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.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 2/28/2019

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking, brainstorming, innovating and sharing.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with 5300+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The Digital Masterbook series includes 27 books to share insight from the multidimensional digital lens and perceive the multi-faceted impact the digital era upon us is making to the businesses and society. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Here is the weekly insight of digital leadership, IT Management, and Talent Management.

Taking a Systematic Approach to Lead Change and Drive Digital Transformation
With overwhelming growth of information and continuous disruptions, looking forward is not always so easy, often it’s cloudy. Driving progressive change is even more difficult. The most complex topic during transformation is how to deal with uncertainty especially when you change many things such as people, processes, culture, systems, and organization as the whole at the same time. It is a complicated moment for all people in the organization at all levels and at the same time. How to take a systematic approach to lead changes and drive digital transformation smoothly?

Five Boardroom Digital Practices The corporate board directors are the top leadership role, leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, have confidence and insight to steer the organization in the right direction and take the best path for reaching the destination. It’s important to develop the best and next boardroom digital practices, encourage the board directors making their influence over volatility, managing uncertainty, simplifying complexity, and master the art and science of the board leadership.

Design Thinking and Problem-Solving?
Fundamentally, running a business or living a meaningful life is a problem-solving continuum. Problem-solving is a multi-stepped process that includes both problem resolution and solution implementation. Digital is the era of people, option, or simply put, "personalization." It is the age to connect the dots between science and arts; analytics and intuition, logic and design thinking in order to solve problems unconventionally and deliver products or service from functioning to delight.

Shaping IT from a Change Laggard to Digital Trendsetter Traditional IT organizations are often inside-out operation-driven, mechanical and monolithic, it’s perceived by business as a controller and change laggard. Because in many cases, the business continues to evolve faster in grasping the market share and winning new customers, but sometimes failed due to lack of real-time information to capture business foresight and customer insight. With the exponential growth of information and often technology-led disruptions, IT has evolved significantly in running the business today, IT also faces an unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation from a change laggard to the trendsetter of the digital organization.

Awakening innovation and Unlocking Business Potential Digital is the age of innovation. Innovation is what leads to differentiation. Talking about innovation is not new nowadays, everybody, every business now is talking about innovation. However, there are a lot of confusions about innovation. The majority of organizations still use innovation as a buzzword or treat innovation as serendipity. How to awaken innovation from the center of the business and unlock its full potential?

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.

Three Types Of Change Agent

A big challenge for being an effective change agent is to change their own mindset and behaviors to ride above the learning curve, allow their teams to do the change that is needed. 

Change is an unspecific way of saying the transition from one to another state. Business Change Management is about managing everything that is necessary to get people to adopt new ways of working. Change is inevitable, and the only differences are the reasons and goals behind the change, as well as the scope, depth, and breadth (why to change, what you need to accomplish, what does it consist of and what does it impact) of change. There are incremental changes and radical changes. Good practice of organizational change should be a full lifecycle approach, not a tag on at the end, especially for the large scale of change such as digital transformation, which should not be undertaken lightly because it must align diverse and divergent stakeholders' interests toward a common goal. A Change Agent is not just a title, but a means toward reconciling all the different factors toward a unifying and driving motivation. It’s a set of fine-tuned skills and a gaming changing mindset. Here are three types of Change Agents.

Change specialist: Business Change Management has a broader scope, including such as stakeholder management, communications, process or organizational change, training, or digital readiness etc. There is also technical change management which includes changes to business environments, configuration management, or software releases, etc. Whether these changes are related to IT, business processes or models, the right change specialists provide knowledge about change scenario, transparency about the tools used and the factors to be managed. They present the technical skills to manage change, set interactive procedures to keep the process moving forward and initiate effective communication to engage people. They are the professional change agent with a set of tools, apply change mechanisms to make change happening and bringing about behavior change to achieve objectives which can truly make positive progress in either an organization or beyond.

Change managers: During the implementation of change initiatives, be it software, re-organization,  new regulations or rules, managers are confronted with leading change. It represents the political desire to go for the change. In almost every case, if this role was not functioning, change failed or was at least delayed in a very costly way. They have to internalize the change and its effects on their team, organizations, and their world. No one person knows enough to always have the perfect solution. Work with the informal opinion makers as much as the formal structure. Change managers should know what they want (a clear vision), provide clear directions, bring the cohesive change process, and stand by their word, motivate and drive changes, to achieve the relevant Change Management deliverables.  Periodic assessments are necessary to track initiative-steps. You must show 'progress' as you go along. Change managers present the organizational knowledge, have built trustful business relationships, and have established their credibility to lead business change initiatives. They are the voice upward. It is their feedback that can result in modifications to the implementation process to ensure change success continuously.


Digital transformers: Change the game is the mindset. Transformational change needs resolute leaders who often first to realize the threats and appreciate the opportunities, and have the passion for making things happen. What a transformative leader most often does is to convey the vision, harness the skills, talent, drive, passion and enthusiasm of the whole organization and direct that to a unifying and shared goal. People can be resistant to change for several reasons namely for being taken out of their comfort zone and it should be unequivocally understood. People fear what they don’t understand. People make assumptions based on their own experiences and perceptions. People naturally resist change. Change requires the management of people’s anxiety and confusion or conversely stimulates their excitement and engagement. Change leaders are fundamentally concerned about the human/emotional aspects of the initiative, which is very hard to specify in terms of deliverables. They intend to change psychology and mentality, try to fix things at the mindset level. They must truly listen to what their people have to say about solving the issues identified, and not let their own prejudices and preferences get in the way. Change leaders make a significant impact on the invisible, but the most critical change ingredient - culture. Culture is the collective mindset and attitude, a cultural change through the change lifecycle enables everyone, wherever they are in that cycle, to accept the direction of change and focus on benefits realization.

