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.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Is Business the IT Sponsor and Champion?

Although IT becomes more crucial and touches almost every key process & capability of business today, in many organizations with lower level of business maturity, business and IT work as silo, fighting for the limited resources or compete for the never-enough budget. What should you do if the business (non-IT functions) is not actively engaged or providing the appropriate role as the project sponsor or champion? What are the best ways to get your business (non-IT) partners to listen to your ideas?

Business case justification is important in IT portfolio management. If you have a project or program without a sponsor, you need to take a fast, hard look at the business case that justifies the program you are engaged on, spending assets on. Lack of commitment and support should be seen as a significant uncertainty and should be reflected as such in your risk assessment for the program. Follow formal risk assessment processes and determine your mitigation strategy for the situation. Sometimes it is simply a misunderstanding of the expectations for the role and responsibilities of the sponsor/ champion. Other times with formal review you find out there is no one "owning" the goals, perhaps there’s no reason to even start the project, and perhaps you save the company a lot of time and money! So, assess the risk, document it and mitigate it. This is all about communication and collaboration.

Business sponsorship is crucial in IT project success. in the case of IT initiatives, especially in today’s dynamic technical and business environment where IT is moving from back-office initiatives to revenue generating initiatives, the likelihood of succeeding by staying within their own area of influence is not going to be effective. If the non-IT leaders do not play active roles as project sponsor and champions, these important initiatives will not likely succeed. You have got to move away from silos that focus on narrow perspectives, to partnerships that effectively collaborate on these often transformational ideas. However, a sponsor and champions should not be tagged/selected. If they are, the likelihood of the project succeeding is diminished. These are roles that have been earned and desired to be performed because they believe in the initiative and can motivate the other stakeholders; which are the fundamental roles that they perform.

In high mature organization, IT and business have to share the glory when the project succeed; and take the blame when the effort fails. What to do if business functions do not sponsor IT “heart-by-heart”? If that is the case, who takes the blame if the initiative fail? Is it typically IT? Who gets the credit for the benefits if it succeeds; would that typically not be IT? What if business does not share the risk. Perhaps the root of the problem is reconciling what the business needs to understand regarding IT and the role that non-business leaders must play to increase the likelihood of success. Many times an IT stakeholder will be the biggest reason projects derail. They change something after a project is headlong down a path of no return and their lack of understanding / or turning of a blind eye to how IT can not just "turn on a dime" is the biggest issue - and has a domino effect. In addition, it is not just the changing requirements that are at issue. There are other essential governance roles for the sponsor and champions, and other non-IT leaders, like ensuring the non-IT organizations change their process/organizations to leverage the new initiative, deriving and approving strategic IT initiatives, and that IT has the appropriate resources (people/skills, budget). Whose responsibility is it to help the business understand what their role needs to be, and what are some vehicles for doing it? That is the co-responsibility of senior executive team work as a whole to craft a good business strategy with IT as key component, and map the business goals with project portfolio via the handy tools, robust processes, and cross-functional teams

Well defining IT value proposition for business is strategic for continuous business communication. The value that IT provides to the enterprise is not the infrastructure. It is not even the apps that run on the infrastructure. It is how the business changes that they do take advantage of the apps that run on the infrastructure. That demands having non-IT leaders perform the appropriate roles as a sponsor and champions. Transparency and Accountability alongside strong support on the business side are the only things that will make this problem stop. It demands mutual respect and two-way communication; further, stop using sides, but think business as a whole, to work as a team for business’s long term success. No easy answer, no silver bullets, follow the ultimate business principles with good old fashion discipline. The key rests in getting both IT and non-IT stakeholders to understand what is taking place, what it means to their organization, what the roles must be, and how best to proceed. This will be more difficult in some organizations and cultures, but needs to be considered as fundamental to the future. Here are list of IT value propositions:
1) Availability (Up time)
2) Customer satisfaction (internal IT customers)
3) Value of IT to the business
4) Projects delivered on value (beyond just on time & budget)
5) Innovative / new ideas
6) Bottom line “keep the light on”  performance
7) Business cost optimization
8) Workforce management
9). Digital transformation

As the transformation of IT continues (as IT evolves to become the business), this longstanding conundrum becomes fundamental to reconcile. While there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all, there are clearly some things that all organizations need to focus on. If business does not consider IT as equal partners & part of business, especially in today’s dynamic business and technical environments where IT is being used more and more around the globe for revenue generating initiatives and the business is becoming IT, the likelihood of success is diminished. It is a radical digital transformation that should be perceived as exciting, rewarding, and appropriate.

