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, July 27, 2015

How to Prioritize Stories in Agile

Overall speaking, you should always be picking up stories which have the highest business value or highest customer need.
Agile has emerged as a major software development methodology, a mindset and a philosophy to run businesses. What’s your in-depth understanding about this Agile principle "Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” Why do so many agile teams prioritize stories because it is a low hanging fruit (easy, low effort) but not high value to the customer? What’re your approach to set prioritization right?

Prioritization means working on them as per the client's priority. The teams should be working on the items that will bring the most value to the customer and correspondingly to the business. If you prioritize by doing the easy stuff first, you will always be trapped into doing what you CAN do instead of what you SHOULD do - the hard, but potentially game-changing or high delight items will always fall to the bottom of the heap. Make your Product Owner focus on what's right, not what's easy. In other terms, the team prioritizes those stories higher in stake rank which are going to provide maximum ROI to the client (and so high value to customer). Although, there can be other factors like dependencies which may impact prioritization, most of the time ROI to the client is the single most reason affecting prioritization of stories. The value is not the only factor that accounts for prioritization, the PO owns the value and business risk, but the team owns the technical risk and all contribute to the prioritization.

Value is a subjective thing. Just saying value, by definition, is benefit vs cost, so cost cannot be eliminated from the value proposition. Also the importance or priority or urgency of doing something is usually related to its value, but there are often other considerations as well. If low hanging fruit improves how your product is viewed and received by users, even if it doesn't do wonders for their lives, it has value. If the value returned is worth the time put into it then do it. If it doesn't give you a good ROI for your time then it really isn't low hanging fruit and it probably shouldn't be in your backlog. That value judgment depends on.
-Is it building your reputation & relationships?
-Is it driving out risks and fear?
-Is it going to teach you useful things?
-Will it help a customer solve a problem?
-Will it make your team/employer more money?
-Will it be good training for a new hire?

The biggest waste of all is to build something the customer doesn't want. Your company typically makes many assumptions in its planning, the most important one being "someone wants what we're building." From a business point of view, the most important stories are the ones that validate (or refute) those assumptions. The only way to conduct this particular experiment is to build the stories that provide the most customer value and then see if anybody's interested. If you don't do that first, then everything else is a waste of time. Customer value, then, is the only prioritization criterion that makes any sense at all. It doesn't matter if it's "Agile" or not - it's still wasted effort. Unused features drive up technical redundancy which has to be dealt with and adds to the maintenance overhead. And - there is the opportunity cost of not working on the highest-value feature. The perspectives certainly play to the theme of "what's the definition of value?" Consider a scenario where there is a story to address something that is more annoying than it is valuable, however it's very simple to address, and you have the capacity in this sprint to get it done and delivered and score a win for those it annoys. Prioritization and value often are complex to define as they have many factors.

Achieve clarity on the request before rebutting the argument. The crux of the scenario lies within the question itself. If there really is little value in the features to the customer then why are the stakeholders asking for low-value stories to be prioritized? But perhaps you need to get to the reason that stakeholders aren't willing to ask for the higher value but more difficult stories. Can you show them how the team can reduce risk, or deliver part of the value sooner? the point is not "is it agile" but getting to the root cause of the behavior! One can also argue that if the stakeholder wants it prioritized, then by definition, it's a high-value story to the stakeholder. Which isn't to say that it'll bring value to the customer. In this case, the stakeholders' values are misaligned with the customers'. Or, maybe there's a lack of trust? If the product/dev team has a poor track record, maybe the stakeholders want to see small, incremental progress to help build the muscle-memory of delivering working software? The perspectives certainly play to the theme of "what's the definition of value?"

Fail Hard, Fail Fast, should be the approach! So tackle the risky items first that add business value. When the team gets used to putting high-risk items last on the list, they do not build the fearless attitude! First you want to completely eliminate waste and only deliver the barest minimum to solve the business problem. Think of it as a working prototype that is production quality code and tested. It proves that technically it can be done and it works. This Minimal Viable Product is a massive sigh of relief to many people as it proves it works and can be done. Risks are radically reduced. Then next is to build all the supporting features that make it a product.

