Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The New Book “Digital Gaps” Chapter 2 Introduction: Digital Leadership Gaps

Digital means hyperconnectivity, fierce competition, and “VUCA” digital normality. Successful companies need to keep growing and innovating, and developing the next generation of leadership is one of the best ways to do that. The variety of management studies shows that there are significant leadership gaps for innovation and digital transformation. The traditional cookie-cutting matching leadership development approach more possibly lands a homogeneous follower, not discover an authentic leader. And traditional talent pool is not large enough to select authentic, creative and dynamic digital leaders who can lead more effectively in today’s complex global business environment. The change comes from the top. If you are not taking steps now to shrink that leadership gaps, you will not be prepared to lead the digital business in the future. But more specifically, how to identify and close digital leadership gaps?

The gaps between leadership and management: A fundamental purpose of leadership is to provide vision and empower change while a fundamental goal of a manager is to oversee the tasks and execution. Great leaders inspire people to think broader for catching the holistic picture and to think deeper to understand things underneath the surface. They invite debates and challenges from employees for innovative ideas. Whereas, the managers merely administer and execute the assigned functions with an aim to achieve targeted results. Great leaders not only have great vision, but are realistic towards making it happen, and have a great manager to compliment the execution process. The primary role of leadership is about creating change while the primary objective for management is creating order. Challenging beliefs, ideas, and strategies along with accepted ways of doing things are all hallmarks of leadership. Being a leader can on occasion feel isolating, however, by following your instinct, you will more often than not turn the situation around and produce a positive outcome. A great manager does need to lead “at times,” and a great leader does need to manage “at times,” however, at the very core, great managers, and great leaders are both critical to every organization and we should respect both of the roles which are often interdependent, with complementary skill sets.

The trust gaps: The progressive business relationship and society are built on mutual trust and respect, not power and status quo. This is particularly important at the dawn of digital age because the business and the entire world become so hyperconnected and interdependent. However, many organizations are still running in a command and control mode and live in the working environment lack of trust. One thing that is true, fear and anger operate on the lowest level and can do little more than creating orders in the short term. Trust is not straightforward, but multifaceted. When leaders realize that if you want to achieve greatness in your realm, you will have to touch the upper levels, thus eliminating fear, anger, or other negative emotions. In order to close the trust gap, continue to see the importance of dealing with blind spots by learning how to be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to anger. Leadership mindset and behavior have been found to be the most influential elements in building trust. Trust starts with oneself, the mind, and grows outward to the people and the environment, just like changes. Mutual trust is that linchpin without which leadership is hollow and ineffective.

The vision gaps: Top leadership roles are supposed to be the guiding force in the enterprise, envisioning and leading the business towards its future. Closing the vision gap is in fact to close the leadership authenticity gap. Leadership is about the future and change, innovation and progress which are all based on the clear vision. The best vision is insight, and the most wanted vision is foresight, the vision thing is, in fact, the precious leadership trait to bridge the industrial age and the digital era, the local and global understanding. A visionary leader changes the course of the business by seeing beyond what all others see or by charting new revenue or growth through the creation of new products, services, business models or market share, etc. And C-level executive needs to be a visionary, because vision is an integral part of the leadership or directorial role. The essence of leadership is to guide directions via removing the obstacles or breaking down the outdated things either hard or soft, visible or invisible, in order to lead forward. Vision doesn’t have to be exclusive or externally focused. In most cases, it must be a shared and collaborative vision.

There is no one generic set of leadership skills. Effective leadership differs by level, the type of organization, the stage of organizational evolution, the mindset of stakeholders, the complexity of the business, the national and political culture, and many other dynamics. In order to mind the gaps, the leadership principles should be abstracted and highlighted, the criteria need to be refined and clarified, and the leadership development has to be re-tuned and integrated with all other policies and procedures. The key to organizational success is to integrate next generation of leaders, tap into their way of looking at the world, solving problems in a very collaborative working style, to drive the successful digital transformation.

The Capability-Based Digital Transformation

Digitization opens a new door and connects within department silos, across the walls, across the streets, across the seas, and across the planet. When things connect in this way, any organization wishing to negotiate a successful journey has to understand what the implications of this degree of connectivity mean to them and which impact could digital make for leapfrogging of their business. From an ecological perspective, in order for an organization to be sustainable, it must be compatible with its environment.  The enterprise is structurally coupled to that larger environment, such that the enterprise and its environment influence each other. The enterprise should build a set of both necessary and differentiated capabilities to make a seamless digital transformation.