Change is the new normal with increasing speed. All sorts of change agents are in demand. A big challenge for being an effective change agent is to change their own mindset and behaviors to ride above the learning curve, allow their teams to do the change that is needed. Change is never for its own sake, it's about making the improvement or creating synergy in the multitude of its impact across the organization or the society. People-centric change methodology is an evident reinforcement and proof of "best practice" of change leadership and management.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Monthly “Problem-Solving Master” Book Tuning: Design Thinking and Problem-Solving Feb. 2019

Running a business is fundamentally a problem defining and problem-solving continuum.

The purpose of Problem-Solving Master - Frame Problems Systematically and Solve Problems Creatively“ is to throw some light on how to understand, frame, and solve today’s multilayer, interdependent, and over-complex business problems effortlessly. Digital leaders and professionals should self-aware of their role in problems, show professional maturity, and develop a good reputation as the problem-solver.

             Design Thinking and Problem-Solving


Design Thinking and Problem-Solving Fundamentally, running a business or living a meaningful life is a problem-solving continuum. Problem-solving is a multi-stepped process that includes both problem resolution and solution implementation. Digital is the era of people, option, or simply put, "personalization." It is the age to connect the dots between science and arts; analytics and intuition, logic and design thinking in order to solve problems unconventionally and deliver products or service from functioning to delight.

Pattern Thinking and Problem Solving? The pattern has a few meanings, it’s usually about repeating artistic or decorative design such as asthma paisley pattern; or a natural or accidental arrangement or sequence; a plan, diagram, or model to be followed in making things. When patterns work together to solve problems in a particular area, these patterns are called a pattern language. People learn a set of languages and then apply several synergistically to produce a solution.

Tailor Solutions to the Real Problem People have to deal with large or small problems on the daily basis. Especially at today’s “VUCA” digital dynamic, problems have become over-complex and interdependent. Can you diagnose the real problem? Does every problem have solutions? What is the best way to handle a problem? How can you tailor the best solution to the real problem?

Innovation as a Problems-Solving Discipline Running a business is fundamentally a problem defining and problem-solving continuum. It becomes about addressing the correct need and perhaps the problem becomes how to identify the need at the right level. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution. The reality is that, once people get into a routine at work, they typically get stuck at the “We always do things like that” mentality, and they do not like to hear about how things could be done differently to solve problems creatively. Innovation is change, it is never for its own sake. In essence, innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity for solving problems in business or real life. But how do you get motivated to be innovative on a daily basis via solving real-world problems large or small, in a creative way?

Closing Creativity Gaps in Problem-Solving The business world becomes overcomplex and hyperconnected, problem-solving also turns out to be increasingly challenging. Many think the lack of in-depth problem-solvers is a significant problem for the world. Problem-solving is not just about fixing the things, it is also important to remove the potential obstacles on the way or prevent the risks from the serious problems happening. Problem-solving is a mindset with curiosity, self-inclusiveness, creativity, and progression. Creativity is about connecting the dots. Unless there is a problem there is no creativity. But how to close creativity gaps in problem-solving?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about 5300+ 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; 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 time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

Five Boardroom Digital Practices

The real BoDs dilemma is that driving the business forward is extremely difficult. It means looking into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities.

The corporate board directors are the top leadership role, leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, have confidence and insight to steer the organization in the right direction and take the best path for reaching the destination. It’s important to develop the best and next boardroom digital practices, encourage the board directors making their influence over volatility, managing uncertainty, simplifying complexity, and master the art and science of the board leadership.

Practice deep listening: Traditional boards discuss various topics and practice compliance-driven governance discipline, but digital boards should listen empathetically and encourage debating to stimulate creative tension and draw constructive criticism. Listening & debating become the new normal in the digital board. The digital BoDs need to be good listeners, act like a sponge and absorb information, abstract unique insight from it. Being insightful means that you need to dig into the root cause, not just pointing out the symptoms. With rapid changes and shortened knowledge cycle, digital leaders like BoDs should listen to different propositions, approaches to a problem or new interpretations for varying situations. When the board builds the listening and learning culture, it could be also on the right track to build listening and telling organization. Communication has occurred when the message is received and understood. Listening and communicating are critical to deal with conflicts or even constructively advocate the fresh point of view and build the trustful business relationship.

Make structural inquiries:
At the age of exponential growth of information and business complexity, leaders may not always have the right answers; but they should always ask the right questions. In practice, the high performing digital board shows the ability and openness to "question itself and its decisions/ discussions." Critical Thinker BoDs do not just ask one or two random questions, they ask in a structural way continually on important issues where the management's answers do not make sense, continue looking for new perspectives, insight or alternative solutions. BoDs with insight and foresight about the business can ask profound questions because they observe thoroughly, have better critical thinking ability and learning agility. They not only ask the right questions but rather absorb information, forecast potentials, risks, and benefits; mitigate, compare and contrast options, facts, ideas against logic and creativity. Asking good and pertinent questions are critical for governing changes so that the board directors would have to be able to quickly assess any numbers and facts they are given, against applicable benchmarks and detect relevant hints for further questioning or confirmation. The true critical thinking and constructive criticism are very important for the business’s improvement continuum. The corporate board plays a crucial role in overseeing business strategy. Asking good questions is not the “wasting time” activity, it can help to clarify the vision and bring the new insight about how to steer the company in the right direction.