Anti-Digital Mindset: Superficial Thinking

 Many say, superficiality has gone global. The western thinking (psychology) is dominated by quantity, and doesn't reason on quality; and the eastern thinking (philosophy) is too ancient to adapt to the change, with culture quintessential and feudalistic residue co-existing. To change or not to change, are human as race destined to be superficial? There's enough wrong with the business and the world and enough fractions within specific ideologies, why does superficial thinking cause the problems with kind of blindness in understanding things, and how to fix it?

Superficiality is the very reason to make the world disconnect. superficiality means to focus on just symptoms, than root causes; only catch the conventional understanding of content, not the contextual insight beneath the surface; the quantity over quality; the close-mindedness or pre-conceived ideas about how things should happen. Due to the cognitive gaps and cultural limitation, in all fairness, we are all biased in varying degrees and sometimes, we aren't even aware of our own biases, it seems people all over the world are wearing “blinders,” each person’s myopia shuts them off from a reality, to some degree. The labels and judgements we place upon each other, are nothing more than barriers that keep us disconnected from one another. So now, the oceans, the mountains and the dessert can not separate us, but superficiality is the very reason to make the world disconnect….

Remove the old thinking habits, and add the new thinking ingredients, to overcome superficiality. There is no magic “thinking sauce” to make one’s mind profound, but learning, delearning and relearning; and continuous learning are the healthy cycle to make one’s thinking fresh and keep one’s mind sharpened to adapt to the digital speed of the changes:
Remove: Conventional thinking as sole path.  
Add: Perspective from right brain: intuition, creativity, innovation -learn a method to do it!
Remove: reactive thinking and negative self-talk.
Add: proactive consistent grace filled interactions no matter what is the situation.
Remove: prejudging others by their physical identity;
Add: listening empathetically to others to connect the minds.
Remove: Silo thinking as only see the tree, with ignorance of forest;
Add: Systems thinking as the ability to mentally connect all of the different components of a given problem according to their actual working patterns in order to discover the optimal solution to the problem. This is how we transform the complex into simple, define specific solutions, stimulate commitment, and achieve better results.

To cure superficiality, the old cliche comes to mind: two sides to a coin; one compliments the other; All wisdoms have some paradoxical theme:
The critical thinking (constructive “negativity”) followed by positivity is necessary, to point out blind spots.
There are moments in life when an individual must be cold hearten: known as tough love.
Other times selfishness enables a teenager to deal with the pressures of peer judgements.
Doubtful can guide a being from a negative outcome. Skeptical enforces confidence. Indirect metaphor highlights the core of direct conversation.
Selfish-selfless, doubtful-confident, kind-cold-hearten; optimistic-cautious,  etc. are all healthy cycle to make mind deep and thoughtful.

"Don't judge a book by it's cover" is not just an oxymoron. Ironically, we probably all learned as kids "Don't judge a book by it's cover", but, unfortunately, we do live in an increasingly "profiled" world that does judge a book by it's cover. Workplace management is a microcosm of the larger society and that we are participating knowingly or unknowingly of the perpetuation of our biases and prejudices, the stereotypical thinking and conventional wisdom. Isn't this related to our self-preservation mechanisms? Isn't it easier to point out the negatives in others to feel better about ourselves? Is it harder to acknowledge the positive in others because it makes oneself feel inferior as human beings? We cannot expect different results if we continue participating in the same culture-the collective mind and behaviors. we are all more inclined to be negatively critical than positively objective. It is easier to identify what is different from oneself than what is the same. Hence the focus on the negative, it is different, or so we would like to believe. We are creatures of our gene pool, so we are hardwired to seek out groups of similar features as ourself. Just because the world has changed doesn't mean that our natural biases has, and only the outlier’s view, cognitive awareness and external feedback can mitigate this, to mind the gaps and harmonize.