There are instances where quick wins benefit the product evolution, but you shouldn’t prioritize them ahead of market/customer drivers. Delaying functionality that you can monetize because it's harder is usually not a good bet. Overall speaking, you should always be picking up stories which have the highest business value or highest customer need.

Can a “Perfectionist” be an Effective Leader

Perfectionist sometimes makes effective managers, seldom effective leaders.

A perfectionist is commonly defined as “a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection.” Though often it becomes "muddy" when there are different definitions of what being a perfectionist means and the different yardsticks people use to judge perfectionism. From a leadership perspective, does being a perfectionist help you to be a more effective leader?

Being a perfectionist does not mean that one pretends to be perfect: Constantly searching for perfection is the best and most reliable mother of excellence. When the culture of constantly doing the best is promoted by a leader, that practice might just be the best motivating factor for subordinates, who would be made to understand that the habit of always performing at a level one step or more higher than where they are today prepares them to be ready to move up when their opportunity beacons. More often any leader who encourages subordinates to espouse the culture of constantly and positively searching for perfection, the best or greatness grows an organization that exudes success, cohesion, and excellence.

There is the place for perfection and the place for excellence - and lots in between. It really does depend on the circumstances. Sometimes, perfection is an absolute requirement. In other circumstances, it's not needed. Perhaps one of the traits of leadership is the grace and the wisdom to know which is required, and when. The traits that help make a leader effective depend on the situation. Being a perfectionist can result in not seeing the big picture and inhibit vision; at the same time, it can prevent problems. So perfectionists sometimes make effective managers, seldom effective leaders. The magic of different individuals is that they tackle challenges in their own way. If the leader plays to the strengths of each team member then you can't dictate how goals are reached. Just that they are reached to an agreed level of excellence. If the high standards are met, 'good enough' is good enough.

Perfection is highly desirable but is never achievable. It has no end, it continuously evolves. Excellence is coming close to the fringes of perfection. Coming close to the fringes of perfection means constant strides for excellence and making it a habit. Strive for perfection, so that you keep on excelling at higher and higher pace; but don't become an inflexible perfectionist. Indeed, many perfectionists are pessimistic and tend to focus on the failure. Failure is an effective teacher. The old cliche' that "those that aren't failing aren't trying" is true. Thomas Edison is one of the characters who failed forward. He set "expectations" of success and challenged all of his people to strive for the incredible. He was the opposite of the perfectionist in that he pursued "failure" intensely because each failure brought his team closer to the incredible breakthrough or innovation.

There is nothing wrong to strive for perfection in leadership for self and inspire others to do the same. The key is to understand the true meaning of perfection and propagating that understanding to others. The inflexible perfection can derail goals, squash dreams and deflate aspiration. It is important to strike the right balance, perfecting one’s skills and capability in reaching the goals and visions continuously, but no need to be perfect if being perfectionist means a lack the vision, stifling innovation and avoiding risk-taking.

A ‘Happy’ Organization

A Happy organization has a positive and healthy working environment in which employees enchant, enrich and enjoy to the best.
Many forward-looking organizations are shifting from the industrial silo mode to interconnected digital mode. Digital organization is more organic than mechanical; more sociological than hierarchical; more hybrid (multi-generational; multi-geographical and multi-devicing) and antifragile. So which mood is digital organization more often in, and how to build a “Happy Organization” with both happy employees and happy customers?

A happy organization has a positive and pleasant working environment with high-level employee engagement. Often people define happiness at work as being derived from engaged, active interest in the work, deriving meaning from the work being performed and performing the work in a pleasant or harmonious environment. In such a working environment, self-management, autonomy, self-discovery, and mastery are inspired, cross-functional communication and collaboration are enabled to reduce the frictions caused by unnecessary politics, unprofessional competition or overall unhealthy culture, creativity is encouraged for better problem-solving, and collective wisdom is inspired via inclusiveness. When one is so correlated to the other that with engagement, comes improved performance, and good performance - if measured effectively, will demonstrate higher levels of employee engagement. Engaging not only helps in performance but help the employee to go the extra mile for achieving more with a joy.  