Building a set of digital capabilities is the preparatory steps in Digital Strategy Management:  Now, for various reasons such as VUCA factors (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), both the organization and the environment change over time and change is a given. This is the new normal of the digital era, within this context; the organization must stay compatible and evolve in a compatible manner with its environment, the basic business functionality for the business’s survival is no longer sufficient for building a sustainable digital organization. In fact, there may be many elements of digital capabilities that are foundational to almost any foreseeable digital strategy so implementing them could be viewed as a valid preparatory first step in readiness for a strategic opportunity when it is recognized. The operational capabilities keep the lights on, but the differentiated capabilities enable the radical business changes and digital transformation.  The focus is on why companies focus on evolution (perhaps, digitally-enabled extensions of existing operational capabilities) vs. disruption (tear up the road map.) It's tough to plan for disruption because what's disruptive is inherently unexpected. It's very much like positioning yourself for playing a game. You can get caught playing for one move when your opponent makes a different one. Thus, the digital capabilities are more dynamic, nonlinear with the recombinant nature, with the goal to lead a capability-based digital transformation.
Creative collaboration via integrative diversity can overcome silos and amplify the collective digital capability: There is a key difference between digital and industrial organizations. In industrial organizations, the structure is rigid and hard to change, and traditional management style is top-down and bureaucratic. Hence, the business capabilities in those traditional organizations are often static, linear, built to last, are difficult to tune up for improving its maturity. In a digital business environment where change is constantly happening, that handicaps the organization. Hence, in the emerging digital organizations, the business leverage digital technologies and tools in enforcing holistic thinking, cross-functional collaboration and dynamic processes management to build, scale, and improve business capabilities systematically. The business is always on with the new characteristics such as hyper-connectivity, hyper-competition, and hyper-complexity. The least effective culture at fostering a digital workplace is traditional command and control environments. Digital technology is enabling a change in the workforce and how people work. Fostering collaboration is the key to creating a seamless organization when in pursuit of the digital capability-based strategy. Consequently, an organization can try to make its environment friendlier in order to meet the strategies that it sees fit.

The digital capability is also about optimizing complexity, and improving business maturity: The digital world is seen from an 'outside-in,' whole-of-extended-enterprise perspective. The digital ecosystem expands when the business community broadens its scope and consumes all sorts of resources. A digital organization is an organic system. It will be organized as an organic system, with cells that have a function, an infrastructure for input and output and for signaling, a “brain” to process information, generate ideas, and make decisions. It keeps changing and growing. Change can be an opportunity, but at the end of the day, it needs to be all about moving the business numbers upwards and taking the logical steps for achieving calculable results. Therefore, the digital capability is about adapting, optimizing, innovating, and improving business maturity. Although living in the digital sea, you have to change with the "tide," but you also have to follow the well-defined principles which would guide you in decisions and how you relate to others, with which speed can you swim in the uncharted water, what capabilities you should craft, and how to laser focus on the destination without getting lost. To put simply, organizations have to proactively craft a set of capabilities and build the core business competency.  Alternatively, you can choose a conservative position that should allow you to react and respond to a number of different moves and still get beaten. So if the organization can actively influence its environment, it means that it can actively promote in its environment contains dynamics/realities and attenuates others.

The digital capability is modular, dynamic and nonlinear, having many visible and invisible business elements, for improving organizational competency and enabling business strategy. The right set of scalable, coherent and impactful capabilities directly contribute to the business maturity and success for both gaining the short term benefits and the long-term winning proposition.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The New Book “Digital Gaps” Chapter 1 Introduction: Cognitive Gaps


Today’s digital organizations simply just can’t stand still. Bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where you are and want to become is a welcomed challenge.

Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge through thoughts, experiences, and senses. It is a perception, sensation, and insight. People are different, not because we look differently, but because we think differently. Cognitive gaps enlarge problem-solving gaps because it will cause the blind spots for either defining the real problem or solving it. Cognitive gaps cause innovation gaps which disconnect many things that are supposed to be interconnected, it becomes the barrier for connecting the dots to stimulate creativity. There is the multitude of perspectives on the cognitive gaps, as well as how to close them.


