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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

IT Project Overload Causes & Solutions

The major contributing factors to IT overloading are “ineffective leadership,”  "insufficient resources," “de-motivated teams,” and the classic “can’t say no.” 


While some IT organizations manage IT project portfolios better than others, but there’s a theme out there of project overload in many businesses, which lead to schedule slips, taking shortcuts, cost/quality misses, and then an unsatisfied customer, so what’s the root causes, and how to solve it?

1.    The Causes of IT Project Overload 

The major contributing factors are “ineffective leadership”,  "insufficient resources," “de-motivated teams”, and the classic “can’t say no.” 

    • Ineffective leadership as a key contributing factor. Many times, IT doesn’t have a seat at the big table to create the strategy or functional executives hold silo thinking and unhealthily compete for limited resources, thus, they can’t prioritize and assign limited resource wisely; or work collaboratively to plan, manage, govern and measure projects. 
    • Strategic Leakage: In many (most) organizations, the business strategy is an archived document by which daily decisions are rarely driven. The first step is to create a situation where the main strategic performance drivers are well and commonly understood cross-functionally on the leadership team. This is where prioritization should take place; not on the solutions (projects, IT being only one ilk), but on the opportunities. The result of this exercise should be a roadmap of initiatives vs.one of projects.  
    • Dysfunctional roles and relationships between the "Business" and "IT." In short, if one of the parties is not up to the task of managing their roles and responsibility in the relationship like any relationship,  it will fail and project overloading is just one of the symptoms of this failure. Now in the advance of the cloud or Shadow IT. The relationship gets even more complex as If IT says no the business could proceed to the cloud with its many issues and complexity  
    • Business management issue that starts with the budgeting process. Major initiatives may not get budgeted effectively. Or the budget doesn’t be aligned with the organizations' key result areas. This is in large part what a CIO is supposed to do, make sure expectations for IT are both clearly defined and resourced. Then, when an unplanned major new project comes along, as it will, you can state simply that it is not in the plan, and that whoever is asking needs to work with you to acquire the resources needed for this unbudgeted project. 
    • Misalignment with the lack of strategic governance, few organizations systematically monitor alignment of project demand to prioritize business initiative. Projects should be scored with alignment carrying a large factoring influence. In addition, corporate performance and metrics should be aligned to this same strategic prioritization. Too many functional turf wars are really the result of disparate or even conflicting goals and objectives at the senior leadership level. 
    • Using traditional, "Push," or Plan Driven Project Management Methodologies for software development or software implementations! Yes, the methodology is "easier" to understand and use; but it DOES NOT WORK in many circumstances, especially to adapt the fast pace changes facing in business today. 
    • More often IT takes the wrap for projects that have been delivered but never operationalized. This is not an IT problem. Ownership resides with the businesses. Add to this the ability for the businesses themselves to absorb the change

2.    The Solutions to Fixing IT Project Overload 

   1)  The level at which the prioritization process is owned becomes critical. It is usually necessary to kick decisions up to the executive level. IT dollars are a corporate asset. It is the executive's job to prioritize projects that support the business and they have the power to allocate the resources necessary to accomplish the myriad needs in today's business environment. There is a chain of command/authority for a reason. Use it strategically. There needs to be a well-defined project portfolio prioritization and governance process with business partners. Further, it should be a continuous process of re-evaluation. When a new initiative comes up, the senior stakeholders must be able to move something else to the bottom of the list. At times throwing resources at initiatives stops being effective. Some projects truly can wait but every stakeholder wants what they want when they want it. Ideally, the CIO has a seat at the Board level or, at least, access to Board members and can articulate what can and cannot be achieved during the year. What cannot be achieved must be explained

2)     Ensure the business is the key part of prioritizing the work, whether that be an informal Top 10 list or a more formal Steering Committee. And those other managers might show empathy to IT challenges when they come with their list of "nice to have " projects. It can take quite some time to introduce into an organization but is well worth the effort in a developing a long-term partnership with your business users to help you prioritize their demands.Get them all in the same room. An annual planning meeting coinciding with your capital planning process is good. If their "must have" demands exceed your department's capacity or capability then ask them to justify the additional resources you will need to complete their work

           3)     Say “No” with Reasons. The first as you have identified is the ability to: "Just say NO,"                          establish credibility with other managers and executives so that when you say "no" or "later" to a
            project they know you are making your decision based upon facts and analysis rather than fatigue
           and chaos. You don't have to say no, you can say yes to a condition. The mechanism can be
           used such asCharging back the department requesting the project for resources needed and
           requiring a written request with justification are two good ways to curb "Project Overload", though
           not a panacea.