A happy organization is more purpose-driven and customer-centric: Intentional human behavior always has a purpose. Organization is intentional, and therefore it must have a purpose upon forming the strong teams to achieve a high-performing result. Organizations and their people learn through their interactions with the environment: They act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. If one of the significant purposes of business is to create customers, then a happy organization will attract happier customers, it strives to become a customer-centric organization.

A happy organization has built a creative working environment to take inclusive approach: Many talent professionals attribute their happiness due to the cultural norm of inclusiveness --everyone is involved, feel they have a say and their opinion is valued. It makes everyone aware of opportunities to participate and encourage leaders to take an inclusive approach. Leaders and their teams are responsible for inclusion. They monitor participation via interactions with the teams and designated transition "ambassadors." They highlight the importance of enabling users through knowledge sharing in the process of generating new product ideas and new value. When managing change initiatives, they seek to involve the broadest possible audience as early as possible to tap into the collective wisdom of the organization and create ownership for the change outcomes.

A happy organization is more flexible with a high-engaging work environment. To transform smoothly from an overly-rigid process-driven mode to an agile people-centric mode, organizations engage teams early in the process via robust communications, training and core process workshops to identify issues, concerns and strategies for making the transition. While there are bumps along the way, in the end, the organization that made the transition showed a significant improvement in overall engagement, a  higher likelihood to recommend the company as an employer to others in search of a harmonious environment, and an impressive increase in motivation to go "above and beyond" for the company in pursuit of meaningful work.

The happiness comes from the heart, many thought that the heart of an organization should start at the top. The heart consists fundamentally with the recognition of the value of its people. If the leadership team has no set of values and creates a culture to make both employees and customers happy, then nothing else matters. The sky's the limit for performance, and when an employee enchants, enriches and enjoys to the best - the organization benefits along with the employee. A happy organization is indeed achieving a high-performing result.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being Objective: Is it Achievable

A part of objectivity includes self-criticism and the ability to be open and flexible to new ways of thinking.
According to the dictionary: being objective means you are not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; but make judgment or decisions based on unbiased fact and an objective opinion. Intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book. Being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).  It’s of or relating to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality. As now with the abundance of information, the world has become overly complex, uncertain and ambiguous, how can one keep being objective in making fair judgment or sound decisions?  

"Objectivity" in life is a positive attitude. No one is absolutely objective. We are all formed by our lives, the education we receive; the media we follow, the people we meet, the experiences that we have, or the book we read. There is no empirical 'fact' to aim for and if there was, it would be very dull. The key is to be aware that is the case and know how your mind is framing what you're experiencing. Being objective really means you will always see the two sides of a coin, listen to the stories from different perspectives; and understand things via interdisciplinary perspectives. Objectivity is an art we try to develop in our personality, a value addition to our character by which we will be able to handle our life situations without result orientation, fear, anger, stress, worry, anxiety, etc. It is being a witness towards our own life avoiding excessive involvement and tension while we are engaged in a work or going through an experience.

Emotional objectivity is the key to understanding humanity. Understand the filters that influence one’s unconscious biases is critical to the choice you make or the life you live. We are all blinded by personal biases. Shedding the ego and the personal drive for 'THINGS' allows a person to view the rest of humanity 'from the outside.' It has nothing to do with righteousness or nobility and everything to do with the search for the truth of any given situation. Perception is sometimes a false reality. To find the truth, one must remove the “old box” shaped via the conventional wisdom or group thinking, but think more critically, independently and in an out-of-box way. To be objective, one must step out of what one is trying to understand, to zoom out in order to capture the holistic picture, otherwise your false perception based on the construct of your ego or expression of self gets in the way and clouds the view.