Critical thinking gap: Critical thinking is the mental process of conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach conclusion. Critical thinking is looking beyond the surface, not just accepting things at face value but asking questions and being active in your thought process. There are critical thinking gaps existing which cause leadership blind spots and poor decision-making. Because we all have a cognitive bias, it is no surprise to create the thinking gaps by imperfect people using imperfect processes via the narrow lenses. There are education gaps as well because there are very few real critical thinkers, critical thinking technique can be taught, but critical thinking capability can only be developed via practicing independent thinking, insightful observation, conscious and superconscious reasoning. The real critical thinking even has creativity embedded deeply in the thought processes, it has the ability to catch the trends and discover hidden connections. Hence, either organizations or education institutes today need to promote critical thinking, curiosity, and mental agility. They should recognize and appreciate the real critical thinkers who can fill the management blind spots or fill cognitive gaps in order to make the leap of digital transformation more confidently.


Understanding gap: Climbing knowledge-insight-wisdom pyramid is an important step in gaining understanding in a profound way. It requires a person’s ability to grasp or comprehend information. Too often assumptions and prejudices get in the way of understanding. Ironically, we probably all learned as kids: “Don’t judge the book by its cover,” but unfortunately, we do live in an increasingly “profiled” world that does judge a book by its cover. Hence, some say the understanding gap is even enlarged because each individual evolves into the “VUCA” digital normal at the different pace. Hence, it is the responsibility of each individual to examine themselves and make sure they are open to true understanding. It is unfortunate when we become so narrow in our view that we have to put others down, that is not understanding, this is not knowledge, this is ego. To close the understanding gap, we have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, see around the corner and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge to get to the heart of the matter, be critical and creative at the same time, to dig into the root cause and solve the problem for advancing the business and our society.


Perception gap: Perception is one’s interpretation of the reality. It is the way one’s eyes see the surrounding and one’s mind interprets it. No two person’s realities will be totally identical at the giving time, out perception is, in turn, an interpretation based on our own conditioning, insight, or surroundings, leading us to make the judgment. People’s perception reflects who they are and which lens they apply to make the judgment of others. When we are “mindful,” we not only see but also perceive; we not only live but experience; this will have an effect on others and how we interact with the surrounding. One’s perception matters because it affects on how we are going to respond to “What happened,” and which influence we would make to the surrounds. So, the positive mind often has more positive thinking about the environment, but the out-of-date perception is like the time glue that keeps you still while the rest of the world moves on which creates another problem-resentment and more negative thinking and emotion. Often the conventional wisdom or stereotyping leads to those outdated perceptions which stifle the human progress, even drag down the progress being made. To close the perception gap, the mind needs to be open enough to embrace other minds’ perception as well, to always understand things via different angles. We should all sow the positive thoughts and creativity seeds to bridge perception gaps and make the leap of the digital transformation.

Due to the hyperconnected and over-complex nature of the digital era, it is time to fill multiple cognitive gaps and think more profoundly. There is no magical “thinking sauce” to make one’s mind profound, or leadership effective, you have to practice, practice, and practice more, to cultivate a healthy thinking habit, think positively, think broadly, think deeply, and thinking wisely.

The Multifaceted Aspects of IT Management Dashboard

A dashboard is a tool to visualize and show the metrics of the values and the effectiveness of the measured department (IT), or the measured activity produces.

A Dashboard is a support decision instrument, gives instantaneous information about the organization's main drivers. In other words, it is a tool which is a part of a management system. The feature of the dashboard is to display information that can be customized and categorized to meet a user’s specific needs. Here are the multifaceted aspects of the IT management dashboard.


Well selected metrics and performance measure data: Selecting the right key performance indicator is one of the most important steps in measurement because this process includes to answering why you are choosing that, how you will use them and whether you have enough resources to manage information. Always attempt to identify areas in which measurable improvements can be realized, providing demonstrable value is essential. Even if you choose the right KPIs, you must change them from time to time accordingly. Otherwise, your business is going to be driven by that specific set of KPI. You are going to focus on them only, but ignoring the bigger picture of the dynamic business. Ensure that IT performance measures are both qualitative and quantitative, and implement whatever mechanisms you need to be able to gather the data. Selecting the right metrics is critical from performance management perspective as well. There’re always two sides of measurement. The measures to motivate teams to achieve more and the measures to distract management from the ultimate business goals. KPIs and the associated metrics drive priorities and behaviors. Therefore, KPI setting should focus on achieving the ultimate goals of business as a whole.


