Sunday, July 31, 2016

CIOs as Chief Insight Officer: Three Important Things are the "Means to the End"

The business leaders and digital professionals today must clarify the “means and end,” in order to stay focus, without getting lost in the middle.

The business world and human society are becoming over-complex but hyperconnected, full of uncertainty and ambiguity. There are both opportunities and risks in it. Hence, either being a digital leader or professional today, you must clear the vision, keep the “end in mind,” otherwise, you would get “lost,” at the certain point. and often won’t reach the destination. There are three important things that are the MEANS to the end, not the end. What are they?

INFORMATION is the means to the end: We live in the era of abundance of information. Either at individual or business level, people often can not digest the overwhelmed information smoothly and the organization can not process the overloading information seamlessly. If dealing intellectually, individuals or organizations become more knowledgeable via information, but often they also get more confused due to misunderstanding or blindly following. Information is the means to the end, you have to know how to swim more effortlessly in the sea of information, but you should always keep in mind that information only has a value when it has been used. Different information is required at different points in the decision and operational delivery chain. Information is the gold when it has been used to make an informed management decision to develop the right product, enter a new market, exploit a new channel or having the information to be able to conduct day to day operations which have an output value etc. The purpose of Information Management is to process raw data, abstract information from it, then gain knowledge and insight/foresight from the abundance of information, in order to build an intelligent business.

Technology is the means to the end: Digital is the age of technology advancement, but still, either the latest fancy technology gadgets or powerful enterprise digital technologies, they are the MEANS to the end, not the end. Hence, keep the simplicity in mind, do not get distracted or overwhelmed by them. From IT management perspective, while technology is still complex on the back end, it has become much simpler from an end user perspective. IT is a business solutionary to simplify and optimize business processes while IT infrastructure pieces are still complex. The real issue is that IT needs to stop touting how well it does infrastructure, and start demonstrating how they help the company achieve business objectives like accessing new markets, generating new products or becoming more operationally effective. There are many issues facing IT that need to be addressed. Hence, CIOs as IT leaders need to sell the right things - often “the END”- business benefits, not the “MEANS” - how complicated technology is or business irrelevant technical details.

Education is the means to the end: Digital is the age of lifetime learning. Education, either formal or informal, is the means to the end, not the end itself. From talent management perspective, the digital professionals today shouldn’t have a “graduated attitude,” worship the elite education as a destiny, or thought the education they took a decade (or decades) ago is sufficient to overcome today’s business challenge or deal with the complex issues facing in the digital ecosystem. The knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, and the modern education has its limitation. Often it can still knowledge, but can't really teach people how to think. A quality education, hence, should open, not close one’s mind. “Quality" would be associated with an "Education" that fosters critical thinking, excellent problem-solving skills, ability to turn new ideas into innovative products, innovative thinking, ability to apply specific knowledge as tangible applications in some field or another. The very quality of education is to assess how well it shapes the right sets of mind (growth, progression, creativity, open and learning. Either assessing or developing talent, keep in mind: Education is the means to the end, not the end.

All those “MEANS” discussed above are important ingredients of innovation which itself is also the means to the end - for either delighting customers or keeping business growth. So the business leaders today must clarify the “means and end,” build a clear vision which is the end, but taking advantage of the means such as intensive technologies and information based insight, in order to reach the end for problem-solving and societal advances


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