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.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Monthly Quality Master Book Tuning: Fine Tune Quality Attributes

Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or inter-relational interactions surpasses the silo-based organizational capacity. Quality management ensures that in an organization, products or services are consistent to meet customers’ satisfaction. Digital Quality management needs to take an overarching approach with multidisciplinary practices. Quality is everyone’s business.



The book “Quality Master: The World Class Insight about Quality” is not about discussing specific quality standards or techniques well adopted in different industries, but for sharing some insight on how to understand the multitude of quality attributes from different perspectives, recognize quality champions to inspire quality culture, set digital principles and develop the best and next digital quality management practices.

The New Book “Quality Master” Chapter 1 Introduction: Digital Quality Management Attributes Quality management ensures that in an organization, products or services are consistent to meet customers’ satisfaction. Quality Management, like change management, needs to be embedded in the corporate culture. It requires engaging all the people involved in working together as a team to excel in quality product and service deliveries. Quality is defined by a number of factors, and quality management is a multidisciplinary approach. Slideshare Presentation

Proficiency We are at the dawn of digital age with the exponential growth of information, continuous disruptions, tremendous changes, hyperconnectivity, and interdependence. When led effectively, organizations can take the path to the next level of business effectiveness, innovation, and maturity; when led without a clear vision or thoughtful planning, it means information overloading, further confusion, and business ineffectiveness. It does raise the bar for digital leadership as well. As transformative digital leaders, can you participate proactively, look optimistically and engage constructively toward needs to be able to recognize areas of deficiencies and inefficiencies, then ask the open questions such as “What if?” and 'How about...?' And lead your organization to reach the level of proficiency and profundity?

Flexibility With rapid changes and fierce competitions, forward-thinking organizations today aim to move into a more advanced stage of digital deployment by tailoring their own unique strength and business maturity. Running a digital organization means high-responsiveness, high-performance, and high-innovativeness. Because the ways of doing business and meeting customer expectations both tend to be more adaptable than the siloed industrial age. The reality is that organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly outcompete as nimbler and more adaptable companies catch up and take their customers.

Simplicity Logically, simplifying the complicated thing is an optimal and smart choice, to make the business progress either for designing products, solving problems, or managing a high mature digital organization. Simplicity is a behavioral attitude to see things as and what and where they are and be content and cool as it is. Take a close look at simplicity from different management lenses, simplicity is one of the very important characteristics of digital quality. It means or is related to too many things such as manageability, availability, scalability, flexibility, reliability, robustness, sensitivity, comprehensiveness, speed, and responsiveness, etc.

Precision: Digital management is responsible for designing, enabling, and enforcing a collaborative, innovative, intelligent, and inclusive working environment for engaging employees, delighting customers, unlocking business performance, and improve overall organizational quality and maturity. Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent, and business competency is cohesive. Digital precision is one of the most important characteristics of digital quality.

Quality is about doing the right things right the first time. High-quality enterprise is comprised of high-quality people, products, or services; business capabilities and processes, etc. To effectively lead the organization reaching the next level of business maturity, it’s important to shape quality as the mindset and quality as the management discipline.

How to Overcome Learning Inertia

To learn constantly so we continually improve.
Digital means the abundance of information and a shortened knowledge cycle. As companies around the world transform themselves into the digital business that is based on ‎information, their ability to explore intangible assets such as information and knowledge has become far more decisive to build competitive business advantages. Both at the individual and organizational level, if you fail to climb the learning curve, you will get static and lag behind. Business leaders should be aware of learning curves or learning inertia, make an objective assessment of their organization’s learning competency.


Having learning curve awareness: It is no surprise that there is learning or change inertia, a lot of people resist as it takes them outside their comfort zone which generally gives a negative feeling. With the overwhelming growth of information and knowledge, to improve their learning capacity, digital organizations and their people must learn through their interactions with the business environment, how to ride the learning curve to get into actions in creative, positive, and productive ways that educate, support and celebrate every critical step of the change curve and the business transformation journey. then, they apply their learning, act, observe the consequences of their action, make continuous improvement. Learning inertia or learning disability, often caused by static or close mindset with “we always do things like that” mentality, perhaps causes the business stagnated. The business becomes more successful when the corresponding learning curve has reduced uncertainty to the point where both the strategic synergy and organizational interdependence can be structured.

Riding learning curve: Digital learning is multidimensional, dynamic, interactive, informal and integrated. Learning occurs through the experience of failing, and don’t waste the valuable lessons from it. Riding learning curve means that there is a high level of trust within the upper rankings of the management team. Thus, riding the learning curve to sustain change or improve problem-solving effectiveness is another important perspective for sharpening business competencies. Learning becomes a knowledge builder and we can define learning through the information it absorbs and the capability it builds. A focus on learning and development reduces attrition and has a great quantitative ROI. It is about how to ride the learning curve to get into actions in creative, positive, and productive ways that educate, support and celebrate every critical step of the change curve and the business transformation journey.

Cultivate a culture of continuous improvement:
It is important to cultivate the learning culture that has awareness and understanding the importance of learning in order to build a high-innovative and high-mature digital organization. Learning, innovation, and improvement will come from all of the workforces, and not just the chosen few who believe they have all the answers. And at the core of all of this learning needs to be a deep understanding of systemic thinking and the psychology of how people learn. The organization’s learning culture is the basis of the company diversity of staffing, outlining the types of responsibilities assigned to perform work tasks. The culture of learning fosters openness, information sharing, critical and independent thinking. In a positive working environment, people focus on the learning opportunities offered by assignment, rather than on the status quo that goes with them.

"To learn constantly so we continually improve." Digital learning is also multidimensional, dynamic, interactive, informal and integrated. It is important to cultivate the learning culture that has awareness and understanding the importance of learning in order to build a high-innovative and high-mature digital organization.

