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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Monthly Foresight: Decipher the Creative Digital WOrkplace and Workforce Aug., 2017

The effects of an increasingly digitalized world are now reaching into every corner of businesses and every aspect of organizations. Digital is the age of creativity and innovation, creativity is the most wanted trait for digital leaders and professionals today, and innovation is the light every organization is pursuing. Which themes shall you set to advocate digital transformation? What are your practices for building a hyper-connected and ever-evolving digital business ecosystem?

Decipher the Ideal Digital Workplace & Workforce Compared to traditional industrial organizations running as a mechanical system, digital organizations are more like the living things which need to grow more organically and become more fluid to adapt to changes with self-renewal capabilities. In an ideal digital workplace, the organizational structure is solid enough to keep people or things in order; but fluid enough to keep information and idea flow. What are further perspectives to decipher the ideal digital workplace and nurture the creative and productive digital workforce??  
Three Principles in Building a Creative Digital Workplace? Digital is the age of people, and digital work environment needs to embrace the abundance of information and the culture of innovation, put people at the center of business, and to both engage employees and delight customers. How can digital leaders set principles to encourage creativity, build creative digital workplaces and open the new chapter of digital innovations?
How to Build and Measure Workplace Creativity? “In recent years, creativity has become a very highly valued skill. Creative people combine existing possibilities to reach more often unexpected solutions. Creativity is an essential building block for innovation in business. Everyone possesses a certain level of creativity; some just have more than others. How does creativity manifest itself in the workplace? What's the best work environment for creativity? What products (tangible or otherwise) are creative? Where that creativity arises from. And what acts, behaviors etc. may be examples of the organizational creative process? What risks are associated with creativity not being manifested in the workplace? How might you see a creativity employee?
How to Build a Creative Workforce and Workplace?? People are the most invaluable asset in business, at the age of digital, it is, even more, true than ever. Talent employees are treated as human capital needs to be well invested to unleash the boundless potential, not just human resources counted as a cost. HR shall also transform itself from an administration function and gatekeeper to change agent, capital investor and innovator in order to build a creative digital working environment and catalyze the organizational level of digital transformation. However, how do you, as leaders, involve all people in creative thinking and actions? And how can you help improve the harvest of the creative seeds?
How to Build a Creative Workforce? 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?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2 million page views with about #3900th blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

The New Book “Digital Boardroom: 100 Q&As” Chapter IV: The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries

The board’s oversight of information management agenda helps to highlight the strategic perspective of IT and improve its differentiated value.

The digital new normal means that the change is inevitable and the speed of change is increasing due to the exponential growth of information and robust digital technologies. Digital board directors today need to become information friendly and technology savvy. The board's oversight of information management agenda helps to highlight the strategic perspective of IT and improve its differentiated value. An IT-savvy board will keep curious to ask insightful questions, have the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology. Here is a set of digital board’s IT inquiries.

  • How tech-savvy are corporate boards these days?
  • How can boards oversee the IT strategy which is an integral component of the business strategy?
  • How can boards help to strengthen the weakest link of the business -either it’s about people or IT, etc?
  • Can the board help IT set up the right priority to reach the higher level of maturity?
  • Are information, functional or business silos likely to be hurdles as we strive to become more digital?
  • Do we have an incentive structure that promotes collaboration to streamline information flow and achieve its business value?
  • Are information processes and systems compatible with each other and the technologies enabling digital shift?
  • What demand does strategy create for new information technology-enabled business capability, and how will you bring that to reality?
  • What limitations are imposed on business strategy by the constraints of the IT currently used by the company and in its digital ecosystem?

Read more digital board’s IT inquiries in Chapter IV of “Digital Boardroom: 100 Q&As”

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: Timing, Always-On and Digital Synchronization

Digital means increasing the pace of changes, continuous disruption, and timing - how to run a real time business. IT plays a critical role in orchestrating digital transformation. The goal to run a high-responsive, always-on digital IT organization is to create business synergy and achieve digital synchronization of the entire business.

