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The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 3/23/ 2017


The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.8 million page views with 3500+ 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. Here is the weekly insight about digital leadership, IT Management, and Talent Management.

  
The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 3/23/2017
  • The New Book Introduction: “Digital Gaps: Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive BusinessWe are at the age of digital dawn; hyper-connectivity is one of the most critical digital characteristics which make the business holistic and the world smaller. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way business is conducted so that simply adopting a new digital technology is insufficient. You have to transform the company's underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Otherwise, companies may begin a decline from its previous good performance. However, many business managers today still apply old silo management mindsets to new ways of leading changes, create the multitude of gaps blocking the way of the radical digital transformation. Being divided by so many chasms across leadership, management, and innovation, etc., organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge, decrease effectiveness, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term.

  • How to Set Right Priorities for IT Digital transformation: With increasing speed of changes and overwhelming growth of information, IT can no longer keep static to run as a support function only. Today's IT plays a more crucial role in discovering a path to strategy building, implementation, and innovation. Business/IT leaders should also realize the breakthrough success in digital businesses requires not only forward-thinking strategies but also having a step-wise approach. But more specifically, how to set the right priorities for making a digital transformation of the company?

  • A Philosophical Digital Board The shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies and leadership roles. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. In fact, Digital Era opens the new chapter of human progress; and philosophy is the compass of human civilization. Digital philosophy is simply in pursuit of a holistic understanding of the hyperconnected digital business world and discovering the better way to do things. The function of the corporate board, as the top leadership team and governance body, should like the digital compass to steer the business towards the right direction. So, how can BoDs apply philosophical digital principles to lead changes, and drive business transformation seamlessly?

  • The Ecosystem View of Business Capability Building and  Digital Transformation Digital transformation is the paradigm shift. Adopting a different paradigm is like changing the glasses and new possibilities continue to emerge. Those who look through the lens of the previous industrial era see their own reality very differently from those who leverage the lens that the new era has crafted. Due to the hyperconnected digital reality, you have to gain the interdisciplinary understanding via the multitude of dimensions (socio-cultural, socio-technical, socio-economic, organizational, scientific, philosophical, the psychological, the artistic, etc), and to catalyze changes and accelerate digitalization, you have to embrace the holistic ecosystem view of capability building and digital transformation.   

  • Running Digital IT with Triple-Speed Traditional IT organizations are often perceived as the controller which is slow to change and gets stuck in the lower level of maturity, as a reactive order taker. The type of speed issues in these IT organizations come from gaps created between IT and the rest of the company and IT leadership focus - being transactional or transformational? With the exponential growth of information and increasing pace of changes, IT simply cannot sit still, it has to adapt to changes with the multitude of speed, run, grow, and transformation accordingly. IT effects in radical digital to reach digital premium is to become the business solutionary and change agent for driving digital transformation proactively and achieving the ultimate goal of building a high-responsive, high-effective, and high-performance digital organization.  

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 Introduction:"Digital Gap: Closing Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Digital Businesses"


We are at the age of digital dawn; hyper-connectivity is one of the most critical digital characteristics which make the business holistic and the world smaller. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way business is conducted so that simply adopting a new digital technology is insufficient. You have to transform the company's underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Otherwise, companies may begin a decline from its previous good performance. However, many business managers today still apply old silo management mindsets to new ways of leading changes, create the multitude of gaps blocking the way of the radical digital transformation. Being divided by so many chasms across leadership, management, and innovation, etc., organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge, decrease effectiveness, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term.

Digital Gaps -Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Business” is a guide book to help digital leaders and professionals today identify, analyze, and mind multiple gaps with multidisciplinary insight and holistic understanding. Today’s digital organization simply just can’t stand still. Bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where you are and want to become is a welcomed challenge and a step-wise approach to making a leap of digital transformation.

Chapter 1: Cognitive gaps: Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge through thought, experience, and senses. The "mind" represents our consciousness and awareness. Cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight. People are different, not because we look differently, but because we think differently. Bridging cognitive gaps is about minding creativity gap, problem-solving gap, and insight gap.

