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

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience vs. Customer Success

Customer service is reactive, customer experience is interactive and customer success in proactive.
In traditional organizations, customer service is only one function’s work; being customer-centric means from strategic making to execution, customer is the focal point from cross-functional perspective, and customer delight also moves from customer service to customer experience and customer success.

Customer service is reactive, customer experience is interactive and customer success in proactive. Customer Service is reactive, available when customers need it, in the channel when customers want it. Customer experience needs to be interactive, to delight customer in every touch point. Customer Success is proactive, identifying ways to help customers gain value from the product or service you provide. Customer Experience is the broad umbrella that you deliver from purchase throughout the full "journey". Customers need all of these areas to be a focus of the business if you want them to continue to buy and recommend your products/services to others. There is a distinction between reactive (Customer Service) and Proactive (Customer Success). Together it defines the Customer Experience (interactive).

The focus on customer success is the key, as it changes your way of thinking (from reactive to proactive) - how do you make the customer successful, using the service, platform etc. Customer success says a lot more than just customer service. There's an expectation of more than just service now, but for future as well. It is clear that customers do not make the distinction between service, experience nor success. They want to feel confident that they get what they pay for with a commensurate level of purchase fulfillment and that the interaction with the supplier is pleasant and at times exceptional when things go wrong. They enjoy the whole end-to-end experience. Being proactive also implies that functions within an organization need to look at upstream functions and call out any actions that result in a poor customer experience within one’s own function. For example, with long call waits, the reactive method would be for the call center to augment staff, reduce call duration etc. The proactive method would be to understand the call drivers and address that with the relevant functions.

Four focus areas in Customer Success: Customer Service is primarily reactive. There are instances where it would be advantages to get in front of a major change to a product or service and you might want your Customer Service team to proactively reach out to your customer base. But by and large their work is mostly transactional and reactive. So the proactive nature of Customer Success clearly separates the two disciplines. There are four focus areas in Customer Success: (1) leading the adoption efforts of your product and service offerings. (2) driven to increase product and service expansion into other areas as a trusted adviser 3) having a focus on renewals and churn 4) capturing a customer's success criteria and delivering results.

Using Data and Feedback a company can show agility in providing what the customer is looking for in products and services. If done well this leads to a customer success. When the customer has a question or issue with the product/service/information provided; dealing with this well is what makes good customer service. The Customer's experience could be defined as how well did the company measure up to the customer's expectations. Did you deliver on the promised quality of the product/service +/- the quality of the staff/systems the customer dealt with? Customer Success is a fast and evolving role and there isn't a clear and consistent way companies deploy their various service elements. Organizations are now experiencing a learning curve as it relates to Customer Success. Some basic tenets that need to be considered:
(1). Know your customer
(2). Value your customer's time
(3). Own the customer's problem or issue. Provide relief as quickly as possible.
(4). Think of the customer even when they don't call you.

Loyal customers expect, and deserve more than just 'service' - their interest and thus success, lies in achieving their objectives consistently. However, without a thoughtful approach, the mode of work, and the business model, establishing a scalable Customer Success organization can be a painful path. Done well, an organization gets out of break-fix mode and leverages strategic resources to proactively build a truly customer-centric business.

Anti-Digital Mindset Symptom: Silo-Thinking

Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s mind and sets barriers in human's heart.

Silos may be the most universal problem facing businesses, especially large mature organizations or our society today. And most people don't realize how much pain it is causing or the cost to the organization. Now businesses are moving into the hyper-connected, accelerated digital continuum, how to breakdown silo thinking, and embrace holistic thinking, systems thinking and strategic thinking in building high-performing organization?

At their heart, silos are not a structural issue; they are the result of poor thinking; or lack of holistic think, system thinking and strategic thinking. Managers tend to respond to silos by reorganizing, but this is hardly ever the most important aspect or the place to start. What you need to do is change thinking. From business perspective, because people are focused inward protecting budgets and power structures rather than focusing outward on customers and problem-solving thinking. Silos are nothing more than the barriers that surface between departments within an organization, causing people who are supposed to be on the same team to work against each other. And whether this phenomenon is called departmental politics, divisional rivalry or turf competition, it is one of the most frustrating aspects of life in any large mature organization.