Running a real-time digital IT to accelerate changes: In the digital era with “VUCA” characteristics, timing is everything. Because digital provides abundant opportunities for business growth, also brings unprecedented risks to fail the business even overnight. Digital also enlarges the multiple business gaps because different individuals, functions, organizations, and industries evolve digital with varying speed. Those communication gaps, skill gaps, or execution gaps decrease productivity, drag down the speed, cause mistrust and de-accelerate digital transformation. Hence, to run a real-time, high-responsive digital IT requires IT leaders to first understand their business and industry, and then evaluate the emergent digital technologies based on the value or competitive advantage it brings to the business and the potential risks. And the level of IT responsiveness and maturity depend on how well CIOs can balance the IT needs against the risk tolerance of the business. IT can be like the glue to integrate the multitude of organizational functions, structures, and processes to improve business responsiveness and run a real-time and always-on business with flexibility.

Running a real time IT to provide business insight for either delighting customers or improving business performance: Timing is always important to leverage the right information for making effective decisions. An insightful IT can ensure information fluidity and business holism. There are different factors mainly drive the quality of products/services under time pressure. With business insights provided by IT, organizations acquire the ability to reshape products, services, and customer engagement timely. Though timing does not mean to rush up. Potentially, longer time frames allow the creation of more alternatives from which to choose, using both rational and instinctive knowledge. Time is a critical factor in decision-making scenario. You do not and can’t afford to defer the decision until such time that all facts and information are available. The decision is necessary as a result of limited resources in time, knowledge, capital, and people. The real-time business insight can help business leaders and professionals make effective decisions timely, and this is more imperative when uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and doubts are major hindrances to decision making.  

On-time delivery: IT has been perceived by the business as lagging to changes with controller’s mindset. To reinvent IT as the change agent, IT must make on-time delivery and continuous improvement in a proactive way. Timing is critical. Is the functionality required immediately or is there time for it to be developed in-house? When should IT build, when should IT buy? When should IT take the order from customers? When should IT take initiatives to solve business problems in alternative ways? There are a lot of management dilemmas IT has to deal with. Timing matters in order for the company to run at the digital speed today, so why do you reinvent the wheel? You buy when the solution provider can meet most if not all of the critical requirements without a lot of customization, and with faster speed. Keep in mind, the IT organizational maturity is not based on how many years IT organizations have been around and keep running to support the business; but about how well IT can provide innovative solutions to exceed the business’s expectation and delight customers; or to put simply, making on-time delivery and continuous improvement are much more critical than discover an elegant solution.

With IT as an enabler, digital synchronization occurs on multiple levels, but it presupposes the ability of each 'link' to articulate their 'strategic intent.' When IT plays a role as a conductor skillfully, digital synchronization and strategic alignment occur when all parts of choir sing their respective parts to achieve the high performance result and bring the long term business prosperity.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Monthly “Performance Master’ Book Tuning: Innovation Performance Management Aug, 2017

Corporate Performance Management is a management control from strategy till shop floor. "If you can't measure, you can't manage," legendary management guru Peter Drucker once asserted. He was right Managing performance means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure it happens. It takes multi-faceted approaches from multidimensional perspectives. Here is a set of blogs to brainstorm Innovation Performance Management.

                    Innovation Performance Management  

Innovation Management Assessment and Measurement For many businesses, creativity is the mystery and innovation is a serendipity. In fact, innovation is how to transform novel ideas and achieve its business value. Due to the hyper-complexity of modern businesses, innovation is also about reducing the unnecessary business complexity to tackle the complexities of business dynamic. It can be managed in a structural way. If you can only manage what you measure, how to measure innovation effectively?  

Innovation Measurement: How to Do it Right? Innovation is the light every organization must pursue now, but most of the innovation initiatives fail to achieve the expected result. Druck is credited as saying: “We can only manage what we measure.” What is stopping you from measuring top line impact from innovation, how much revenue is generated by innovations launched in the last 5 years? Are innovation failures caused by the time lag, inefficiency of financial systems? Is your innovation process not so clear with limited information on what has been done, or something else for ineffective innovation management, like a fuzzy or not well-communicated strategy goals? And innovation measurement, how to do it right??

How to Maximize the Returns on IT Innovations  Businesses today face fiery competition and rapid digital shift either technologically or economically, most of the organizations are focusing on improving margins by reducing the bottom-line cost rather than top-line growth; as innovation and risk are proportional, improving efficiency takes a little creativity and risk, while working on innovation effort usually takes higher risks and creativity. Still, forward-looking companies will spend more resource on innovation investment in order to reap the fruit for out beating competitors and gaining long term advantage. So the question is how to maximize returns on innovation, specifically, IT innovations, as overall IT project has much lower success rate than other business initiatives.       