Running Digital IT as Business Performance and Productivity Booster

Highly effective IT management exists within a business to improve productivity, increase revenue, reduce costs, optimize business solutions, and accelerate business performance. 

Information & technology management is not for its own sake, but to deliver quality services and solutions that drive business growth and improve organizational maturity. Improving productivity and accelerating business performance are some noble business goals behind running a digital IT organization. This includes all aspects of the company, such as information management, logistics, application throughput, employee engagement, and overall health of the organization, etc. But more specifically, how to run digital IT as business productivity and performance booster?

Do the multifactor productivity/performance analysis: There is two level analysis: The first is about a productivity ratio at a macro level, and the second, it’s about determining what portion of any productivity gains are due entirely to IT investments. The IT department provides guidance, support, assistance, and direction in the application and adoption of information technology solutions in support of business objectives, improve business productivity and performance. At the strategic level, senior executives focus on the top line business revenue growth. When they recognize that IT is roughly coupled with the business strategy, with tangible measurement of improving performance and productivity, IT has the better chance to be perceived as a business partner, rather than a cost center. IT needs to be measured based on how it can help business identify true cost savings, workflow optimization, additional revenue growth opportunities, and process efficiency. Determining what contribution IT investments make to higher productivity is a little more complex and probably requires some sort of multifactor productivity analysis, data, and time, where the productivity increase can only be attributed to IT, all other things being the same. The multifactor productivity analysis would also examine the process to determine what element of production made the employees more productive, a change in policy, training, efficient tools, etc, with the goal to take a structural way for improving productivity.

Productivity, automation, quality, performance, and employee engagement are all interconnected: Digital technologies are lightweight, powerful, intuitive, and fast. Organizations today have to aggressively leverage digital technologies, platforms, and tools as the enabler of communication, collaboration, social interaction and forward-thinking. It’s also important to automate the logistic part of the business to further improve productivity, performance, and quality. Automation is needed for achieving business efficiency by balancing demand and supply. The first stage in the journey to automation must be to examine core business processes and identify how they can be designed more efficiently and how they connect to other processes, in order to run streamlined and profitable operations. Employee engagement is important to drive competitive business advantage as well. Engagement is about employees willing to give discretionary effort, wants to stay, and is always looking for ways to improve individual and team performance, increase productivity and achieve high-quality business results. In fact, workforce satisfaction does affect productivity. Productivity is the outcome of how you engage a group of employees, and how they engage each other to achieve higher performance.

Keep in mind, the "measurement" of productivity, not productivity itself often has blind spots: Sometimes, the measurement of productivity does not relate to effectiveness, because business managers keep on asking employee productivity instead of focusing on getting things to work correctly. The performance indicators show productivity improvements, but no real business improvements are achieved. Effective IT management means understanding every island of operation and every workflow process. It is through this comprehensive understanding that IT would be able to help the business improve performance and productivity by measuring the result from an outside-in business perspective. If business and IT understand each other and IT ought to be able to articulate their value in terms the other C-levels understand, which for the most part is a tangible financial measurement, in addition to whatever intangible benefits it provides, then, IT is on the right track to becoming the business productivity and performance booster.

Highly effective IT management exists within a business to improve productivity, increase revenue, reduce costs, optimize business solutions, manage or mitigate risks and assist with statutory corporate compliance. The goal-driven IT should keep improving effectiveness, efficiency, agility, innovation, flexibility, and scalability, and the overall business maturity.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 2/15/2019

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 Master” book 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.


Three-Step Scenario to Break Down Silos There are different definitions of silo. The segmenting or sectioning of work by skill/knowledge/type/etc is a necessary component of business operations. However, silo mentality and silo management often mean keeping people’s mind static, keeping people separate rather than keeping work separate. It sets barriers to changes, decrease business effectiveness and efficiency, and decelerate the speed of the organization. What is the rational scenario to break down silos for streamlining business flow, and unlocking individual and group potential?

Three “Altitudes” in the Boardroom Digital organizations are dynamic, self-evolving, and self-perpetuating. When jumping into the digital future of “VUCA” new normal –Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, digital leaders today must be able to steer the organization in the right direction. As one of the top leadership pillars, the corporate board plays a critical leadership role in setting guidelines, envisioning the future of business, and empowering changes. Here are three “altitudes” in the boardroom.

Building a Digital Organization with Strategic Flexibility? With rapid changes and fierce competitions, forward-thinking organizations today aim to move into a more advanced stage of digital deployment by tailoring their own unique strength and business maturity. Running a digital organization means high-responsiveness, high-performance, and high-innovativeness. Because the ways of doing business and meeting customer expectations both tend to be more adaptable than the siloed industrial age. The reality is that organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly outcompete as nimbler and more adaptable companies catch up and take their customers. How to build a digital organization with strategic flexibility?

The Breaking Point of CIO Role: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO? The digital transformation has multifaceted perspectives unfold into wider multi-dimensionally enhancing systemic continuum with IT as the linchpin. In order to be an effective digital CIO, IT leaders must understand every aspect of the business and master different conversations with varying shareholders, business peers or customers. Unfortunately, many businesses still perceive their CIO as the tactical IT manager who doesn’ have a seat at the big table. Is CIO role at the breaking point to keep IT relevant? CIOs: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO?

The Monthly “CIO Master” Book Tuning: CIOs as “Digital Modernist” II Feb. 2019 Compared to the other executive positions, the CIO role continues to be shaken up, refined, reinvented and reenergized. The magic “I” of the CIO title sparks many imaginations and modern CIOs need to wear different hats and play multiple roles. The CIO is no longer just a glorified geek, but a business savvy strategist and a transformational digital leader. Great CIOs have multiple personas, varying personalities, and impressive leadership profiles. Here are a set of blogs to brainstorm about the CIO as digital modernist.

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.