4)     PPM and prioritization component within IT as well as in the other business areas since all business projects, IT or otherwise, originate typically with a sponsor. Capacity or capability has to be taken into consideration as business plans for projects are developed and put forward. The additional capacity requirement for both the project itself and post-implementation ongoing maintenance should all be factors in the business plan; The portfolio management process itself is a governance process which is usually tailored to match the organization’s type of business, culture and company size. Further, how to take advantage of the latest technology/management tools may also help a lot, such as an effective PPM tool/scoreboard, or smart project analytics tools.

5)     Work with your team to prioritize work methodically so that staff understands why they are being asked to work late on certain projects, and why they are not getting to work on their own "pet" projects. Listen to them when they tell you they are overworked. Learn to cancel bad projects without blame or regret. Move on.. Based on the resources you have known where your cutoff is in terms of how much you can work on, at any given time. Then have fight for additional budget and resources, to work on additional projects above and beyond your normal capacity. Weigh the projects, look at cost/savings metrics, resources, schedules, benefits, etc

6)     Using an Agile methodology & Agile Project Management tool forces the business to be involved in the process - and thus more willing to partner with you. Using Agile really help alleviate frustration between team and management due to a strong communications channel around status, progress, burn rates, challenges, etc. And by delivering small releases in shorter increments, allows the business to make use of the new enhancements / features earlier. Plus, if a project should not be done, it allows you to kill the project earlier - and thus, you don't waste precious resources on something you shouldn't be working on. And Agile methodologies typically have a huge improvement in team morale and productivity - and the effects are very measurable. 

<7)   Governance around the project portfolio. It is more than business involvement in the prioritization that is needed, it is "business" ownership of that process. IT is part of the business and IT projects should be held to the same justification, approval, and prioritization process as any project. That said, this can only happen when the business at the highest levels "owns" that process. The governance body such as Steering Committee are composed of  the heads of each line of business and the CIO,  project approval, budgeting, and prioritization are their responsibilities. Each business case sponsor would have to make their case to the committee. The committee collectively prioritizes the portfolio and makes adjustments. Risk assessment with a proper cost-benefit analysis will give a clearer picture of what a project is worth to an organization. It's far easier to argue to kill a project if the lines in the sand are drawn earlier and in a more rational state of mind than mid-project when so much effort has been invested. Nobody wants to be the first one around a table to declare a project a failure or half-a-success, but if risk analysis and cost-benefits are done properly, you can, at least, come away with a set of lessons learned and reassign the resources quickly.

8)     Requiring an ROI for each Project - for the vast overwhelming majority of IT projects, conducting a formal ROI analysis is typically a waste of time. Most of the projects have soft dollar / productivity impacts that can be difficult to estimate and measure after that fact. Plus even if you show staff reductions, most CFO's know that this probably won't happen or won't happen to the extent you or the business sponsor suggest. It is easy to claim a certain ROI before the project starts - much more difficult to actually measure the results after the fact. It is usually better to have the business sponsor to simply lay out a bullet point list of the benefits of the project and have them pitch the project during your steering committee or other executive review & prioritization meeting.

9)     Demand/Supply management. It is critical to balance the demand vs. supply relation. Establishing a predictive model for resource needs based on the project pipeline and maintaining a lean supply chain is crucial too. On the "capacity" side of the equation, the technology senior team needs to be united in their focus on maintaining an effective (granular, project by project, name by name, % allocation, etc..) in project tool repository. There then needs to be a resource planning "process wrapper" around the continuous reviewing of the resource gaps, risks they pose and the potential resolutions.  There are two fronts to watch: managing infinite requests for finite resources and anticipating those requests. An organization needs to make sure that enough resources are available to deliver the programs and projects, also manage the interdependencies of the project via enterprise architecture framework. 

10) Talent Management: few organizations know and are true to core competencies, for an organization thinks it does everything equally well though it really doesn't have the starting or role player depth to pull it off, projects slide into oblivion and rarely deliver the intended benefit even when complete. External resource talent must be a part of the capacity equation and IT leaders must be willing to come to grips with the talent that must be sourced and the correct model under which to do so. And, whether internally or externally sourced, not only projects but individual performance must be measured against the strategic prioritization.