Depth of perspective and strength of character is what we need today, not more of the same old paradigm. We can do better. To overcome the common challenges and advance human race, we have to really dig beneath the superficial layer and see around the corner, to get to the heart of the matter; not just watch, but perceive; not just listen to what’s been said, but pay more attention to not being said; be critical and creative at the same time, with good intention for problem solving and mankind progress.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Agile Governance

Agile governance helps business to manage complexity and achieve resilience.
Governance is like a steering wheel, to ensure your project or business as a whole to run towards the right direction. However, the traditional governance processes are overly rigid, not flexible enough to adapt to the accelerating speed of changes and business complexity. What’s the Agile governance all about, and what’re the best practices and next practices, and what’re the pitfalls need to be avoided?

The entire point of any governance discipline is to optimize decision making. For if they indeed "mastered" IT governance, they would be capable of agile decision-making. "Optimal" decision-making mechanisms ensure decisions occur as fast as they possibly can - with the speed being in perfect balance of cost and risk for the given decision situation. The problem is, governance is almost always associated with compliance and control. Given many organizations don't view governance as "decision-making optimization," their governance efforts usually devolve into time-consuming, costly, over-bearing bureaucratic constructs. So the concept of agile governance is to ensure your organization optimizes the "traditional" governance to which you refer, and then determine how much you are willing to spend to make decisions faster, and how much risk you are will to accept to make decisions faster (increased decision-making speed will always result in at least one), If you do find an "agile governance" methodology or framework.

Understanding business for the dynamic 'complex, but adaptive system' that they are, is the starting point for agile governance. Quite apart from anything else and without getting into deep discussion about complexity (as a source of endogenous risk), risk, epistemic/aleatory uncertainty, consider that: unpredictability, uncertainty and the probability of surprising emergent properties increase with the complexity of the systems. Complexity is a measure that depends on the number of system components, interdependencies and their interactions. The high level of user involvement in development-related decisions underpins an empowerment to project teams to change and re-prioritize delivery plans, which can cause repercussions across a number of areas within IT governance. Agile governance helps business to manage complexity and achieve resilience, which is indicative of a state of interdependence that has desirable characteristics such as self-organizing and self-regulating.

In adopting Agile, some organizations have neglected to consider the broader management-level consequences and the resulting new requirements. This mistake must not be continued, or enterprises will be limited to achieving the benefits of only one (rather than both) of Agile and IT governance - or perhaps none at all. A dynamic development path brings about variability relating to cost and budget models. As development teams strive for the earliest possible delivery of working features that add value, governance practices need to be sufficiently informed and able to keep pace with what is going on. The joint needs of Agile projects and a commitment to governance will increase the extent to which a number of IT management practices have to participate in projects, with a consequent cost. While it is common for advice around Agile practice to detail the on-going involvement of end-users with development teams. The industry study indicates that Agile projects will require a continuing involvement from across a range of different types of governance and management practitioners to adequately support Agile project processes.

So the purpose of agile governance is not to eliminate complexity, but to optimize complexity. The inevitable conclusion is that complexity is, in itself, a source of risk. That, unidentified is, at best, unmanaged and, at worst, mismanaged by the application of knowledge that, results in 'unintended consequences.' Unmanaged endogenous risk does not dissipate, but is communicated and amplified through multi-scalar interactions. So the purpose of agile governance is not to eliminate complexity, but to optimize complexity. Expanding to one further level of detail of agile governance practices include:
- Requirements management becomes non-linear due to Agile practices
- More flexible resource management is needed, to cater for Agile
- Agile has some different concepts of value to that used in governance
- In practice there are potential tensions between governance practices, and Agile- so the two must be successfully integrated
- Agile incurs change within project cost and budget management
- Assessment of financial benefits needs to become more reactive
- Agile projects deliver increasing throughput to change management (which also needs to become more focused across the organization, if it is currently zoomed in on IT)

Agile governance is more holistic, because digital organization is a dynamic, complex and adaptive system, it is not just a new coined buzzword, but the next governance practices for synchronizing project management and change management, well balance of creativity and standard; make faster and better decisions, optimize business complexity and improve organizational resilience.