Creativity and Love: Which Activities Creative People Love to Do

It is important to build a creative workplace which stimulates passion, encourages insightful cognitions, and inspire learning.

Digital is the age of innovation. Creativity becomes the #1 wanted professional quality, and innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment for reaching the next stage of collective progress. Take the standpoint that creativity has its starting point within an individual, and add a dose of the “love” theme into it: Which activities creative people love to do and how does creativity manifest itself?



Love the clash of ideas, loosen up: Creative people love fresh thinking, they aren't afraid to turn things inside out, look at them from underneath, break them down into bits and pieces, paint them purple and orange, or shove bit A into bit B. They love to look at things from a different angle for capturing the non-conventional point of view until the new form emerges. Usually, creative thinking is not the kind of linear thought process, it’s not the kind of thinking that got you into whatever mess you are in the first place, it’s not for perpetuating the status quo, and it’s not predicated on following a mechanic methodology. Creatives love the clash of ideas, mess up or loosen up. From an innovation management perspective, today’s workplace is the mixed bag of old and new, order and chaos. Command and control style of management, overly rigid hierarchy, static or negative culture, silo processes and systems, and unchanging people, all become the very obstacles which discourage creativity, stop the digital flow, and stifle innovation.

Love learning and change: Creative people have intellectual curiosity, love to learn and change, so they can have interdisciplinary dots to connect for stimulating creativity. To be creative, you need to be curious about things that surround you. To be conscious is to be aware and engaged with both the inner world of thought, feeling and the exterior world of experience, knowledge, and relationship. In essence, creativity and real change deprogram old mindsets, let go of outdated concept or the voices from the past, keep the mind fresh with updated knowledge and novel ideas. People love changes and innovating only if they are pioneers in introducing the ideas or changes and always look forward to something different and new, thus, constantly on learning graph. Innovations and changes that deliver improvements in their lives (both work and personal) are easier to embrace and love. Collectively, make sure the working environment encourages collaborative thinking, develop creative teams with cognitive differences and diverse experiences to expand thinking spectrum and spur creative ideas effortlessly. Digital professionals today have to learn and relearn all the time, then apply that knowledge and lessons to succeed in new situations, to connect wider dots for innovating.



Love being wrong, embrace failures, but fail fast and fail forward: Creative people love debating, feel comfortable with creative tension, even love being wrong, and embrace failures. Passion fuels creativity, conflict can stimulate creativity, and failure nurtures creativity. Creativity requires a certain tolerance for and acceptance of failure and learn from it, which is more than just risk tolerance, it’s courage. Creative people are more insightful; without insight, the likelihood of the same situation repeating itself again in the future is higher. From an innovation management perspective, rapid innovation cycles help organizations select or discard concepts, and when selected, convert ideas into innovative solutions quickly. It’s about how to strike the right balance of having enough failures and cultivating a creative environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive, to improve innovative capacity and competency.

It is important to build a creative workplace which stimulates passion, encourages insightful cognitions, and inspire learning. In an ideal digital working environment, self-motivated leaders, teams, and employees have the passion for challenging themselves, advancing their thinking abilities and professional competencies, making things happen, fueling creativity, catalyzing changes, and discovering the innovative way to do things. By practicing these activities, creativity becomes a habit and differentiated competency.

The Pitfalls of Linear Thinking and Traditional Management

The business nonlinearity comes through different characteristics such as mixed structures, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, and increased flux.

Linear thinking is viewed by many as being simply the opposite of closed-loop thinking (thinking in a straight line rather than circularly). As linearity often implies cause and effect with no feedback. in the industrial setting, business management often practices linear thinking with a set of linear skills; it perhaps works in the considerably static and silo business environment. However, in today’s dynamic digital business environment with hyperconnectivity and interdependence, the traditional management based on linear thinking and reductionist logic is outdated, causes silo or frictions, and decelerates business speed.

Because of traditional management with linear logic, the business units often do not work in collaboration: Linear systems are those that follow a generalized superposition principle (doubling the input doubles the output, adding two inputs together leads to adding their two outputs.) The linear logic allows you to break any input into simple pieces and compute the output due to each piece separated, then add the results. Linear thinking implies the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, but it’s only part of a story. It does not encourage cross-functional collaboration and thus, it’s not effective from a business perspective. The traditional management approach is based on linear thinking - thinking the business as a mechanical system. Traditional management is inside out with linear processes to drive efficiency. The consequence of all of this is that the “classic” management doesn’t take a systemic approach to management. In the real and physical world or business world, most relationships are nonlinear. Digital management is about leveraging Systems Thinking to set general management principles for understanding how the “part” interconnected with the”whole.” It’s about seeing interrelationships rather than isolated things, to enforce collaboration and ensure the organization as a whole is optimal than the sum of pieces.

Problem-solving based on linear logic and analytics can sometimes cause more problems later on: The reason linear thinking is in many cases, not so effective for solving many business problems because there is always a temptation to use simple linear models to understand highly complex or nonlinear scenarios. While the linear analysis help to break down thing to the pieces, but it often ignores the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. A simple variable can be both cause and effect. Thus, the problem-solving based on linear logic and analytics can sometimes cause more problems later on. For solving complex problems, leveraging Systems Thinking for problem framing helps to take on a broad open perspective and solve them via “putting them together” seamlessly without creating too many new problems. Synthesis needs to follow the analysis, with the process to not only putting the bits or bytes together but blending them in such a way that emergent whole is somehow superior to the sum of its parts. Synthesizing problem-solving looks at the context in which it has happened, and then expanding into being a larger picture to solve larger problems with premium solutions. Digital management approach is about leveraging nonlinear processes and interconnectivity between problems in a managerial context to improve the overall business problem-solving competency.

