Welcome to our website. Open forum to discuss global thought leadership, Tao of IT Leadership .

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

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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Customer Satisfaction vs. Customer Delight

Customer become loyal when they have experienced something out of the ordinary. 

Customer Satisfaction is a state where the customer perceives a business experience to be positive, but the event itself is not memorable. Customer Delight is the emotional imprint left on a customer who attributes the rich, positive and memorable feelings produced by an experience to a business or organization.

The strategic choice to shape customer-centric strategy: It is difficult to pin short or long term business performance solely on customer satisfaction vs. customer delight. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that businesses with a customer delight focus are generally going to be more enlightened, and as such will be undertaking a whole range of best practice activities which result in long term business performance. Therefore, it is the strategic choice for customer-centric strategy by questioning: 
1). When Customer Satisfaction is Priority #1, What is the Business Performance (short-term and long-term)? 
2). When Customer Delight is Priority #1, What is the Business Performance (short-term and long-term)? 
3). Do you have any business evidence that "Customer Delight" is more profitable than "Customer Satisfaction"?    
Customer Delight creates loyal customers. A customer doesn't become loyal, just by buying. They become loyal when they have experienced something out of the ordinary. When questioned, an example was given of a customer who complained and had that complaint resolved by the company going beyond what they had to. That customer then became a loyal advocate for the brand, telling everyone of their experience. Now customers are part of your company's extended network. And they feel just the same. What proportion of customers you can turn into engaged ones depends a bit on what business you are in as well. But you can make a difference in every business. Look at any opportunity to create a strong advocate for your company. And always work on the negative ones. Delighting them just might turn them into your best customer champions.

Customer Delight is winning the philosophical argument: The idea that customer delight is more profitable than customer satisfaction was not derived from statistical research or case studies. Rather it is based on a philosophical argument coupled with personal experience. Unfortunately in Business, Shareholders and Executives need evidence or support of the "new thing". The philosophical argument: 
- People are psychological by nature 
- Therefore, customers all engage on some psychological level 
- Research suggests that events of deep psychological impact leave impressions 
- These impressions inform future action 
- When you leave a positive impression, you delight 
- Future action for that customer is to continue to do business with you and share their positive experience with others 
- When you leave a negative impression, you breed contempt 
- Future action for that customer is to cease doing business with you and share their negative experience with others 
- It follows that the way a customer feels when interacting with a business is going to determine the success/failure of that business in the long term

Employee satisfaction vs. Employee delight: To gain empathy, think of it from your own point of view as an employee. If you don’t feel engaged, due to the lack of motivation, the negative internal politics or competition, the overly rigid process, etc, you won't do your best work. If, however, you feel empowered, listened to and happy in your work, you will fully support managements point of view. You will work harder, contribute more and both spread the good word and combat the negative - you'll challenge that negative person at the water cooler. If you feel engaged with the company, you'll be much more proactive and voluble, recommending them, fighting their corner with nay-sayers and closing your mind to alternatives mentioned by others in the conversations. And, of course, if you feel disconnected, you will not just play your part when asked but actively seek out people to complain to, to spread the negative.

The next step in customer-centric evolution path is the imagination or conceptualization of new level of changing from Customer Satisfaction to Customer Delight. It takes sound strategy to balance the philosophic argument and statistic research; the short term profitability and long term customer loyalty.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Two Sides of Performance Measurement

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.   Albert Einstein
There’s no doubt that the well defined measures and KPIs are important factors to manage performance and keep track of strategy execution effectively. However, everything has two sides: Do some performance measurement initiatives encourage quantity over quality? It also raises the question as to whether you are doing/measuring something simply because you can, you want to, or because you always have done even though the operating environment may have changed. Indeed, it is thought-provoking. Having KPIs that are both measurable and truly meaningful is always a challenge.