What are the Key Leadership Skill & Capabilities needed for the Future?

  The potential for digital leaders has become endless to mind all sort of gaps and make significant difference.

The substance of leadership will never change, it is all about the future, but the leadership skills and styles need to be continually re-shaped to adapt to the digital normal with VUCA characteristics. So what are the key leadership skills and digital capabilities needed for the future?

Creativity: One of the biggest challenges in this complex world is the fact that we need different perspectives, different knowledge and different ways to solve a problem. Sometimes there is not one answer: there are some, or many, in the same application. What is needed is to think divergently, and then convergently as a team. The next generation of leaders will be a new breed of individuals with the skills and creativity of the new digital age combined with the work ethic. Because digital is the age of choices. The creative leadership discovers the new alternative way to do things, to breakdown the silo thinking and to build the solid culture of innovation.

Technology savvy: Good leadership is technology independent; however, with technology we can tailor our personal taste to enforce leadership influence; through the use of social media there is a great opportunity for the next generation of leaders to amplify the voice and make positive impact. This applies to the baby boomer, Gen x and millennial or anyone who see the digital trends and can jump on board the train. Technology savvy doesn’t mean you have to play every fancy gadget, but about knowing how to leverage the right information to make the right decision at the right time; and how to apply new tech to improve leadership effectiveness.

Entrepreneurial Spirit: There is a disconnect between different generations of employees due to the rapid change in technology and current world wide culture that has taken place. The identity of younger digital native generation of workforce is more entrepreneurial and value driven, they are aware of the new complexity, and the desire to find a new space, and they want to find new rules to do things on their way. They also despise bureaucracy and formalities related to a hierarchical and ordered society and prefer to be seen by others as peers. The key is to stay connected and learn with each other between different generations. In the chaos will rise and is rising new types of leaders with a much more Entrepreneurial Spirit to go along with them.

Continuous delivery: Compared to the previous leadership style, digital leadership can not be defined by a few spotlight moments, but through the continuous delivery. Day by day should be assessed with competence, performance, potential, business results, and culture fit for the role. Leadership must be anchored to a full professionalism also made of personal qualities such as, independent judgment, critical thinking, professionalism and sense of responsibility and balance through which it becomes possible to earn the role of wise and guiding the organization in which we work and the respect and trust of others.

Learning agility: Leadership is not what you have, but is what you give away. One way to combat this is to continue learn, grow, and increase your value to the organization. We need to live, learn and lead to keep the precious cycle alive and well. Agility is also manifested in the ability of managers to change their style of decision-making in response to a wide range of parameters such as urgency, level of risk, time constraints and the regional and cultural differences. No decision-making style can be applied everywhere or constantly. Agile organizations tend to have managers with the right mix of personal attributes, that is, people who demonstrate a variety of skills, clearly comfortable with ambiguity and respectful of processes.

Coaching & Mentoring: Leaders should become teachers and mentors; and prepare the next generation of leaders. Not only does this increase personal growth and add value as an employee, it increases the adaptability and knowledge base of the organization. Good leaders understand the need to continually develop the capabilities and commitment of their team members. They do this by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and ensuring that weaknesses are overcome through encouragement, coaching and training. Strengths are reinforced and extended through delegation and mentoring. In the end, leaders have a personal and moral obligation to develop more leadership.

Flexibility: Today, the so-called "flexible organizations" are the companies that are able to "navigate" the change and the complexity of the business world. Organizational flexibility is essential for business success. Leadership is not only flexible in the ability to learn and adapt to new responsibilities, but also and above all, in the effectiveness of its initiatives, the creativity with which complex problems are solved, in actively seeking feedback on its effectiveness.

Social Influence: So the new generation of leaders understand the difference between influence and authority, and therefore are completely at ease in influencing and participating in the team. They do not focus on hierarchy, but on ideas, information, creativity, flexibility, openness and curiosity. They practice thought leadership and amplify influence via content creation and sharing, to build solid social footprint.