Chapter 2: Leadership gaps: There are many multinational companies around, but very few global companies; and there are many multinational business executives, but very few truly global leaders. Digital leadership gaps are a reality, not fiction. Competition at the leading edge of business is fierce at the age of digitalization and globalization. if you are not taking steps now to shrink that leadership gaps, you will not be prepared to lead the digital business in the future. Successful companies need to grow and innovate, investing in, and developing the next generation of leadership is one of the best ways to do that.

Chapter 3: Management gaps: Traditional management is about applying the reductionistic methodology to achieve business efficiency, and holistic digital management is about leveraging Systems Thinking to ensure the overall health of the business ecosystem. Most organizations at the industrial era operate in the functional silos and digital management focuses on broader collaboration. Hence, it is a strategic imperative to close the gaps between traditional management and digital management in order to enforce cross-functional collaboration and improve business effectiveness and maturity.

Chapter 4: Capability Gaps: A capability is an ability that a person, an organization, or a system possesses to perform and achieve a certain result. The corporate capability is the collective ability to implement strategy, innovation and make changes. The organization’s capabilities can be categorized into both competitive necessity and competitive uniqueness. Forward-looking organizations craft capability-based strategies to ensure the smooth implementation. Therefore, it is critical to identify and close business capability gaps and build organizational competency for reaching the long-term business vision and achieving strategic business goals.

Chapter 5: Professional Gaps: Generally speaking, a professional is an individual with the expertise of some specific area, who earns his or her livings from that expertise. Being professional also means that the individual not only has the skill but also presents the high-quality professionalism such as positive mentality and attitude, fair judgment and good behaviors. A professional is an individual who strives to represent skill and delivers quality. Being a digital professional means consistency. Lack of professional maturity causes a digital professional gap. Being a digital professional inherently and inextricably links with high levels of “professionalism.”

Digitalization does make the world more hyperconnected and interdependent than ever. When things get connected in this way, any entity wishing to negotiate a successful journey has to understand what the implications of this degree of connectivity mean to them. They have to understand what it means within their organization and the business ecosystem. Transformation is a journey rather than a destination. Make the digital transformation journey worth the effort.

The Organization’s Digital Fit


The multidimensional digital transformation provides impressive advantages in terms of the speed of delivering business solutions and ability of adapting to changes. Either be a disrupter or being disrupted, digital makes significant impacts on every aspect of the business from people, processes, to technology and capability both horizontally and vertically. The effects of an increasingly digitalized world are now reaching into every corner of businesses and every aspect of organizations. So, how can organizations keep digital fit and highly-responsive because nowadays digital businesses need to fast, always “on,” highly connected, interdependent, and ultra-competitive.

People fit: People are the very purpose for change, they are often the weakest link in digital transformation as well. Organizational fit means more about value adding or behavioral norms. And people need to be intentional about how they enter the role, focusing on understanding and respecting the people, culture, and history. The failure to do this is one of the biggest causes of derailment, and creator of the perception of poor-fit. From people management perspective, the organizational fit is the good balance of the fitting attitude and “misfit” thinking.  'Fit' doesn't mean that everyone needs to have the same thought processes, the same personalities, the same preferences, or the same experiences. At the ultimate level, organizational fit means to well balance the fit (growth mindset, learning agility, good attitude and accepted behavior) and misfit (independent thinking and creativity). Fit or Misfit" is contextual. At today’s digital new normal, the culture fit means organizations need to proactively seek different ideas and engage in healthy debating and critical thinking with diverse points of view. Where you want to look for 'fit' is in relation to the values you want to build or maintain within your team, and the kinds of behaviors that you would expect to see as a result of, or in alignment with, those values. Organizational fit, manifested in accepted and expected behavior, has a way of neutralizing differences. What is important is that everyone feels committed to the goals of the team, and are comfortable with the behavioral expectations associated with those goals. The fit is also not equal to be compliant only, as matter of fact, ‘groupthink’ is one of the most devastating things to team performance and certainly to a team’s ability to innovate. Business leaders should keep check to keep the team digital fit: Are you planning to build a homogeneous or heterogeneous team; a complimentary team or a competitive team? Are you hiring people who are an obvious "fit," and passing on people who are less so (at least on the surface). The truly digital fitting people should bring positivity, help build the culture of learning and innovation, and accelerate the digital transformation of the organization.