Top accomplishments for strategy execution: Performances are not just numbers with metrics, they are numbers in context, results related to your strategic goals. Measure IT performance through the benchmark which can reflect the multidimensional value of IT to the business, not only for the bottom line but also for the top line growth. IT Metrics have to evolve from being a cost center to becoming a revenue generator.  This is an important step to building IT reputation as a strategic business partner. As for success metrics, either new or old, for success will be predicated on the strategy and sourcing model. However, the problem is that the IT folks tend to see value in things that aren't as important to the business. KPIs for IT need to be defined in keeping the view of the corporate objectives and put into a mix of other KPIs. One of the other biggest pitfalls for performance measurement is measuring the “part” with ignorance of the “whole.” In other words, what are the organization's rewards and recognition structure perpetuating? The problem stems from the way outcomes are being measured. When the collective outcome is the focus, the silo walls collapse. When individual and departmental outcomes are measured, the walls go up. So the performance measurement should ensure the business as the whole is superior to the sum of pieces, also make sure IT and business are always on the same page.


IT Departmental P&L: Running IT as the business with a clear P&L. Build an intuitive dashboard to monitor the performance. It is a very good idea to make IT metrics transparent to the other departments, to visualize the progress and also to evaluate if the KPIs being used are the same as the ones they use to describe IT activity. Every new technology adopted must facilitate the business but also bring down the incremental cost of growth and the time to market. That should be the true metric for IT to demonstrate its P&L, as well as how it impacts the business growth. Another sign of a poorly run IT department is the way in which the business leaders choose to measure them. If their targets and measures are focused purely on controlling the cost of IT, then the group has failed to show the business value that IT brings. This can lead to a lack of trust from the business towards IT and a continuous questioning of "what are you doing?”  IT metrics need to evolve to something that matters to the business audience, at the same time that "business sentiment" needs to get put into something more tangible, such as optimizing processes or improving productivity.


Employee Turnover/ Attrition percentage: People are still the most expensive cost for either running IT or the entire business. When employee turnover or attrition percentage is high, IT performance will suffer. Thus, the values ROI delivers in talent management must be a subset of the organization’s own measure of created business value.  Once you've defined those clearly in the context of your organization that should give you the critical factors you can measure progress on. Take a look at what is important to your business’s long-term growth strategy, and figure out which metric to use. The best IT team should always have well-mixed strengths, skills, capability, and experience. Too much short-term focus in perceived "benefits" (shorter time to fill the vacancy, lower total compensation, etc.) could be very problematic over the long haul. The one way to find out that the performance measurement setting is ineffective is by looking at the behavior and culture the KPI is driving. The goal of well-selected metrics and effective measurement should help align performance management, talent management, and culture management to achieve the high-performance result and maximize its full potential.


Key challenges and relevant information: Dashboards are supposed to be objective. Services provided by IT are critical to efficiency and quality of operations of a corporation. Hence, it needs to be monitored and measured objectively, that it continues to perform optimally. A simple dashboard with a few basic instruments is helpful and illuminating. Because the trick is that the more information you expect to include in your first launch of a dashboard, the more you risk, both in terms of delayed implementation and in terms of loss of buy-in from stakeholders if the data quality is low. The key to success is focusing on business-critical information at the start and not getting bogged down in the 'collect everything you can count' trap. The purpose of measures is to focus on improving overall IT capabilities and maturity.

A dashboard is a tool to visualize and show the metrics of the values and the effectiveness of the measured department (IT), or the measured activity produces. The dashboard is also a good tool to provide input to the decision maker and help create a degree of abstractness in presentations that enables executives to have their saying in a meeting or make an effective decision. The dashboard is an effective method to show IT value, furthermore, encourage the IT departments to create their own marketing plan for dealing with their different 'customers inside and outside of the organization.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 3/23/ 2017

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking, brainstorming, innovating.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.8 million page views with 3600+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Here is the weekly insight about digital leadership, IT Management, and Talent Management.


  
The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 3/23/2017
  • The New Book Introduction: “Digital Gaps: Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive BusinessWe are at the age of digital dawn; hyper-connectivity is one of the most critical digital characteristics which make the business holistic and the world smaller. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way business is conducted so that simply adopting a new digital technology is insufficient. You have to transform the company's underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Otherwise, companies may begin a decline from its previous good performance. However, many business managers today still apply old silo management mindsets to new ways of leading changes, create the multitude of gaps blocking the way of the radical digital transformation. Being divided by so many chasms across leadership, management, and innovation, etc., organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge, decrease effectiveness, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term.