Currently we are short of new leaders, but we are overwhelmed with individual minded persons, therefore the potential for leaders has become endless to mind all sort of gaps. The new generation of leaders are self-aware, resolute, responsive, flexible, able to speed up the decision-making process by leveraging the abundance of information. The new leaders integrate a good knowledge of themselves and understanding of others, including emotional intelligence, with their rapid use of technology. Only then can a leader really inspire and create from the whole heart and full-mind.

Time Management

Time Management is the life philosophy to build confidence, set priority and boost creativity.

Time is the most perishable thing, it is not storable. Time does not wait for anyone, and it treats everyone equally. The person who is able to utilize the time wisely is rich and prosperous. Time management is not about punctuality and working to be and remain punctual has nothing to do with having time management skill. Then what is time management though?

Time management is a life philosophy: Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity (Wikipedia). There are two factors that distinguish time from everything else are:
1) Time can never be reversed
2) Everybody gets the same quantity of time
3) Time continues to flow forward; you have to continue to catch up with it.

Time management skill harnesses the confidence: The effective time management will definitely put you on firmness and infuses will power, confidence and dashing as to go head, accept challenges or calculated risks, also surprises, upsets and roadblocks. Time management removes fears, stress of pressures, helps in planning well, helps not to regret, to differentiate between falsehood and truth; time is the cure for the sad memory, but it’s the hope for the better tomorrow.

Time management prioritizes actions: There are three components of action - the ones that need immediate attention, the ones that have to have a well-thought out action & long term vision, and the ones you need not worry about too much. the time management skill helps you decide the course. The third may be either get ignored or can be delegated. The second you must make well plan and pay attention to, as they are important. It also takes time management skills for the "immediate action,” to save time either via collaboration or delegation if you are the manager.
The effective time management boosts creativity: It makes you creative oriented, mature and generous enough to share experience of success journey. It makes one bold and shed fear of failure, lethargic tendency and any inability that prevent from progress. Time management is all about choosing to help oneself by being able to put in efforts only after you have prepared self to take and bear risks of meeting and facing challenges of fears and their beliefs which blind others.

Time management can not be taught, but can be gained through self-improvement; from inner transformation of self. We need to be very vigilant about time. Life is so short and there is so much to do that we always wish that our day had more than 24 hours. The wise time management can make life more meaningful, creative and productive.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Digital Master XXXXVIIII: How to Manage Intangible in Business

Leadership, culture, innovation, customer centricity and brand, all are the key intangible elements in driving tangible business growth.
The life cycle of organizations is going to be shorter. This probably means that organizations are going to have to get not only the “hard numbers” right, but more importantly, how to manage the intangible elements in business from the beginning, and for the long term business prosperity. So with organizations turning over, new organizations and new blood will be on-going - the longer an organization is in existence, it might grow a self fulfilling prophecy about why they are successful and quite possibly the intangible elements perhaps does not come into the equation, but that perhaps the very reason which causes the mighty fail. So how to “harden” the soft and how to manage intangible in business right for growing into Digital Master?

Leadership: Leadership is methodical, but there is some magic in there. Leadership is intangible, but the quality of leadership can be measured in certain level. Because effective leadership is methodical, it takes hard work and endurance, the tangible influence and calculated effort, though it appears magical to the observing eye. Learning and practicing leadership is a methodical process that can be managed, measured and improved, not only via individual leader’ performance, but measuring the effectiveness, learning agility and maturity of collective leadership which directly impacts corporate performance.  

Innovation: Quality of ideas is measured by how well your ideas satisfy customer’s desires and how much of the idea space your ideas cover. Some organizations introduce the Personal Innovation-index (PÏ). In relation to this index the PÏ will indicate, top-down, the contributed economic value of each employee (executive/management, professional/expert) in relation to their innovative initiatives and personal activities, commitment, influences, impact and contributions. Innovation performance could also be measured in terms of its ability to convert the ideas that enter the ‘Innovation Pipeline’ into the desired output, propositions, process improvement etc.