How to Assess and Improve Innovation Management Maturity For many organizations, innovations are still serendipitous. However, serendipity can be planned into an innovation project. Serendipity is not a lucky accident, and it can be planned and worked upon. Has a lot of determination and divine providence for those who believe in that. Serendipity will always play some part in the innovation effort, but innovation is both art and science,  Innovation Management is a scientific management discipline, how do you assess innovation management maturity, though?

How to Measure Innovation Performance? Innovation is about how to implement the creative idea and achieve its business value. One can only manage what it’s being measured. It is also true for innovation management.  Innovation performance metrics and tools can help companies think systemically about business innovation.

The blog is a dynamic book flowing with your thought; growing through your dedication; sharing your knowledge; conveying your wisdom, and making influence through touching the hearts and connecting the minds across the globe. The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2 million page views with about #3900 blog posting. Among 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

The New Book “Digital Boardroom: 100 Q&As” Chapter 3 Introduction: The Digital Board’s Digital Vision/Strategy Inquiries

The most important judiciary duty of any corporate board is the oversight of a holistic strategy management of the company.

Digital Boards help the business oversee business strategy via identifying and closing decision blind spots, pinpointing decision fatigue, and monitoring business performance. The most important judiciary duty of any corporate board is the oversight of a holistic strategy management of the company through focused leadership, monitor its implementation, and performance results, amend wherever necessary to match changing marketplace conditions, and by doing so to ensure the long-term prosperity of the business. However, many board directors are undereducated about their role while the business change is accelerated across global scope and knowledge life cycle is shortened. Here is a set of digital board’s digital strategy inquiries.

  • What is the ultimate purpose of the Board of Directors?
  • How effectively do the boards engage with management on the company’s strategy?
  • How to solve the paradox of management vs. Governance in the boardroom?
  • Does the board articulate its role in supporting a long-term vision for the business effectively?
  • How often is the vision thing discussed at board meetings?
  • What could make your vision cloudy and how to clarify it?
  • Can digital boards help to pinpoint the blind spots of the strategy?
  • Can digital boards help to mind the cognitive gaps for expanding digital lens and setting the top leadership tone?
  • Are your leading using data, rather than gut feeling alone, to make decisions?
  • Are your leaders disposed to actions over analysis and information gathering?


Read more Q&As in Chapter 3 of “Digital Board: 100 Q&As”.

Digital IT “Built to Change”

IT is an integrator to weave all important change elements seamlessly and make people change, process change, and technology change sustainable.

Digital means the increasing speed of changes, hyperconnectivity, and always-on business dynamic. The digital business ecosystem is open, fluid, dynamic and energetic. Traditional IT organizations were often perceived as the change laggard, sometimes they even reinvent the wheel, intend to “Built to Last.” Digital means change with increasing speed. As we all know the only "Certainty" or a "Constant" is "CHANGE,"  IT matters not only because it’s pervasive, more about it continues to advance, and its nature of the "constructive disruption."IT must shorten its products/services delivery cycle for adapting to the rapid pace of change, and update its mantra from “Doing more with less” to “Doing more with innovation,” from “built to last,” to “built to change.”

Technology change: Although digital transformation is not just about applying some fancy technology gadgets, the digital transformation definitely needs technology to make it happen as today no business is independent of IT or rather IT has become now business technology. In fact, technologies are often the disruptive forces behind digital innovation and business transformation. Digital technologies are lightweight, powerful, intuitive, and fast. Organizations today have to aggressively leverage digital technologies, platforms, and tools as the enabler of communication, collaboration, social interaction and forward-thinking, they need to empower the workforce with efficient tools and apps for improving productivity and employees engagement rate. New technology tools and business models allow a company to capture customer information on a continual basis. Technology related changes request tools, training, and practices in order for participants to feel comfortable that the service level they provide will continue or improve with increased productivity. The powerful digital technology tools not only help to digitize the touch point of the customer experience, but also provide invaluable information about customers in real time and getting that to the right teams inside your company. This is the practical usage of many web and social media tools. To leverage technology for digital transformation, IT needs to proactively participate business conversations, as every technology change needs to have a noble business purpose, either for empowering employees or delighting customers, to improve the business productivity, responsiveness, innovation capacity or business flexibility.  

