new flexible tools that totally exceeds what the available arms and legs can provide. The decision what goes to the cloud should not just look at technology but the process maturity and the culture discipline to maximize the value of cloud. It is important to weave "the cloud" into the digital IT picture, and keep the balance of “on premise” and “on demand” IT applications, to ensure IT is running with faster speed, reliability, and agility. To be successful, IT leaders must support the existing environment (provide a reliable secure infrastructure, maintain the application portfolio) while deploying innovative value generating (business cost reduction and revenue generating) initiatives that are leveraging SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) technologies. IT enablement is all about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing for improving organizational agility, effectiveness, and maturity.

DevOps: DevOps is the natural result of organizations taking agility past their development processes to encompass the entire software lifecycle, including deployment and maintenance. DevOp is a mind shift not only in the way products are developed but also the way is supported; developers and operation staff should be in lockstep from the conceptualization phase, in this way specific needs required by the operation teams are integrated during the development of the solutions, automation, monitoring, performance, etc. DevOps, as a technical discipline allows IT to short-circuit a lot of the longer human-oriented processes and automate things. Although overall DevOps is still in a growth phase to make corporate cultural differences, and there are unreasonable expectations in some organizations because there are major gaps in talent and knowledge.The skills required for an automated and integrated service-centric team requires collaboration and scripting (coding), configuration, application and networking skill sets.

CapEx & OpEx:  SAAS on-demand IT service model also provides the opportunity for IT to manage both capital expenses and operational expense with flexibility. Shifting IT spending from Capex to Opex might be a good strategy for organizations that have already solved the riddle of delivering excellence in IT operations. It provides the opportunity for the CIO worth his/her weight to shift the resources and focus on strategic projects that will benefit the business's long-term goals. Shifting CapEx to OpEx can save on capital expenditures, and use your limited budget to its fullest. While your budget may be thin, a cloud solution can maximize it and get your organization the updated technology you need. You’ll have a system that’s more affordable to implement and maintain than traditional on-premise technology. Also, as you identify areas in IT portfolio that have become commoditized, they should be prime candidates to move to the cloud. CapEx to OpEx shift can well align the business benefit with the cost.

Digital IT has a “hybrid” nature. To compete at digital speed, IT is transforming from a builder to an integrator, from a plumber to an orchestrator; from an order taker to a business rule comaker. IT management philosophy is also transforming from “built to last,” to “wired for change.” IT needs to proactively create and response to changes, IT also needs to be flexible in delivering the optimal solutions to tailor the business needs timely. And IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization, in order to bridge the gaps and run a high-performing digital organization.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s “Out-of-Box” Thinking Ability

Out of Box is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective.

Every mind has a certain box, some smaller, some bigger. The box starts set-up at a very early age, by your surroundings, the media you followed, the books you read, the education you received, the people you interacted with and the standards by which you lived. The "boxes" are the walls in your mind. Walls in your mind are constructed by the society's conditioning and rules imposed by influencers. However, the box keeps changing, in today's competitive environment, what was outside the box yesterday, may not be such today. Our thinking has to continuously evolve, adapt, and prepare for change. Which questions should you ask to assess a person’s “Out-of-box” thinking ability?

Are you a creative thinker? "The box" is anything that the average person would come up with after having spent too little time being creative. “The box" is a mental construct made up of personal (self-imposed) and environmental (culture, parental/peer influence, society) components that one operates within, so thinking outside "the box" means doing something outside of the confines of the construct. When someone asks you to "think outside the box" - they're telling you to throw conventional wisdom and pure linear logic out the window for a while, and to let the creative mind run free for a while. The resulting ideas wouldn't be completely usable yet, but would serve as a starting point for logic to return to see which ideas could be used. In short terms, this is "brainstorming on steroids." There’s nothing wrong with lots of out-of-the-box creative type thinking as long as you couple it with some good analytical (left brain type thinking). Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of spending too much time and effort chasing down bad ideas. Think of it as going from divergent thinking (out-of-the-box) to convergent thinking where you filter or funnel down the ideas to those that make sense given your capabilities. Creativity needs a problem for solving.

Are you often comfortable to get out of your comfort zone? More often, the box is your safety net and your comfort zone. When you allow information into being accepted as absolute "truth" without first using critical thinking, it inhibits your ability to also think creatively. So in order to think "out of the box," you have to clarify what's inside your box, though. The box is anyone’s comfort zone, that things are ok and everyone agrees and have the same or similar thoughts. It's a boring tiny space with very little innovative thought contained within the box. In fact, everything in the box is easy to turn stale and stagnant with increasing speed of changes. Great things don't happen inside your comfort zone or in a box; typically, it's associated with convention within context. The commonality is that "the box" tends to be what everyone with experience in the topic can identify as being "commonly known." But more often, the best practices are already out of dated, or the "commonly known" is already so yesterday because the knowledge life cycle has been significantly shortened at digital age. So there are not such things as too much outside the box thinking, but it's also important to shape the newer box to stay focus.

Are you inquisitive to step outside your own box and step into others’ box? Thinking outside of box means you are in a continuous learning mode, embrace critical thinking and creative thinking. When one leaves those existing thoughts and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box to unfamiliar territory. Often a problem is seen very differently by two different parties. By stepping outside your own box and getting into others’ box, a solution becomes obvious, then get back in your own box and think how that solution will work for you. Almost always, it's possible to see a mutually beneficial solution or one solution with two parts to it. This method works particularly well with complex problems and the results can be surprising, two diametrically opposed parties sometimes end up working together on a solution that suits them both well.

We all should broaden our points of interest and try new things to extend our thinking box. So please don't stop speaking out what you are thinking outside the box and have fun doing it. If we all stayed in a box and didn't believe things exist outside of our box, there's no room to broaden our thoughts. One would just take what’s in the box and live with it. No chance to expand. Out-of-Box thinking is a progressive and innovative thinking mode that leads to better mutual understanding and more advanced society among all humans.

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