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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Five Reasons Why Analytics ROI is Elusive

Analytics isn't necessarily about what the data is; it is about what the data means.

Big Data can yield big opportunities, but analytics ROI is elusive because the majority of practitioners believe that analytics starts with data and software. Precise ROI calculations are much more art than science. Here are some causes why advanced analytics ROIs are elusive. 

Lack of well-set guidelines: If practitioners and leadership don't set the right guidelines to establish a comprehensive assessment and resulting project definition, it includes a clear plan to define, collect and calculate KPIs which truly have impact for the business, then Big Data ROI will continue to be elusive. And businesses are not to blame for their failed initial attempts. The approach to start with data and software works well in many other BI projects, but in advanced analytics, and particularly standing up overall analytics practices, is essentially a discovery process, it just won't work. Aggregate success comes from a rhythm of discovery and execution that falls into place only when programs are in line with business sponsorship.

Think Big Data is the end. Analytics isn't necessarily about what the data is; it is about what the data means. Transparent decision support analytics can have an exceptional ROI when it allows decision makers to best understand the information they are making decisions from, and when it increases the confidence of those decisions. ROI isn't made on single points, but on the aggregate success of the decisions made using analytics. And in business, the product of data analysis is not the analysis. The real products of the analysis are the insights gained and the impact measured. 

Multiple gaps: The gaps between strategy and implementation, and the communication gaps between different roles. To understand why organizations are ultimately directly at fault if they cannot arrive at clear, understandable, accountable and actionable results for their analytic initiatives, it boils down to a lack of strategic implementation. It is typically not the responsibility of analysts and IT specialists to focus on strategic-level decision processes. Yet, analytics will fall short of its potential without adequate context, sound problem definition and results translation. The advancement of analytic and reporting options, along with the proliferation of big data delivery platforms and analytic software suites create an environment where functional managers must rely heavily upon their analysts and IT staff for critical insight. At the same time, statisticians and IT professionals are often misguided by managers who lack core analytic skills to effectively communicate their needs, or fully understand the results. The gap between these roles leaves the manager to subjectively interpret results from analytical models that emphasize quantitative sophistication and artificial metrics instead of objective, data-driven solutions.

Too much focus on short-term return: Adoption of analytics in business is an investment. It may require a change in IT infrastructure and tools to be used, which are costly. So, even though adoption of analytics will result in proactive decisions that result in increased ROI for the business, the cost for the IT infrastructure or Tools might initially offset the ROI in the short term. Realistically one can expect to see ROI to increase dramatically in the medium to long term. Business is investing heavily on Analytics to determine strategies for customer retention and identify new customers at the same time the investments on Analytics for employee retention, vendor retention needs improvement as well.

Low adaption rate due to varying reasons: Analytics is key in unraveling insights and future opportunities. An important piece is adoption into a business process to drive outcomes. Here are some of the reasons why adoption may be impaired a. Inability for business managers and analytic experts to connect on "below the hood" intricacies b. Data used not representative of the business process that it seeks to represent c. Resources on both sides of the table don't have deep competency in analytics and business d. Analytics delivered not in line with strategic corporate imperatives hence poor sponsorship e. Lack of disruptive thinking within the business f. Re-branding BI/ reporting as analytics, pull in a few better competency resources and hope that something substantial should turn up to be considered "transformational".

There are many ways analytics ROIs can get tricky, but the focal point is to set the principles to invest, implement and measure effectively by avoiding the pitfalls listed above. As analytics is the digital capability to make effective and timely decisions driven by valuable information hidden within a rapidly increasing mass of data, and it is critical to the success of digital organizations and managers.





How to Build a Creative Workplace and Workforce?

CREATIVITY has to become the philosophy, and part of DNA in an organization. 

Today’s digital workforce is multigenerational, multicultural and multitasking; today’s digital workplace is always on, always connected, you can work anytime and anywhere, with more seamlessly cross-functional collaboration and cross-geographic interaction. But more strategically, how to build a creative working environment to inspire innovation and encourage creative problems solving in business? What are the best practices, or next practices to reinvent the digital way of work, and what are the roadblocks on the way?


Leadership supports and develops creativity throughout the organization. This begins with leading by example. It includes establishing a climate that encourages creativity, and it also means investing the time and resources to develop domain skills in people and effective collaboration in groups. Without proper leadership, creativity is sporadic rather than integrated into the thinking and activities of the organization. Defining an innovation leader is a way to coordinate the innovation effort by leading the process him/herself.  

Empower people to be creative: Helping people recognize when they are being creative shows them what you're expecting from them when you ask them to be "creative." A group that puts together a social function is being creative, a programmer that finds a way around a roadblock is creative; a leader who spends just a few minutes contemplating a fringe solution is creative, etc. “Business Creativity" must be something to do with the customers as digital is the age of the customer, to create an interactive environment with customers, so that you can reverse engineer from customer to a creative product.

