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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CIO, What’s your Mojo?

The CIO is a strategic role based on the influence made across the organizational boundary.

Modern CIOs could be one of the most sophisticated roles in today’s  hyper-connected, hyper-competitive and hyper-complex world, you may need to wear many colors of hats or take many pairs of shoes, you need to be both transformational and situational, both innovative and tactical, both business savvy and technology insightful, both communication effective and operation efficient. CIO, what’s your Mojo, really?

1. From Controller CIO to Influencer CIO

Chief influence officer is one of the most pertinent personas for CIOs in the 21st century, since technology is ubiquitous in information-explosive age, learning, analytics, dissent, cognitive difference, and diversity., etc are the strategic culture asset need be reinvented and inspired in the new digital era.

With well-established governance process, as influencer and facilitator, not as controller, IT should take advantage of the latest enterprise 2.0 technology & recent BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend to create the atmosphere of innovation and experimenting, to engage employees and delight customers, IT should even become the secret sauce to polish corporate brand through all sorts of digital channels, with entitlement mentality, effective tools, and empowered talents. 

2.  From IT Geek CIO to Change Agent CIO

The CIO is no longer just a chief infrastructure officer to manage an invisible back-office function to keep the light on,  or the geek to speak the IT language that business does not understand.  With emerging cloud-based, agiler, digitized IT backbone, contemporary CIOs should become the change agent to initiate creative destruction, to amplify the human capability, collective wisdom, and collaborative power via extended organizational boundary and business eco-system.

The Change Agent CIO is:

  • Technological Visionary & Whole-Brain Thinker & Leader: CIOs need to have both business acumen and technology skills, as a change agent by being an IT visionary, effective communicator and the innovative enterprise architect, to challenge the old way to think and do the things,  encourage innovation; help integrate and optimize business process, and make continuous improvement.
  • Talent Master: CIOs as change agent can also become the strategic business partner to other business functions, for example, there are too many organizations just have very silo HR systems, processes and practices, still treat talent as human resources with old-fashioned way to recruit, retain, training and rewards, and have not focused on building modern talent capabilities sufficiently. CIOs can act as a talent master, to promote and take advantage of the latest technology such as social/enterprise 2.0 tools by recognizing its huge potential, to revitalize the talent solution by shaking up the current talent pool, exploring the multiple talent pipelines with an open mindset, and decentralizing the workforce with self-management capability.

3. From Firefighter CIO to Strategist CIO

IT is no longer just act as firefighters to fix the problem reactively, by nature of job duty in the digital era, The CIO is a strategic role based on the influence made cross the organizational boundary, from innovation to sustainability, from talent management to cultural transformation. CIOs should be the strategic roles with a practical approach and technical advances.

The CIO’s ability to create fundamental business value is now greater than ever. IT strategy and the “art of the possible” in technology influence the development of business strategy, closing the loop in strategy development. Co-development of strategy by business and IT would reduce risks of surprise disruptions and better involve IT in bolstering competitive advantage.

4. From “Wired” CIO to CIO “in the Cloud”

The traditional hardware driven, “wired up” style of IT infrastructure is shrinking, the latest technologies such as virtualization, cloud, social and mobility reshape the digitized IT backbone and retool the modern working environment.

The power of cloud computing  is to provide the convenience & advantage for the enterprise to proactively deliver the customer-tailored solution with speed & elasticity, to calculate the IT performance/cost more transparently, to transfer the IT investment from CapEx to OpEx. CIO in the cloud, not just for helicopter view of business, it’s your Mojo.

5.  From Cost Center CIO to Value Creator CIO

 In this globalize, digitized and post-recession era, CIO and IT are at the pressure to demonstrate the value of IT, to create the synergy and differentiate capability for the business growth, CIOs need to craft the IT investment portfolio with top leadership team and board’s business agenda, to deliver the strategic value for both today’ execution and  tomorrow’s growth.

With cloud and other digitized technologies as a silver lining, CIOs transform IT department from a cost center into service, integration & innovation center.  In one sentence: value creator CIOs build up the growth-driven, capability-enabled agile enterprise.