Set Strategic priority: The modern digital board has many responsibilities, also gets a lot of distractions and hits many pitfalls on the journey of digital transformation. In order to steer the business in the right direction. BoDs nowadays have to spin many plates (accountability, strategy, policy, and monitoring) at the same time, become more performance driven, not just compliance focus. High-performing boards have to prioritize and put significant effort into governance and risk management, laser focus on the most critical issues, pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, innovation, and mastering digital fluency. The boards need to understand how to delegate, which means articulate what is delegated and then monitor, not micro-manage what is delegated. It also means taking control of the softer issues such as making good policy or setting the proper risk appetite in order to lead the business forward steadfastly.

Feedback and feedforward:
The board directorship and leadership need to be future oriented. Accountability and oversight are all part of the game changes that boards must address. Feedback is always about how to improve performance so it is always about the future to keep it relevant. Eventually, feedback should always be genuinely proper, precise, and substantive. The board feedback on business performance and outcomes help the business management make the timely adjustment for making continuous improvement. Feedback becomes so critical to not only improve business performance but also enable either people or the organization as a whole to maximize their potential. What has passed can easily be evaluated but what will and should happen in the future is difficult to assess. Rightly we focus on the future, but the past is never far away just hidden from sight. Feedback helps to not only act but aids to feedforward for either managing change or accelerate performance. Thus, feedback-feedforward practices are important to improve board effectiveness.



Make dynamic facilitation: Either at the boardroom or the different layer of the business hierarchy, effective communication is like the thread to connect all important business gems, for building the trustful relationship, enforcing collaboration, and improving digital readiness. Quality boardroom communication ensures that information is concise and update in enabling decision-making and goal tracking. For the majority of the time, the board agenda should be focused on the business performance progress toward the goals, targets, schedules., etc, of the value maximization planning. You better have information in hand because at that level, it’s all about direction, strategy, cost-effectiveness, and customers. You should always perform research on hot topics, anticipate questions and formulate answers. Much of the boarding process or deep boardroom discussions around the business progress is the process that facilitates high-level management accountability and orchestrates change and digital transformation.

The real BoDs dilemma is that driving the business forward is extremely difficult. It means looking into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities. The board needs to be able to leverage diverse viewpoints via listening, brainstorming, questioning, and breaking down leadership bottlenecks to accelerate changes. They should focus on their own performance as well as the performance of the management team. They need to develop the best and next set of digital practices and proactively participate in the varying conversions such as innovation, information management, and digitalization, for steering the business ship to the uncharted water or the blurred digital territories.

Running IT as Innovation Integrator

CIOs play the bridge role of combining the art and science of digital innovation and running IT as an innovation integrator. 

 With the overwhelming growth of data and increasing pace of changes, often, information is the most time intensive piece of innovation, and technology is the disruptive force behind changes. The essence of innovation is made of trying new combinations of known things and shape a problem-solving process of deduction to derive a better solution drawing from knowledge, information & technology, experience, and out-of-the-box creativity. Digital innovation has an expanded spectrum and a broader perspective. It's important to develop IT as an innovation integrator that provides sustained competitive business advantage in the long run.

IT helps to integrate and glue up the innovation framework which enables the business to manage innovation in a structural way: Innovation is the most wanted change. The broader the scope, scale, and impact of the change, the more one leans towards calling such change an innovation. Innovation follows basic rules, which are adapted depending on the company's situation and ambition. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and diverse taste. IT is the super glue to integrate people, processes, and technologies into unique innovation competency, scale up innovation practices, amplify innovation effect, set up the collaboration platform and glue up the innovation framework which enables the business to manage innovation in a structural way. The ultimate success of IT should be evaluated on how IT is able to deliver innovative products and services or helps to reinvent the business model and solve problems creatively. The appropriately configured IT-enabled innovation platform creates the scalable means for sharing and building ideas throughout the enterprise, catalyze “soft innovations’ such as communication innovation and cultural innovation to improve innovation management success rate. With IT as an innovation integrator, innovation becomes a persistent and shared reality even across business silos and geographies.

IT is the glue to integrate policies, programs, and structures which are three managerial tools for managing an innovation portfolio seamlessly:IT is the only entity in the organization supposed to understand business entirely, be able to connect the wider dots for sparking creativity; and function as the glue or linchpin to integrate important business elements into innovation competency. IT plays an active role in designing, developing and building innovative products or service as well as creating a disciplined and managed space for developing and testing new models and business approaches. By leveraging powerful digital platforms and technologies, organizations can be more effective in executing innovative ideas by relying less on silo functions, more on cross-functional collaboration. IT is more like glue than a tool for blending all important business elements into the innovation competency and integrating policies, programs, and structures for managing a balanced innovation portfolio, with the mixed bag of incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation, hard innovation, and soft innovation. Digital IT leaders need to be really creative on how they architect, integrate, and implement innovations, strike the right balance of innovation and standardization, and manage innovation in a systematic way.