To be willing to fail: Some of the most cutting-edge companies that hire brilliant and creative employees find that they're afraid to leave their comfort zone in order to innovate and act on new ideas. The company leaders have to push them to risk - encouraging them to leave their safety nets. Willingness to fail is an important factor which must be fostered by top managers. Either they achieve that failure is tolerated, and even promoted within the company culture,

Creativity has to be in the DNA of a business. Creative thinking or possible the more abstract, CREATIVITY, has to become the philosophy of an organization, innovation is part of corporate culture. After collecting poor to terrible, good to great to fantastic stories of creative thinking or creativity being truly included, it needs to be truly spread throughout organizations via following actions: 
-SUPPORTED
-PROMOTED
-ENCOURAGED
-EDUCATED
-APPLIED
-DEVELOPED
-RECOGNIZED
-REWARDED

The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices: culture, method, and people. 
-Culture must be fostered from directors downwards, otherwise, no real sponsorship takes place. 
-The method is required for a good performance, facilitating creativity teams and providing proper creativity tools. 
-People must enthusiastically participate, getting proper empowerment and noticing that their initiatives do arrive at the end. 

Overcome obstacles: There are numerous roadblocks on innovation journey, here are a few:
-Fear of judgment is one of the biggest obstacles to the creative process, so If the group has worked well together before, you must establish an environment that encourages listening and welcomes tangents with the understanding of eventual focus. If it's a new group, storyboarding will help the shy ones express themselves more freely
Convergence –Divergence: Many ideas do not turn into innovations and that is the 'fault' of careless convergence which leads to inadequate execution.

-Not enough resources 
-Bad timing 
-missing technology 
-missing markets 
-poor handling by supervisors, team leaders, managers, bosses, CEOs 
-lack of support 
-resistance 
-the killing of idea nature of too many people 
etc.

The most important factor in business creativity is "clearing a space for it to grow." Like building a building, first, you need to prepare the ground so a solid foundation can be poured. When the environment and space are cleaned and prepared completely.... the creative efforts of many can flourish." -Ken Stevens

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who are Highly Effective Digital CIOs: CIO Leadership From Average to Great

From average to great is a leadership journey, it takes confidence, vision, passion, problem-solving skills, and teamwork to match up. 


Modern CIOs play different roles and have multiple personas. There is a distinct difference between a great CIO and an average CIO in terms of identifying and implementing competitive advantages and being a great leader. What are those major traits and how to leapfrog IT leadership from average to great?

Confidence: Confidence is a necessary attribute - for all leaders but especially in IT. It is common that business colleagues at the top table are skeptical about IT, feel they have been let down too often etc., so for the CIO to be effective, it is important that she/he both projects confidence and inspires it in those she/he works with. All humans make mistakes, but a confident person is able to admit they were wrong and learn from it. Confidence is not equal to ego or self-centered: Ego is actually another major stumbling block... Being confident means you know who you are, you limitation and what you don't know, so you convey the leadership messages in a consistent way. If you feel you always need to be the smartest one in the room, as an IT leader, you're missing out. However, many IT Executives have traits such as fear of change, not being open to hearing about new technologies, having an ego (self-centered). To be truly great, you have to be confident in your abilities. Attitude, and be confident to help seek out talent (internal & externally) better than themselves at specific activities (and more knowledgeable in specific domains) to help make positive changes to the company.

Technological vision & Problem-Solving skills: In-depth understand both technology and business, have a clear technological vision, and have genuine empathy with the users of technology. With a clear vision, passion follows. In order to drastically change IT landscape, you must have passion and drive at the core along with these qualities--Genuinely curious about Information. A great CIO should be able to not just understand business objectives and priorities, but also be able to break these down and cascade them downstream to his/her team in an IT-comprehensive format. It’s about having problem-solving skills and technological understanding that give you the ability to invent new ways to create or manage information effectively to drive business growth. It is in determining what information you need to make a difference, what data and what process is necessary to instrument that information and putting the data capture and information instrument processes in place. The common pitfall for IT leader is to fail to make the connection between IT and the business, lack the cognizance of how it will actually impact the company's top line and bottom line growth and, therefore, cannot be the enabler that companies need.

Talent Management: The ability to inspire others to a shared vision; the ability to inspire, build and maintain the trust and confidence of those great hires is paramount to the continued success of the organization and the CxO's brand and impact. You can have all the ability and confidence in the world, but if your team is not inspired and does not trust you and believe in your vision! there will be challenging times on the road ahead for sure. A great leader is also a culture master, since it is critical for building a culture of innovation due to the changing nature of technology, as being content with a status quo culture will significantly limit the company's ability to become great. Failure to seek talented individuals, new ideas and advancement technologies simply leave your company at the starting gates while your biggest competitors are most likely running full speed ahead giving them a significant competitive advantage.