Absolute objectivity vs. relative objectivity: Absolute objectivity is perhaps impossible to achieve. After all, we are social beings with individual histories built upon both our own experiences and the life stories of those around us. However, relative objectivity is a continual process in which we skirt the edge of what is possible. It’s important to consciously limiting the influence of our own biases. Seeing as many regrettable decisions are made in the absence of logic, it’s crucial to practice relative objectivity whenever possible. If true objectivity is the exclusion of excess tension and emotion from reasoning, consider relative objectivity the awareness of what we would like to exclude. Developing this awareness requires the humility to perpetually self-critique throughout day-to-day life. Those who stand their ground when someone brings their fight to them are already at peace.

Objectivity is of great importance in different aspects of life. It is important to be able to be objective and gain a different view in order to develop and have a better understanding of certain topics or problems that may occur. A part of objectivity includes self-criticism and the ability to be open and flexible to new ways of thinking. But, past experiences in life are there for a reason and help us learn from past mistakes or success. Relative objectivity is to be able to master and very useful in one’s professional life and career development but also private life in general. Being objective is the next step in our human advancement and is very simple but not easy to accomplish.

How to Interpret Digital Leadership in “Systems Thinking” Language

leadership is about learning to manage the 'system,' in an 'open' manner, the way it is, in "System Thinking" language.
Leadership is an influence and a practice, there is no magic recipe otherwise. With the paradigm shift from the industrial age to the digital era, what are the most vital factors in leadership? What’s the digital leadership all about in “Systems Thinking” language?

The multi-dimensional values, inspirations, and motivation are vital for digital leadership. Leadership that looks for multidimensional values (finance, customer, societal value, etc)  beyond the quarterly outlook would go a long way. Leaders need to be more value-driven rather than bottom-line-driven; more people rather than product-focused; more adaptable, flexible and accepting of diversity of ideas, and mindful. Leadership that seeks to make a difference must engage both hearts and minds. Leadership is the ability to influence the values, decisions, and actions undertaken by others, for example by those leaders who are in a position by formal authority or those with personal authority. Relevant in organizations, groups, networks and so on. So the 'new' modern leader might need to adapt and become a better communicator, putting more emphasis on motivation and involvement. The first part is what inspires and the second is what motivates, although there is some crossover between the two.

From a ST perspective, leadership is perhaps best understood as the capacity to create and sustain a shared vision. The prime actions of a good leader are to set the vision of where and possibly why things are going, and to clear the way so that others can do their very best work to get there. When there is a genuine vision (as opposed to the all-too-familiar ‘vision statement’), people excel and learn, not because they are told to, but because they want to. But many leaders have personal visions that never get translated into shared visions that galvanize an organization. What has been lacking is a discipline for translating vision into shared vision – not a ‘cookbook,’ but a set of principles and guiding practices. Further more, leadership has to do with the future as much as it has to do with the present and the past. The leadership of the past has molded and structured (good or bad) the dynamics of the leadership of the present and future leaders. Without the accomplishments and failures of past leaders, present leaders would not know what mistakes not to make. With that being said, all of our past leadership (good or bad) have done their best with the hand that was dealt. Leaders normally carry the aspirations of the followers. In fact, leaders are created by the aspirations of the followers. Leadership is a promise of fulfillment of the aspirations of the followers.

Leadership is an INCLUSION process from a systems perspective. Because workers now are more educated than what they used to be, they are at least more informed as to what is going on and the changes taking place around them. That is a result of our transforming to a society that is less conscious of diversity and more conscious of inclusion. Inclusion is the new start that awakens in all of us the common-unity we share. We want leaders who recognize the gifts that all people have and are willing to share the leadership role. Open communications with lots of trusts will assist us in moving from a society of force to one of power. When we allow the passions of people to do good and to move the right person at the right time, into the right place, we will be generating leadership in the spirit of everyone winning. Leadership powers up when this happens. As we move forward and upward, we will understand that we are all leaders with different expertise in the different arena. It's a knowing when you are the right person at the right time in the right place, and then moving it on with the permission of the whole. Communication is one of the things that is included on the 'clear the way' action. If communication is poor or there is a very high lack of transparency - these are items that will impact on the staff capability to progress and the leader needs to resolve this impediment.