  • How to Set Right Priorities for IT Digital transformation: With increasing speed of changes and overwhelming growth of information, IT can no longer keep static to run as a support function only. Today's IT plays a more crucial role in discovering a path to strategy building, implementation, and innovation. Business/IT leaders should also realize the breakthrough success in digital businesses requires not only forward-thinking strategies but also having a step-wise approach. But more specifically, how to set the right priorities for making a digital transformation of the company?


  • A Philosophical Digital Board The shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies and leadership roles. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. In fact, Digital Era opens the new chapter of human progress; and philosophy is the compass of human civilization. Digital philosophy is simply in pursuit of a holistic understanding of the hyperconnected digital business world and discovering the better way to do things. The function of the corporate board, as the top leadership team and governance body, should like the digital compass to steer the business towards the right direction. So, how can BoDs apply philosophical digital principles to lead changes, and drive business transformation seamlessly?


  • The Ecosystem View of Business Capability Building and Digital Transformation Digital transformation is the paradigm shift. Adopting a different paradigm is like changing the glasses and new possibilities continue to emerge. Those who look through the lens of the previous industrial era see their own reality very differently from those who leverage the lens that the new era has crafted. Due to the hyperconnected digital reality, you have to gain the interdisciplinary understanding via the multitude of dimensions (socio-cultural, socio-technical, socio-economic, organizational, scientific, philosophical, the psychological, the artistic, etc), and to catalyze changes and accelerate digitalization, you have to embrace the holistic ecosystem view of capability building and digital transformation.   


  • Running Digital IT with Triple-Speed Traditional IT organizations are often perceived as the controller which is slow to change and gets stuck in the lower level of maturity, as a reactive order taker. The type of speed issues in these IT organizations come from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company and IT leadership focus - being transactional or transformational? With the exponential growth of information and increasing pace of changes, IT simply cannot sit still, it has to adapt to changes with the multitude of speed, run, grow, and transformation accordingly. IT effects in radical digital to reach digital premium is to become the business solutionary and change agent for driving digital transformation proactively and achieving the ultimate goal of building a high-responsive, high-effective, and high-performance digital organization.  

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

The New Book Introduction:"Digital Gap: Closing Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Digital Businesses"

Today’s digital organizations simply just can’t stand still. Bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where you are and want to become is a welcomed challenge.


We are at the age of digital dawn; hyper-connectivity is one of the most critical digital characteristics which make the business holistic and the world smaller. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way business is conducted so that simply adopting a new digital technology is insufficient. You have to transform the company's underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Otherwise, companies may begin a decline from its previous good performance. However, many business managers today still apply old silo management mindsets to new ways of leading changes, create the multitude of gaps blocking the way of the radical digital transformation. Being divided by so many chasms across leadership, management, and innovation, etc., organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge, decrease effectiveness, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term.


Digital Gaps -Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Business” is a guide book to help digital leaders and professionals today identify, analyze, and mind multiple gaps with multidisciplinary insight and holistic understanding. Today’s digital organization simply just can’t stand still. Bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where you are and want to become is a welcomed challenge and a step-wise approach to making a leap of digital transformation.


Chapter 1: Cognitive gaps: Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge through thought, experience, and senses. The "mind" represents our consciousness and awareness. Cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight. People are different, not because we look differently, but because we think differently. Bridging cognitive gaps is about minding creativity gap, problem-solving gap, and insight gap.


Chapter 2: Leadership gaps: There are many multinational companies around, but very few global companies; and there are many multinational business executives, but very few truly global leaders. Digital leadership gaps are a reality, not fiction. Competition at the leading edge of business is fierce at the age of digitalization and globalization. if you are not taking steps now to shrink that leadership gaps, you will not be prepared to lead the digital business in the future. Successful companies need to grow and innovate, investing in, and developing the next generation of leadership is one of the best ways to do that.


Chapter 3: Management gaps: Traditional management is about applying the reductionistic methodology to achieve business efficiency, and holistic digital management is about leveraging Systems Thinking to ensure the overall health of the business ecosystem. Most organizations at the industrial era operate in the functional silos and digital management focuses on broader collaboration. Hence, it is a strategic imperative to close the gaps between traditional management and digital management in order to enforce cross-functional collaboration and improve business effectiveness and maturity.