In conclusion, the art of management is achieving goals despite limitations. So the right approach to solve “IT overloading” is to prioritize projects based on strategy and provides a mechanism to move resources to key projects at the cost of slowing down or even closing some other non-core projects, to ensure IT manage the right projects and become the true strategic differentiator for high-performance businesses.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CIO Leadership & Management Book Library


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  ― Dr. Seuss

1.    CIO Leadership Book 

1)     The Transformational CIO by Hunter Muller
2)     The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership by Martha Heller  
3)     CIO Wisdom: Best Practices from Silicon Valley’s Leading IT Experts by Dean Lane and others
4) The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders by Marc. Schiller

5)     The Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value by Richard Hunter, George Westeman

6)     IT Savvy by Peter Weil, Jeanne W Ross
7)     The Practical CIO: A Common Sense Guide for Successful IT Leadership by Jose Carlos Eiras
8)     CIO Best Practices: Enabling Strategic Value with Information Technology By Joe Stenzel, Gary Cokins, Bill Flemming
9)     The CIO Playbook: Strategies and Best Practices for IT Leaders to Deliver Value By Nicholas R Colisto
10) The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results By Marianne Broadbent, Ellen Kizis

2.    Business Strategy & Management 

11) Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. By Chan Kim, Renee Mauborne
12) What Matters Now by Gary Hamel
13) How Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In (Also Great by Choice, Good to Great, Built to Last) By Jim Collins
14) Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
15) Daily Drucker   By Peter Ferdinand Drucker 
16) The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms By
Clayton M. Christensen 
17) Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters By Richard P. Rumelt
18) Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done By Ram Charan, Larry Bossidy 
19) Tipping Point  By Malcolm Gladwell 
20) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
21) The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger Martin.
22) The new normal  By Peter Hinssen
23) The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Land Davison
24) Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st century By Steve Denning 
25) Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done  By Ron Ashkenas 
26) Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything By Don Tapscott, Anthony D. William 
27) The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and ...
By Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer 
28) Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company  By Andrew Grove
29) The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey, Jim Huling and Chris Mcchesney
30) The 21 Laws of Leadership By John Maxwell
31) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
32) How to Change Things When Change is Hard" by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
33) Seven Habits of Highly Effective People By Steven Covey  
34) The One Minute Manager By Ken Blanchard
35) What Every Body is Saying. By Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins

3. Books about Technology Trends such as SMAC-Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud 


36) Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions,Better Results By Thomas H. Davenport,Jeanne G. Harris,Robert Morison
      37) The Social Organization: How to use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees By Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald (2011)
      38) Leadership Meets Social Open Leadership by Charlene Li 
     39) CIO Embrace with Cloud: On Top of the Cloud: How Cios Leverage New Technologies to Drive Changes and Build Value Across the Enterprise. Hunter Muller 
40) Business in the Cloud: What Every Business Needs to Know About Cloud by Michael H. Hugos, Derek Hulitzky 



Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Magic Quadrant Magic Bullet


CIOs are all familiar with Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ) or Forrester’s Wave, however, when IT leaders evaluate vendors or make procurement decisions, is Magic Quadrant magic bullet?

1.   MQ as Guideline to Competitive Landscape

The Gartner MQ is a very good guideline to understand the competitive landscape about a particular product set. It's good at indicating the movement of vendors, and their associated strengths and weaknesses. That being said, it's a guideline and the "leader quadrant", but it is not applicable to every purchasing decision. As a CIO guiding companies on making technology decisions, one need balance the GMQ with their specific business challenge/environment/SWOT and look to make the most appropriate decisions. The good advice is to always take a step back and refer to your objectives and the bigger picture.