Silos cause slowness and small-thinking. They are the result of poor strategic thinking and organizational design. A company is made up silos called functions, and the functions rely upon company/cross-functional strategy, process, and communication. They are the elephant in the room at every board meeting and daily operation of a company. There are leaders accountable for the business and it depends on their desire/ vision/ ability to get their teams input and commitment to define and implement a 'business plan on a page" as a unified team. The solution to breakdown silo is to apply bigger thinking -to implement an effective cross-silo strategy, better integral process, and collaborative communication.

Silos can start, and flourish, under the poor leadership thinking. Silos will always exist. Isolation of teams limits creativity as well as duplication of efforts resulting in wasting valuable resources especially when you are always facing tight timelines. This is definitely a reflection of poor leadership thinking (too much focus on efficiency thinking, not on effectiveness thinking; lack of creativity, etc), to breakdown silos, digital leaders have to not only provide clear process guidelines but see that the teams are embracing cross-functional collaboration and taking customer-centric effort as well.

Leveraging "self interest" can be very powerful in unifying silos –or WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) thinking. Silos will be inevitable as long as the rewards for collaboration are outweighed by the rewards for competition. If a manager sees his/her success measured against the manager in the next office ( another silo), rather than sharing expertise to the overall benefit of the organization, then he/she will be inclined to erect barriers to stop collaboration.

The mitigation (not a solution) is to leverage the self-interest that causes them, and undermine the silo mentality by fostering social / business networks of "self-interest" or common interest across silos. Take functional tailored approaches, such as apply incentive compensation for employees in revenue-producing functions, internal digital forums for customer service, and social networks as a mechanism for cross-functional/ cross-silo unification,

Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s mind and set barriers in organizational communication and collaboration, it is an anti-digital thinking symptom, only through effective digital leadership, more dynamic business processes and the latest digital social collaboration technologies and tools, the silo can be crossed over and bridged through, business can be running with full speed, and human society can move forward in harmony.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Does Creative Leader Make you Nervous?

It seems to be most of leaders/managers have more conventional wisdom, but creative leaders have better common sense.
Many executives in large corporate environments equate "creativity" with uncertainty and risk. Creative ideas are often hard to sell, particularly in public companies because the payoff is uncertain. Unless there is a clear culture of accepting some level of failure and budgeting for it on a regular basis, many fail to take the risk of encouraging creativity, therefore, the creative leaders also make others nervous, because they are out-of-box thinker and take more transformational initiatives.

Why creative leaders make others nervous? People are different; some are visual, some analytical and some (Creative Leaders) are a unique combination of the two...meaning they can easily recognize the challenge, visualize a solution, evaluate it and then recommend it (in what seems in the corporate world, in a blink of an eye). It doesn't mean that Creative Leaders are smarter that those that are analytical; but to many who are not a Creative Leader, they do not understand how someone can quickly visualize a solution. Therefore they don't trust it. So it seems to be most of leaders/managers have more conventional wisdom, but creative leaders have better common sense.

To test for how 'creative' or accepting of 'creativity' a company is by asking - How does learning occur? How is success defined? And how is failure defined? If they state learning occurs through their training program, success is defined by meeting budget and project timelines and failure is by not meeting them, then, you know the answer. If learning occurs through the experience of failing, success is defined as capturing that learning of how not to achieve the desired result and failure is not learning from those mistakes, and then you’re getting there.

Most of the time, the company executives’ nervousness stems from the fear of failure and to some extent loss of control. Creative management shapes bigger box, but the traditional type of management cannot look outside the box. The creative and innovative management make more profit than those that weren't. It doesn't take much to be creative. Just welcome the creative leaders on board, and just allow your employees to come up with the ideas and compensate them appropriately for those ideas. Give them credit instead of taking the credit. Employees are people and want to be acknowledged too. Why are creative leaders making others nervous? Creativity is risky and most companies want to minimize risk versus taking intelligent risks. Most companies would never take a huge leap even with the enticement of a huge payback due to the minimize risk culture which delivers minimal payback. Although it is understandable, in difficult times, there is a real need for companies to embrace responsible creativity. How can you get them to accept it? You need to learn how to sell your ideas. It may mean sitting back and waiting to make your recommendation. Talk to others one-on-one, gather their input and make them a part of the process.