Chapter 4: Capability Gaps: A capability is an ability that a person, an organization, or a system possesses to perform and achieve a certain result. The corporate capability is the collective ability to implement strategy, innovation and make changes. The organization’s capabilities can be categorized into both competitive necessity and competitive uniqueness. Forward-looking organizations craft capability-based strategies to ensure the smooth implementation. Therefore, it is critical to identify and close business capability gaps and build organizational competency for reaching the long-term business vision and achieving strategic business goals.

Chapter 5: Professional Gaps: Generally speaking, a professional is an individual with the expertise of some specific area, who earns his or her livings from that expertise. Being professional also means that the individual not only has the skill but also presents the high-quality professionalism such as positive mentality and attitude, fair judgment and good behaviors. A professional is an individual who strives to represent skill and delivers quality. Being a digital professional means consistency. Lack of professional maturity causes a digital professional gap. Being a digital professional inherently and inextricably links with high levels of “professionalism.”

Digitalization does make the world more hyperconnected and interdependent than ever. When things get connected in this way, any entity wishing to negotiate a successful journey has to understand what the implications of this degree of connectivity mean to them. They have to understand what it means within their organization and the business ecosystem. Transformation is a journey rather than a destination. Make the digital transformation journey worth the effort.

The Organization’s Digital Fit

The digital paradigm shift is inevitable. Keeping digital fit means the fitting mindset, fitting attitude, fitting structure, and fitting speed.


The multidimensional digital transformation provides impressive advantages in terms of the speed of delivering business solutions and ability to adapt to changes. Either be a disrupter or being disrupted, digital makes significant impacts on every aspect of the business from people, processes, to technology and capability both horizontally and vertically. The effects of an increasingly digitalized world are now reaching into every corner of businesses and every aspect of organizations. So, how can organizations keep digital fit and highly-responsive because nowadays digital businesses need to be fast, always “on,” highly connected, interdependent, and ultra-competitive?

People fit: People are the very purpose for change, they are often the weakest link in digital transformation as well. Organizational fit means more about growth mindset, value adding or behavioral norms. And people need to be intentional about how they enter the role, focusing on understanding and respecting the people, culture, and history. The failure to do this is one of the biggest causes of derailment, and creator of the perception of poor-fit. From people management perspective, the organizational fit is the good balance of the “misfit” thinking and fitting attitude. 'Fit' doesn't mean that everyone needs to have the same thought processes, the same personalities, the same preferences, or the same experiences. At the ultimate level, organizational fit means to well balance the fit (growth mindset, learning agility, good attitude and accepted behavior) and misfit (independent thinking and creativity). Fit or Misfit" is contextual. At today’s digital new normal, the culture fit means organizations need to proactively seek different ideas and engage in healthy debating and critical thinking with diverse points of view. Where you want to look for 'fit' is in relation to the values you want to build or maintain within your team, and the kinds of behaviors that you would expect to see as a result of, or in alignment with, those values. Organizational fit, manifested in accepted and expected behavior, has a way of neutralizing differences. What is important is that everyone feels committed to the goals of the team, and are comfortable with the behavioral expectations associated with those goals. The fit is also not equal to be compliant only, as matter of fact, ‘groupthink’ is one of the most devastating things to team performance and certainly to a team’s ability to innovate. Business leaders should keep checking to keep the team digital fit: Are you planning to build a homogeneous or heterogeneous team; a complimentary team or a competitive team? Are you hiring people who are an obvious "fit," and passing on people who are less so (at least on the surface)? The truly digital fitting people should bring positivity and diverse viewpoints, help build the culture of learning and innovation, and accelerate the digital transformation of the organization.


Growth fit: Forward-looking organizations are shifting focus from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer focus, to keep them growth fit. They have to build a set of differentiated business capabilities to keep fit and ride above the learning curve. Processes underpin business capabilities. The strategy tells you what processes you should focus on because they are strategic to the company. It also tells you whether you are redesigning business processes to achieve changes in time, cost, quality or scope, for keeping fit. To keep processes nimble, organizations also need to prune “the weed” regularly. The approach is to implement a program that like a gardener would prune the trees to enable them growing stronger, and nurture the valuable solutions. Keeping digital fit means you need to do consolidation, integration, modernization, automation, innovation, and optimization and manage digital transformation in a systematic way. From an organizational structure perspective, compared to the traditional organizational structure with a rigid hierarchy, digital organizations are the "living things," need to continually fine-tune a successful structure to improve people-centricity. And people-centricity becomes the nature of the priorities in the organization. What customers generally want is a no-nonsense, fit-for-purpose, and hassle free solution to their needs. Fit-for-purpose," is equally true for human relationships as for solutions to other needs, as the goal for the business’s surviving and thriving.