Growth fit: Forward-looking organizations are shifting focus from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer focus, to keep them growth fit. They have to build a set of differentiated business capabilities to keep fit and ride above the learning curve. Processes underpin business capabilities.  The strategy tells you what processes you should focus on because they are strategic to the company. It also tells you whether you are redesigning business processes to achieve changes in time, cost, quality or scope, for keeping fit. To keep processes nimble, organizations also need to prune “the weed” regularly: The approach is to implement a program that like a gardener would prune the tree and nurture the valuable solutions. Keeping digital fit means you need to make consolidation, integration, modernization, automation, innovation, and optimization and manage digital transformation in a systematic way. From organizational structure perspective, compared to the traditional organizational structure with a rigid hierarchy, digital organizations need to continually fine-tune a successful structure to improve customer-centricity. And customer-centricity becomes the nature of the priorities in the organization. What customers generally want is a no-nonsense, fit-for-purpose, and hassle free solution to their needs. Fit-for-purpose," is equally true for human relationships as for solutions to other needs, as the goal for the business’s surviving and thriving.

Speed fit: Speed matters for businesses’ surviving and thriving. This is particularly true due to the increasing speed of changes and overwhelming growth of information. The emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern as the pervasiveness of an organization's digitization journey increases. How these ideas are recognized, filtered and dealt with will become a crucial factor in an organization's success in producing digitized products and services, and more importantly, enhancing its competitive business capabilities. Digital fitting organizations can accelerate their speed seamlessly to the more frequent digital disruptions, wired to change and designed for better innovation toward the long-term digital transformation. While the organizations running in the industrial mode and getting stuck at the lower level of maturity are just the sum of pieces, and their functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively and seamlessly to optimize business. Digital fitting organizations have both strategic responsiveness and organizational flexibility to speed up, with the combination of an innovative culture that promotes responsiveness throughout the company. Digital leaders and professionals in these organizations have digital lenses to "seeing the whole," reach a shared understanding of the whole, and become the change agent to catalyze digital transformation.  

The digital paradigm shift is inevitable. Keeping digital fit means the fitting mindset, fitting structure, and fitting speed. It means learning agility, innovation and balance. “Run, grow, and transformation,” digital organizations have to keep both the balance cycle and growth cycle going well. Digital organizations need to keep evolving, renewing, and achieving the state of digital flow and business continuum.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Digitizing Boardroom" Book Tuning: A Philosophical Digital Board

Philosophy can talk about the status of other sciences. Philosophy can allow us to see the cause and effect thoroughly.

The shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies and leadership roles. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. In fact, Digital Era opens the new chapter of human progress; and philosophy is the compass of human civilization. Digital philosophy is simply in pursuit of a holistic understanding of the hyperconnected digital business world and discovering the better way to do things. The function of the corporate board, as the top leadership team and governance body, should like the digital compass to steer the business towards the right direction. So, how can BoDs apply philosophical digital principles to lead changes, and drive business transformation seamlessly?

BoDs with the philosophical mind are in high demand to provide abstract thinking and leverage multi-dimensional lenses to navigate through business uncertainty: Compared to other science disciplines, philosophy is abstract. Philosophy is a Greek portmanteau of the love of wisdom. Philosophy is the history of ideas and an ongoing inquiry into the nature of things based on abstract reasoning rather than empirical methods. Business management is both art and science. Science always needs philosophy, if there were no critical philosophy to add to the brainstorming, science will in the end loose ground. Philosophy is the foundation upon which science has been built and continues to put forth the questions which help move science onward and upward. BoDs with the philosophical mind are inquisitive to gain the multidisciplinary knowledge and insight about digital transformation. Digital transformation is evolutionary. Philosophy is always important to “better understand evolution and harness its power to serve human purposes.” There is no need for BoDs to become the philosopher, but BoDs with the philosophical mind can practice abstract thinking and communication to reach a point of agreement for setting up the right digital principles and navigate digital transformation effortlessly.  


