Sunday, April 27, 2014

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. Strategy is becoming more a living entity of strategy and execution, moving from the conventional approach of strategy execution to an 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 to 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 at 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 to well balance 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 Ying & 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, at 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.


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