Culture: Culture is difficult to measure, because it’s multi-dimensional assessment, however,  there are tools and techniques which can help assess its impact:
1)     Statement of values. - You create a bespoke unique proposition for each of your talent that drives engagement, productivity and retention, the measurement will provide proven link between all four of these unique personal employee value proposition= engagement = productivity = retention.
2)     Employee feedback. Holding Line management responsible to improve concern areas in the Employee Feedback.
3)     Degree of Process Transparency. What information is communicated and how frequently?
4)     Degree of Empowerment: How much delegation is permitted. What is the decision making freedom at various levels of Hierarchy?
5)     Participation in Strategy and Innovation by Employees. Some organizations actively encourage everybody to comment, give inputs into these two areas in a secure fashion.

Customer-Centricity: The linkages between customer centric capability and sustained business performance aren't understood by enough executives. If senior management doesn't believe there is an acceptable return on investment, the race never starts in earnest. However, what you measure depends on a few things - the time at which you are capturing feedback in the customer lifecycle, the trigger/basis you use for feedback and your goal. While NPS is an important measure, it is only a piece but not the entire whole and what it gives you is a great place to start. and it is better used as a lagging indicator of the overall customer relationship across time.

Brand: Customer experience and brand experience can mutually enforce with each other. Business brand can attempt to shape each and every potential Customer Experience (touch point/pain point/joy point) with its brand personality such that the firm provides customers with Brand Experiences that are unique to the brand, and on the other side, the delightful customer experience can enforce its business brand as well. The brand measurement shall also reflect the linkage between customer experience and brand experience, the unique business competency, and overall corporate maturity.  

So many companies and "managers" focus on the tangibles, but they lack the in-depth understanding of the intangible things; just getting them to consider the list of intangibles would be a breakthrough. In fact, leadership, culture, innovation, customer centricity and brand, all are the key intangible elements, or some call the “soft factors,” which can be “hardened” at certain level, as better drivers of solid business results.

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

Is Self-Assessment a Digital Way for Managing Talent Performance?

The self-assessment of performance is not for boosting ego, but for inspiring authenticity; growth mind, engagement, trust and innovation.
Many organizations still have an old-fashioned view that the employee's self-assessment is irrelevant to the overall review and only serves to create conflict when there are discrepancies in perception. However, digital makes business more transparent & less hierarchical, inspires authenticity and growth mind, is self-reflection, self-assessment and self-improvement scenario becoming the “healthy” digital cycle for talent growth and management?

It becomes more important of including a self-evaluation component as part of employee performance management because digital is the age of choices. A self assessment/evaluation gives the employee the opportunity to self reflect “who am I,” and organizing their thoughts related to the various performance indicators. Self assessment focuses the mind and ensures that everyone has their say and have buy in to the process. They are very important as it provides a person's perceived value through their own lens. In addition, it will provide a benchmark against actual measured performance. The larger the gap the more development required.  It is highly important that any employee and person self-reflects and be able not only to describe what s/he is able to do but also to reflect in a constructive manner how anything could be done in a different way even if a process has been successful. This generates in a person new ideas and is a way how a person can keep him/herself up to the standards required.

Self-reflection, self-assessment and self-improvement scenario is a digital theme for talent management. This starts with the individual determining what goals s/he wants to achieve then; planning a way to get there; determining the milestones/measurements that signal whether it is going in the right direction and, if not, is flagging a warning that maybe the plan needs to be re-thought; the results documented objectively with qualitative/quantitative measurements. The manager's role is to ensure the plans are in line with corporate direction, the individual has thought out the plans thoroughly, provideed any necessary support (including necessary training) and reviewed results on a regular basis to ensure the individual is getting where s/he wants to go.

Performance communication in digital era needs to be the “two way street.” It is seen to be a one way street where the manager has to "tell" the employee how badly or good they have done, which leads into some defensive mode being triggered and escalating into a serious relationship breakdown. The review has to come from both sides and it is important to find out where the employee is at and how they feel their performance is going. That in itself can open up useful discussions between the employee and line manager. Including self-evaluation based on the pre-agreed performance and behavioral standards allows both parties to reflect and collect facts about the status quo and a conversation departing from this is unlikely to become a problem.