Speed fit: Speed matters for businesses’ surviving and thriving. This is particularly true due to the increasing speed of changes and overwhelming growth of information in the digital era. The emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern as the pervasiveness of an organization's digitization journey increases. How these ideas are recognized, filtered and dealt with will become a crucial factor in an organization's success in producing digitized products and services, and more importantly, enhancing its competitive business capabilities. Digital fitting organizations can accelerate their speed seamlessly to the more frequent digital disruptions, wired to change and designed for better innovation toward the long-term digital transformation. While the organizations running in the industrial mode are just the sum of pieces, and getting stuck at the lower level of maturity and their functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively and seamlessly to optimize business. Digital fitting organizations have both strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility to speed up, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company. Digital leaders and professionals in these organizations have digital lenses to "seeing the whole," reach a shared understanding of the whole and become the change agent to catalyze digital transformation with the accelerating speed.

The digital paradigm shift is inevitable. Keeping digital fit means the fitting mindset, fitting attitude, fitting structure, and fitting speed. It means learning agility, innovation, and balance. “Run, grow, and transformation,” digital organizations have to keep both the balance cycle and growth cycle going well. Digital organizations need to keep evolving, renewing, and achieving the state of digital flow and business continuum.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Digitizing Boardroom" Book Tuning: A Philosophical Digital Board

Philosophy can talk about the status of other sciences. Philosophy can allow us to see the cause and effect thoroughly.

The shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies and leadership roles. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. In fact, Digital Era opens the new chapter of human progress; and philosophy is the compass of human civilization. Digital philosophy is simply in pursuit of a holistic understanding of the hyperconnected digital business world and discovering the better way to do things. The function of the corporate board, as the top leadership team and governance body, should like the digital compass to steer the business towards the right direction. So, how can BoDs apply philosophical digital principles to lead changes, and drive business transformation seamlessly?

BoDs with the philosophical mind are in high demand to provide abstract thinking and leverage multi-dimensional lenses to navigate through business uncertainty: Compared to other science disciplines, philosophy is abstract. Philosophy is a Greek portmanteau of the love of wisdom. Philosophy is the history of ideas and an ongoing inquiry into the nature of things based on abstract reasoning rather than empirical methods. Business management is both art and science. Science always needs philosophy, if there were no critical philosophy to add to the brainstorming, science will in the end loose ground. Philosophy is the foundation upon which science has been built and continues to put forth the questions which help move science onward and upward. BoDs with the philosophical mind are inquisitive to gain the multidisciplinary knowledge and insight about digital transformation. Digital transformation is evolutionary. Philosophy is always important to “better understand evolution and harness its power to serve human purposes.” There is no need for BoDs to become the philosopher, but BoDs with the philosophical mind can practice abstract thinking and communication to reach a point of agreement for setting up the right digital principles and navigate digital transformation effortlessly.  


The philosophic mind is not only to solve the problems but to dissolve them: The BoDs with the philosophical mind can set guideline to solve the problems more radically. You have to define a problem, and then, try to solve it. Otherwise, you perhaps just try to fix the symptom, not the real issue underneath. Philosophy can ask the question that other sciences cannot even think about. Philosophy can talk about the nature of being human or the fundamental about the business. The philosophical thinking encourages you to ask big WHY question, and it helps you see the reasoning in action. And then, when you have seen the reasoning in action, you've got an example of what's philosophy: a problem, and a logical argumentation. The philosophical mind can abstract the quintessential from complexity, discover the root cause of problems. Philosophy can not only allow you to reason the visible, but also perceive the invisible elements of the business. Philosophy takes on problems of knowing and knowledge, but perhaps its greatest strength is its ability to "solve" problems elsewhere. It contributes to solving problems via interdisciplinary understanding. So, BoDs with the philosophic mind can connect the wider dots, advise business management wisely and monitor business performance via multi-faceted angles.