The philosophic mind is not only to solve the problems but to dissolve them: The BoDs with the philosophical mind can set guideline to solve the problems more radically. You have to define a problem, and then, try to solve it. Otherwise, you perhaps just try to fix the symptom, not the real issue underneath. Philosophy can ask the question that other sciences cannot even think about. Philosophy can talk about the nature of being human or the fundamental about the business. The philosophical thinking encourages you to ask big WHY question, and it helps you see the reasoning in action. And then, when you have seen the reasoning in action, you've got an example of what's philosophy: a problem, and a logical argumentation. The philosophical mind can abstract the quintessential from complexity, discover the root cause of problems. Philosophy can not only allow you to reason the visible, but also perceive the invisible elements of the business. Philosophy takes on problems of knowing and knowledge, but perhaps its greatest strength is its ability to "solve" problems elsewhere. It contributes to solving problems via interdisciplinary understanding. So, BoDs with the philosophic mind can connect the wider dots, advise business management wisely and monitor business performance via multi-faceted angles.


The digital BoD with philosophical intelligence can understand digital transformation in a holistic way.A philosophic mind is abstract to converge the divergent information and bridge the gap with commonality, and a philosophic mind can also perceive the circular vision to see things holistically. They are able to see the big pictures and make unbiased decisions, they have the ability to see the whole picture and relate it to stated vision and goals. They may evoke what we call the paradoxical thinking process, which is defined as a statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd but that may actually be true in fact. To put in a more logical way, today’s BoDs and digital leaders always have to see the both sides of the coin from multidimensional angles before making any strategic decisions. The philosophical mind helps them abstract their thoughts, broaden their vision, open their eyes, and sharpen their leadership and management capability.

Philosophy can talk about the status of other sciences. Philosophy can allow us to see the cause and effect thoroughly. Hence, digital BoDs with philosophical mindset are able to think holistically, with willingness to ask the difficult questions about strategy, leadership and outcomes, guide senior management team through effective questioning, coaching, advising, make an assessment of the business strategy and organization's execution objectively, so they can lead digital transformation in a balanced way.



IT Digital Transformation: Three Practices from Here to There


From here - doing digital to there- being digital is the journey with the multidimensional digital effects.

Organizations are moving from here (doing digital via experimenting some digital technologies) to there (Going digital via expanding to all dimensions for a holistic digital transformation). Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, organizations have to create synergy via building a positive culture, achieving operational excellence, becoming customer-centric, and doing more with innovation. To stay competitive, companies must go beyond experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves into a fully digital business powerhouse. But more specifically, how to develop the best/next practices moving you from here to there?


Break down silos from both mentality and organizational structure perspective: Silo mentality is a common challenge for lots of organizations. It is also the root cause of IT-business gap. Because, digital means hyperconnectivity, fast-paced change, and always-on businesses, silo drags down the business speed and stifles digital flow. Though functional silos in traditional organizations at the industrial age intend to achieve the certain level of business efficiency, there are negative conflicts when the organization has little clarity in strategic communication and collaborative competency; and when they integrate, there is more potential to innovate and create value, more so when the collaborative competency of the organization is strong. From mentality level, a lot of organization’s reaction to the silo mentality goes back to leadership and trust. Often lack of strategic and team objectives and rewards that drive this mentality, having leaders of respective functions to interact in a structured setting on a consist basis goes a long way towards eliminating the silo mentality. When organizational leaders place an emphasis on building a culture of cross-functional communication and collaboration, the opportunity for silos to work against the alignment of all departments towards the strategic goals and objectives of the organization is diminished.The organization can approach the flow zone to accelerate digital transformation.


IT cost optimization is a continuous effort: Thoughtful cost optimization and wise investment with an eye towards the future is the signal of a well-run company. This is particular critical for IT because of frequent technology update and costly IT investment. A CIO must be able to develop and optimize the IT operational function within itself, as well as help optimize the business at the company scope. All of IT spending must be looked at through an investment lens, provide a framework for thoughtful and informed decision-making, etc. Though IT is complex, Keep it Simple” should always be one of the guiding principles and management culture for running IT to achieve operational excellence. Also, it is so critical to have the IT resource aligned with the business strategies/ objectives. When a CIO is able to position and maintain the IT organization to ensure it addresses both "IT effectiveness" and "IT efficiency," strive to achieve IT agility and maturity, they have earned their stripes.