Distinguish between quantitative and qualitative performance objectives/KPIs. It’s dangerous to impose metrics just because the focus on what’s measurable is manageable. There are indeed qualitative objectives where the basis for rating performance is the set of criteria that address the question: “what does it mean to achieve this objective?” In some cases, these may also be action plans. Further, to populate the scorecard with too many metrics for the sake of measurement is also unproductive. KPIs and the associated metrics drive priorities and behaviors. Keep them focused on drivers of performance and, appropriately weighted.

 The performance KPI setting shall focus on achieving the ultimate goals of business as a whole. Performance management when used in an individual context tends to focus on all that is good that has been achieved by the individual; it is rare that an individual emphasizes what they haven't achieved. When the manager changed the focus of the organization after poor company results, he/she asked people to explain why if all performance was so good, was the company failing ? He/she asked the managers to start explaining what they had not achieved and why ? Celebrating success is important, but understanding what’s blocking achievements, targets and performance is paramount.

A barometer of the efficacy of a metric is what exactly is done with the data. Every metric should have a good reason for being measured. And the output should actually be a throughput, it should be an input to something else. So often you see things measured that are never really reviewed or communicated. The absence of inquisitive conversation around these issues can lead to disconnect between actions and the measurements of success.

So 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. The rule of thumb is that whatever metric/KPI you emphasize is exactly the one your team will focus on. Put another way, whatever is being watched is what you will get. That's why it's very important to use a balanced scorecard. A scorecard can be weighted emphasizing certain metrics, but make sure that no single KPI becomes the sole determinant of "success". 

Thought Leadership is a Mindset

From looking like a leader to thinking as a leader.

Cutting edge thinking is the key in a fast moving, fast changing, highly connected digital world of business. Thus, thought leadership is one of the most authentic digital leadership characteristics. What is the thought leadership and who are the though leaders. A thought leader is someone who looks at the future and sets a course for others to follow, or it could be a process, a methodology, a system, a philosophy, etc to which the thought leader adds a new insight and perspective. Thought leaders are often challenging the conventional thinking and current best practices then come up with the next and better practices. They foment change, often causing great constructive disruption.

 Thought leadership is as important to management as it is to leadership. The authentic thought leader provokes the next level of leadership and management thinking and focus on changing the culture of an organization. A real thought leader is someone who brings another level of understanding as to what a company or corporation might be if they wanted to have a world class product/service, world class leaders, world class employees and world class customers in a manner that actually changed the culture of the enterprise for the better, or just different to match such ideas. A next level of thinking outside of the company looks into what they could become and let the company make whatever adjustments it needs internally.

Real thought leadership is a human capacity with long term perspective. It becomes the result of joining the dots in ways that explore 'what isn't' rather than jigging 'what is' and calling it change. Thought leadership by definition is transformative, even if it sometimes requires redefining the old in ways that make things new...simply changing the way we look at things can be thought leadership in action. Thought leaders are the people who can 'hold' a long view - like those who 'saw' and began projects that would make continuous improvement from one generation to the other generation. While most of people are not thinking much beyond the 'now' in our current context of 'instant' everything.

As a verb thought leadership can best be offered as a state of mindThought leadership is the ability to assimilate knowledge, to think with knowledge, but transcends to the insight and wisdom. It is a disciplined mindset with the process that can innovate and extend knowledge. It's about exercising intelligence (both IQ & EQ), in the same way that, for example, we can exercise our emotional and social intelligence. A healthy human brain seems predisposed towards exploration in whichever direction the individual is 'called' (science, entrepreneurship, arts, social justice etc). Thought Leaders are explorers. Thought leadership expands the boundaries or at least calls for the boundaries of current thinking to be challenged –in either macro or micro way.

Thought leadership is by nature evolutionary in that it must always be part of an ever-evolving flow. Thought Leadership is all about how we perceive, not just we see, and with which lenses we take, not just the eyes we 'look' - are we blinkered and therefore limited by conditioning and environmental constraints or are we free to roam our inner space and discover new territory that may lead to real world solutions. Thought Leadership will always precede behavioral change so our thinking is a vital space to explore and understand - the domain of imagination is an obvious place thought leaders play. Thought leaders are people, not companies. But very often an enterprise employs, encourages and embraces individual thought leaders, and thus earn recognition as a thought leadership company. Thought Leaders when employed correctly works wonders for corporate reputation and engagement.