From linear to nonlinear is transformational: The reductionistic approach comes from attempting to isolate and understand the dynamics of the individual functions in the enterprise, some of which for the time frame will be as good as linear. In the emergent digital world with the nature of hyper-connectivity and over-complexity, the organization as a whole has to function more holistically and coherently. Thus, we have to leave our old mechanistic view of the world behind us and look at the world through new eyes as a world of nonlinear systems. Understanding nonlinearity as the very characteristic of the digital organization and business ecosystem could be at the tipping point for the digital paradigm shift. It means the radical shift from a silo, linear classic management style to holistic and nonlinear management discipline. In the beginning, you often make a one-dimensional, linear, list of things to do. In the end, when you have gone through the multi-dimensional analysis, when everything else is in place, you practice nonlinear thinking and holistic change management and problem-solving.

The business nonlinearity comes through different characteristics such as mixed structures, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, and increased flux. It is transformational to 'step outside' of the system for having different perspectives to gain an in-depth understanding, and take a comprehensive, anticipatory and design approach to manage a high performance and highly innovative digital organization and ensure the health of the business ecosystem.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Monthly Organizational Structure Tuning: The Digital Organization with Structure Elegance Feb. 2019

The structural elegance of digital organization can further enforce its strategic responsiveness, operational excellence, and organizational maturity.

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, being outside-in and customer-centric is the new mantra for forward-looking and high mature digital organizations today. From an organizational structure perspective, how can you fine-tune the digital dimensions of your organizational development to harness innovation?


The Digital Organization with Structure Elegance


The Structural Elegance of Digital Organization Digital makes a profound impact from the specific function to the business as a whole and the entire digital ecosystem. Digital transformation is the scalable expansion toward multiple directions. Digital transformation is to optimize the whole, not the separate silos. Digital is the gigantic puzzle with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the true meaning and unleash its full potential. The structural elegance of digital organization can further enforce its strategic responsiveness, operational excellence, and organizational maturity.

How to Fine Tune the Digital Organizational Structure Tuning the organizational design and structure to achieve a high level of autonomy is the symbol of digital maturity. Majority of organizations are designed to improve functional efficiency in the industrial era. But digital masters move a few steps ahead, focus on shaping changeability, innovation, and people-centricity. However, the digital transformation won’t happen overnight, organizations need to have an in-depth understanding of gains and pains of organizational design and development, follow the digital principles to plan, experiment and scale up for improving strategic responsiveness and structural flexibility of their business.

How to Instrument Real-Time Digital Organization? Digital means the fast pace of changes, overwhelming growth of information, and fierce competitions. In the digital dynamic where innovation threatens to tear down legacy systems and practices just as it generates new opportunities, it's natural to fear the unknown, question the unproven, be skeptical of the latest digital trends, and be hesitant to take action. Still, the key differentiator between the digital leaders and laggards is the speed to change and how they respond to the dynamic business environment. The high mature digital organizations are highly conscious about what’s happening in their environment, with the ability to adapt to change timely, grasp opportunities, and prevent risks effectively. Here are three aspects to run a real-time digital organization.

How to Design Organizations to Maintain Viability Digital organizations are a complex ecosystem with the blurring line between functions, organizations and geographic locations. How to design organizations to maintain viability and deliver tactical actions for strategic effect, given weak, noisy and evolving feedback signals due to systemic adaptive complexity in its environment? What would be an inclusive set of theories to accommodate a complex system? How would such a set be integrated? How would be an organization experiencing that type of feedback know it's viable? How would it or its parts know it needs to change itself? How would it or its parts know what to change?

The Digital Dimensions of Organizational Structure Digital means change, choice, speed, and customer-centricity. One of the key business competencies is agility, which is the capability to adapt to the changes; and the ability to manage complexity more effectively than competitors provides a competitive advantage. From an organizational structure perspective, how can you fine-tune the digital dimensions of your organizational development?

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. blog posting. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom, to inspire critical thinking and spur healthy debates. 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.

Three “Altitudes” in the Boardroom

 The leadership altitudes of the boardroom are based on the breadth of their strategic influence and the depth of business insight and proficient knowledge.

Digital organizations are dynamic, self-evolving, and self-perpetuating. When jumping into the digital future of “VUCA” new normal –Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, digital leaders today must be able to steer the organization in the right direction. As one of the top leadership pillars, the corporate board plays a critical leadership role in setting guidelines, envisioning the future of business, and empowering changes. Here are three “altitudes” in the boardroom.



Forwardship: Leadership or directorship is about setting directions and inspiring changes. The forward-looking view of the organization is to determine what the future needs to look like, what the digital business must look like; and how to expand the lens for capturing the big picture. The board of directors is the top leadership role, leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, and have confidence and insight for navigating the business through the right path to reach the destination. Forward-looking board has to look into an unknown future and attempt to define the business landscape with its risks and opportunities. To improve their strategic oversight effectiveness, the board as the senior leadership team supplies the framing context in understanding uncertainty, visualize and identify it, work closely with the management team to deal with digital new normal and mitigate risks strategically and systematically. The foresightful corporate boards as the guiding light can change the course of the business by seeing beyond what all others could see; connecting interdisciplinary dots and coming up with fresh insight.

Solve problems really matter: Digital transformation is the journey for solving problems caused by "conflict," "out of balance," “information overloading,” or “lack of logic.” Therefore, the corporate board needs to set the priorities for solving problems really matter and lift their organization up to the next level of business maturity. In many circumstances, corporate boards perhaps do not need to solve detailed problems on their own. However, they should always provide wise guidance and offer trustful advice for strategic business issues, and help the management frame the right problems to solve. The digital business is complex and volatile, for skillful problem solving, understanding context is often the first and the important step in understanding. “Seeing” the context you are part of, allows you to understand the problem with context, look at the problem from as many perspectives as possible, apply systems thinking to generate a variety of options, identify the leverage points of the business systems and then, choose the decisive factors, in an attempt to make the first step right - frame the right problems in order to solve them collaboratively and radically.