The key to being "great" is possessing, or working towards developing all such three traits. Those that master all three rise to the top of their profession and are truly the engines that drive their company forward and upwards.





Software Development vs. Problem Solving

You have to think in terms of both 'tangible' and 'intangible' for either software development or problem-solving.

The ultimate goal of software development is business problem-solving, there is much more needs to be done to frame the business issue and then provide methods which can be used for problem solving.

Before determining if you need a solution, you should decide if there is a problem. In software, the focus should be on understanding and satisfying your users, which is a problem in the psychological sense, but not in the mathematical one, and cannot be addressed with rules/heuristics. The problems that do come up during programming can leverage a set of known solutions (design patterns), but more often than not, the solutions involve real creativity. Anyone who is a problem solver should understand that problem-solving capabilities are needed in software development; anyone who isn't will not be good at software development.

Users generally do not think the same way as programmers. Most software developers may not be aware of the need to consider the problems related to people, challenges of learning complex technology and complex systems. And in many cases, the customers or users do not think the same way as programmers. And the programmer is evading responsibility for solving the underlying problem, not just the technical one. The underlying problem is whether or not the user *understands* the implication of the decision to proceed, not their willingness to commit to the action, and provide protection in case they don't understand the implication. 

Intangible variables are important to problem solving, and software development as well: 'functionality' ( functional requirement) is the only one angle to look at the software, you have to think in terms of both 'tangible' and 'intangible', everything about software is 'intangible' and it starts with 'is there a problem'. Thinking creatively about a problem requires being close to the problem, it requires context and intangible variables. For problems that matter, it cannot be done asynchronously and uniformly. One of the key insights about Agile is that they are the principles and their methods or practices are merely tools to help you work towards some principles and values, or to shape habits. They are not dogma; they are not a substitute for autonomy and thinking on your feet. Therefore, they are emerging as mainstream software management methodology with intent to solve business problems better.

Software development is not a purely technical challenge, it is a problem solving scenario, from framing the business issues to implementing the solutions, it takes more creative and analytic thinking, and a good IT talent needs to be a fantastic problem-solver as well.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Is Management and Control of Technology Shifting Away from IT

IT needs to strike the right balance between being an enabler and a controller

Some say that CIOs are losing ground due to the proliferation of Shadow IT, Consumerization of enterprise technology, Omnipresence of social platforms., etc. Is it true that the management and control of technology are shifting away from IT, and what is the effective way to run IT and business as a whole at the era of Cloud?

 IT needs to assume the role of technical advisor and the broker of Cloud. The CIOs should take the risk of the cloud, the adoption of new cloud providers and the risks associated with it is accepted by the risk & audit committee. And the cloud offers a real opportunity for IT to assume the role of technical advisor and give recommendations on the types of cloud services that best suit specific business needs. This also gives IT an opportunity to preselect cloud services that meet corporate GRC requirements. It's a win-win for everybody! In addition, many large enterprises have a great deal of complexity that only internal IT has capability and capacity to manage it with tailored solutions. 

IT is best fit for being a data steward. So whether the information is stored or managed in the cloud, on a server, or on someone's desktop, the crux of what is most valuable, is the data. IT is the only function which has both expertise and resources to get control of the data and manage data life cycle cohesively; data is one of the most critical corporate resources and needs to be managed efficiently, some of the assumed controls are about what it looks like, where it resides, and who manages it to ensure that the data is relevant, current, secure, and accessible.

IT as governance champion: The control and management of technology should and can still be with I.T, not just for “control’’s sake, but for keeping business in order. There is a shift possibly in the management disciplines that IT leadership will need to manage these distributed, decentralized and discontinuous services that are becoming a new norm for worker productivity. Therefore, there needs to be proper communication and interaction between business and IT to ensure that proper technology is deployed where required, and IT has to put policies and governance in place, but communicate more profundly to keep business in order and run business with both effectiveness and agility. 

IT needs to strike the right balance of being an enabler and a controller. IT leaders are caught between "how do we adopt and leverage" and "how do we control". Traditional network boundaries are disappearing or at best becoming very murky. Cloud services are rising up to challenge. Business goes around IT for new technology. This is always a sign that something is not going right. The worst thing to do is just put the policy in place to mandate it comes through IT since business will perceive IT as not a real business partner. This type of situation always needs to take a fine balance between compliance and 'skunk works". 

In summary: IT may lose part of control, but it’s not always a bad thing, IT can take more resource to do innovation, not just an over-controlling support function to keep the light on; and the most important thing is upon how to build trust relationship with business, practice governance with agility; and running IT more as business, to focus on the fundamental business principles in digital era: Order over control; people over process and business as a whole over functional silo, to play decent role as technical adviser, data steward, customer advocate, governance champion, and even more.