The creative leaders have well thought-out plans as well: Senior level executives who actually fear the creativity that drives the business. They do not see that as they try to desperately cling to the conventional norms of "command and control" leadership that they are actually stifling the very creativity that their company depends upon for success and ultimately corporate survival. And what most of senior level executives do not realize is that a Creative Leader is not shooting from the hip. They have been mentally reviewing the pros and cons, potential cause and effect to other areas, short and long term financial implications and the overall impact on the company, prior to suggesting an alternative approach. It takes both courage and strategy to make any transformation. Unless there is a credible, rational, and (reasonably) benevolent commitment from the top down to the bottom of the organization to change that is communicated throughout the organization, and unless there is the opportunity for communication upward, attempts to implement substantial changes in cultural, processes, and structure are fated to be extremely painful at best, and may even be doomed to fail.

There’re two sides of the innovation management story: In the one organization, the initial "fear of the unknown" morphed into the kind of low-level anxiety that stimulates creative change. In the process, there’s friction to changes, but over the longer haul, everyone from the top down saw the benefits. Individuals and teams were rewarded for taking calculated risks. Ultimately, creative change was seen as an all-win proposition because it was valued by top management and that commitment permeated the organization. In the other organization, "creative change" was a slogan that had no teeth. There was a general perception that despite the recognition by most in the organization that change was needed and creative approaches to issues had to be found, only some of top management appeared to be truly committed, and few incentives were given for taking calculated creative risks. When some ideas and initiatives came anyway, there was a general perception that they were at best unsupported, and at worst, undermined. The lack of commitment among top management was that the senior executives did not communicate "what was in it for them," and there was a clear disconnect between top management and the rest of the organization. Two-way communication was not encouraged.

Creative leaders are not day dreamers or spontaneous actors, they are the versatile leader who learns and adapt, they are the thought leaders who can think out of box; they are the one who make plans, but be dynamic to make adjustment, and they are just the one who can see things differently and do things alternatively. Perhaps they make others nervous because they seem to breakdown the conventional wisdom, but they are the one who push human world forward.

A Peaceful Mind

A peaceful mind is like a calm sea, open, profound, quiet and flow.

Compare to many other status of mind, a peaceful mind is one of an ultimate levels of thinking (or non-thinking), perhaps it is just like a calm sea, open, but not overwhelming; profound, but not intimidating; blue, but not means sorrow; quiet, but it is not depressing; and it keeps flow with harmony.

Peace is more than just a “Feel Good” Factor. Peace is the ability to connect with, and be in sync with creation. Peace is a complete reconciliation between one’s beliefs and one’s actions. Being at peace with myself, is when one’s thoughts, feelings and actions are aligned. How persons response to different kinds of unknown situations is different and how they internalize is unique as well. With consciousness and practice, distress elements impact can be reduced, thereby increase internal peace... It does not happen every day, but more often than it used to.

A peaceful mind is not a matter of doing, but of being. Peace is a reality achieved through proactively understanding harmony in the Universe; and a positive culmination of walking the talk. It is indeed remarkable how our feelings within translate into the kind of vibes we generate outside of ourselves too. Real Peace is living with no resistance. It is a state of effortless living. If they are actively sought, they are elusive. They are gifts that do not fall into people's hands easily.

A peaceful mind has high EQ and inner wisdom. One needs to identify sometimes with thoughts of fear, anxiety, anger, agitations. What is required is to maintain peace and after taking action with inner wisdom, let go the emotion instead of clinging to it. Mind keeps wandering and you become prey to the wanderlust. If you stop succumbing to this wanderlust, you shall be at peace.