Ecosystem perspective: The corporate board as one of the most important top leadership teams plays a significant role in overseeing strategies, leading changes and driving digital transformation. They need to observe, perceive, and pay attention to the myriad of internal and external, visible and invisible, hard and soft forces that define and influence the way we do business these days. They must begin thinking about ways with strategic planning to broaden their ecosystem viewpoint by capturing emerging trends, making information-based decisions, monitoring change progress, and setting tones for digital transformation. The corporate board should not only see inside the business but also understand and even shape the landscape view across the business ecosystem. In addition to the set point changing, the ecosystem perspective as the digital shaper allows the organization to explore digital in all directions, grow the company as a living thing, and perceive the business through the multidimensional lens as the enterprise consists of an amalgam of socio-system, techno-systems, bio-systems, and Econo-systems.

 The leadership altitudes of the boardroom are based on the breadth of their strategic influence and the depth of business insight, be able to adapt to changes and build abilities to advise, inspire and motivate, and to navigate the corporate ship in the right direction. By having three altitudes in the boardroom, BoDs can play the directorial role in scrutinizing both vision and strategy effectively and driving changes confidently.

The Uniqueness of Digital IT

 IT needs to be unique, innovative, and influential, help business to accelerate performance and maximize potential not only for today but for the future.

At the dawn of the digital era, with rapid changes and exponential growth of information, IT is no longer just that monolithic support function which is hidden behind; on the opposite, it continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. The role of CIO is unique because every CIO is different and whatever the management team needs or wants at the time out of the CIO will also be different, and by type of business needs will be different as well. More specifically, what’s the uniqueness of digital IT and how to run IT as a business differentiator?

Unique position: IT is uniquely positioned to observe underlying business processes and organizational structures across the enterprise, as well as integrate all crucial business elements such as people, process, and technology into differentiated organizational competencies. CIOs are in a unique position to oversee the business from different angles, perceive the business sophistication, technology intricacies, as well as company interactions, to gain a contextual understanding of critical business issues, diagnose the root causes underneath the symptoms in order to solve real problems in a structural way. If they see the business as an “asset under construction,” and then, the CIO is not only responsible for achieving cost efficiency, but also become a business enabler, change agent and a digital architect of the new business model. IT is unique, the unique role of digital CIO is to carry forward the business by sharing the unique point of view to break down conventional wisdom and leveraging the lightweight digital technologies for catalyzing changes and making a seamless digital transformation.

Unique strength: With fierce competitions and emerging IT service models, to keep IT relevant, it is no longer sufficient to run IT just as a commodity function to keep the lights on only. The digital IT organization’s long-term advantage is based on its unique strength and a set of differentiated business competencies which can be built through the combination of talent, resources, processes, and technologies to perform a set of business activities and achieve high-performance business results. Being a unique CIO means that the IT leader should close leadership and communication gaps based on their advanced mindsets, fresh insight, proficient knowledge, and niche skills. IT leaders need to identify and blind the way that IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, assist and shape the business by linking all digital elements together into unique strength and innovation competencies. Sometimes when one business area has a new product or a service that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the wider dots to come up with innovative solutions. In practice, leveraging unique IT knowledge and strength to build business competency is crucial for the organization’s long-term growth and maturity.

Unique influence: The role of the CIO continues to evolve rapidly in the midst of the exponential growth of information and the accelerating changes in technology. CIOs must not preoccupy themselves with operational issues or process improvements only. The top CIOs today must have fresh business insight and make a unique influence on business strategies and digital transformation. Being a unique CIO with fresh perspective means that the IT leader should be informative, persuasive, and empathetic to close communication and leadership gaps by practicing expert power and information-based decision-making, and become a trustful business partner ultimately. Modern CIO’s leadership influence is multifaceted because they have to play different roles, wear multiple personas, and communicate with different audiences such as boards, business partners, customers, and vendors, etc, fluently. Their viewpoints should be broad enough to understand issues with contextual intelligence, deep enough to discover patterns with technical know-how knowledge, practical enough on how to leverage information and technology in crucial business problem-solving. They lead forward through unique influence, not through brute forces.

Different IT organizations are at different stage of business maturity Cycle. Regardless of how you should describe the importance of IT, the point is that IT needs to be unique, innovative, and influential, help business to accelerate performance and maximize potential not only for today but for the future.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Monthly “IT Innovation” Book Tuning: Unleash IT Potential in the Digital Era. Feb 2019

Within abundant information and emergent digital technologies, IT is a key component of holistic business mindset to re-imagine “what is possible” - unleashing business potentials and improving business efficiency, effectiveness, agility, and maturity. The art of possible to reinvent IT in the digital age is to deliver the value of information in helping businesses grow, delight customers and doing more with innovation.




   Unleash IT Potential in the Digital Era


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.

The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: Manage IT-Driven Innovation as a Cautionary Tale? IInnovation 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?

Running IT as "Digital Simplifier" IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. The business complexity has increased exponentially due to “VUCA” characteristics. By nature, technology is complex, and the information is overloading. However, the purpose and advancement of IT are not to complicate things, on the opposite, “Keep it Simple” is one of the most important principles to run digital IT. Because logically, simplifying the complicated thing is an optimal and smart choice, to make the business progress either for designing products, solving problems, or managing a high mature digital organization. Simplicity is the optimal level of complexity. Running IT as digital simplifier means or is related to too many things such as manageability, availability, scalability, flexibility, reliability, robustness, comprehensiveness, and responsiveness, etc.

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.

CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Spur IT Innovation to Get Digital Ready Innovation is about moving forward. In any business, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no standing still. This is particularly true for IT due to the fast growth of information and the disruptive nature of technologies. Thus, the Chief Innovation Officer is one of the most appropriate titles for modern CIOs. The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel. The science of innovation is to take a structural approach to innovation management. IT organization can become an innovation hub to bridge the art and science of innovation and get digital ready.

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 5300+ blogs 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.

Bureaucracy as a Digital Management Pitfall

Debureaucratization is a management practice and starts at the mindset level.

The root of the word "bureaucracy" is: bureau(fr) = desk and kratos(gr) = rules/ power. Generally speaking, bureaucracy is a system based on a hierarchy of authority and division of workforce functioning in a routine manner. Though organizational bureaucracy inherited from the traditional management discipline brings a certain level of business efficiency. It is criticized by the lack of system perspective, with characteristics such as inflexibility, inefficiency, silo, stagnation, unresponsiveness, or lack of creativity, etc. Bureaucracy is correlated with a mechanistic view of the organization and reductionistic management discipline. It is the opposite of systems thinking and one of the big digital management pitfalls.

Bureaucracy causes stagnation: The majority of organizations at the industrial age are manipulated by silo thinking, hierarchical structure, and bureaucratic management styles. It often causes unhealthy internal competitions for limited resources, and organizations will lose their collaborative advantage as the whole. Silo thinking, bureaucracy, inflexibility, inefficiency, rigidity, dysfunctional systems/processes, etc, are root causes of missing synergy and business stagnation. When productivity is low and synergy is missing; when people are not working via the system to solve the real problems but play the system to stifle innovation or build “comfort zones” and create frictions to changes, you know that there is the serious problem. From the management perspective, does bureaucracy cause stagnation? In many cases, business managers don’t understand their ever-evolving dynamic business environment because they never look outside the problems boundaries. In today's volatile economy, nothing impedes progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of bureaucratic management hierarchy designed to preserve the status quo.

Bureaucracy generates inflexibility: Bureaucracy is often caused by overly rigid structures or business processes. The larger the organization and inputs are, the larger the amount of 'rules' are necessary for its functions, to keep dependent variables and outputs delivery stable. However, too many rules will stifle business change and information flow. Ideally, the digital organizations should be a complex, but flexible social system starting to appreciate business attributes such as readiness, ownership, integration, open communication, customized structuring, and multifaceted partnerships. Many organizations today are running in between - the mix of old and new; the different departments or divisions within an organization have different speeds. The flexible digital organizational structure is implemented via the virtual team setting well mixing with the physical structure. Digital platforms enabled by emerging technologies, efficient apps, and tools, help to lubricate processes, flatter business hierarchies, allow people across the business ecosystem to share knowledge for solving common business problems, These democratic processes will overtake hierarchical control, and that flexible digital culture will become a more fundamental organizational asset.

Bureaucracy stifles innovation: The digital era upon us is the age of innovation. Innovation is about utilizing what you already have in a unique and creative way that has not been done before and using that thing to make a profit. For many organizations with bureaucratic cultures, innovation is perhaps just a buzzword, very few people, especially leaders live with it. More specifically, most companies fail at innovation execution because they have no clear process, nor understand the linkage required to work horizontally across departments, or a holistic approach to managing innovation. The organization must step out of the “comfort zone,” battle bureaucracy, and understand innovation as a process, a management discipline, and capable of delivering the organization-wide innovation competencies. Innovation execution requires a systematic approach with clear stages, performance thresholds, and decision-making parameters combined with an iterative and experimental learning process that supports wide-ranging explorations at each stage.

Debureaucratization is a management practice and starts at the mindset level. The bureaucratic thinking (cause of change inertia) and irrational thinking (creating the blind spot in decision making) are the pitfalls at mindset level to stop organizations from a seamless digital transformation. The more effortlessly you can align, integrate, and optimize the important business factors inside an organization, the closer you can accelerate performance and lead changes smoothly.

Three Digital Balance Practices for Leading to the Future

Balance, growth, and harmony are not fixed, they are flowing.
The digital era upon us means fast-paced changes, continuous disruptions, overwhelming information, and shortened knowledge life cycle. Organizations of the future are increasingly exhibiting digital characteristics in various shades, extensiveness, and intensity. Leading evolutionary changes and driving business growth is the never-ended journey which takes planning, methodologies, and practices. It’s important to understand that digital management is multifaceted and holistic. Balance, growth, and harmony are not fixed, they are flowing. Here are three digital balance practices for leading to the future.

Leverage insiders’ “know-how” knowledge with outliers’ fresh viewpoints to make sound judgments: Being digital is the state of dynamism, continuum, and interaction. The digital organization is a dynamic ecological system with business attributes such as hyperconnectivity, interdependence, and nonlinearity. Running a business is fundamentally an iterative change and problem-solving continuum. Digital leaders should motivate people to be well prepared, understand the learning curve, develop problem-solving competency, and truly make change happening or solve real problems effectively. To spot the real issue, diagnose the root cause, and make the sound judgment. It’s important to understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole, leverage insiders’ “know-how” knowledge with outliers’ fresh perspective, integrate diverse viewpoints into holistic perspectives without enlarging cognitive gaps and causing too many side effects. To solve problems creatively, it’s critical to listen, comprehend and understand the people and the business they are part of, before embarking on any new way of thinking. Great ideas happen outside of the usual restraints. The outlier’s awareness brings fresh knowledge, neutralized views, and food for thoughts. In fact, many things outside of the box yesterday has become the new normal today.