Is IT Part of KM or KM Part of IT

The greatest advancements in the KM  are "all" tied to advancements in technologies and how they're used in the last half century. 

Digital means the abundance of information, information can be refined into the knowledge which is one of the most valuable, but intangible assets in business today. Thus, Information Management and Knowledge Management are two important management disciplines. However, the two terms are interchanged and the exact meaning becomes clouded sometimes, are they distinct or the same? Or the interesting question might actually be: "What about Knowledge Management exists or has value without Information Technology”?

IT is the foundation of data, information, and modern knowledgeThe definition of IT has four parts. 1) the things; 2) the industry; 3) the organization; 4) the professional discipline or practice area. The biggest misnomer regarding IT is that it is "just technology." This is the pigeon-hole that most KM professionals try to paint IT people into. However, the fact is that a huge percentage of IT is about the identification and advancement of Knowledge for the enterprise and its people. In fact, most experienced people would debate that, in this digital information age, there isn't really much of an enterprise without the massive oceans of Data & Information that flow through the enterprise, at any given split second. IT is the foundation for massive volumes of Data & Information that is collected, persisted, categorized, mapped, sliced, diced, reordered, related, transformed, and made meaning of... without which knowledge would be minimal in the modern day.

IT is critical KM Enabler: IT is generally the tools (hardware, software) that are used to enable Knowledge Management. Think of the large volumes of data & Information captured within areas of the enterprise (Marketing, Sales, Product, Support, Legal, Finance, HR, etc.); think of all the collection, coordination, categorization, mappings, and meaning that is all derived from modern IT; think of the persistence, recollection, and constant movement of large volumes of what people know, in all directions. The greatest advancements in the KM profession, in the last half century, are "all" tied to advancements in technologies and how they're used.

Ideally, IT is an innovation engine for business; and KM is more like a living thing having ‘consciousness.’ More often, technology becomes the game changer for business growth, but IT is the means to the end, not the end; and KM as an entity of technology, process of learning and talent management (Culture + Value) is a living thing to directly influence corporate culture and behaviors. Culture is mainly in the HR domain. It includes hiring policy and business rules. The process is a blend between Administrative and Engineering and involves a logical cause and effect analysis to identify and rectify bottlenecks. The technology is mostly IT but also involves Engineering to assure proper bandwidth, the right applications to support the process, maintenance and management of the system. And KM = KM Tools + KM Process + KM Standard = having consciousness.

KM and IT need to work together seamlessly, but they are distinct. The technology (as in a thing) is just a thing and, by itself, is not knowledge or Knowledge Management. However, most of what Information Technologists do, as part of their daily responsibilities, is very much tied to what the KM profession claims to be their unique value add. IT plays more significant role in orchestrating business strategy execution, driving the culture of data-based decision-making; on the other side, Information Technology is a huge part of Knowledge Management as it pertains to organizations/ enterprises, because when the business wants the Data & Information, it needs technology; and when it wants to view the data in ways that they can understand, it is Information; and when they further refine information into the knowledge, which becomes the invaluable asset of digital business.


IT is the foundation of knowledge nowadays, and KM is not all about IT; information is the lifeblood of business, and knowledge is the invaluable asset of the organization; Information is often available in data, and knowledge is often inside the minds of employees/ experts. IT and KM are interdependent disciplines which need to be practiced by today’s digital workforce more seamlessly in order to manage Eco-Information Life Cycle Management (Data-Information-Knowledge-Insight-Wisdom) more coherently.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Startup or Bellwether: Who are the Better innovators?

 The corporation is more resourceful, and startup is more creative.


Innovation is the light every business is pursuing, however, for most companies, innovation is more as serendipity, rather than a systematic business capability which can be built upon; in particular, startup business or industry bellwether, who are the better innovators?

Corporation is more resourceful, and startup is more ‘creative’: Corporate tends to be stronger at the very front end of innovation (problem-scoping); start-ups tend to be stronger at the ideation phase (idea-shaping) and getting to proof of concept; corporate tends to be stronger at the adoption and diffusion phases (mostly down to superior strategic resources enabling better quality execution). In other words, startups have the upper hand on the phases that depend on agility, creativity, and speed, whereas corporates win in the phases that would otherwise stall for lack of strategic resources. In such aspect, the big corporation is on voluntary disadvantage and this opens up opportunities for start-ups to introduce new technologies. The provocative question would be: How can big firms nurture radical innovations? Incubating new entrepreneurial projects and thus creating links with a different set of individual cultures.