Self-evaluations are a key way and motivator to get the individual being reviewed into the formalized process. Certainly, the reviewer should have consistent performance discussions throughout the review period; any (non micro-) manager will gain insight as to what the individual has contributed and deems important through a self-evaluation process.Providing straightforward self evaluation tools on core competencies with benchmarking, simple questionnaires and access to peer feedback in an easy to use, employee centric app is key to make it efficient and useful. Throughout the performance cycle, the feedback and counselling should be a continuous process. Self evaluation helps individual in taking the ownership, responsibility and keeps focused. This also ensures the alignment and cascading of organizational goals to individual goals…

A good performance review is a dialogue; and even then ideally the manager should do only 20-30% of the talking between the employee and the manager; gives the employee the opportunity to share their thoughts on how they have contributed to the company and look at their future contributions.! A self-assessment by the employee encourages employees to share with their manager in advance of the performance review meeting (on a voluntary basis), as the shared insight can be highly useful. However, employees do need support and education in how to get the most from the performance management process, to avoid biases, especially in how to regularly acquire and use feedback appropriately, create 'evidence' for the performance review, and have an attitude of ownership rather than being a passive 'victim' of the process.

The purpose of such self-reflection, self-assessment and self-improvement performance cycle is not just about encouraging the individualism, more about inspiring authenticity; growth mind, engagement, trust and innovation (the better or new way to do things). It is pursuing the digital way to run a purpose-driven organization by well aligning employees’ career goals & purpose with companies’ vision & mission, and harnessing the culture of transparency, learning agility and innovation.

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Convey Strategy via Effective Communication

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." - Plato
Crafting a good strategy is difficult, and executing strategy is challenging, the linchpin between strategy and execution is the effective communication to convey the messages across the organization, how can you do it right?

Open dialogue of big “WHY”: When communicating a strategy or organizational changes to a team, it is important to explain the "why" behind your communication. All too often, discussions are held at a senior level where the reasons behind a strategy are talked over extensively, but those reasons are not explained to the wider audience. This can lead to teams not understanding a strategy, or not buying into it.

Avoid the “Lost in Translation” Symptom: Strategy communication has to be customized from general management background to technical background employees. The mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialisms. Ultimately a strategy has to end up expressed in people's job descriptions and workloads. Engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, etc. The highly effective business leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguist” who can master at different business dialects and convey the right message to tailor different audiences.

The simplest answer is "often." Communication, communication and communication. Ideally, in language and settings that they understand and embrace, which in turn means spending enough time with staff to understand their language and the forms of communication that make sense to them. It is important to provide both a high level vision of the organization's strategy, then bring it down to specific goals and objectives that are relevant for individual staff members and work groups

Effective communication with immersed management team: Successful implementation of strategy is to organize a 'total immersion communication and dialogue program' for the senior and middle level management group to establish a thorough buy-in of the organizational strategy, and the role each one and each department has to play for its implementation. Repeat the same module to other employees through the executives who have understood and can explain comprehensively to the other members of the organization. This needs to be done before rolling out the strategy for implementation.

Welcome strategy debate for challenging your strategy: To give teams a sense of ownership, invite them to challenge your strategy. Not only does this hand the strategy to the team, but can also give good ideas to improve it and can show you who should be sitting on your the meeting to devise next months/years strategy!

Encourage creative communication; instead of just descriptive communication, to convey strategy more vividly. Organizational communication is mostly conducted as old fashioned “lecturing” (message – media – audience) as opposed to “participant centered learning and understanding” (Socratic Method). Of course the latter is more costly and time-consuming, but much more effective. However, most senior leaders prefer to rush their communication, “don´t waste time and money, and start executing." But what is more inefficient than a whole organization that attempts to execute a poorly understood strategy? It's crucial to be more creative and be interactive for strategy communication.

In summary, the strategy communication needs to be more engaging than top-down; “multi-linguistic’ than single language-speaking; more creative than descriptive, more profound than louder, not only pay attention to what has been said but pay more attention to what’s not being said, to bridge the gap between strategy and execution, functional silo and holistic corporate view; reality and vision statement.

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