Talking in Systems thinking language, leadership is about learning to manage the 'system,' in an 'open' manner, the way it is. People normally 'close' the boundaries of the system, so that less energy is transferred and, therefore, less changes happen in the system. We all try to 'close' the system, so to say, to reduce its complexity. But the adaptive attitude is to manage its complexity via Systems Thinking and agility enhancement. An unstructured leadership can be active only in open alive social systems. In such systems undeniably the leader has special roles and functions by keeping the interaction with the other elements of a system. We cannot speak about a difference between leadership and collaboration or co-operation, because both concepts, collaboration, and co-operation are included in a positive interaction among the elements of an open system. Sure it is possible that temporarily a system can stay in a chaos or even a crisis situation, where exists negative interaction among the elements. Under such circumstances, the system either will be dissolute or it will continue to exist but under other forms of system life and new conditions.So we need to look at each situation individually and ask what leadership model is required, will it be emergent, will it self-organize, does it need an attractor-leader to consolidate, is a facilitator best, should it be distributed... no one answer fits all situation.

The digital leadership is not rocket science, but by leveraging Systems Thinking, leadership can be perceived with both broader scope of the open system and in-depth understanding of its interconnectivity and interdependence. It should be based on the future trend, based on varying situation; based on what the system requires for its long-term sustenance. And if that long term sustenance clashes with immediate short-term objectives, leaders need to strike the right balance, both “keep the light on,” and do the best for long term business transformation. The business is complex, the world is complex, and leadership is complex, the future of leaders have to deal with opposing views, cultures, constraints and competition. As always, leadership is both the art and science.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Knowledge is the Power, Is your Knowledge Management System Powerful?

Data, information, knowledge and wisdom are the different stages of information life cycle that organizations need to manage more effectively and  improve its business capability and maturity.

Knowledge is one of the most invaluable assets to every organization and its integrity, availability and confidentiality can be crucial to how the organization functions or maintains its services and products. But how to manage such intangible asset more effectively? Knowledge is the power, is your knowledge management system powerful enough?

Knowledge Management System: It really depends on what you actually need to provide in support of your lines of business. Any knowledge management system has these basic components: data entry; data storage; data retrieval; and results management. Access is a fairly rigid database that may not always be suitable if you wish to store and retrieve data-sets for “policy and procedure documents and other needed documents necessary for business continuity.” Perhaps a relational database would make better sense for your group since this will allow your administrator to retrieve all related documents with a minimum of queries. This will avoid the need for hyperlinks and will allow for better management of the available information. Data entry on relational databases work, but will allow for better information management. Finally, data mining is not the same as data retrieval. You are talking about data retrieval and if you wish this process to lead to “elevated systems level thinking,” then you had better look how the data will be stored, retrieved, and displayed.

Configuration Management systems are usually the tools for the information management. You need to provide up-to-date access to company information to the key individuals.  Software designers often use configuration management systems, and they can be complex. You may want to look around and see what is out there. Developing your own may be more work than you need to do, depending on the complexity of your information. The real bugaboo that most companies find with having a configuration management system is the employees' willingness to use it, especially during the development phase of a project/product. Each iteration of a product should be stored in the configuration system to ensure that two people are not doing the same work, and a person's work that is done is not lost in some computer glitch. Employees have been reticent about "publishing" half finished work for fear of criticism. Another reason for not using the system is the additional effort to search for the information.

Often Knowledge Management is mixed with technology management and document management. Russell Ackoff places wisdom after understanding which came after knowledge – so a wisdom-base will be built on an understanding-base which in turn rests on a knowledge-base (then information base and finally a data-base). However, in many legacy organizations, their methods, and procedures/knowledge base are so large and their internal search capabilities so limited that using it is a dreadful chore. Without knowing more about the types of activities to be supported, Even in a small firm, variations between the amounts and types of data need to support different lines of business can be impossible to efficiently rationalize from an IT/systems perspective.

Knowledge needs to be managed more systematically. Perhaps in organizations there seems to be the "expectation" that if you have a great business in one place and it's working ok, then knowledge, ideas, solutions, and advice will easily transfer and that piece of the jigsaw will fit snugly into somewhere else. There is no hard asset that you can buy today that will guarantee the success of your organization, data, information, knowledge and wisdom are the different stages of information life cycle that organizations need to manage more effectively and  improve its business capability and maturity.