Doing more with innovation and manage a healthy innovation management portfolio: The spectrum of digital innovation is broad. There are different flavors of innovations: Disruptive innovation, evolutionary innovation, and incremental innovation. There are “hard” innovations such as product/service/business model innovations as well as “soft” innovations such as management or culture/communication innovations. More and more firms are learning and implementing best practices of innovation for improving the success rate of innovation. The paradox is that innovation is about figuring out the new way to do things, it is not supposed to be the industrial standardized practices. Every organization needs to develop the set of customized practices for the specific situation and challenges that are faced and that actually requires different priorities as compared to others. So any best practice is not a “one size fits all” formula, these practices might be different across organizations, across departments, and affiliates within an organization and can change over time. It requires an organization and culture that nurtures new ideas and is able to profitably execute on those ideas. Every organization needs to develop the tailored innovation practices via leveraging effective tools or methodologies and use them wisely with the expertise to really add value or drive innovation and manage a healthy innovation management portfolio.

From here - doing digital to there- being digital is the journey with the multidimensional digital effects. But it provides impressive advantages in term of the speed of delivery, the quality of information for decision making, and the wisdom of digital workforce. It is important to develop the tailored best/next practices, and it takes the team effort and coordination for building a consistently innovate and high mature digital organization.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gains and Pains in Change Management

Change is never for its sake, it is about tolerating growth pains, removing unnecessary pains, and solving problems for the long term gains.

Change is inevitable, and the speed of change is increasing. For individuals or organizations at the lower level of change maturity, change is a reactive action and a reluctant activity. They get stuck in the “comfort zone” for so long, dislike changes. But change is the only way to move forward. In fact, there are both gains and pains in Change Management, so how to identify, understand, and manage changes smoothly?


Understand the big WHY about change to clarify growth pains which are perhaps necessary, but also avoid unnecessary pains: Many organizations focus so heavily on the "doing" (the "how"), they lose the sight of the "purpose," the "WHY" part of changes. It is the key to present the WHY first. Primarily, it provides a way to inject enthusiasm, which is infectious and spurs the concept forward. Clarify the big WHY about change is to convey the vision about the change, highlight the potential gains via changes, and emphasize on the cause-effect - What could be happening (more pains) without changes. Because change cannot be completely manipulated from top-down, many static mindsets scattered at all level of the organization perhaps consciously or subconsciously set roadblocks for changes. Hence, it is important to start changes from the mindset level in order to gain in-depth understanding about the big WHY, bridge any cognitive gaps, further drive change attitude and sustain change behaviors. "Why" should be reaffirmed at each step in the "How." Once people agree with the “WHY” part of the reasoning, they can develop their own level or means of participating, embed creativity in the change scenario, maybe even offer what you didn't think to ask for, expanding the full meaning of the CHANGE concept itself, thereby re-injecting further excitement in their being part of it. People only like the comfort zone if they have been given no reason to consider going someplace better or don't even know there is a "new and improved" zone they could go to. Hence, the big WHY change conversation can clarify the gains and pains accordingly.


Understand the psychology behind the change to manage emotion life cycle and discourage negative vibes which perhaps cause unnecessary pains: What is more interesting about change psychology is what drives people's perspective. Those lack of vision are either incentivized to focus only on the short-term gain; limited by their narrow lens and dimmed outlook, inexperienced outside of the small domain in which they operate; too focused on their own comfort zone for self-preservation; or have no energy or desire left to think longer term. Even worst, when the negative vibes surrounding in your organizations, talented employees become the victims of suffering those unnecessary pains, the business reputation gets damaged via lower morale, low employee satisfaction, and mediocre performance. When people experience a state of anxiety or uncertainty, they tend to drift back to the comfort zone with “small thinking” filled with negative emotions. When that anxiety is removed and they experience more certainty, they have the courage to think more expansively. There is a distinct relationship between a person's emotional state and small or expansive thinking:  If change is going to make them feel more comfortable, they accept it. If not, they resist. The bottom line, people love comfort zone and dislike anything that will take them away from that zone. Hence, recognize your change champions and empower your change agents, in order to build the culture of CHANGE- the fundamental step for making advancement and accelerating innovation.