Process/Structure Change: Digital does make the organization flatter and even hyper connected. IT is at the unique position to have an in-depth understanding of the organizational structure as well as underlying functions and processes. IT should help to continue tuning the organizational structure and optimize business processes via understanding the high-level functions of your organization. IT will also help assessing the stage in a life cycle the company is at or the type of jobs that need to be done.  To speed up business speed and compete in a global marketplace, business unit leaders need IT to ensure the availability and reliability of their business process automation tools/technology. IT should help the business remove the waste via continuous consolidation, modernization, automation, integrating, and optimizing. IT can glue the pieces of functions into the coherent set of differentiated business competency. IT has the necessary structure, engineering discipline, scientific methodologies and efficient tools in shaping the new box of thinking and managing emergent digital complexities with the new digital characteristics,  such as hyperconnectivity, hyper-diversity, and hyper-dynamism. Fundamentally, change consists of one or more of fundamental business elements, and IT is not only the super glue but also the integrator to weave all important change elements effortlessly and make change sustainable.

People change: People are the weakest link, also the very reason for any changes. Accelerating the speed of changes and riding ahead of the change curve take strategy, technology, and methodology. Digital is the age of people and options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, so it forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they conduct digital transformation and implement changes, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. From talent management perspective, IT skill gap is the reality, not fiction. Hence, IT changeability is dependent on its people, whether they can step out of comfort zone, overcome change inertia, continue to learn, continue to innovate, and update performance management practices for getting digital ready. From customer management perspective, tactically, IT needs to champion intuitive and easy to use customer tailored solutions to achieve specified goals and optimize customer experience in a continuous delivery way. A real customer-centric approach permeates into everything about the way the CIO leads in the business.  Change Management is all about balancing the key business success elements impacting changes such as people, strategies, processes, procedures, and IT. When IT becomes the linchpin to build people-centric changeability, it is on the right track for “built to change.”

Digital businesses become more dynamic and hyperconnected, organizations have to enable the desirable emergent property, either being called synergy or ongoing change capability because they are the business competency and key differentiator to build high-performing digital businesses. IT is a key attribute to business capabilities for building a high-performance enterprise. IT is an integrator to weave all important change elements seamlessly and make people change, process change, and technology change sustainable. The digital IT should focus on driving, enabling and orchestrating business change and digital transformation in the areas of integration of best-of-breed tools/services and innovation, “built to change.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The New Book “Digital Master: 100 Q&As” Chapter 2 Introduction: The Digital Board’s Digital Inquiries

The digital board needs to become the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation.

Digital is about the accelerating speed of changes and abundance of information. The board needs to retain the ability to capture immediate and future opportunities which will enhance their shareholders’ benefits. To lead effectively, the board needs to be able to leverage diverse viewpoints via listening, brainstorming, and questioning, make effective decisions via critical thinking, independent thinking, strategic thinking, and system thinking, and become the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation. Here is a set of the digital board’s digital inquiries.

  • Do organizations have a digital strategy? Do existing functions and business units have a game plan for digital transformation?
  • How to make good assumptions for digital strategy making?
  • Who owns digital? Who owns which elements of digital strategy?
  • Which digital impacts have you identified? Which functions are the most impacted by Digital?
  • What is the talent gap when IT comes to define and execute the enterprise digital strategy?
  • Is the board sufficiently engaged with long-term opportunities and threats, such as digital transformation, sustainability, and the environment or global shifts in the balance of economic power?
  • Is the business able to shift the focus of existing people, investments and agendas, or does it need new capabilities, higher levels of investment?
  • Do we have the expertise to identify the strategic and operational changes that need to be made?
  • What are the different digital forces affecting your organization? In what ways are they likely to affect the business and how do you prepare for the challenge?
  • Is your business vulnerable to the increasing speed of changes, new competitors, and erosion of revenues and profits from new customer behavior?

Read more Q&As in chapter 2: The Digital board’s digital inquiries.

CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer: Five Types of Innovators to Accelerate Digital Innovation

Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation and recognize innovators with varying talent and strengths.

Innovation is about future, without it, you lose sight of tomorrow. Innovation is an exceptional, exclusive, and realistic idea that separates you from others without a second thought. Do innovators belong to rare breed or they are among us and within us? More often than not, innovation is the teamwork, the different strengths and complementary skills of innovators can develop the business’s innovation capability and capacity, and improve the overall innovation success rate. CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer,” can you identify innovators and manage innovation effectively?