The corporation is more incremental, and startup is more ‘disruptive”: There are three kinds of innovation here: incremental -Evolutionary ( something in between) – radical or breakthrough. The gap between incremental and radical is huge both in terms of outcomes if successful and on how to approach it. Big companies are much better at incremental innovation than radical; the big companies have lots of potentials and also the better chances for success for the evolutionary innovations well. They also rule on incremental innovation due to their history and incumbency whereas the startups lead on bringing out more radical innovation. As most of the radical innovations need a lot of time to launch into the market. Hence, big companies prefer to make only incremental innovations on their current technologies. The cost to shift to another technology (radical innovation) for a big firm is just too deep to make a gamble. Therefore, most of the organizational culture of big companies are not inclined to radical innovation. They are used to exploit an established and accepted technology and are very afraid of changing.

Besides size, the sector and ecosystem play a significant role in defining innovation scope and ‘flavor’: Besides the current labels (Corporates, SME, Startup etc) as the key determinants of innovation, perhaps innovation ‘appetite’ has much more to do with sector (is it inherently receptive to radical innovation, does it attract funding etc); then you have team - innovation is driven by small determined teams, almost regardless of the structure within which they exist. From innovation talent perspective: the entrepreneurial (creativity, commercial skills, social skills, dynamism, and focus) competency is the key. In addition, the ecosystem of which they are part implies the notion of the "adjacent possible". If you looked at backward and ask "how would you design a brilliant innovation capability, and then, how would you support it, and then where would you put it? The idea of looking at this backward, although this is quite difficult to apply in the real world, can provide some different insights on how to structure the radical innovation.

The key differences between big and small companies when it comes to innovation are: 
• Speed of decision-making 
• Attitude toward risk 
• Allocation of resources 
• Altitude of innovation impact 
• Processes or lack thereof 
• Following rules versus breaking rules 
• Aptitude to manage innovation

Corporate has the more collective capability to innovate with better structure, but the startup has such collective urgency to innovate with speed and agility. Big companies talk a lot about becoming more entrepreneurial, but few manage to execute effectively on it - the ambidexterity required to support entrepreneurship and optimize operational efficiency at the same time creates too much internal conflict for most. Working with SMEs, either through collaborative value chains or through corporate venturing provides a great way of overcoming this internal conflict by leveraging the attributes of both big and small companies. Corporate environments, given they have the right set of tools, structure, and mentality, are better equipped to generate innovation within themselves, by allocating time and resource to the people in charge. Typically larger companies are at an advantage when it comes to innovation management, especially when it is in complex and resource intensive spheres of activity. Their research and development budgets are much higher and it is simply a matter of economics of scale that they can profit from. At the same time, it is observed that SME, lean managed and fitted with minimal processes, often with highly motivated young professionals, come up with disruptive innovations that even may turn traditional business models upside down.

There is no obvious winner or loser in the intensively competitive innovation game. The interplay between innovative culture and strategic agility is the key to a large organization’s ability to innovate. It is almost impossible to generalize into start-ups being better at innovation than corporate (or vice versa) - you will always find lots of exceptions to any chosen 'rule'. Generally speaking, disruptive innovation means high risk and, therefore, wise to develop within a 'startup' setting. Sustaining innovation, on the other hand, can be processed within existing structures/cultures. To optimize the innovation process (minimizing cost, time and risk whilst maximizing scalable solutions) requires much more effective collaboration between both start-ups and incumbents throughout the innovation pipeline. Further, due to the digital nature of hyper-connectivity and cross-functional collaboration, big companies begin to better understand and embrace open innovation and business model innovation. Once this kicks in over the next 5-10 years, they will become much better at bringing more radical and breakthrough innovation to market and do so faster. 


A ‘Mindful’ Board

A mindful Board is democratic, diversified, cogitative, stimulating, and proactive.

Corporate Boards are there to oversee business strategy, to ensure reasonable governance, and hold the senior executive team accountable for execution. Modern Board as high-level governance body plays the crucial role in business advising, monitoring, and setting key tones in corporate culture as well, these are all significant responsibilities, thus, mindset, more precisely, mind shift or mind flow is so critical to director selection criteria. But what are the characteristics of those mindful BoDs and a mindful board overall?

The mindful BoDs are usually good listeners: They act like a sponge and absorb information, ask lots of questions, and all along they are really the smartest guy/gals in the room but never let on. Great debaters are good at asking lots of questions, that they already know the answer, but helps to achieve their objective. They show extreme humility as that is at the root of how they conduct themselves.

The BoD with the 'fit-for-purpose' mindset to drive business performance: While Mindset is critical to being an effective director is sometimes overlooked. Any individual who joins a board with the mindset to drive the performance of the company to its highest levels is (1) Joining for the right reason and (2) Will have no trouble speaking out when warranted. (3) Leading by asking, showing both confidence and humility at the same time. But, the follow-on question is how many individuals actually join boards with that mindset?