The good change leaders focus on solutions to the painful problems, not on blame or finger-pointing: What is (and has been) missing from the organizations is perhaps a palpable sense of long-term vision, problem-solving culture, and people-centricity. Change is never for its sake, it is about tolerating grow pains, removing unnecessary pains, and solving problems for the long term gains. So as far as who is to blame, per se, anyone who contributes to the decline of an organization can own some fault it in its demise. But to keep the positive tone and get change going smoothly, change leaders should focus on solving problems, not for finger pointing, and reduce unnecessary pains. Build a culture of accountability which is the key to building strong teams. When the leader isn't holding others accountable, the team can become fragmented, unappreciated and quickly dysfunctional. Further, put the emphasis on learning instead of retribution. Enhance opportunities for self-expression and personal autonomy, encourage the culture of authenticity, and build the trust-based and professional work environments for catalyzing changes and improving business maturity.

"Change management" is the overarching umbrella, that encompasses planning, communications, discovery of concerns / objections / potential points of failure, addressing fears and resistance, developing a shared vision, communicating valid and compelling reasons for cooperation, recognizing sacrifice and incremental success, measuring outcomes in a shared and mutually understood and agreed upon fashion. Change is also a journey full of uncertainty. So manage the gain and pain effectively, and build change as an ongoing capability.

Leaping Digital Transformation at the Inflection Point

A strategic inflection point is a time in the life cycle of a business when its fundamentals (people, process, technologies, cultures) are about to change. 

All forward-looking organizations are on the journey of digital transformaiton. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way the business is conducted and expand business transformation to the multiple directions, so that simply adopting a new digital technology is not insufficient. Such change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights, or a risk to hit the uncertainty. Hence, a solid roadmap with well setting goals is important for making a smooth digitalization journey. The leading organizations today are also reaching the inflection point for digital transformation. A strategic inflection point is a time in the life cycle of a business when its fundamentals (people, process, technologies, cultures) are about to change. You have to transform the company's underlying functions and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Here are three focal points for making a seamless digital shift.


Gap-minding: Digital means hyperconnectivity and interdependence. Digital era is volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous, to run a high performance and high mature digital organization, it is important to bridge the multitude gaps for speeding up changes. However, many organizations today are still running in the silo, with rigid processes and bureaucratic management styles. There are leadership gaps, functional gaps and communications gaps existing to drag down business effectiveness and decrease organizational agility (the ability to adapt to changes). For example, miscommunication is caused by perception gaps because people have the different knowledge base and cognitive understanding to articulate things. Communication effectiveness can be improved when the hard barriers (processes) are breakdown and soft obstacles (collective mindsets) are overcome, the heterogeneous team embraces the multiple viewpoints, learn and share via common business language without “ lost in the translation," and facilitate smooth digital dialogues to ensure all parties are on the same page. To speed up digital innovation and transformation, it is also important to bridge resource gaps for harnessing innovation and maintain the digital balance and flow. Try to digitally connect key resources/assets in their vicinity/context to the resource-rich innovation hubs/clusters across the business ecosystem. It is also important to bridge the collaboration gap to harmonize business partnerships and improve the collective business capabilities for problem-solving with speed.

Scalability: Due to the increasing pace of changes and continuous digital disruptions, change management is no longer just a one-time initiative, but an ongoing business capability which also needs to scale up across the organizational scope via building the common set of principles and developing the best and next business practices. The reason why some or many transformations fail - some soft factors and the challenge of complexity come into play. One thing is to implement and scale certain best practices, keep adding the right ingredients for a transformation. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or interrelational interactions amplifies the collective capability to achieve more values for the organization. When reaching the inflection point of changes, Digital Masters can stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation with all essential dimensions (people, culture, organizational structure, process) to adapt to the new world of the business. Faster, always “on,” high connected and super competitive. Digital business is a system that is not scalable so easily, but it’s the worthy effort to amplify business capabilities and accelerate and sustain changes and digital transformation.