The digital BoD with philosophical intelligence can understand digital transformation in a holistic way.A philosophic mind is abstract to converge the divergent information and bridge the gap with commonality, and a philosophic mind can also perceive the circular vision to see things holistically. They are able to see the big pictures and make unbiased decisions, they have the ability to see the whole picture and relate it to stated vision and goals. They may evoke what we call the paradoxical thinking process, which is defined as a statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd but that may actually be true in fact. To put in a more logical way, today’s BoDs and digital leaders always have to see the both sides of the coin from multidimensional angles before making any strategic decisions. The philosophical mind helps them abstract their thoughts, broaden their vision, open their eyes, and sharpen their leadership and management capability.

Philosophy can talk about the status of other sciences. Philosophy can allow us to see the cause and effect thoroughly. Hence, digital BoDs with philosophical mindset are able to think holistically, with willingness to ask the difficult questions about strategy, leadership and outcomes, guide senior management team through effective questioning, coaching, advising, make an assessment of the business strategy and organization's execution objectively, so they can lead digital transformation in a balanced way.



IT Digital Transformation: Three Practices from Here to There


From here - doing digital to there- being digital is the journey with the multidimensional digital effects.

Organizations are moving from here (doing digital via experimenting some digital technologies) to there (Going digital via expanding to all dimensions for a holistic digital transformation). Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, organizations have to create synergy via building a positive culture, achieving operational excellence, becoming customer-centric, and doing more with innovation. To stay competitive, companies must go beyond experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into a fully digital business powerhouse. But more specifically, how to develop the best/next practices moving you from here to there?


Break down silos from both mentality and organizational structure perspective: Silo mentality is a common challenge for lots of organizations. It is also the root cause of IT-business gap. Because, digital means hyperconnectivity, fast-paced change, and always-on businesses, silo drags down the business speed and stifles digital flow. Though functional silos in traditional organizations at the industrial age intend to achieve the certain level of business efficiency, there are negative conflicts when the organization has little clarity in strategic communication and collaborative competency; and when they integrate, there is more potential to innovate and create value, more so when the collaborative competency of the organization is strong. From mentality level, a lot of organization’s reaction to the silo mentality goes back to leadership and trust. Often lack of strategic and team objectives and rewards that drive this mentality, having leaders of respective functions to interact in a structured setting on a consist basis goes a long way towards eliminating the silo mentality. When organizational leaders place an emphasis on building a culture of cross-functional communication and collaboration, the opportunity for silos to work against the alignment of all departments towards the strategic goals and objectives of the organization is diminished.The organization can approach the flow zone to accelerate digital transformation.


IT cost optimization is a continuous effort: Thoughtful cost optimization and wise investment with an eye towards the future is the signal of a well-run company. This is particular critical for IT because of frequent technology update and costly IT investment. A CIO must be able to develop and optimize the IT operational function within itself, as well as help optimize the business at the company scope. All of IT spending must be looked at through an investment lens, provide a framework for thoughtful and informed decision-making, etc. Though IT is complex, Keep it Simple” should always be one of the guiding principles and management culture for running IT to achieve operational excellence. Also, it is so critical to have the IT resource aligned with the business strategies/ objectives. When a CIO is able to position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," strive to achieve IT agility and maturity, they have earned their stripes.


Doing more with innovation and manage a healthy innovation management portfolio: The spectrum of digital innovation is broad. There are different flavors of innovations: Disruptive innovation, evolutionary innovation, and incremental innovation. There are “hard” innovations such as product/service/business model innovations as well as “soft” innovations such as management or culture/communication innovations. More and more firms are learning and implementing best practices of innovation for improving the success rate of innovation. The paradox is that innovation is about figuring out the new way to do things, it is not supposed to be the industrial standardized practices. Every organization needs to develop the set of customized practices for the specific situation and challenges that are faced and that actually requires different priorities as compared to others. So any best practice is not a “one size fits all” formula, these practices might be different across organizations, across departments, and affiliates within an organization and can change over time. It requires an organization and culture that nurtures new ideas and is able to profitably execute on those ideas. Every organization needs to develop the tailored innovation practices via leveraging effective tools or methodologies and use them wisely with the expertise to really add value or drive innovation and manage a healthy innovation management portfolio.

From here - doing digital to there- being digital is the journey with the multidimensional digital effects. But it provides impressive advantages in term of the speed of delivery, the quality of information for decision making, and the wisdom of digital workforce. It is important to develop the tailored best/next practices, and it takes the team effort and coordination for building a consistently innovate and high mature digital organization.

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