Can Your Culture Help People Become WHO They Are?

Culture is the collective minds, values, attitudes, habits, and your business brand.

There are many different perspectives of culture presented along with diverse ways and means of dealing with it. At high-mature digital organizations, culture management, talent management and performance management have been integrated into a holistic people management approach. What's your culture readiness, how shall you assess culture? Is one of the goals behind building a great culture about whether your culture can help people become who they are, to create synergy and accomplish the business purpose?  

Culture is the way how we think and do things around here: but HOW you do what you do is a result of your culture - WHO you are. The definition of culture is 'The Mindsets, Attitudes, Feelings, Values and Behaviors that characterize and inform a group and its members' - but ultimately it is WHO you are and not What you do or HOW you do it. Culture is the aggregate of all employees' mindsets, attitudes and behaviors. As such, it changes constantly as events happen and people come and go. It's not something that can be manually controlled by the employer, but culture can be changed, or even well designed, the right set of principles and rules can enable and constrain culture. Your culture guides and informs How you do What you do, and should point you to WHY you do it. Your brand and your success all come from your people.

Successful culture change helps people become who they are. By encouraging people to focus on who they are, and pursue the purpose discovery, autonomy, and mastery, the great culture catalyzes positive mind, attitude, and behaviors; but discourage the negativity and unprofessionalism.  At the conversations about culture, we need to remember that it is the policies, procedures, rewards and retributions that drive and groom advanced mind and good behavior and it is the employee behavior that expresses "culture." Gestalt approaches to culture change encourage a new sense of collective mindfulness, a new sense of acceptance and comfort in the flux of life. Imposing visions on people produces resistance; mindfulness, in the sense of expanded awareness of possibilities, produces a kind of playful experimentation and a willingness to embrace and forge new change.

The spirit of organization comes from the top: An unenlightened leader who has a low level of self-knowledge, self-actualization, or low emotional intelligence in the broad sense of what cannot take a team or a company to a place which requires those things.  Or managers are taught that they have a greater knowledge, and then they go foist it upon their people. It just doesn't happen! In that environment, the self-actualization of people can't occur. It speaks to Maslow's Hierarchy of need and how most managers are impeding progress up the pyramid rather than helping their people reach the summit. And there are no shortcuts to getting to that state, it’s a process and it takes time and a real commitment to getting there. Plus the willingness to open up and change. Only then does that person really become more effective, but many will not want to take that path or believe that it is necessary. And you wonder why engagement levels stay so low?

Being humans, we should have one big advantage - knowing about our own nature. People have no problem with change! They have problems with uncertainty, risk, and fear. So building a culture of learning, innovation and risk-tolerance means that everyone involved owns and becomes more aware of their own impact on the culture of the organization around them, rather than having change foisted on them. With well-set principles, but not so overly rigid processes, people are inspired to strengthen their strength, to become who they are, and unleash the talent potential which is well aligned with business’s goals and purpose, to create synergy and accelerate business growth and maturity.

How to Leverage Systems Thinking in Digital Paradigm Shift

Systems Thinking is the tool to leverage balance and flexibility across the spectrum of digital paradigm and digital paradox.
Just as the industrial revolution did a century and a half ago, the digital revolution is reshaping the way we live our lives and the way we work. It’s forcing a fundamental digital transformation of business and our society. Success in the digital world demands Systems thinking, the systematic approach to manage business and the multi-disciplinary understanding about the digital business ecosystem.

Converting from the mechanistic paradigm to the systems paradigm requires starting with new system oriented beliefs and thought processes. The mechanistic production metaphor is replaced with organic service metaphor, technology centrism becomes multi-disciplinary, the linear system perception is replaced by complex adaptive systems, a goal-seeking system becomes purposeful, and technical behavior is replaced by socio-technical behavior. The organizations that have hit the heights of success in the digital world aren’t those that have determinedly followed the old models and ways of thinking; it’s those that have forged a new path. Paradigms at strategic level should be a fundamental area of ST. Paradigms make or break an organization. As a business, supporting multiple paradigmatics of demand means working with multi-sided forms of demand supported by correspondingly multi-sided platforms. What now has to be understood are the complex dynamics of the ecosystem within which the business is competing and with which the business is unavoidably entangled - dynamics driven more by horizontal linkages than by vertical (sovereign) accountabilities.