  • The Magic Quadrant is a good tool for making the business understanding the options available. The CIO needs to base his/her decisions on many more factors. MQ is just one of nice references. The Magic Quadrant is useful in making procurement decisions at certain level, CIOs can use it to evaluate vendors and IT products/services, as high quality, dedicated & knowledgeable analysts put a lot of effort on it, there's value to study on it; From this perspective, the CIO is making a safe bet, by relying on the rating of a supposedly independent technology analyst & rating agency.  
  • The Magic Quadrant is also useful for confirming that you have identified and reviewed all the major players in the market segment and demonstrating to the Board that you have done so. It provides independent reinforcement of your recommendation to the Board who ultimately approve the expenditure. If a solution is not in the MQ,  then it drives you to review your recommendation to ensure that the issues identified either do not have a material impact on your situation or that other advantages such as business-critical features have sufficient value to outweigh the issues. 
  • The suggested approach is to leverage the MQ and Forrester Wave as a starting point to narrow down a shortlist of vendors. The next step is to get on the horn with an analyst and discuss your current landscape and what triggered this buying event. Maybe even discuss to look at other vendors that may not be mentioned on either MQ or Wave. And then a bake-off with 2 vendors that the analysts supply you with. This has been a pretty good practice with buyers. At the end of the day, executives are just looking for validation for the purchase so they can say that the leaders in the industry have agreed to the decision. It's a good insurance policy. 

2. Magic Quadrant is not Magic Bullet

Overall the Quadrant is a great marketing tool but wise IT leaders may not use it to base entire purchasing decision just on the Magic Quadrant alone! As MQ is just one small piece you should explore and should not be the sole basis for any decision.

  • Obviously relying just on the MQ may be a bad idea. CIOs do need to create Business Cases with much more parameters to help the decision making process, justifying the investment of every penny. The organization’s specific requirements should be part of the Business case. Sometimes the quadrant is focused on technical functionality, giving a wrong representation about the player who is working on integrated solution able to support process with a platform approach. In addition, businesses should be more open to select visionary vendors or niche players, technology is so dynamic today, there're always many good innovative vendors around, even they are not on MQ or wave, they are still worth trying, if only you follow the right set of principles to evaluate and manage vendor life cycle. 
  • Many technology vendors today are moving away from the “pay to play” engagement, and part of the reason is that it’s cost prohibitive in this economy for the smaller vendors to rate well no matter how innovative their technology. While analyst research provides an invaluable service to the marketplace for technology vendors, but the analyst’s role is beginning to change as validation role rather than a predictor role in the technology market. 
  • Social influence/ladder is the new silver lining (actually happening now) to make impact on many knowledge driven activities, from wisdom sharing to message distribution, from talent pipeline growth to product/service recommendation, it's great complement to traditional approach in decision making. Social media networks are providing information on the latest trends and the analysts are confirming the players as more and more technology buyers are turning to social networking sites to find new IT solutions. These social forums allow them to share challenges with their peers and get recommendation on how to deal with them. 
In summary, Magic Quadrant is still good enough to be used for comparison and maturity of products/ technology/trends to be considered for the Enterprise, but it should be used for ideas not decision making, and it is just a tool and needs to be a part of the due diligence involved in a major procurement decision.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seven Perspectives of IT in 2020


There are many positive, long term perspectives at the beginning of 2013 to ponder what will be happening in 2020, what is the mega-trends for business dynamic as well as global society, from service commodification to consumerization of IT, from internet of things to pervasive computing, from mega-city to global village, the world changes every day, Information and technology play significant role in weaving a brighter picture of business and world, also connecting digital dots in innovation & globalization.

But, more specifically, what will IT organization look like and what IT leadership need to be. Here are seven perspectives during the next seven-year journey.

1.    CIO & IT Leadership 

  • IT has a strategic significance in the 2020 business. So does CIO role. And you cannot buy that leadership. It needs ownership and vision from within. IT fundamental purpose has been to make the business better. Better able to make the right decisions with better information. Better able to drive down costs by automating expensive manual processes. Better able to provide excellent customer experiences. Better able to deliver competitive advantage. 
  • CIO is translated as Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Officer or Chief Intrepreneur Officer., etc, CIO's personas include business strategist, technology visionary, talent master, customer champion, under such strong leadership, IT is closely engaged with the business, working in partnership to develop the art of the possible. So the CIO and IT leadership team must "get" the business. The more that delivery staff "get" the business too, the better the IT-rich business transformations will be. 