Integrate both in the house and “out of the box” (across industries or across geographical locations) innovation practices into the special “formula” of digital innovation: Organizations nowadays are at a crossroads where the segregation or silo of business units are at a need to reach across the aisles and respectively work with each other, learn from each other, and co-develop innovation, to achieve high-performance business result. Digital technology enables companies to leverage their various environments, or ecosystems, to chase innovation and accelerate performance. Instead of being rigidly grouped around a specific function or business, ecosystems draw together mutually supportive companies from multiple industries that collectively seek to discover fresh ideas and create the differentiated value they could not reach alone. Digital leaders today should look to businesses outside their industry to spur “out-of-the-box thinking,” and inspire dot-connecting innovation capability. IT can achieve innovation excellence if it is regarded as being an innovation integrator and the champion of examples and lessons learned from other industries, treat customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active digital agents to create new experiences and brainstorm fresh ideas. High-mature digital businesses and emerging markets offer particularly fertile ground for exploring innovation opportunities and developing cross-industrial ecosystems.

CIOs play the bridge role of combining the art and science of digital innovation and running IT as an innovation integrator. By empowering IT and leveraging digital platforms and technologies, businesses become highly effective in generating and executing innovative ideas, relying less on silo functions, and more on cross-functional collaboration and innovation competency, manage innovation in a systematic way and improve the success rate of innovation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Monthly Communication Brief: How to Improve Communication Effectiveness Feb. 2018

Communication is not just the soft discipline, it’s both art and science. 

The great communicators are the high-quality leaders or professionals who can communicate objectively with strong logic, clarity, and understanding; the great communicators are the great artists who are fluent in creative expression or metaphorical description. Communication is both art and science. How to bridge gaps and improve communication effectiveness.
                                  
        How to Improve Communication Effectiveness

How to Close Communication Gaps? Communication is the key to improve leadership effectiveness and modern management efficiency. However, communication is not just the soft discipline, it’s both art and science. For example, there are communication gaps between management and employees, there’s “lost in translation” syndrome in cross-functional conversations, there are all sorts of miscommunication at the different level of the organization, how to close communication gaps and overcome such challenges?

The Cause and Effect of Misinterpretation?
Due to an unprecedented level of uncertainty, velocity, and complexity, misunderstanding, misinterpretation or miscommunication are the big causes of many human problems. Often cognitive difference, knowledge gap, or lack of contextual understanding cause misinterpretation. Misinterpretation or miscommunication further cause misguidance that perhaps means making poor judgments or steering the business in the wrong direction and leads business stagnation.

CIOs as “Chief Interaction Officer”: How to Master Different Dialogues to Enforce Communication Digital CIOs are “Chief Interpretation Officers,” “Chief Interaction Officers,” and “Chief Influence Officers,” today, etc. They are able to initiate communication in the different level of the organization with clarity. There are different types of dialogues. Each kind of dialogue has its context or "initial situation," the participant's goal, or the goals of the dialogue. Digital CIOs need to be excellent communicators, who are business aware and only finally, technically aware, translate from one conversation to the other seamlessly. But more specifically, how can CIO master different dialogues to enforce communication and leadership effectiveness?

Enforcing Organizational Hyper connectivity by Strengthening the Weakest Links? A business ecosystem, just like the natural ecosystem, is hyperconnected and interdependent. You have to scale up and dig underneath for exploring a full-fledged digitalization. To effectively respond to the digital dynamics, it is evolutionary to shift from inside-out traditional linear management discipline to outside-in, people-centric nonlinear management practices, focus on problem-solving, create business synergy, and strengthen the weakest links to enforce organizational hyperconnectivity.

Breaking Three Bottlenecks to Digitize Boardrooms? The corporate board plays a significant role in overseeing business strategy, setting principles and policies, monitoring performance to get digital ready. They are the advocate for changes and the mastermind behind digitalization. To lead effectively, they are able to break the bottleneck of digitalization and bridge the gap of opportunity between where they are and want to become, cascading the changes from the boardroom to the front line of the company in order to accelerate performance and get digital ready.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.5 million page views with about #4800th 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 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.


















CIO as "Chief Improvement Officer": Three Visualization Practices Improve IT Organizational Maturity

IT visualization practices help IT leaders improve communication and management effectiveness, to gain trust and respect. 

The emerging digital technologies, the exponential growth of information, and IT consumerization trend bring both challenges and opportunities for IT organization to move up its maturity level from a support center to a trusted business partner. IT management per se is mainly science from the best practices perspective. However, designing intuitive products or services requires creativity and artistic touch; improving IT organizational maturity from a reactive support function to a proactive change agent requires being able to lead courageously, with the ability to visualize, engage, communicate, and take a common sense approach. It is possibly more of an art than science.

Visualize IT management progress: It gives a holistic view of IT management considerations, approaches, structure, and components. IT can no longer hide at the corner to run a help desk. IT visibility depends on how clearly IT leaders can visualize IT management progress and convey the message about the value IT brought to the business. There are different target audiences who are interested in IT value presentation such as, IT staff, IT management, and business leadership including BoDs. Each has a different focus and interest. It’s good to make IT metrics transparent to the varying departments - to visualize the progress by tailoring different audience. IT is not just technical, but rather, business-driven, visualization of IT management helps to “keeping the end in mind,” setting the direction for IT and communicate the business value of IT. IT management is not just the business of IT department, but the responsibility of the entire company. CIOs need to become the highly visible business leader to work both within IT and on the IT, across the business scope and seek ways to improve profitability and spot innovation opportunities. Thus, they need to be able to think strategically, lead creatively, and communicate vividly about IT value proposition and progress, and work closely with the business to transform their vision into reality.