It's more about the boardroom culture engendered by board leaders: It’s all about leadership from the top which sets the tone and governs boardroom behavior. A new director can ask the so-called "dumb" question because they are new. Likewise, the retiring director can ask pointed question in the best work groups, Boards included. For any BoDs, asking the obvious shouldn't require an act of singular heroism -- and it doesn't, on boards where leaders create an environment that strips the shame from asking "just one more question.". The Board leaders play a critical role in enabling the right questioning culture in the Boardroom. Board turnover is another critical factor; change provides a less threatening environment for questioning the status quo. 

Diversity, mainly the diversity of thought and color of viewpoint helps to build a mindful board: There is less pressure to know what everyone else knows or understands. The qualities/skills/ experience and mindset are needed in order for the role to be executed in a high-performance manner.  From a governance perspective, the complementary mindsets and skills will help identify management blind-spots and capture collective insight. There are some excellent directors out there who exhibit the courage to challenge assumptions or present alternative viewpoints, so once you know who they are; it’s great to follow their footprint.

A mindful Board exhibits a creative tension between collegiality and challenge: An effective Board exhibits a creative tension, that hard -to define, but you know it when you see it. There is a balancing act between collegiality and challenge. It is human nature to want to fit in and be liked. It is less common to want to add value and make things better in the face of even some perceived conflict. No challenge is one problem; overbearing interventions is another. To achieve the creative tension balance, the behavior of the Chair is key, both for what they do in meetings and what they do behind the scenes. It is a skill learned only through practice and one's fair share of understanding, without being in fear of re-appointment.

A mindful Board is democratic, diversified, cogitative, and proactive, bring different opinions and viewpoints, build creative tension between collegiality and challenge, but with the solid capability to make collective and wise decisions that get supported by all.




Digital Synchronization

When one startling changes, information moves across the flock very quickly and with nearly no degradation. In essence, that's the beauty of synchronization.

Nature is full of beauty and mystery; murmuration is such a stunning nature phenomena to take your breath away—sometimes from hundreds to tens of thousands of birds gather in flocks called murmurations. It exhibits strong spatial coherence and amazing synchronization, which seem to occur spontaneously, or in response to an approaching threat. So how could these masses of birds fly so synchronously, swiftly, peacefully and gracefully? Even more amazingly, the flocks of birds are never led by a single bird but governed collaboratively by all of the flock members. It’s such a nature example of collective leadership, the fluidity of team motion, and harmony of collaboration. As the science researchers put it, the group responds as one, and cannot be divided into independent subparts. When one bird changes direction or speed, each of the other birds in the flock responds to the change, and they do so nearly simultaneously regardless of the size of the flock.

What can businesses learn from murmurations? Shall you imitate nature to build such digital synchronization for their business transformation, talent management or organizational development? Digital synchronization is a digital trait of business which can function like a living thing that is organic, holistic, energetic, responsive, coordinate, and consistent in the relationship with its environment. Through digital synchronization, organizations can establish more sustainable and transformational capabilities based on the key dimensions such as scope, alignment, design, execution, governance, etc.

Strategy-Execution Synchronization: These days strategy steers execution, and execution directs strategy – in the synchronized way. The strategy is becoming more a living entity of strategy and execution, moving from the conventional approach of strategy execution to a synchronized management of iterative approach. Strategy and execution - represent the two sides of one and the same thing. There is no good strategy without an execution and there is no good execution to a bad strategy. Strategy-execution synchronization can lead the smooth alignment process of ensuring all organization action is directed to achieving common strategic goals and objectives. Basically, there is a main corporate goal. From this goal, you determine certain "action items". These action items become goals for business units. The business units determine action items from these goals and these action items become the goals of the departments within each business unit. And so on, until each individual manager or supervisor has a goal, with action items and opposing metrics. Strategy-execution synchronization can also catalyze the flow of the right information to the right people at the right time to coordinate and execute strategy, tactics, and risks. This means to translate strategy into operational terms aligning the organization to create synergies in making strategy everyone’s everyday job and a continual process mobilizing change through digital synchronization.

Business-IT Synchronization: Both business and IT get synchronized to stay on the same page about business strategy, and weave IT into business strategy and execution. It is about Information Management coherence. In order to build a bridge between IT and business, there must be a very clear understanding and agreement between IT and the business about the role of IT in the organization. If the business only regards IT as a support function, then the priority will be operational efficiency. If the business expects IT to be a driver of innovation and change, then the IT function needs to be flexible and responsive and even proactive to synchronize with core business activities. The business needs to know what IT can deliver and enter a dialogue about what best serves the goals of the business. IT needs to be telling business about the opportunities and possibilities and that means IT needs to really understand the goals of the business and synchronize with business goals. Building the 'right' bridge between IT and Business, closing the gap is about doing the basics right to synchronize business and IT. Ultimately you'd want to recognize that what most businesses need is an IT capability which is a key component of building business capability, not "just" an IT department. Framing the right problem and, therefore, framing the problem right, it’s often about digital business synchronization, alignment, and implementation.