Thought leadership is the treasure in management discipline, leaders cannot lead properly without it. Though leadership is intangible, but thought leadership is influential, the thought leaders are mostly visionary, trusted advisers, subject matter experts or futurists, and they are the change agent and transformational champions.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

What are the Top Skills in Being a CIO?

Modern CIOs are good leader, thinker and visionary. 

Today's CIOs are both business strategist and technology visionary, they are always ready to understand new technologies impacting business, and make effective decisions in strategy execution or talent management. So what are the top skills that are most important in being a CIO?
CIOs have to be the business strategist who can make tactical delivery as well. When IT organizations think only from technical aspect, not from ultimate business goal perspectives, they have almost inevitably driven against the pitfalls. The IT organization loses sight of the fact that they enable and catalyze a business, that IT success is when the business as a whole succeeds. IT is a big part, but an integral part of business. IT is the key component of any core business capabilities nowadays, IT is doing fine when IT makes business activities so much easier. When IT focuses on making business better and more effective and delight end customers as well, it's IT at its best.
CIOs need to have capacity to learn, relearn, and adapt. No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed. Experience is a wonderful thing in that it helps you put things in context. But the willingness to try something new, to test, to learn what you knew again, with new perspectives, to listen and remain balanced, can make IT work. The CIO needs to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. Learning new things won't be ending anytime soon. The ability to keep that up is the key. 
CIOs need to be information steward. Back to the fundamental, CIOs are Chief Information Officer, they need to manage their organization’s information effectively-- understand how information can be delivered to the business as an asset. This means a broad scope of knowledge around the interaction of business and information, with the ability to extract the relevance of the information and ensuring this information is accessible to others. Or put simply, to make sure the right information can be accessed by the right persons in the right time and location to make the right decisions.
CIOs also have to strike the right balance between creativity and governance. Creativity is for simplicity that yields maximum results.  CIOs have to become the innovative leaders to solve critical business problems more creatively, they shall also practice governance discipline to ensure businesses bottom line efficiency. Hence, they need to equip with the power of knowledge. 1) Understand your IT strengths and weaknesses. 2). Understand your IT teams strengths and weaknesses. 3) Good knowledge of your business and your competitors. And a razor focus on what is good for the business, and what defines success. 
Envision-Strategize-Communicate skills. Ideally, the CIO should be part of the board in order to directly understand what's going on and be able to advice, inform and influence if strategic business decisions needed. And from IT management perspective towards his/her organization, he/she needs to motivate, engage and build trust in the whole organization. 

CIOs are the leadership role, not only do they need the skills to transform their IT organization, more importantly, they shall have such color of characters to be an influencer, a change agent and a talent master.

Tuning Digital Mindset: A Decisive Mind

A decisive mindset is information-empowered, analytics-oriented, striking the right balance between confidence and humility, logic and creativity. 

At today’s digital new normal –uncertainty, complexity, velocity and ambiguity, the capability to make effective decision becomes more crucial leadership competency. An effective decision can be defined as an action you take that is logically consistent with the alternative you perceive, the information you get and the preference you have.  Digital Pros, how shall you shape such a "Decisive Mindset"?

Information-empowered mindset: The effective information must come from somewhere; it is of course provided by the decision-maker, in the knowledge or expertise which they bring to bear on the problem. Or to put it another way, for decision-making to be effective, the decision-maker must have enough knowledge to make their decisions rich in information and significantly different from the available data. Decisions are based on information, and generate information. The amount of data required for a decision, and the amount of information generated by a decision, can both be measured in bits. Thus, a decisive mindset is data enriched and information empowered.