Innovation creator: Innovation is about how to transform the novel ideas to achieve its business value. Hence, creating fresh ideas is the first step for innovation, creativity is the most needed skill in the digital era. Creativity is about connecting wide dots. Creativity is the high-level thinking which relates to intelligence, empathy, idealism, imagination, profound observation, communication skills, process understanding, cultural understanding, and interdisciplinary knowledge. The creative mind has better ability to identify patterns, better ability to make unusual connections, and has the tendency to constantly question the status quo. Creativity is the “actual thinking” which is a conscious or subconscious effort to reorganize your memories and integrate newly acquired knowledge to trigger fresh ideas. The conscious effort employs and tries to expand one’s attention span to stay focused on the wide range of meanings (memories) in order to reconcile them into a coherent whole. Thus, spotting and scoring individuals as an innovation creator need to focus on individual capabilities and potential to innovate. The indicators to assess the intrinsic capacity of the individual as innovator include such as interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, plasticity (fast learning) and knowledge synthesis capability, etc.  

Innovation translator: The goal of managing innovation is to achieve its commercial value. From the business management perspective, innovation often needs cross-functional communication and collaboration. Either from innovation management or the general management perspective, the mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of innovation strategy into the professional language of the various functional capacity and staff specialty. Thus, innovation translator becomes the critical role to ensure the organization can create ideas as well as manage those ideas to achieve the business value via effective communication and cohesive processes. Innovation communication gaps are caused by cognitive difference, ambiguous process or management bottleneck. In the complex businesses today, especially those strictly hierarchical large organizations with bureaucratic culture, there are too many power players or functional/process silos which cause communication bottlenecks and create gaps for innovation flow, innovation translators are those who have interdisciplinary knowledge, diplomatic skills and communication effectiveness to push the ideas forward and advocate innovation relentlessly.

Innovation stabilizer: Innovation is about figuring out the better ways to do things. Innovation shouldn’t be serendipity. Making innovation happen is not hard, indeed too much nonsense it talked about this. Innovation will happen when people are given free space to be creative without poor leadership or overly rigid structure to hold them back. To avoid innovation fatigue or serendipitous perception about innovation, innovation stabilizers are the important role in conducting “Systematic Innovation.” They are innovation leaders or professionals who can provide the appropriately structured framework and a set of practical tools people can use to create and implement ideas, or improve products, processes, and services that will deliver new value to customers.  Leveraging tailored tools in effective innovation management is important to improve its success rate. Innovation Management System includes policies, structure, and program that innovation managers can use to drive innovation. Remove any of the three, you're liable to fail. True innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. Innovators should always have the greater vision in mind and strive to return sustainable development and growth back to the business or society they are working in/for.

Innovation navigator: Due to the increasing pace of changes, innovation can happen anywhere across the organization and its ecosystem. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum with hybrid nature, it is the incremental improvement- radical innovation continuum. In dynamic digital business environments, there must be a capacity to respond to new and emerging opportunities and to create new opportunities. Digital era opens the new chapter of innovation. Innovation can happen everywhere - breakthrough innovation, evolutionary innovation, and incremental innovation because technology is changing constantly. Generally speaking, all businesses should have a handful of "bets" in the breakthrough category. Thus, innovation navigators are the critical role to envision the future trends and capture potential innovation opportunities. The evolution of innovation only exists in the more open environments that create insights, take advantage of all sources of creativity in a more open way and leap innovation management to the next level. Through great navigation, a healthy innovation portfolio can be integrated with the annual strategic planning process and financial investment model. The size and mix of the innovation portfolio depend on the business circumstances, strategic objectives and severity of external challenges or changes. When looking at business/organizations, the most powerful innovation navigation system involves tapping the organization's ecosystem (people-centricity) for the collective perspectives/insights of those who makeup and know intimately their parts of the system.

Innovation evaluator: Innovation is about transforming novel ideas to achieve its business value. Without a profit motive, it doesn't work. Thus, measuring innovation becomes one of the significant tasks to manage innovation. The problem for innovation measurement is often that the initiative is not well defined. The important work for innovation evaluators is to select the right set of metrics to measure innovation management effectiveness and efficiency. The measures should be oriented to justify innovations the organization needs. Better look at what the results were prior to implementing the innovation and after. Sometimes it takes the longer time for a new innovation drive to produce measures, it is also useful to evaluate innovation processes which demonstrate the growing capability of the organization to deliver more innovation with business impact in the future.

Innovation is the means to the end, it should either benefit your customers or your employees. Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation and recognize innovators with varying strengths. Make innovation benefit the widest possible audience within your organization.