2.    IT From Monolithic to Mosaic 

  •  More proactive IT: compared to today's reactive mode, future of IT need be more proactive, The role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and Information channels. The CIO has to look forward and proactively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities.
  •  From Monolithic to Mosaic: IT Built to Change, Not Built for Last: Digital technology is transforming IT from monolithic back-office into mosaic business solution center, agility, resilience, flexibility, etc. are the new characteristics for modern IT as business solution that optimize mega-systems
  • Stick to Value-Adding: Cloud providers remain fixated on commodity, low-cost services, and then an internal IT group ought to find it relatively easy to remain relevant, by simply focusing on the business processes that drive competitive advantage. Understand the business and how it fits together, work out effective and efficient ways to operate in each area and make sure it all hangs together and implement reliably and securely.

3.    IT From Infrastructure Builder to Power Broker & Strategist 

  • IT Departments play with a consultancy and systems-integration role. Their focus is no longer scattered and spread thin between end-user support and 'visionary' technology specialist, but instead they are now able to more effectively apply their adopted and applied knowledge and experience in a pro-active consultative manner, thus lowering the risk of 'hit and run' failed solution. In-house IT has been elevated to a new level and will remain an integrate part of the core foundation blocks of any successful organization.
  • IT is rule co-maker, not just order taker: Central IT’s responsibility shifts from “doing” to “setting the rules", articulating the means of integration and data management necessary to protect the business, and then auditing and governing compliance with these rules. Future of IT also focuses on digital touch point to optimize end customer experience, besides keeping the light on, then, IT can take strategic position to co-develop business goals/rules.
  •  IT will have a more strategic role. As organizations continue to focus on their core products and services, IT should function like any other business unit and help navigate innovation challenges and effectively apply technology (while not necessarily delivering it). The background of the typical IT role will shift from technically-centric to a more business-centric, strategic approach with a focus on understanding the business challenges, industry, consumer, products, and services of the organization and how to best leverage the technology/innovation. 

4. IT Focus on “I”-Driven Innovation 

The companies in the future who do innovation the best will be the most successful companies and that such the CIO and his/her team can (and must) make a difference that determines if the company is successful, innovative, ahead of the curve and thus a survivor.
  • IT Envision Business Transformation: futuristic technology is responsible for envisioning the implications of bigger changes: how workers work, how consumers consume and how suppliers supply. A primary function will be to constantly sweep technology's future horizon to identify emerging technologies that can provide competitive value to the organization before the competition - and then bring that technology into the enterprise 
  • From Information to Insight: If large amount of the enterprise's data now lives outside the walls of the enterprise, one of the chief roles of the CIO will be to ensure that those various data elements are stitched together in a meaningful fashion to transform it from silo data to business-actionable information. The business is structured around information flow and the IT organization will innovate within the value chain.
  •  From Cost Center to Innovation Center: IT is expected to move beyond the cost center model, becoming more innovative from a top & bottom line perspective, contributing to and possibly being the source of new revenue streams. Recognizing how technology is changing the marketplace- IT an entrepreneur, conceiving new business models built on technology and data, and helping create new products
  • Business Process Optimizer/Innovator. With technology innovation largely occurring outside of IT, the CIO must be relentless in looking for ways to drive technology-enabled business process innovation. In large part, this will require delicate negotiation skills to create a cohesive team out of a wide-spread and disconnected ecosystem of players that will be necessary to drive that innovation.

5. Abundance of Opportunities and Risks 

  • Democratization of IT: There are abundance of opportunities and risks existing in digital fabric, because IT is built upon technology and technology is constantly evolving, IT will always have the ability to transform the business if allowed; also because those requirements tend to lead to the description of business processes that cross departmental and business unit boundaries. so democratization is a good analogy for current trends
  • Every opportunity has risks: The wiser groups are already making adjustments, based on assuming the risk of the worst case scenario, from their long-term security perspective, will come true. In other words, they are already tooling up so as to articulate their value, now, in terms senior management understands
  • Governance: There will always be a need for governance, oversight and procurement (along side strategic sourcing). So internal IT at a minimum will need continue to play a role. There is nothing unusual about the concept of IT sharing power with those outside of it, as that is an essential attribute of IT Governance, where decision rights are based on corporate strategy.