The balance of confidence and humility: Isn't having that confidence that makes a decision maker a leader, or perhaps what makes a decision maker a decision maker. Based on the statement that information provides a sense of confidence, such confidence in decision making is in the outcome and/or the process of making the decision. Despite best efforts all desired outcomes are not achieved. As a result, confidence in the process of making a decision leads people to act even though the outcome that is desired may not happen. As for information providing confidence, it depends on the information. Be cautious about the decision making pitfalls, besides too much gut-feeling or procrastination,  there is "analysis paralysis." Yes, if all information points in the same direction, confidence is perhaps achieved. But don't we also have a tendency to look for the information that confirms the decision we already want to make and disregard what speaks against it? The information that should make us humble and watchful about the success rate for implementing decisions.

Judgment and decision making are often considered together. The biggest challenge is knowing what you don't know, it is a reasonable moniker for decision making blind spots and biases. Hence, good judgment is a must for good decisions, data analysis and inferences from such data. There is a clear distinction between a good decision and a good outcome. In a world of uncertainty, the decisive mind can, by definition, not control the outcome, however, focus on making good decisions and the best chance for a good outcome is to make a good decision.

Build a decision friendly environment with Analytics culture. It is framed as being a complex of: 1) fact-driven leadership, 2) expertise (tools and skills), and 3) processes (linking analytical insight to strategy and operational decision making). A great way to start the conversation and cultivate a decision friendly environment is to listen carefully for the logic you hear when you ask questions like, "What criteria are important to you for making this decision?" and "What would need to know in order to consider doing something different from what you are currently doing? Reframe in a positive manner. For example, maybe you don't try to show and expose "flaws", but rather show ways that decision making can be boosted, to dramatic effect. Or maybe, instead of claiming that you will reveal biases, claim that you can demonstrate how to come to decisions objectively.

The state of “decisive mind”: The question is about the state of mind of an unspecified decision maker at an unspecified time, which could be the time at which the decision is made and resolved to action, or some earlier time. More work will be required to investigate the creativity and spontaneity of decision making, how aware are decision makers of the way that information is integrated at an unconscious level and to what extent does this influence their conscious decision making. That state of mind is unobservable to anyone except the decision-maker, and it can be expected to vary with who makes it and when. However, the decision-friendly environment can stimulate or discipline an effective decisive mind.

Some consider decision making is a skill, others think it’s a a leadership quality. Either way, it starts with such a “ decisive mindset “, information-empowered, analytics oriented, and striking the right balance between confidence and humility, logic and creativity; thinking big & thinking small; thinking fast & thinking slow, it’s both the art and science.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Build an Organization of Future

The future of organization has amazing digital traits such as customer-centricity, empathy, and paticipation.
The future is already here, the digital is the age of customer-centricity; the age of empathy, the age of collaboration; the age of co-creating and the age of people, but either strategically or tactically, how to build such an organization of future?

Emphasize on participation, relationships, communicationAn organization of today or the future needs to be organized in such a way that it is a part of the modern world. In other words, it cannot be organized using the outdated, mechanistic, Newtonian paradigm that resulted in bureaucracies. Instead, today's digital companies need to be organized in keeping with the quantum world,  they need to emphasize participation, relationships, communication, and realize that they will need to renew themselves periodically to cope effectively with change and have a fluid structure that responds effectively to their function at the moment. Most will likely be quite small and networked with similarly sized and structured companies on as needed basis. The persistence and resilience summarized in the great statement, "Don’t rest until you’ve done everything you can do to make your organization as resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable as it can be" 

Advocate the mantra of continuous improvement. There should always, at every turn be a taste of better days, of continual improvement of retrospective action planning. Incremental milestones, hallway discussions, lunchroom chats are all relevant sources of creative ideas and places where discussion about that better future can be nurtured. It does not need to be only during strategic discussions or during transformation change initiatives, everywhere, anytime is a reasonable time to innovate and challenge. Modern management is responsible for enabling this collaborative, innovative, agile environment. Nurturing dissent and consideration rather than relentless drive to achieve a single metric is the only way to move forward.