Visualize user experience:
Digital is the age of people, empathy, an option. User experience is the key differentiator and an important strategy for the business’s long-term profitability. When you really understand or attempt to capture the insight about what the customer actually want, that is when you can really develop an experience that fits them and their needs or desires. First, visualize "customer experience," and then, a valid strategic objective and the strategy mapping allow you to understand your customers and what they value, and then, identify how to best characterize that value. The next practice is to live as "customers," point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, customer-facing applications are critical at the end of the day as they generate revenue for the business. Visualizing user experience enables IT bringing highly innovative solutions that meet customers’ need, foster better ways the application can perform and optimize every touch point of user experience. Information abundance can bring new ideas; ideas have always driven business success. IT must bring to the table innovative solutions that meet customers’ needs, also digitize the touch point of customer experience.


Visualize digital transformation and improve business transparency: Forward-looking organizations empower IT to drive changes and lead the digital transformation. The CIO needs to be in touch with business partners, customers, and varying stakeholders based on a continuous fashion to head off the bigger issues and get a view of the organization and management team from an outside-in look. They should also share their vision of digital transformation. Having a story in mind for either static or dynamic visualization is critical to success from the current state to future state, of enablement, improvements, accomplishments, and implementation of digital business strategies. The picture is worth a thousand words. Such stories should be vivid enough to inspire imagination and persuasive enough to encourage comprehensive planning and step-by-step actions. To improve IT visibility and organizational maturity, it’s important to leverage the latest technologies or tools to continue trimming cost or retooling business processes. In this regard, IT performance story is not a fiction, but a reality show. Achieving visibility of costs provides a pathway into technology optimization and justification of IT value contribution to the business. For convincing the board and top management to continue IT investment, digital CIOs need to tell their data-supported story about how IT brings tangible value to both bottom-line business efficiency and top-line business growth.

IT visualization practices help IT leaders improve communication and management effectiveness, to gain trust and respect. A highly visible IT organization can deliver innovative business capabilities to capture first-mover advantages, improve IT transparency, adaptability, performance, and maturity.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Monthly “Performance Master’ Book Tuning: Performance Measurement and Metrics Feb. 2019

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. Managing performance means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure it happens. It takes multifaceted approaches from multidimensional perspectives to unlock digital performance and catalyze change.
 
      Digital Performance Measurement and Metrics


How Would you Calculate the Organization’s Performance Score of Digital TransformationThe digital transformation represents the next stage of business maturity. It has to permeate into business vision, strategy, culture, communication, and processes. etc. Thus, performance management should take a multidimensional approach, to connect all important dots, with multifaceted perspectives. In practice, the more meaningful the thing you want to assess, the harder you can measure it objectively. More specifically, what are important factors could be used to measure digital transformation score and how to lead transformative changes successfully?

Three Dimensional Performance Measurement? Hyper-connectivity and interdependence are the digital characteristics, it is important to understand that digital business development and transformation is the paradigm shift which takes multi-viewpoints, multi-discipline, and multi-stage approach. Strategy management, Change Management. and performance management need to walk hand-in-hand. Most organizations fail to manage performance effectively because they often only focus on single dimensional behavior performance. In practice, performance assessment is a combination of many factors and shouldn't be quantified so easily. Performance Management is a multidimensional management discipline. Mindsets, behavior, and outcome are all important elements of performance evaluation.

How to Measure the Digital Relevance of the Business Due to the increasing pace of changes, overwhelming growth of information, fierce competitions, and unprecedented uncertainty, many organizations are at the crossroad to either ride the learning curve for shaping a self-adaptive and self-renewing digital organization or become irrelevant. From a performance management perspective, it’s fair to say any organization that doesn’t have a holistic management discipline has a giant blind spot which is impairing their performance. It is important to measure the digital relevance of the business and ensure the organization is on the right track to change and build the business competency for the long term.

The Performance Dashboard of Digital Transformation Forward-looking organizations are on the journey of digital transformation. You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it. A well-designed dashboard is an effective management tool for enabling business leaders to make better decisions and lead change in the right direction. A well-designed digital management dashboard is an easy to read, often single page, real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status (snapshot) and historical trends of an organization’s key performance indicators to enable instantaneous and informed decisions to be made at a glance. A digital performance dashboard helps capture the progress being made or the important issues need to be taken care of, with the goal to improve management effectiveness.

Five Aspects to Unlock Digital Performance? Enterprise Performance Management is a multidisciplinary management discipline. It is critical because new competitive challenges and active market changes underscore the strategic imperative of managing performance more than ever. Enterprise performance management is about how organizations manage performance at both strategic and operational level to achieve the well-set business goals and objectives. Here are five aspects to unlock digital performance. 

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 2.8 million page views with about #5300 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 Best “Creativity Quotes of “Digital Master” Feb. 2019

“Creativity is not a “thing,” it’s a process that happens as a proactive mental activity to a problem.”

"Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (25+ books) to perceive the multi-faceted impact digital is making to the businesses and society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” It perceives the emergent trends of digital leadership, advises on how to run a digital IT organization to unleash its full potential and improve agility, maturity, and provide insight about Change Management. It also instructs the digital workforce on how to shape a game-changing digital mindset and build the right set of digital capabilities to compete for the future. Here is a set of “Creativity” quotes in “Digital Master."



1 “Creativity is a higher level of thinking because it often imposes a higher cognitive load as you think “harder” via different thought processes.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone's Playbook to Unlock Creativity

2 “Diversity with cognitive differences can stimulate creativity and come out unconventional solutions to thorny problems.”

― Pearl Zhu, Problem Solving Master: Frame Problems Systematically and Solve Problem Creatively

3 “The art of questioning is to ignite innovative thinking.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone’s Playbook to Unlock Creativity

4 “Learn to visualize for inspiring creativity, and make imagination rolling into reality.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone's Playbook to Unlock Creativity

5 “The creativity strength is like a spinning wheel, you need to figure out how to boost it up.”

― Pearl Zhu, Leadership Master: Five Digital Trends to Leap Leadership Maturity

6 “Creativity is not a “thing,” it’s a process that happens as a proactive mental activity to a problem.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone's Playbook to Unlock Creativity

7 “Divergent thinking is that one starts thinking from one point and expands from there to generate more ideas.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone's Playbook to Unlock Creativity

8 “Creativity flourishes in solitude.”

― Pearl Zhu, 100 Creativity Ingredients: Everyone's Playbook to Unlock Creativity

9 “Being innovative is more important than any specific innovation. Innovativeness is a way of thinking.”

― Pearl Zhu, Unpuzzling Innovation: Mastering Innovation Management in a Structural Way

Shaping IT from a Change Laggard to Digital Trendsetter

Information Technology should be seen by any forward-thinking business across the vertical sector as the change agent, trendsetter and “digital transformer.”

Traditional IT organizations are often inside-out operation-driven, mechanical and monolithic, it’s perceived by business as a controller and change laggard. Because in many cases, the business continues to evolve faster in grasping the market share and winning new customers, but sometimes failed due to lack of real-time information to capture business foresight and customer insight. With the exponential growth of information and often technology-led disruptions, IT has evolved significantly in running the business today, IT also faces an unprecedented opportunity to refine its reputation from a change laggard to the trendsetter of the digital organization.

The information-based forecasting is crucial to bring both insight and foresight of the business: In this digital information age, there isn't really much of an enterprise without the massive oceans of data that flows through the enterprise, at any given split second. Forward-thinking organizations across industrial sectors claim they are in the information management business. Digital organizations can harness the power of data to provide the emergent business trends with a more fact-based vision of where to aim and how to get there, through identifying the right information, validating it and communicating it to right people at the right time. Some trends are more significant than others in their impact on business growth. Some corrections require more radical paradigm shifts with corresponding economic impacts or predictable political challenges. New technology tools and abundant information allow a company to move into a more advanced stage of digital explorement; help to set trends and models that work best to meet the business goals which are needed before new schemes and designs are created and agreed upon across the business. Information Management involves the use of technologies and processes with the aim of refining business insight, creating premium business results, solving critical business problems, and improving customer satisfaction, etc.

To leverage information and technology for digital transformation, IT needs to proactively participate in business conversations: IT is not only for supporting the business goals but also helps the company win businesses. Foresight is also an ongoing conversation. CIOs can share their technological vision at the big table; advocate future trends and build IT reputation as a trustful business partner. IT is no longer just a support center or a change laggard, nowadays, business leaders are increasingly looking to the IT function to introduce beneficial change into their business models to improve business performance. Every technology change is the business initiative either for empowering employees or delighting customers, to improve business productivity, responsiveness, adaptability, innovativeness, and flexibility. Thus, IT leaders need to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand the extent to which digital technologies enable people to manage a highly integrated business ecosystem of shareholders and operate as an effective business partner. They should become the real business leaders to work within IT and across the business scope and seek ways to grow revenues, improve profitability and spur innovation.


IT can integrate processes, tools, and people into differentiated business competency to drive digital transformation from strategy to deployment: Many traditional IT organizations still run in a reactive mode and act as a controller only, slow to change. But in forward-looking businesses, the IT organization has become synonymous with the change department and creates the business synchronization of all functions running at the multiple levels of the organization seamlessly. To shape IT from a change laggard to digital trendsetter, IT can no longer just be about numbers and algorithms, it plays an important role in fostering innovation, catalyzing passion, and integrating all important business elements into differentiated business competencies. Digital IT leaders are like the conductor who can orchestrate their own sheet music, not just the background music, so IT can truly become the change agent and trendsetter.

IT plays a pivotal role in the digital paradigm shift. Driving is not a passive activity, contemporary IT leaders should be capable of evolving leadership skills to not only match the pace with changes in technology and the pace at which organization can effectively manage these changes but also proactively drive changes. Information Technology should be seen by any forward-thinking business across the vertical sector as the change agent, trendsetter and “digital transformer.”

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Monthly “12 CIO Personas” Book Turning: CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer” Feb. 2019

The digital CIOs have to wear different colors of hats and master multiple leadership personas and management roles effortlessly.