Prioritization: There are so many things organizations need to spin well simultaneously these days. “Run, Grow, and Transformation,” is all about setting the priority right and laser focus on the most important things. It is also about striking the right balance of keeping the bottom line organizational efficiency and the top line business growth. Regardless how many distractions in the business ecosystem, Digital Masters concentrate on the strategic goals and objectives of their organizations and make sure that the roles and functions are stated perfectly, and the digital management styles are updated to enforce interrelational management process being developed to help reduce the tensions, frictions, and conflicts that arise; the business/IT investments are evaluated comprehensively to achieve high business return; the leaders and managers master the holistic digital management discipline to encourage autonomy and avoid micro-management pitfalls; and the talented employees have superior time management skills for putting more time and effort on the things matter to their organization most such as innovation, also keep sharpening their skills for adapting to changes.

Going Digital is no brainer. However, it is the thorny journey with many curves and bumps, roadblocks and pitfalls on the way. Organizations have to build the well-rounded capabilities, run up all important stages. Make a leap at the inflection point, minding gaps, scaling up and prioritizing right, for reaching the high level of digital maturity.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection: March, 2017

Debating is not for stimulating conflicts, but for brainstorming better ways to do things.


Modern CIOs face many challenges, it is not sufficient to only keep the lights on. Regardless of which industry or the nature of organization you are in, being a digital leader will need to master the art of creating unique, differentiating value from piles of commoditized technologies and take advantage of the emergent digital trends as well. Digital CIOs need to have multiple personas, “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Insight Officer,” “Chief Improvement Officer,” “Chief Information Officer,” and here, we discuss CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer,” with a set of Q&As to lead the digital transformation.


  • Make a Leap of IT Digital Transformation via Healthy Debating? Due to the exponential growth of information and disruptive nature of digital technologies, IT is at the crossroad: Should IT continue to be run as an “isolated function,” just keep the lights on, and gradually become irrelevant? Or should IT reinvent itself to become the change agent of the business? It is the time to reimagine IT via inspiring critical and creative thinking and spurring healthy debating. Because debating is a type of critical thinking activity. Critical thinking is a basic form of organized thought specifically used to frame the right questions, identify the real problems, and discover better ways to do things.


  • Are you Running IT Organization as a “Magic” or a Trendsetter? IT plays a critical role in modern businesses today, however, most business leaders and professionals lack the in-depth understanding of IT organizations, often time, the “magic” thinking of IT is one of the root causes to divide business and IT and create gaps for the digital transformation. In practice, digital IT organization needs to become an integral part of the high mature digital company, to gain competitive advantage or differentiated capability for the business’s growth. To improve IT maturity, CIOs should ask themselves: Are you running IT organization as a “Magic,” or a “trendsetter”?


  • How to Set Right Priorities for IT Digital transformation Digital disruption is frequent and unstructured, businesses just have to get used to the new normal and learn how to deal with them proactively. Obviously, there is no one size fits all solution, and "boil the ocean" approaches seldom deliver expected results. So how to take a structural approach in dealing with digital disruptions, and what’s the logical scenario to manage digital transformation seamlessly?  

  • Is your Organization in the Progress, Plateau or Stagnation of Digital Transformation? Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology both horizontally and vertically. However, businesses evolve changes at a different speed because they are at the different stage of the business lifecycle, as well as they are in the different level of business maturity. Hence, in order to lead change effectively, business leaders should do the check-up continuously: Is your organization in the progress, plateau or stagnation of digital transformation? And how to create the momentum and lead change more effortlessly?


  • As CIOs: Which IT Management Dilemmas Do you Encounter? Technology is pervasive, business initiatives, changes, and transformation today nearly always involve some form of technology implementation or information analysis; IT touches both hard business processes and soft human behaviors. However, managing a highly effective IT is not an easy job, IT leaders have to overcome many change management roadblocks and deal with quite a few of IT management dilemmas in transforming from a cost center to value creator, from a support function to a strategic business partner; from a back office to an innovation front yard.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.8 million page views with 3600+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. 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.