Develop the culture of agility and adaptability. The concept of faster change—being agile and rapidly adaptable so the constant buffeting from disruptive forces can be challenged or accommodated to the enterprise’s advantage—is the goal of many business operations. Yet, changing an organization’s culture is not so easily done because traditions are closely held as norms, values, and beliefs. In addition, the nature of organizational structure—the hierarchy—can slow the process of review and adaptation. The easiest way, therefore, to make change happen is by developing a culture that is self-empowered and is able to continually evaluate its methods and operations in light of customer needs, functional deficiencies, and market forces to bring about new realities and efficiency.

Ensure you have staff teams and managers who are flexible, innovative and have vision. A business can't change if the staff is resistant to innovation. In order to ensure your teams are "flexible, innovative and have vision", you need to follow the same principles of leadership that are known to engage employees. You need to measure employee engagement so that you can identify either pockets of resistance or systemic issues that need to be resolved so you don't waste valuable resources and market timing on a failed launch. There is no way to be ready for the future if the people aspect of the issue is not considered and dealt with properly. Some humble comments are: 
-Ensuring a bond and culture within the company. 
-Valuing employees, seeing them as a capital instead of head counts or qualified labor force. 
-Finding a vision/mantra reflecting the objectives and soul of the company. This should be a collaborative process. Not a top down statement. 
-Valuing contribution from within, in the form of critiques. Rewarding those who care. 

Self-empowered employees and teams catalyze the changes. By having an empowered workforce that is able to respond to changing conditions, using its own initiative can truly make a business nimble. These are people who have organizational knowledge, have built relationships, and have established their credibility. Because of their insider know-how, they will be the ones to see the need for change—often first to realize the threats and appreciate the opportunities—and have the passion to make things happen. They know that satisfied customers are the foundation for building the enterprise’s reputation. These individuals are not a group of outsiders who will need to do a study, uncover a solution, then convince others that something must be done, and in the end force new ideas upon work units using cajoling or the threat of dire consequences.  People who are empowered, intrinsically motivated, and self-confident because they are well trained and supported, will beat the pants off others who have been compelled and coaxed to do what needs to be done. Empowerment, in this case, builds a culture that willingly confronts issues and makes changes because people know and understand that fulfilled customers are returning customers, and that their own lives are enriched because they are the ones who make it happen. 

By leveraging the latest digital technology trends such as social or mobile, building an organization of future is not too far way. In addition, to the best of our ability, business leaders try to predict and plan for the future applying a range of techniques, but some things remain at any given point in time such as being able to critically think through all the chaos and confusion around us sometimes and make the relevant decisions given available information, the ultimate goal of business either today or future is to achieve high performance result and lead high level business maturity. 

The Failure Root Causes of Large IT Projects

IT projects are essentially "business initiatives with technology dependencies".

Many say IT projects are a myth--there are business projects/programs with varying IT content. IT project has much higher failure rate compared to the other type of business projects, especially the failure of the large IT projects will significantly damage business’s capability and capacity, statistically 17% of large IT projects fail so badly that they threaten the existence of the company. So what’re the root causes of the large IT project failure, and how to improve the overall IT project success rate?

Lack of business case definition: Any business project (being an endeavor having a defined objectives, time-frame and delivery parameters) exists to deliver a specific business outcome. The project is started for a clear purpose. The realty these days is that they almost invariably have an IT component, but some have heavy IT dependence. While, software engineering discipline and user design focus yield significant and improved outcomes, the bigger question to ask is why do IT projects exists as they do? The success or failure of a project or program starts at the definition of the business problem to be solved. Either the statement is too general or the business executives fail to spend the time and effort required to properly define: (1) the business problem to be solved in the Business Case; (2) the associated and quantified risk to the business is missing or inadequate; (3) the enterprise resources impacted and the enterprise investments over its life required to achieve "success" defined in the business problem, etc.