Go deep within oneself to ask the right questions in maintaining the peace of mind. The reflection has to happen within the absolute depths of our being. We are all venerable. Life is having uncertainty, insecurity and ambiguity. Where is the security that we all seek? The vicissitudes of life are like the tide with up & downs; or the moon with wax and full. So the true test of peace is when you are standing on the verge of fall but still you are comfortable within.

A peaceful mind has the real enlightenment to unify mind and heart. Here is a profound quote: “Enlightenment is about learning what the truth is, taking the truth into yourself, and then helping other people to understand it. It is NOT about feeling good all the time. It is about feeling the anger when injustices are taking place to spur you on to right action. That is the role for anger. Most of all what real enlightenment is about is responsibility to the Truth. It is more than responsibility to yourself, it is more than responsibility to other people, it is more than responsibility to a whole civilization, a whole planetary society. It is about Responsibility to Truth. That has to come above all else..."

Peace and happiness are subjective; and it means different things to different people. We can achieve peace and happiness by being ourselves, by being authentic and being good. I am comfortable with myself...and therefore learning to be so with others as well. That makes the world a peaceful place as well.


CIO’s “Cloud Philosophy”: The Preparation and Pitfalls of Cloudification

Cloudification is a journey to reinvent IT via modernization, classification, integration and optimization.
More and more organizations are pushing their cloud envelop and migrate more IT applications, platform, or even infrastructure to the cloud, what are the logic steps you should follow, and what’re the pitfalls you need to avoid?

Preparation is the key. you need to know what you require from a Cloud provider before you embark upon choosing a partner. Its not just features but also, SLA, Contract Terms, Price point, Geographies, all should be considered, especially if you are looking at Cloud as the strategy for all or most of your application set.

Clarify GRC requirement. Validating your company’s GRC platform is met while maintaining productivity and securing corporate data meets the needs within your budget. When you can answer or meet all GRC requirements, then this cloud planning would be an excellent first start. It shall include a SLA discussion. You simply cannot hold cloud deployments to the same set of processes and due-diligence as legacy IT. 

Evaluate cloud service provider via agile principles, not waterfall model. Find something that works as close as possible to your process now, but determine if the cloud provider is going to align with your business processes. You will evolve, they will evolve, technology will evolve... Not all cloud service providers have a very extensive ecosystem of apps, services, and partners due to APIs having been published and well understood. Trying to evaluate and manage cloud providers to the waterfall model increases overall risk. This is why many agile and innovative organizations moving to fail-fast principles - which the cloud helps adopt.

 Portability is a key question. How easy will it be to move your data away from the service provider? Whether planning IaaS, PaaS or SaaS via a public, private or partner cloud, the contracts of the legacy applications an organization wishes to deploy or integrate need to be consulted. Emphasize the importance of understanding the workload targeted for Cloud, its characteristics, governance and compliance may dictate the type of cloud to target or negate cloud use all together. 

There is no one size cloud solution to fit all. Organizations just have to understand each flavor of cloud and adopt it accordingly.
(1) Private Cloud 
• Compute requirements are very high 
• IT agility and the ability to move workloads around 
• GRC & security restrictions that dictate dedicated hardware resources 

(2) Hybrid Cloud 
• Compute requirements are small, medium or large 
• IT agility and the ability to move workloads around 
• There are different levels of GRC requirement for apps/platform/infrastruture cloudification.
(3) Public Cloud 
• Compute requirements are small, medium or large 
• IT agility and the ability to move workloads around 
• IT utility workloads can be elevated to the cloud for cost efficiency.

Moving up to the cloud is neither for cost saving only nor about catching the IT fashion, it is a journey to reinvent IT via modernization, classification, integration and optimization, it is an opportunity to improve IT agility and increase IT maturity, make well preparation, and avoid potential pitfalls, it is not only the technology, more crucially about management methodology and philosophy. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Child-Like Mindset

It is important to keep a child-like innocence and open-mindedness throughout one's life.

We all have child hood, we may still remember our imagination when we were a child, but cannot memorize such imaginable moment when we grow up. Is child-like mindset more audacious, intuitive, open and nature?