Five Themes in Amplifying Collective Human Capability

Though there are both hard and soft business elements in building organizational capabilities. Still, people are the capability masters

Digital is the age of people, building a people-centric organization is the strategic imperative for any forward-thinking business today. These talent-magnet organizations are good at building the culture of authenticity, inspiring autonomy, and putting the right people with the right capability in the right position to solve the right problems. To unleash the full digital potential of the organization, do not just think people as cost or resource only, but as assets and capital to invest in to build the collective digital capability. Digital workforce planning and management have to become more analytic and systematic, strategic and innovative. Here are five business management themes in amplifying the collective human capabilities.
Communication: Either as the digital leader or professional today, we can achieve effective communication when we make sure our desired thought is interpreted between multiple entities and acted on in the desired way. Effective communication is so important, since different perspectives, and talent, lead to well-rounded ideas and solutions. It is more a thing of personality match and expertise in the goal of the company. It is about the skill and ability to work together and amplify the collective capability for problem-solving. Try horizontal and vertical open communication to reach out to your audience. As a leader, you must follow-up to get feedback which can also be a way to confirm your team's understanding of your communication and to catch errors and correct them on time, with the goal to create a high-effective, high-capable, and high-performance team.
Innovation: Innovation is always the tough journey, not a flat road. Due to the complexity of modern businesses, innovation nowadays is often the teamwork, the collective innovation capability can only be crafted in the working environment with open and risk-tolerance culture. Failure is part of innovation; it is very much an intrinsic part of innovating, but fail forward and learn some lessons from it. Innovation is the teamwork, and 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.  Like many other things in businesses, innovation management takes a balancing act to have enough failure and an environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive. So, the differentiation between a good innovation and bad innovation is the innovation leaders’ attitude toward risks. The positive attitude to be cautiously optimistic, take calculated risks and be alert about obstacles or pitfalls, can inspire a good innovation initiative, and manage innovation as the differentiated business capability.
Motivation: Motivation is all about to cultivate the culture of learning with the growth mindset. Self-motivation is to get yourself doing things with discipline, practice and achieve the ultimate goals. A self-motivated person is more driven and adapts to changes, a motivated leader with the right approach can drive the team to become self-disciplined and achieve better business results via the collective human capability. A successful high-performance team is good for the business and an important factor in employee retention as well. And motivational leaders are both self-motivated and can motivate people moving more into the area of coaching or mentoring because you are motivating people by allowing them to learn and by giving them the time and the confidence to work out for themselves what needs to be done in certain situations.

Empowerment: Overall speaking, the employee satisfaction is still low in the majority of organizations today. To achieve high performance and unleash talent potential, it is critical to empowering talented employees to learn, grow, discover “who they are,” and become “who they want to be.”  The latest enterprise social platforms and collaboration tools make it practical to break down functional silos and improve cross-functional communication and collaboration. From an organizational structure perspective, delayering becomes a lens through which it is possible to examine and then fix many other issues for optimizing business processes which underpin business capabilities. In other words, an organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear, accountable tasks. The empowered digital workforce today is hyper-connected and divergent in many ways, share a natural affinity for new perspectives, innovations, and collective capability.
Collaboration: Nowadays, digital hyper-connectivity blurs functional, business and industrial territories, cross-silo or cross-divisional collaborations are crucial to building dynamic digital capabilities. It is imperative that we are willing to seek out help, break down silos, and harness cross-functional collaboration as we work to generate new ideas or co-solve problems, and amplify collective capabilities. Digital leaders and professionals today need to master both asking insightful questions and facilitate answers via multiple perspectives and figure out the alternative ways to do things because digital is the age of choices. Being inquisitive is not the sign of a weakness, but rather an open door to illustrate the value of developing the answer with a colleague or sharing the power of diverse perspectives to shape a new idea or solution. That is the art of digital collaboration, the science of digital business discipline, and the beauty of digital convenience. Being high-collaborative and connecting-wise means to discern the trend from fads, seek business values before taking business initiatives, and to build a high-innovative digital powerhouse.
Though there are both hard and soft business elements in building organizational capabilities. Still, people are the capability masters. Digital businesses today must inspire and empower their people. Highly mature digital organizations have the high-level digital capability not only to build a digital business with people-centricity, but also to catalyzing enterprise-wide transformation via self-aware leadership, self-adaptive systems, and self-disciplined and self-motivated people. They have to stretch out in every business dimension for amplifying collective human capabilities and driving the full-fledged digital transformation.

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