6.    Pervasive IT & The Planet of Apps 

  • Pervasive IT: is when Internet of Things meets Machine Intelligence. In 2020, both our personal life and enterprise environment will surely become more digital, so the consumerization of IT will continue to converge with enterprise IT, internet of things will meet machine intelligence, IT role is to help connect such digital & innovative dots, and weave a more hyper-connected digital world. 
  • The Planet of Apps: APIs have been used as key enabler of such digital connector, creates significant new opportunities for enterprises to transform internally to a digital operating model and to engage externally with the evolving digital ecosystems. The best designed APIs are designed for a public audience, in order to get value among the long tail of developers. The APIs bring up the reality that there are just too many niches solutions that customers need to be served. No business will be able to do all of the scenarios. In a digital world, an API is a good interface to enable many distribution channels.
  • App-enriched Community Management: The ability to co-create in a digital ecosystem—A co-creation strategy treats customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active agents who have permission to combine the modular capabilities exposed in a platform to create new experiences. Sophisticated enterprises are starting to think more like a software company—as a platform and an ecosystem. This increase in APIs has led to the need for tools and services that help companies create, publish, manage, operate, and analyze APIs.

7.    Talent Paradox 


  • Talent Paradox: the talent paradox is making sure that organizations that want to compete around the world have a global portfolio of employees, e.g., employees with the right skills in the right location. From now to 2020, anticipate an increasing pace of change. Expect more entrepreneurial opportunities and expect your business not to survive if you don't grab them. You may well need plenty of external support to achieve this, but if you don’t have a core of people who get the technology and get the business strategy, you will be fleeced by opportunists and under-perform against your potential.
  • Embrace the DifferencesGenerational differences: Different generations have different goals, expectations. Global differences: Talent management and retention need to be viewed as a global art and science.Virtual Office & Virtual Team: Engage fluid groups of labor and paradox of talent perception
The future of IT will become more agile, resilient, smarter and business focused, and the future of IT leadership also need become more influential and transformational.

Three “P’s in Purposeful Leaders

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception. Aldous Huxley

If a visionary leader zooms in the future to lead forward and shows the length of leadership; an insightful leader see the situation and lead deeper to present the depth of leadership; a transformational leader bridge today and tomorrow, then a purposeful leader is to fumble the purpose of leadership and to gap the known and unknown, lead up to the next level and test the height of leadership; There are three “P”s in such leadership.


1.      Perception


If visionary leaders and insightful leaders are both using eyes (either physical eyes or inner eyes) to shape the picture; then purposeful leaders not only do self-reflection, but also use five senses or even six sense if you happen to have one, to walk into picture, not only see, but also feel, touch, smell, and taste the meaning of life,  and sense the leadership as well by peeking through the door of perception,

Purpose-based leadership is hunting for:

·       The purpose of leadership: is to create value for business and society; so the purposeful leadership is also value-based leadership, and value has multidimensional perception, besides economic value, there is quality value, ethic value, aesthetic value and other perspectives.

·       The harmony of culture and collective minds of organization: Purposeful leadership is to perceive the art of possible and to practice the science of discipline, to harmonize the collective minds of business and gap the cogitative difference of talent, to cultivate the learning culture and to move up the organizational maturity.

2.      Progress 


Purposeful leaders not only lead the organization forward but also ensure it fulfills its vision and mission, achieve the multitude of value and execute progressively.

·       Purpose is the driving force behind a leader and a business’s Progress: with purpose, leaders can laser focus on using energy and resource strategically to achieve a progressive result; with purpose, a business can decode the purpose paradox-aim for something more vital than economical profit only, and focus on long-term perspective.

·       Shaping the Progressive Talent Team: Purposeful leaders are also sensible to re-imagine leadership and practice theory Y: believe in self-motivation of self-managing employees, instill the sense of purpose into the team, increase enthusiasm and dedication to the work; advocate progressive work environments with reliability and fairness and always inspire the change.


3.      Perseverance


  • It takes perseverance to fulfill the purpose: Purposeful Leaders have a vision, which is so clear to them, making it quite obviously purposeful.  And then it takes the passion for translating such purpose, more often than not, there's a rocky road ahead, and it takes perseverance and determination for accomplishing the purpose. 
  • Purposeful Leadership Takes 5 more “P”s:  Preparation, Principle, Perseverance, Persistence, and Patience. Purposeful leaders do well prepare for the journey, it also takes the principle of moving forward, as principle gives you confidence when you look back; it takes perseverance to overcome the barriers and bias; it takes persistence to solidify the vision and it takes patience to sustain the long-term pursuit of purpose. 
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race “   Calvin Coolidge quotes







Saturday, January 26, 2013

Agile Budget Planning


There is a lot of similarity in the way a company plans a traditional annual budget and the way an IT group plans a traditional waterfall system development project. They are both static and reactive mindset and methodology used frequently at industrial age, and they are both giving way to more agile and responsive ways of operating in the 21st century of digital economy.