Data  - Information Synchronization: Data synchronization is the process of establishing consistency among data from a source to the target data storage and vice versa, as well as the continuous harmonization of the data over time. Inconsistent or broken business processes often result in significant data inconsistencies. Thus, streamlining and standardizing data management processes is an essential prerequisite to providing effective integration solutions and achieve data synchronization, and this is where the challenges lie to ensuring Data Quality earlier than later. Data Quality is multiple dimensional concepts, data expert provides a better definition of data quality as “the extent to which the data actually represents what it purports to represent.” Establish strong information and data governance is a critical step in synchronizing information. At the strategic level, the goal of strong information governance is about the balance of the long-term focus with some quick wins. The broad scope and long-term focus are great planning tools and overall targets. But you have to have smaller goals that are achievable in a reasonable time within the current business and IT environment. Nonetheless, to keep up with the competition, businesses cannot afford to complete an enterprise model first, before starting to harvest. They need to follow an incremental approach that ensures a return-on-investment within a reasonable period of time.  

Change Management (CM)- Project Management (PM) Synchronization: A properly designed and implemented CM & PM systems are a "must have"; Change management and project management are two sides of the same coin. Either one without the other results in an incomplete transaction. Change Management is one of many components of a project, and they should go hand-in-hand in synchronized way. Projects follow change management processes and adhere to the policies in order to implement required design, new, and/or changing implementations. CM and PM are also complimentary Yin & Yang. The interaction of these two objects causes everything to happen in any project environment. Furthermore, the size of the organization will influence the level of debate. In large enterprises, change management has a purpose in assuring that operation of the business is not disrupted by a single change or a few changes. Project Management is a plan to make changes and to destabilize the current situation. In a large enterprise, PM should or must account for operational readiness, yet there are so many changes, that CM is required to funnel and manage a large number of changes to the operation. In a small business and many medium size businesses, there are fewer operational elements, systems, or players, so that PM and CM tend to blend together into project management.

Culture - Talent Management Synchronization: Culture is a collective mindset, attitude, and habit of an organization, in the digital era, HR plays a role as a strategic partner to the top management for defining the proper organizational culture, and it is also a logical step in synchronizing culture and talent management to shape a high perform team. Culture is a competitive differentiator. Differentiation may be facilitated by a culture encouraging innovation, individuality and collectively. The culture of innovation or agility will attract the first rate talent to join the organization, empower employees to achieve more, and engage talent with synchronized process and platform in the place; on the other side, the strong talent management will further enforce the high-performing culture to synchronize talent’s mind, heart, and hands and find meaning of work or mastery of work., etc.  In the digital age, organizations need to re-define and re-invent to digitize their HR missions. They need to understand the extent to which digital technologies enable the people to function to manage an integrated ecosystem of stakeholders and operate as an efficient and effective strategic business partner. They also need to work more closely with management and take a proactive approach to purposely creating a defined corporate culture and the competitive difference.

Digital synchronization and strategic alignment occur when all parts of the choir sing their respective parts in harmony to achieve a higher purpose, the music as a symphony of voice.  Digital synchronization occurs on multiple levels, but it presupposes the ability of each 'link' to articulate their 'strategic intent'. If strategic intent can be understood both within and without the organization, the alignment process becomes an analytic 'e-harmony' process where the actual configuration of the organization's strategy is a consequence of design and implementation strategies.

Back to the earlier story: When one startling changes, in essence, information moves across the flock very quickly and with nearly no degradation. The researchers describe it as a high signal-to-noise ratio. Starlings in large flocks consistently coordinate their movements with their seven nearest neighbors. They also found that the shape of the flock, rather than the size, has the largest effect on this number; seven seems optimal for the tightly connected flocks that starlings are known for. Nature is amazing; nature is profound, and nature is full of wonders, let’s just learn from it.





Saturday, April 26, 2014

What Percentage of Strategic Plans Have you Seen that Contain a Section on Culture and Leadership?

An effective strategic plan needs to include both 'hard' choices for taking actions and 'soft' components for moving hearts and minds
Management in many organizations spend significant portion of time to craft strategic plan, however, many of such plans are more as a shelf-ware than shareware; more like oxymoron than value-added, how to improve both content and context of such planning, shall it address the ‘soft’ side of business CSFs such as leadership and culture, if so, what percentage of strategic plans have you seen that contain a section on them?