Lack of governance discipline: It’s rare to find a major IT project that delivers to time quality or cost. Problems leading to failure inevitably arise at the beginning either through poor requirements, governance not understood or owned and skills and resources not committed. A Centralized IT Governance that proactively aligns IT with business partners to embrace a "No Net New" approach to solution development can make a difference, and is something that can bring predictability to achieving desired Digital Outcomes. Furthermore, external dependencies need to be internalized wherever possible. It mean that other related projects outside the control of the particular project need to be brought into a program and external suppliers need to be aligned with back to back agreements. The Business Sponsor reports to an Executive Committee made up of the senior business leaders whose business is benefiting from the project or program, without such governance framework and discipline in place, the project or program is destined for failure or at best partially meets expectations at great cost. The downstream activities such as defining the business requirements will fall into place when the proper governance and executive owners are in place and their performance incentives are aligned to solving the problem defined in the Business Case.

Lack of business accountability: most IT projects fail because the business gives too little attention to requirements and too little attention to change implementation/benefits realization.
The Business Sponsor shall own and be responsible for delivering the solution to solve the "business problem”, the business all too often delegates its responsibility to "own" the solution and success outcomes to the IT function, when the business should be the "owners". Without this foundation, projects and programs go off course , like a “ rudderless boat ", and either never get back on course or do it at great cost and expense without achieving the anticipated business benefits. Even a major IT infrastructure overhaul is a business investment and will unquestionably affect 'the business' both during and following its implementation. So the 'IT Project' is in fact a myth and arguably naming it such is the first indicator that the business looks like it may be failing to take the necessary ownership or assign it to the correct sponsor. The Business Sponsor is also accountable and responsible to retain the necessary resources both internally and externally to complete the project or program.

Lack of the right balance between IT and the business. Whilst recognizing the importance of IT in this day and age especially as IT increasingly contributes to the business case and benefits. However, there often isn't the right balance between IT and the business. This should be reflected in the project governance structure and team taking into account the skills and personalities involved. Perhaps besides the obvious points like getting requirements right, IT should spend more time on the business case and assigning ownership across the business. All the focus are on business value. If the results might be better if people started calling them "business initiatives with technology dependencies." Ultimately. success rates can be enhanced by balancing the effort dedicated to discover and understand requirements against the effort required to make changes in the evolving code base without negatively impacting quality, consistency or architectural conformity. The lower the time and resources required to modify and refactor the code base, the less risk there is in allowing changes and, therefore, the lower the impact and risk on the project in its entirety. There are many other factors that come into play, and these are generally well known. The two highlight are (1) overly optimistic estimation of time and effort, and (2) failure to engage with the business leading to a complete miss on core business capability as well as no effective business change implementation. 

Not leveraging the emerging trend and technology: organizations must first seek to leverage their existing digital assets, and avoid buying or developing new technologies until they understand what they need and can reuse- (and whether others can use it as well). This is possible when there is a centralized and transparent approach for managing all digital assets at a feature and function level. As the number of digital channels continue to emerge, features can and will be delivered in various and user relevant ways. This enables IT to take advantage of open APIs, and distributed computing to finally capture the promises of reuse and deliver more, faster and with improved quality. Next, consider the countless abundance of redundant features and overlapping functions in global organizations that create complexity by complicating new efforts. More importantly, ask yourself: 
-How much could be saved through reducing time to delivery if you didn't have to start from scratch with every new solution? 
-What would be the top line benefit to business LoBs by delivering solutions two to three months sooner than anticipated? 
-Does buying that next commercial application actually deliver the benefit it’s promising when it’s incorporated into our vast portfolio? 

Just like the life, the success stories are similar, but the project failure has different causes, some are perfect for a highly structured process and others aren't, the point is business and IT have to work as a team, define the business case clearly; manage project through mature governance discipline, leverage the latest technology trend and build a high-performing project team to deliver business result with speed, flexibility and agility.

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