A collection of people who think innovatively can adapt instantly, who give the company a competitive edge. It also means managing people well and as technology develops, creating the right mix of automation and human creativity. The fire of innovation, adaptability and creativity is fuelled by cognitive diversity, when people with a wide range of perspectives work together; not just people of different ages and gender, but people who are different across every dimension with different backgrounds, physical characteristics, life experiences and personalities. It’s important to explore the "Systems thinking and cognition"spectrum. At digital ecosystem, there is an intimate interplay spectrum across the (1) living/actioning "systems[-of-systems]" out there, and the ST attempts for identification/abstraction/elaboration, and (2) living/actioning with "world-cognition" spectrum and respective "cognitive" processes and layers (across the aggregate levels of any kind of "actors").

The software engineering mind is shifted from industrial mode to digital mode: The software engineering mind is experiencing the agile shift from being reactive to proactive; from centralized to distributed; from monolithic to mosaic; from process driven to customer-centered. Now the systemic, critical thinking, distributed, objective selection, contextual, design, and strategic and tactical thinking associated with purposeful systems prevail. The technical structure expands to include all aspects of software realization, not just software development. The usually ignored nontechnical, human aspects of software engineering are deemed equally important as the technical or hard component. Now, large-scale software systems, much to the lament of the technologists, are as much or more human systems than technical systems.

Systems Thinking engenders new actions as part of the process of creating cross-disciplined understanding. What is powerful about Systems Thinking is that it’s concerned with wholes changes of the scope, thereby engendering new action systems as part of the process of creating understanding. From software management perspective, the next step is to identify the mindset, the technical and nontechnical strategies and tactics needed to realize the new software engineering approach. This would include Systems Engineering, concurrent engineering, project design, quality engineering, strategic and tactical planning, joint optimization, systems ecology, and quality factors. Once the project machine with its disdain for human issues is dismantled, projects will become socio-technical systems that drive out of fears and create new cultures with positive attitudes, behaviors, and values. Leadership will prevail over technical management, generalists over specialists, open systems concepts will focus on meeting the needs of the environment, socialization will improve the collaboration, communication, cooperation, and coordination, and software economics will increase customer value. No longer will partially closed projects react to budget and schedule pressure by implementing defect prone, poor quality, immature systems that provide minimal customer value.

ST is the tool to bring balance and flexibility across the spectrum of digital dynamic and digital paradox. It is true that technology grows exponentially even in case of paradigm shift. It is also true that the growth of technology may trigger a paradigm shift. ST is the tool to bring balance and flexibility across the spectrum of a "local"/"specific" to "global"/ "holistic"/ "systemic" (boundaryless /trans-epistemic)/ "whole-systems" elaboration:
- Society is forced to "grow out" of a paradigm because of changes in the physical world or other major shifts in daily reality.
- A new paradigm arises out of new knowledge, such as the age of enlightenment and customer-centricity.

The world becomes even more paradoxical, balance is a leverage for problem-solving and in-depth understanding about economic and social systems: Paradox is also an attribute of thought and language, at this reality, the world we live in. But the strange thing is: every advance is science is about dealing with paradox (and maintaining that these are not real paradoxes). Even logic, our strongest language, itself is fundamentally paradoxical. The system thinking and views of business world are more balance and it is sensitive of the emergent factors; it keeps flow, from valley deep to mountain top; from small river into the sea; it generates the variety of options to deal with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty of the digital world.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Digital Footprint of “Digital Master”

Digital Master is a Bridge Book to Mind Industrial era and Digital Era; and A Play Book to Shape Game-changing Digital Mindsets.