Identify the symptom of ineffective strategy plan: Heavy on content, weak on the enablers such as organizational leadership or culture, etc. That is how most strategic plans are developed. Even there are sections on organization/culture/ etc, it is usually at the end of the document, sometimes even in the appendices. So the percentage is probably less than 20%...The pervasive belief at the senior leadership level is: Build it and they will come.

 Some organizations manage an "Ability to Change and Transform" survey, or a culture survey; so that the organizations can better understand where employees think; where they are today with their culture. It is part of a larger re-engineering project and is a very comprehensive look at the organization's structure, leadership, culture, and "change readiness" to support the strategic plan before making assumptions. As the organization changes, you know you need to make sure you have the right culture to support that change. In general, top-down, multi-discipline engagements are more likely to have a culture-leadership section.

The strategic plans shall include a section on execution and organizational alignment. It will put execution at risk if neglecting the need to adapt to the environment one operates in. Sometimes, the strategies are defined by people that are geographically far away and lack of understanding of the local or regional circumstances. As long your strategy is not aligned with the requirements, rules and habits of your surroundings, it is in jeopardy.

Why is culture so important as part of strategic plan? The better company culture you have, the more enjoyable it is for both the employee and the client. 
- People form organizations; in other words without people, an organization cease to exist. 
- Since People are dynamic, culture induced by aptitudes and attitudes. Human Being (People) is a combination of Intelligence and Emotion or in simpler terms Core Aptitude and Millions Layers of Attitude. 
-Attitude (Emotions, Cultures & Circumstances) impact how issues are perceived by people in terms of Right, Wrong or Marginally Right or Wrong.
-Aptitude (Intelligence & Logic) decides what is right for an organization. For an established organization, culture is normally inherited. For organizations, which are shaping, aptitude sets the tone for the culture.
- A colorful world of views. When it comes to human beings, at a very macro level, there are distinct, yet complementing views about almost everything, such as culture. In other words, it is hardly black and white or shades of grey; it is more of a colorful world of views. 
-Establishes a Success Culture through behavioral DNA 
a. Instill common vision, purpose, passion, and a sense of urgency to act. 
b. Shift, mold, and reframes old paradigms into new ones 
c. Mold leaders 

An effective strategic plan needs to include both 'hard' choices for taking actions and 'soft' components for moving hearts and minds. More importantly: Do you realize that if you could influence more senior leadership teams to get leadership and culture not only in the strategy documents, but to lead off with them, you could make a valuable contribution to strategy and execution? A goal worth of effort!






Risk as a Catalyst to a Growth Strategy

Every risk has opportunities in it, and every opportunity has risks in it. 

Digital brings both significant opportunities and risks to business today. One of the biggest problems with conventional Risk Management is that it tends to focus on risk and ignores opportunities, which will be where the greatest value can be created. Only the high mature companies can take advantage of risk as a catalyst to business growth. From the governance perspective, how to adapt to such digital ‘disruption’ and embrace the opportunities embedded in the changes and transformations?


Manage the risks, but identify some opportunities. Many of the opportunities are in the blind spots. When you are not looking at your blind spots, someone comes in and disrupt you over time. In business, every day is a risk, but when a company embarks on a growth strategy, the risk curve will always be greater than a business as usual approaches. And more than 80% of today's business value is based on their ability to embrace complexity, understand the future, opportunities, decide which one to go after and which one they will not go after and clearly articulate forward the way value will be created.

The majority of the business value is based on intangible assets such as information. Typical risk management programs are based on financials and transactions. Today, more than 80% of the enterprise value is based on nonfinancial assets, the assets that are not currently visible, touchable, hard to quantify; the assets which in a complex digital world are coming and going very rapidly. The intangible factors which are identified as risks need to be clearly defined and given a value. For example reputational risk, client perception, competitor reaction, financial markets perception etc., all have a risk factor which needs to be recognized, and how to capture the insight from those intangible assets is more important than ever.

From risk management to risk intelligence. When boards talk about risk, it’s nearly always referenced as a negative, something to be avoided and certainly minimized within the business model. And today, boards that are still using traditional risk management frameworks and management showing graphs and curves to their board are only moving forward by driving through a rear mirror view. Because the biggest risk for business is beyond those traditional graphs and curves. In fact, companies that are still stuck with their old ways run the risk of being rapidly disrupted. The risk management needs to lift up from risk control to risk intelligence which can identify the potential business growth opportunities.

A multiplier of reward to the investment needs to be established based on a defined payback period. For example, the longer the payback period, the higher the risk; as the original assumptions upon which the investment is based will be subject to greater variances in marketplace conditions. The board needs to ensure that they have a clearly defined monitoring program for each investment.

In order to achieve risk intelligence and take the risk as a catalyst to growth strategy, a harmonic, forward-looking approach to manage opportunities and risks has to be put at the heart of the new 21st century.