The book “12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO’s Situational Leadership Practices” is the extensive brainstorming and logical content expansion of my book “CIO Master: Unleash the Digital Potential of IT,” to reimagine and reinvent CIO leadership via practicing multitudes of digital influence. The important thing is that CIOs as the top leadership role must have a strong mindset, a unique personality, and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth. Regardless of which personality they have, digital CIOs need to be both transformational and situational, innovative and tactical, business savvy and technology insightful, communication-effective and operation-efficient. Here is a set of blogs to brainstorm CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer.”


CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”

CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Unleash IT potential in the Digital Era? Nowadays, information is permeating into every corner of the organization, and digital technologies bring unprecedented convenience to both our lives and businesses. Modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it is the key differentiator of the business to “reimagine what is possible.” To keep IT relevant, CIOs need to think and act like “Chief Innovation Officer”: Running IT as the business in the business to reach its full potential.

Should CIOs Become “Creative Digital Populist”
: Nowadays, information is permeating into every corner of the organization, technology is the driven force behind the digital transformation. IT is making an impact on almost every dimension of the organization. CIOs should step into the void of digital leadership by shaping the strategic mindset, gaining interdisciplinary knowledge, and developing differentiated professional competencies. They are neither controller nor order taker, should they become “creative digital populist,” to harmonize IT-business relationship, delight customers, and engage employees? Do they have a distinct vision about the future of the organization and a clear idea of what needs to be done, for improving IT organizational effectiveness and maturity? Being a digital populist doesn't mean that CIOs lack of character, only run IT as a support center. In fact, confident CIOs with strong character are in demand to rebrand IT as the strategic business partner.

The Digital CIO as “Choice Generator”? The unprecedented digital convenience brought by powerful technologies changes the way we think, live, and work. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture. The digital era upon us is the era of options, empathy, personalization, and sharing. IT is the linchpin to run a high-performance digital organization. Today’s digital CIOs need to become the “Choice Generator,” envision the emerging technological trends, refine information to capture business foresight and customer insight, imagine the new possibilities and alternative ways to do things, and drive the digital transformation proactively.

The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: Manage IT-Driven Innovation as a Cautionary Tale
Innovation is about transforming novel ideas to achieve their business value. Statistically, innovation has a very low success rate, most innovation management initiatives are not successful and are incredibly wasteful. Innovation fails because there are too many disconnects that occur between the birth of a vision or concept and the process of turning it into a reality. Thus, innovation as a management process needs to be monitored and fine-tuned for making continuous improvement. The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” - how to manage IT-driven innovation as a cautionary tale?

Modern CIOs as Digital Adventurists: Traditional IT organizations have been perceived as technical support centers and help desks, and traditional CIOs have been portrayed as technology geeks and controllers to keep the lights on. Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. IT plays a differentiated role in such a paradigm shift. Modern CIOs need to keep eyes on what happens today, also be focused on what is next. They are the digital adventurist to lead radical changes and innovation breakthrough.


Modern organizations have their own sophistication with silo functions, the sea of information, and the pool of talents. The CIO is an inherently cross-functional role, to bridge the business and IT; the data and insight, the business’s today and tomorrow. The digital CIOs have to wear different personas and master multiple leadership and management roles effortlessly. They need to lead at the strategic level for conducting a complex digital orchestra; they should be handy managers to plumbing information and keep it flow smoothly; they also have to be like the diligent gardeners, to build a unique IT landscape via tuning technology, removing waste, nurturing culture, and empowering people.

The Cause and Effect of Misinterpretation

There is no magic communication formula but pay more attention to communication content, communication context, and communication style.

Due to an unprecedented level of uncertainty, velocity, and complexity, misunderstanding, misinterpretation or miscommunication are the big causes of many human problems. Often cognitive difference, knowledge gap, or lack of contextual understanding cause misinterpretation. Misinterpretation or miscommunication further cause misguidance that perhaps means making poor judgments or steering the business in the wrong direction and leads business stagnation.


Misinterpretation often caused by a lack of contextual understanding: Communication is complicated because there are differences in goals and contexts. These contexts can shift. The business system is complex and the organization is contextual, without the contextual understanding of people, process, and technology, the blind spots, and gaps are inevitable and cause misinterpretation and miscommunication across functional or geographical borders. In the digital working environment, context intelligence is about understanding the whole meaning of functional dialects and business cultures or subcultures without getting lost in interpretation. It even touches the thought processes and logical reasoning via connection, discernment, penetration, and perception, etc, read between the lines and understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. From the digital management perspective, contextual understanding is about knowing the business dynamic and perceiving the business insight in a cohesive way in order to enforce cross-functional communication.

Misinterpretation is also caused by perception gaps: Because people have a different knowledge base and cognitive understanding to articulate things. Even two people observe the same thing or participate in the same conversation, they could perceive the situation and convey the message differently. There are interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, and don’t forget the wise quote from Peter Drucker: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.” Misinterpretation enlarges communication gaps and causes decision-ineffectiveness. Misinterpretation is perhaps caused by pre-conceptual judgment, random assumptions, prejudices, or simply lack of deeper understanding. Assumptions and prejudices are due to a lack of deeper understanding. When you intend to understand, interpret and judge something, you need to form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned data, common understanding, and clarified notions. Effective communicators are working hard to spread clear messages throughout the organization through a diverse set of activities with mixed communication styles, and sometimes, they have to be fluent in multiple business dialects, with contextual intelligence; and keep communication flow with verification.