6.  From Silo CIO to Bridge CIO

Modern organization is like the mini-city, with its own sophistication: the silo functions, the sea of data, and the pool of talents. CIO is an inherently cross-functional role, to help bridge the business and technology, the data and wisdom, the business and eco-system, the Ying & Yang, and the business’s today & tomorrow.

If you happen to be cross-industrial or cross-cultural, CIO surely becomes even more value-added with global influence, the magic leadership ingredients include passion, vision, openness, clarity, agility, humanity, and humility , etc. IT leaders as diplomat need communicate via business terms, simplistic fashion, essential insight, and spark the win-win situation.

7. From Data Center CIO to Sustainability CIO

Technology has become increasingly important and ubiquitously efficient in our society, however, all the use of pervasive technology comes at the cost, accelerating depletion of earth resource, increase the carbon footprint and accumulating the environmental waste. 

Modern CIOs has the new persona: Chief Sustainability Officer, to make an influence on the environment, also dig the new gold through it and improve business’s bottom line.  The high-performance enterprise should recognize the integrated connection between its supply chain and sustainability, and deliver the next generation of the technologic solution to fill out the gap and optimize the process.

The modern digitized technologies are moving our society into the lower carbon, sustainable economic era, now PEST –Politics, Economy, Society, and Technology are more interwoven than ever, and IT should play the pivotal roles to orchestrate the energy-efficiency, sustainability-savvy, and resource-optimized modern organization.

CIO, You are the Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence officer, Chief Integration Officer, Chief Inspiration Officer… What’s you Mojo? Really?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Seven Business Visions Social Business get United for

It’s time for business to unite 3P: purpose, principle and people; It’s time for business to achieve 3 values: economic value, societal value and people value;
The silo-based, hierarchical business structure shaped at the industrial age of 20th century may not be agile enough for organization to adapt to the rapidly changes at era of digital economy. Social business with the hybrid structure has been perceived as better model to focus on  3P: purpose, principle and people, since it can well integrate virtual social platform with the brick-mortar working environment, extend business’s physical boundary, also amplify business value through multi-channel communication, fully engage employees, customers, partners, community and society as well.

 1.   Unite Three Purposes of Business

The single biggest purpose of US public companies in 20th century is about maximizing stakeholders economic value at shot term, and ignore the other two crucial purposes: societal value and people value; contemporary business need create the social value for community and society economically, culturally, environmentally, since only the prosperous society can provide the fertile soil for business’s continuous success; The modern business may also need appreciate the people value by creating the atmosphere of innovation and freedom of choices to engage employees and delight customers.

2.   Unite Business Silos

The traditional business structure has been well divided into functional silos to achieve certain level of efficiency, however, the business as a whole should be more effective and optimal than the sum of pieces, the characteristics of social business is more about its digital DNA and information fluid, to let data flow and talent grow, social platform will help orchestrate more dynamic, self-service working teams to cross-functional or geographical silos, in order to solve challenging business problem or optimize business process through holistic point of view and collective wisdom. 

3.   United Business Ecosystem

Not only breakdown the silos, social business will also need unite the business with its value chain ecosystem more seamlessly, the competitors may well become the partner to form as coopetitors relationship, to advocate and influence the right policy & long term investment to benefit industry as a whole;  to instill innovative thinking and encourage fresh communication cross-industrial boundary, to solving technical challenges, supply chain concerns or any other social, political, economical issues via collaborative power.

4.   Unite Entrepreneurial Innovation with Enterprise Culture

 “Entrepreneurial innovation should be at the very core of culture and service at any business.” Peter Drucker

Statistically, large enterprise’s life span has significantly shortened from 75 years half century ago to only 15 years right now, innovation is the limelight at this dark tunnel. Social business by its “connect dots” nature inspires open & diversified leadership, facilitate collaboration via open platform, and manage innovation with discipline & flexibility, shape modern business culture such as learning, analytics, experimenting, customer-centric; and consciously grow the distinct business capability & capacity to compete for 21st century.  

5.   Unite Heart, Mind and Body of Talent   

 Talent is the most valuable asset in any organization, every executive may tell you so, however, two third of workforces are not satisfied with their work, the gap may cause by the traditional organizational structure, lack of two-way communication between top & down, the culture inertia, or the static & bureaucratic business process.