Strike the right balance of breaking down outdated rules to foster innovation and develop the digital rules and processes to implement and scale up: In a fundamental view, innovation is a process and every process needs to be managed. The paradox is that all creative activities are “out-of-the-box,” to a certain degree. Setting rules and goals for creativity goes against the very nature of creativity and thus, inventiveness and innovation. Consequently, too rigid rules, will stifle creativity and thus innovation. However, being "unruly" incurs risk. you need to set the updated principles for managing the innovation and mitigating risks. Therefore, it’s important to strike the right balance of breaking down outdated concepts or rules and set digital principles and processes to frame innovation effort and improve its success rate. Unlike many other types of business initiatives, the process of planned innovation shouldn’t be too rigid, the chaos to some extent is necessary for sparking fresh ideas. It’s also important to keep optimizing innovation processes by breaking down those structural or management obstacles. Flexibility is important to make proper adjustments for improving innovation performance. An organization that has a lightweight process which allows ideas flow, get protected, channeled and nurtured will succeed more often than an organization that does not have such a process. Balance and harmony are not fixed, they are flowing.

Improve today’s performance for a quick win and unlock the business potential for building long term advantage: Either at the individual or business level, performance is mostly a mix of past and present; and potential relates to the innate capability which can be developed and catalyze the future performance. To not only survive today but also thrive for the long term, organizations need to keep one eye on today’s performance and the other eye on the future performance of the business. Many organizations have troubles of leading to the future smoothly because they spend too much time on evaluating past performance, without putting enough effort on how to accelerate future performance or maximize business potential. Sometimes they focus on improving the processes or implementation of performance management or evaluation but fail to look into the system holistically or think longer term to shape the future. To put simply, performance keeps the light on smoothly, but potential perhaps leaps your organization to the next growth cycle. The potential is an investment, improving revenue and catalyzing business growth. Forward-thinking businesses should manage both balancing cycle and growth cycle smoothly by exploring the new possibility and building business competencies to perform in the future so that the organization does not only 'earn enough from today,' but 'thrive in the future.’'

Balance, growth, and harmony are not fixed, they are flowing. The ultimate goal of running a successful business is to achieve the high-performance result and accelerate high-level business maturity. The business needs to discover its unique strength and build its differentiated competencies, to make sure that the business executive team first understands their business inside-out and outside-in, and take these digital balance practices for leading to the future effortlessly.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Monthly “100 Digital Pitfalls” Book Tuning: Be Aware of Digital Stagnation Feb. 2019

Too often, changes are made as a reaction to outer impulses, disruption, or crisis; that is the bureaucratic attitude to deal with "VUCA" digital new normals.

Digital makes a significant impact on how we think, live, and work. There is a mix of old and new, physical and virtual, order and chaos. We are in a time of tremendous change, the dawn of the digital age, the path to the next level of digital maturity, also in the era of confusion and information overload. Therefore, it’s critical to identify, understand, and avoid pitfalls, discover strategic and predictive pathways to change, increase confidence, position a brand and leverage resources to make the digital paradigm shift effortlessly. Slideshare Presentation

         Be Aware of Digital Stagnation


Three Root Causes of Digital Stagnation? Change becomes the new normal, and even the speed of change is accelerating. Either for individuals or businesses today, change is inevitable, some of us get it quicker than others. But too often changes are made as a reaction to outer impulses, crisis. From a change management perspective, what's the psychology behind the change? What are the possible change pitfalls on the way? What would be a good way to empower change agents and develop changeability? Many organizations are on the journey of digitalization, what are the root causes of digital stagnation?

Five Pillars of Digital Stagnation Either for individuals or businesses today, change is inevitable, some of us get it quicker than others. But too often changes are made as a reaction to outer impulses, disruption, or crisis. The digital transformation is all about the rapid changes with blurred functional, business or industry territories and expanded organizational horizons. Forward-looking organizations have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation. However, many companies get lost or get stuck on a digital journey. What’re the root causes and pitfalls on the way? Here are five pillars of digital stagnation.

Are You Running a Stable Business or a Stagnant Organization With the exponential growth of information, businesses need to grasp opportunities for growth but also manage risks effectively. With the increasing pace of change and fierce competition. Organizations must keep the lights on and also make strategic movements all the time. Stability is not equal to stagnation. Like running up to the string, you have to strike the right balance.

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 a different stage of the business life cycle, as well as they are in a 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 momentum and lead change more effortlessly?

Three Syndromes Decelerating Digital Transformation of IT Forward-looking organizations are on the journey of digital transformation, and IT is a key enabler. Information technology is penetrating into every core process of the organization; how agile the organization can adapt to changes and how intelligent the organization can capture business insight are often dependent on how effective the company can manage information and knowledge. Hence, IT as the information steward of the business plays a crucial role in business growth and innovation. However, there are pitfalls on the way to stop IT from reinventing itself, and there are a few common syndromes of decelerating the digital transformation of IT.

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 “Digital Transformation” Quotes of “Digital Master” III Feb. 2019

 Knowledge does not stand still; it flows into the company, and it flows out of it; it erodes, and it gets created again.


"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 “Digital Transformation” quotes in “Digital Master.’


22 “Metaphorically, organizations are like vegetable gardens, where each capability is a different type of vegetable growing in the garden.”
― Pearl Zhu, Digital Capability: Building Lego Like Capability Into Business Competency

23 “All generations need to realize they can learn from each other, to run a successful business and an advanced society.”
― Pearl Zhu, Digital Gaps: Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Digital Business

24 “A well-defined set of digital rules are not for limiting innovation, but for setting the frame of relevance and guide through changes and digital transformation.”
― Pearl Zhu, 100 Digital Rules

25 “Most organizations fail to manage performance effectively because they fail to look into the system holistically.”
― Pearl Zhu, Performance Master: Take a Holistic Approach to Unlock Digital Performance

26 “The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices - culture, method, and people.”
― Pearl Zhu, Digital Maturity: Take a Journey of a Thousand Miles from Functioning to Delight

27 “It is the time to tremendous awakening toward “inquisitiveness” with cross-cultural sharing through technology and inner insights.”
― Pearl Zhu, Digital Master