1. The Dynamic economy calls for agile budgeting and real-time planning 


Are there really businesses out there that create financial budget forecasts and blindly stick to them regardless of the realities of the world happening around them? If there are, that seems to be a certain recipe for disaster. Annual budgets cause many of the same dysfunctional behaviors as long as waterfall development plans. They motivate people to hide bad news on delays and cost overruns then they try to hustle and catch up with forecasts and plans in order to avoid being penalized. 

Any good leader/manager will routinely monitor his/her budget and create either formal or informal forecasts as the environment continually shifts. Changes to that forecast have to be communicated early and often so that you purposefully don't wind up with those big surprises at the end of the fiscal year.

The agile budgeting focus is on optimizing use of resources based on rolling forecasts and not adhering blindly to fixed annual plans and budgets. Similar to the way Agile IT uses an iterative approach to developing systems, some innovative organizations use iterative budgets based on continuous feedback from real world events and actual operating results. These agile pioneers advocate doing quarterly or even monthly forecasts instead of one big annual forecast and dynamic resource allocation based on emerging threats and opportunities. Instead of blindly carrying out projects because they are in the annual budget, agile finance people continually identify opportunities with the highest return and allocate resources appropriately to profit from those opportunities. Sounds like agile IT doesn’t it?

2. KPIs Tied to Incentive Objectives

Will agile budget planning lead such professional dilemma:  “I would miss getting bonus payouts because I did what was right for the company instead of doing what my bonus targets were incentivizing me to do. I always found it a slap in the face to be penalized like that when I put changing company needs ahead of my unchanging bonus targets.”

Thus, there has to be a balance. The wise finance people should find a way to balance the need to get good bonus targets with getting a flexible budgeting process that can keep up with a fast changing world. The incentives should simply encourage the behavior to increase company profits – in that way people don't get stuck with predefined targets for how to do their job and they can keep changing what they do as long as it delivers the profitability levels that business is all about.

3. Agile Budget Planning, Utopia or Reality?



Weather organizations fit for Agile could be situation-driven, Agile methods work very well in some industries but not in others, there isn’t one size fits all. Linear industries call for waterfall methods, and there are predictable businesses that can reliably forecast activity for the coming year and can adhere to annual budgets

It is also true that sometimes agile is used as an excuse not to do good project management or system documentation or requirements gathering. This is unfortunate and experienced agile practitioners know that agile requires more discipline not less because things are happening faster. Agile is like the expert slope at the ski resort, not for beginners

But overall speaking, Agile methodology either for project development or budget planning, is more adaptable to changes, enforcing iterative communication, and improving flexibility, the most innovative businesses are embracing it.








Friday, January 25, 2013

Is IT a Growth Engine or Supporting Function

IT leadership needs to shift their management orientation and begin thinking like entrepreneurs.

IT perception is always controversial, on one hand, IT touches every nerve of organization at digital era, makes significant impact on business growth; on the other hand, most of IT organizations today are still under-appreciated, being treated as supporting, back office function, why, and how should IT refine its purpose and re-brand its reputation?


1.    Why is IT still being treated as a supporting function?

  • IT Leadership: Most of the CIOs today don’t seem to be future thinkers and business strategists. CIOs are always in supporting roles and they don't have the same level of power and control to DIRECTLY influence executive decision-making. Many CIOs consider IT organization as a separate entity that "support" other business units and do not consider themselves as an integral part of the company so they keep asking for empowerment and influence. In fact, they should have much more influence and power in an organization than they know as they provide technology backbone to the entire business. 
  • Business structure or organizational culture make it so: This is also largely shaped by how other CxOs see IT in addition to the background of the CIO. What does the business want from IT and how is IT positioned to deliver it? There are living examples in organizations where innovation from IT was not embraced by the business, relegating IT to a largely operational support role. If leadership teams do not collaborate as a whole, but act as the sum of pieces, unhealthily compete with each other internally about budgeting, resources, credit, and blames, then, the CIO as "influential" role may turn to be second class, as they are not as "powerful" as CEOs, or as "rich" as CFOs, etc. Especially now, more business functions start purchasing cloud base IT services, will it leave CIOs more "powerless"? On the other side, centralization of the IT budget (as opposed to oversight of the corporate IT spend) puts pressure on CIOs to chase cost reduction programs. That stifles innovation, leads to underinvestment in maintaining assets, diverts key skills from value creation to isolated cost reduction and results in an ineffective ITSM framework. 
  • Lower level of IT maturity: Besides culture, many IT organizations still stick to reactive mode, to keep the light on, put little emphasis on driving business change or innovation, if this is the case, IT leadership, process, strategy need be well aligned in order to improve IT performance, and move up to the next level of IT. Also, depending on the business model, some businesses only see IT as a necessary means to an end and not a game changer.