Many organizations are rushing into the digital journey, what is digital? Just like what that classic fable "Six Men and Elephant" perceived, most of the businesses only grasp the piece of truth, but often misunderstanding the entire story: for some, digital means the latest digital technology or cool gadget; for others, digital means a fancy website or UX interface, but they are missing the big picture about digitalization. The book "Digital Master" helps reimagine and reinvent business via weaving a holistic picture of the digital organization and providing a step-by-step guideline in digital transformation.

“Digital Master: Debunk the Myths of Enterprise Digital Maturity” has been published around six months, and it overall receives the positive feedback and gains the good reputation as:

  • A Guide Book to Debunk the Myths of Enterprise Digital Maturity.
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Business Performance Measurement: How to Take a Holistic Approach

A holistic approach is based on simple principles, and well align the strategic level of measure with operational level metrics.
As Drucker wisely pointed out, “you can only manage what you measure.” The purpose to define performance metrics is to monitor the business progress and performance. But there are two levels of performance measurement: at strategic level, organizations concern about long-term business result, business capability building, customer satisfaction and employee engagement; at operational level, business needs to take care of quarterly financial result, employees’ weekly report, customers’ purchasing transaction and more. So how shall you not only measure right, but measure the right things right?

A holistic approach is important in order to set up a strategy for performance measurement definition. The holistic approach means to well align the strategic level of measure with operational level metrics. The holistic approach is fundamental to avoid "a one size fits all solution" that will only bring businesses to potential disasters. A holistic approach based on simple principles and categories will allow to move down to techniques and tool boxes as you propose them. The ultimate goal is to implement business strategy effectively through well defining the right set of measures at both strategic and tactical level. The holistic approach from top down is excellent. But the tactical level of  measures has to be in alignment with the business goals to be of value. The "one size fits all solution" is incorrect. The whole issue is to have a starting point and the performance metrics that come first at a strategic level are doing the job. They serve as headings to of chapters of measures that will be defined at tactical and operational levels. Doing so leaders may stay away from micromanagement and burn-out, thanks to a holistic approach, complemented by a cascade of smaller objectives and measurements that must always help you keep "the end" in mind: to make sure business goals on track.

Taking systematic approach to measurement can avoid blind-spots in performance: It's fair to say that any organization that didn't have a systematic approach to measurement and analysis in both strategic level and operational level has a giant blind spot that is impairing their performance. In addition to having some kind of basic measure in each level, it's critical for the company to share that information among its primary stakeholders (leaders at the top, managers at the middle, and employees at frontline). Having the right performance indicators is very important. But acting on what those indicators are telling you is vital to sustaining and improving results. It's also important to be able to follow at least a few performance metrics very closely. By that you should measure, follow up and take action on a weekly basis. Then you have some others metrics that are followed more infrequent, monthly, quarterly etc.

An organization also needs to define the set of measures that helps it make informed decisions.The people in the organization need to know and understand why the data are being collected and analyzed, as well as what decisions will be made based upon the data. If the measures are ever used to evaluate or punish someone, you can forget ever being able to have good data from that point forward. Surely, there are also different types of decisions: strategic decisions made by senior leadership team to keep business growth or drive leapfrogging transformation; operational level decisions made by middle management to “keep the light on,” and get project on track; or the tactical decisions made by frontline worker for daily business transaction. The measurement for Internal Process Quality, either for decision-making or strategy execution, is an excellent category, but the definition will vary considerably from business to business, or from department to department. Defining appropriate measurements and analytic techniques is a process in and of itself. And many times it is not properly performed. The ultimate goal is to define the right set of measures that can be used to make informed decisions. The people in the organization need to know and understand why the data are being collected and analyzed, as well as what decisions will be made based upon the data. The distinction between the decision quality and the outcome is important as well. If the decision-making process is well designed, well executed and well measured, you have the highest probability of getting the best outcome in the state of knowledge accessible at the time of decision.

Well defining the right set of metrics will never be an easy job, but alway keep in mind of the simplicity principles, and do not confuse the means with the end. If the organization is focused on improving and competing in the future, having everyone committed to the success is pivotal. Metrics helps you keep on the right track of the business objectives, but it is the means to the end, not the end itself.

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