Improving communication effectiveness by overcoming "Lost in Translation" syndrome: A well-established organization has different dialects, every organizational functions or division has its own focus and dialect. Thus, “lost in translation” is the common pitfalls of miscommunication. More specifically, “lost in translation” syndrome is caused by mistakes that most organizations make in this regard is that they fail to translate the high-level language of business strategy into the sub-strategy of business functions and then into the professional language of the various staff specialism. For instance, engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, finance folks have their language as well, etc. Without using common business understanding, misinterpretation and miscommunication further cause dysfunctional business management and decelerates the organizational speed. To deal with challenges, strategy communication has to be customized from a general management background to technical background employees. Highly effective leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguists” who can overcome those communication obstacles, master different business dialects and convey the right message in the right format to tailor different audiences for harnessing communication effectiveness and enforcing business collaboration.

Either making a strategic conversation at the big table or having touchy feely chats with customers, the reality of messages is that they have to be "real."There is no magic communication formula but pay more attention to communication content (what's your message), communication context (what will indicate to a different audience) and communication style (one to all, one to one., etc, direct vs. indirect., etc), also be thoughtful to apply the good communication style and business manner skillfully for interpreting things with clarity, communicating shared goals clearly and making smooth business progress.

Lift the business up to the Hyper-cycle of Digital Transformation

From doing digital to being digital needs to take a lot of brainstorming, thought-out planning, and structural actions.

Change is inevitable, organizational change has become a common practice. "Change" can be a somewhat mechanical implementation of new or different ways of doing something while the digital transformation is more likely to be a sweeping approach to altering a system or parts of it. Running a digital business is complex because all things do interact, particularly in the case of nonlinear interactions and interdependent relationships. How to overcome barriers and lift the business up to the hyper-cycle of business transformation?

Deburearcacry: Generally speaking, business management is about creating orders from chaos. The larger the organization and inputs are, the larger the amount of 'rules' are necessary for its functions to keep dependent variables and deliver stable output. Traditional management discipline brings a certain level of business efficiency. However, it is criticized by the lack of system perspective, encourage bureaucracy with characteristics such as inflexibility, inefficiency, silo, stagnation, unresponsiveness, or lack of creativity, etc. From the management perspective, in many cases, business managers don’t understand their ever-evolving dynamic business environment because they never look outside the problems boundaries. However, to keep information flow, business dynamic, and enforce the hyper growth cycle, the organization must step out of their comfort zone, flatten the overly rigid hierarchy, and battle bureaucracy which often stifles changes and creates bottlenecks for cross-functional communication and collaboration. Digital businesses are hyperconnected and interdependent, thus, business optimization and integration need to be done with a “big picture” - keep the business architecture in mind and make the business synchronized to ensure that every part of the organization operates in harmony to take a digital leap. Digital organizations are like living things which keep growing, they need to be in flow to operate smoothly. The more effortlessly you can guide, align, integrate, and optimize important business elements such as people, process, and technology, the closer you can accelerate business performance and lift the business up to the hyper-cycle of digital transformation.

Demystify innovation: Innovation is to have a new perspective on things, and it is the process that transforms novel ideas or knowledge into business value. Being competitive will have an innovation component, a new capability that unlocks a new market or revenue stream. Organizations should ideally have a sustainable approach to manage innovation, with a structured process and a set of practical tools for reaching high performance, making the profit, saving of resources, gaining the satisfaction of customers, or making collective progress etc. The business needs innovation silver lining from specific tools rising to an overall problem-solving system environment, and expand its influence with the ability to co-create and amplify innovation effect in a dynamic digital ecosystem. The challenge is how to get out of the daily burden and spend more resources and time on innovation-related activities. Exploring the business innovation should fully cover wide enough directions, and ultimately discover the path to demystify innovation and walk through the innovation labyrinth smoothly. Businesses which are able to innovate successfully at a breakthrough level and manage a balanced innovation portfolio with the right mix of incremental innovation and radical innovation can increase the likelihood that they will prosper in exploring blue ocean new business model or market and lift their business up to the hyper-cycle of digital transformation.


Delight people: Consider the world as to self-organized but interlaced environments, and humans are vehicles of natural and cultural solutions. Organizations are made by people and run for people. Thus, people are essentially the most important creative engine to lift the business up to the hyper-cycle of digital transformation. Investing and delighting people is critical for unleashing the potential of the business. People are always the weakest link in organizations, but the most invaluable asset and capital to invest in the business. The part of the digital transformation journey is actually to prepare people for the new structures and to recognize this is a crucial step. Thus, people development is crucial for the business’s long-term success. People should be encouraged to take initiatives of stepping outside of the box, seeking additional knowledge and experience, brainstorming fresh ideas, and focusing on the learning opportunities provided by assignment, rather than on the status quo. In fact, an employee's "book value" can be viewed as a function of what investments have been made in them and how they bring higher-than-expected business value.

From doing digital to being digital needs to take a lot of brainstorming, thought-out planning, and structural actions. The purpose of going digital is to make a significant difference in the overall levels of business performance for the long run. Ideally, the digital organizations are like the self-adaptive system which is able to re-configure their own structure and change their own behavior with its adaptation to environmental changes and lift the business up to the hyper-cycle of digital transformation.