2. How should CIOs Run IT as Business Catalyst and Growth Engine?

  • How to promote IT as a competitive advantage? CIOs should understand the business first, otherwise, it is challenging to link the dot between business and IT. Once you show and demonstrate to the other CxOs that you understand the business they will respect you and give you Authority, Power, and Influence in executive decision-making. What a CIO should do is understand how he/she creates positive / negative value. Exemplify how IT directly impacts productivity. A CIO can be a major catalyst to generate real value. The main aspect is HOW to create real value. CIOs need to do a better job of articulating the existing and potential value of IT to the business, quantitatively, a language and measurement senior executives understand. The methods and mechanisms for doing so are found in the field of IT Governance and include disciplines like financial, demand and service portfolio management, all of which are aimed at better strategic alignment, through transparency into and continual improvement of the economic and strategic value of IT assets.
  • CIOs should be transformational leaders instead of transactional managers: CIOs have to be able to navigate the business objectives and corporate strategy, and lead the creation and execution of the corresponding technical strategy for the company. During strategic decision-making, executives take into consideration of anyone that can provide real value. Senior executives are interested in profitability, maintaining and increasing market share. CIOs have to bring to the table real value; most CIOs do not understand the value concept. So it is an advantage if the CIO has diversified experience, for business domain or technical expertise to identify IT visions and gaps between IT service and business operation, ultimately eliminate the gaps. CIOs need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. Empowerment and influence come with trust first. The CIO must be a transformational leader that not only manages the IT group but also, CIOs must work to integrate and lead the integration (not merely alignment) of IT to business processes and the strategic value proposition, also, IT must partner with human change management experts to manage change. In the end, it is not about technology, but what technology can do when it is enabling and integrating with change management and business processes to deliver strategic differentiation.
  • IT leadership needs to shift their management orientation and begin thinking like entrepreneurs: Some IT leaders have no interest in this transition. IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for management in their efforts to substantiate their competitive position, effect market landscape, and drive new revenue growth. Profits and then ROIs should be the driving force behind any IT project. The IT department provides guidance, support, assistance and direction in the application and adoption of information technology solutions in support of business objectives! Today IT is the wing of every successful business. Set right KPIs to measure the level IT contribution. Take Operating expenses (normally where IT costs are collected) if IT part cost remains constant in terms of value compared to gross; IT is then contributing to productivity increase. 
  • Establish a Customer-centric Culture: As such, the CIO should envision a systematic approach to identifying business operation requirements for IT services by engaging executives' decision-making processes, understanding the business and linking the dot between IT and business operation. The IT output meeting the business operation requirements will change the cost center perception to business growth engine, and understand both internal customers as well and end customers, and the level of client satisfaction will naturally increase the CIO's power and influence. But his/her concern isn't about power or control - it's about the capability to define, create, deliver and then CLAIM value against critical business results. IT needs to do a better job of quantifying the value of the services they provide, measurements that go beyond KPIs that focus on the warranty of the service, important as they are in the overall measurement of the value of a service. That includes contributions to the top and bottom line. IF you have the strategic perspective and skills needed to have THAT conversation, you can be influential 
In summary, CIOs have to have a clear and big picture of  the company's core business and goals. Through organizational structure, business processes, procedural framework and IT technology support for all of these areas, CIOs have to recognize pros and cons and propose concrete activities for improvement. CxOs will accept the CIO as an ally only if he/she is performing proactive contribution to acquiring goals. CIOs have to be supported by their employees and to establish relations with the owners. It's very important how, to whom and when to propose ideas for business transformation, and IT needs to become business catalyst, rather than just supporting function.











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