28 “Knowledge does not stand still; it flows into the company, and it flows out of it; it erodes, and it gets created again.”
― Pearl Zhu, 12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO's Situational Leadership Practices

29 “Information by itself is meaningless until it’s interpreted and analyzed to capture insight and harness innovation.”
― Pearl Zhu, 12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO's Situational Leadership Practices

30 “Intrapreneur leaders present solid leadership attributes such as “full open communication,” “creativity,” “confidence,” “resourcefulness,” “decisiveness,” “ownership,” “digital readiness,” “self-adaptation,” and “resilience.”
― Pearl Zhu, 12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO's Situational Leadership Practices

31 “Hard business assets keep the organization lights on, and soft assets of the organization enable the business to unlock its potential.”
― Pearl Zhu, 12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO's Situational Leadership Practices

32 “Creativity is about thinking beyond conventional wisdom.”
― Pearl Zhu, 100 Digital Rules

33 “A high-mature organization always looks for opportunities across the business to increase the usage of emergent digital technologies accordingly and charter the digital paradigm shift seamlessly.”
― Pearl Zhu, 12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO's Situational Leadership Practices

34 “Don’t rest until you’ve done everything you can do to make your organization as resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable as it can be.”
― Pearl Zhu, Digital Maturity: Take a Journey of a Thousand Miles from Functioning to Delight

35 “The lack of high-skillful problem-solver is a significant problem for the world.”
― Pearl Zhu, 100 Digital Rules

The Breaking Point of CIO Role: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO?

The digital CIO has to look forward and actively position IT in the right place, climb ahead of learning curves, take full advantage of opportunities and orchestrate the digital transformation proactively.

The digital transformation has multifaceted perspectives unfold into wider multi-dimensionally enhancing systemic continuum with IT as the linchpin. In order to be an effective digital CIO, IT leaders must understand every aspect of the business and master different conversations with varying shareholders, business peers or customers. Unfortunately, many businesses still perceive their CIO as the tactical IT manager who doesn’ have a seat at the big table. Is CIO role at the breaking point to keep IT relevant? CIOs: Are you a “Fixer, Builder or Orchestrator” CIO?


Fixer: Many IT organizations still spend the majority of their resource and time on keeping the lights on and fixing things broken, take orders from internal users, overloaded and under-delivery. Fair to say, running IT with operational excellence is still fundamental. If there is a day-to-day operation break or fix type of issue in relation to a business-critical technology, working on a strategic initiative perhaps needs to take a back seat until that is resolved. Because for the customer at that point in time, an outage of a server that supports all sales or call-centers reporting would need to be addressed immediately. The point is how to make sure systems run according to plans, schedules, and performance standards, improve IT effectiveness, efficiency, and the overall organizational maturity, from a reactive fixer to a proactive change agent. From a long-term standpoint and for the direction of the company and line of business, the strategic initiative is a higher priority, fixing broken things only is simply not sufficient to run a digital IT organization. In reality, many CIOs who were graduated from IT management where their job was to maintain, might have the mediocre mindset to run transactional IT for “keeping the lights on” only and be a controller to avoid risks. The transition from a maintenance mindset to a value creation mindset is a stretch for them. The challenges for digital CIOs are about how to balance day-to-day operations with sufficient resources for strategic initiatives and ensure IT is well-positioned as the strategic partner of the business.

Builder: With rapid changes and emerging technologies and IT service models, modern digital CIOs face many dilemmas such as when they should buy and when they need to build? Today, truly building from scratch is not practical for most IT organizations as no one wants to redesign the wheel, even the vendors themselves rarely build their commercial solutions from total scratch. Further, timing matters in order for the company to run at the digital speed today. But, when your main focus is on the business applications which can create a unique advantage, it is better to build. Thus, CIOs need to make an objective assessment in order to make effective decisions about “buy vs. purchase” by asking tough questions: Is it your core competency? Is it something will increase revenue or significantly reduce cost or give competitive advantages? Will these products/services create a competitive advantage for your organization? Do you want your system to scale as required? Can you afford to maintain it on your own? What's your budget? What's the perceived value of the business? Are you confident it will generate more revenue? If not, can you rent it till you're sure? Etc. Digital IT needs to make a transition from a cost center to a revenue generator with a shortened delivery cycle. Whether IT should be a “builder” or not depends on a combination of strategy, required functionalities, affordability, and timing.


Orchestrator: In the past, IT has categorized, prioritized, and designed solutions, bug fixes, enhancements; now with digital participation and permeation style, you need to work with other business leaders to make the decisions together. Get engaged in the investment process prior to the decision already being made, and keep IT running flawlessly at the prevailing level of sophistication. IT has to become an integral part of the business. Digital IT is making a shift from business-IT alignment to business-IT integration. A CIO is expected to integrate IT as part of the business, align IT goals with business strategies, and hence, to ensure IT provides business solutions and become the trustful business partner. Instead of fixing or building only, the company is expecting IT to figure out better ways to perform IT products or services delivery cycle, whether they are doing hardware or software. Modern CIOs should become the orchestrator to conduct a digital symphony. Today’s IT professionals should understand that there are only business initiatives, it's important to "keep the end in mind" for either achieving business value or delighting customers. Digital CIOs need to facilitate a global IT team which are often distributed across the varying geographical locations in many large multinational organizations, to make sure IT is more shared, integrated, flexible, reliable, transparent and fast, in order to build the true partnership with the business and orchestrate a dynamic business ecosystem.

With the increasing speed of changes and continuous digital disruptions, regardless of which company or industry you work in, being a stereotypical tactical IT manager for “fixing broken things only,” or “rebuilding the wheel,” is simply not sufficient to lead IT transformation today. DRIVING is not a passive activity. The digital CIO has to look forward and actively position IT in the right place, climb ahead of learning curves, take full advantage of opportunities and orchestrate the digital transformation proactively.