Child-like thinking is more intuitive. Sometime, a child can instinctively figure out the solution to a problem simpler than adult! They have better gut feeling or more “aha’ moments when discovering the new world, as they have more connected relationship with nature, they are open to unknowns, their intuitive mind can connect the dots boldly to create such flash of insight or convey the unconventional wisdom.

Child-like thinking can produce innovation, because they have the beginner’s mind; they enjoy experimenting and discovering; there’s no rule to limit their imagination; but when you start to be socialized to fit in the surrounding, or enter your work as a adult, you place yourself in a different mindset, you start to fear that your creativity will be seen as disruptive, infantile, you live up or down to other people's expectations, you set limit to fall into conventional wisdom, and you just become lack of the curiosity.

A child-like mind is full of imagination. As children we are conditioned to imagine, explore and create with cues from our environment and ability to discover and question it. As Einstein well put knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world. Children are not afraid of blurting out their thoughts. But adults are normally scared. Adult knows the world and set limit to stay in their comfort zone. They think for logical solution. Most of adult don't change their life radically than children. They hamper themselves to be creative, not just out of the desire to conform to a set of rules or guidelines but out of fear that they will be seen as unusual, strange, that they will not fit in.

Education effect upon child-like mindset: On one hand, education is the key to gain knowledge, and the mind equipped with knowledge can broaden one’s worldviews and sharpen one’s cognitive understanding, increase the mind’s capability and capacity to think critically and systematically; years of learning are required in order that one's contribution to change in the world be significant, and not simply incremental. However, the cons of education are perhaps that the intuitive mind is suppressed by the rational thinking process taught in school and society. The subconscious mind is suppressed to unleash the potential of breakthrough thinking which can bridge the visible and invisible, conscious and subconscious and physical and spiritual. The brain's ability to pattern and its reticular activating system (RAS) that works between conscious and unconscious conspire with the way kids need to be encouraged and seek to simplify complexity.

Still, there are creative adults in almost every profession, especially like designers, artists, poets, etc. There are probably several component that are important for being innovative, such as being  creative, proactive, knowable (multi T-shaped), experienced, strong social capital and being at the right place at the right time. It is important to release of our childlike qualities, which we all still have, takes off the shackles of making corporate presentations and actually makes your presentation, be open, be curious, be childlike, and be free to think creatively.

Is effective leadership magical or methodical?

A great leadership starts with magic thinking (creativity, openness, empathy) and methodical process.
People have been asking if there is something "magical" or "special" about being a leader since time began. Just take a look at the endless debates around leadership substance and styles. Is effective leadership magical or methodical?

It is not magical, but good leaders make it look that way. It is much like top flight athletes - years of bloody hard work and constant practice so that the influence and execution is made to look effortless. Leadership is complex (not complicated) because one is dealing with people (not human resources) and ecosystem (not just business.) Leadership is simply the hard work of learning how to positively influence others toward collaboratively effective action. It means taking time to think before acting. Once you've acted, it means reflecting long enough to know what just happened, why it happened, how it happened, and how to replicate the narrow path to success while avoiding the broad pathway to failure.

Leadership is methodical, but there is some magic in there. Effective leadership is methodical, it takes hard work and endurance, but appears magical to the observing eye. Learning and practicing leadership is a methodical process that is improved by constant learning and practice. A good leader never stops learning. And a good leader makes it look magical.  

Best leaders are more often, like the magnet to attract the best, they may also have a magical behavior. First, all employees in an organization feel "attracted" by leader and have a wellness and harmony relationship to reach the objectives. Great leaders find the time to do the simple things right. Taking a step back before acting, and reflecting on the act, are the simple things one needs to focus on. But the magic happens when you can naturally do things like the instinct without thinking, and you create a culture within your team where people feel open to giving you feedback on how you lead, and vice versa.

A great leadership starts with magic thinking, be open, be creative and be empathetic, then work with methodical process, practice, practice and practice; to achieve effectiveness and high maturity.

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