Social business built through the latest technologies such as social/mobile/cloud with the enterprise 2.0 tools and mechanism such as gamification/analytics and recent BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend will help unite the heart, the mind and the body of talent, now talent has better flexibility to work anywhere, anytime to access the right information and make better decision, work place is no longer just limited under the physical wall, talent will also have the multiple social channel to express opinion, share the thought leadership and think career beyond just a job.

6.   Unite Decision Making with Big Data Wisdom

Big Data is big by-product of social business, the data and information created from multi-channel conversations through customers, employees or smart devices need be transformed into insight or foresight, then such data-based wisdoms need be well integrated with decision making process, to develop the new products/service;  to optimize customer experience or improve internal working process.

7.   Unite People, Process and Technology

Beyond functional silos, the business may also have been divided into the thinking and process silo base on varies professional mindset & discipline, to cause problems such as miscommunication between IT and business due to they are speaking in the different professional language. And people are always the weakest link when executing the projects or optimize the process.  Now social business can be architected to develop more alternatives and people-centered processes, to expand the lens of multi-party point of view and to streamline end to end business process from outside-in, customer’s perspective.

If industrial age is about fragmentation, specialization and automation, then digital era is more about unification, customization and optimization. Yes, it’s time for business to unite 3P: purpose, principle and people; It’s time for business to achieve 3 values: economic value, societal value and people value; it’s time to unite talent’s 3 Degree: body, mind, and heart; and it’s time for business to unite 3 fundamentals: people, process and technology. These are the essential of social business.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Five Ponderings on Why IT Projects Fail

Stakeholder satisfaction, timely delivery and staying within budget top the list of measures that indicate a project’s success.

In the United States, we spend more than $250 billion each year on IT application development, statistically, 31% of projects will be canceled before they ever get completed., 53% of projects will cost twice as of their original estimates, overall, the success rate is less than 30%. Why did the project fail?  From symptoms to root causes -what are the major factors that cause software projects to fail? What are the key ingredients that can reduce project failure?

1.     IT Project Success Definition

Stakeholder satisfaction, timely delivery and staying within budget top the list of measures that indicate a project’s success, the other success factors such as quality, acceptable ROI, whether it achieves the result that are in line with strategic objectives.

2.     IT Project Failure Definition

  • The project impaired: The project is canceled at some point during the development cycle.
  • The project challenged: The project is completed and operational but over-budget, over the time estimate, and offers fewer features and functions than originally specified.
  • The project devalued:  IT projects are always done in the current environment and so the effect on users such as “push back” needs to be carefully considered,  the project is not defined  specifically, measurably, consistently and dynamically, to reflect the continuous change 

3.     Ten Root Causes of  IT Projects Fail

  • Business purpose of project is not well-defined and communicated.: Every IT project is the business project, clear-defined project purpose need well describe the business problems need be solved or the strategic vision need be implemented.
  • Business Plan is a lack of structure or detail, such as project management model, technical solution, resources, skills. Poor planning (not allocating time to design, testing and requirements gathering), do not capture the essential of the old adage “if you fail to plan you must plan to fail”. And you need to remember the 5 P's: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. 90% planning, 10% implementation.
  • Lack of executive support: compete for priorities across various stakeholders. The politics & power play in an organization has a lot to bring to the table in the success potential of a project, especially when it impacts multiple stakeholders high up in the organizational ladder, potentially competing with each other & having conflicting priorities for the project & overall running of the organization. "Probably 90% of application project failure is due to politics!"
  • Poor execution: the failures exist because there are humans in the process. And humans make mistakes, cut corners, and never have unlimited access to all the information they need at every step in the process to make a perfect decision, over promising and under delivering by the vendor, lack of quality project management  not follow the 3C Rules (communication, coordination & collaboration).
  • Over specification: trying to cover every minute detail in an initial release - almost always results in a system which very quickly becomes obsolete because operational processes will always change once a new system is introduced.
  • Failure to adopt and adhere to a suitable project methodology. Using waterfall in an organization where the business has an agile mentality leads to failure. Using Agile without a full sense of the overall plan/roadmap leads to failure. If you have a sound methodology, and it is actually followed, then it is much harder for a project to "fail". 
  • Poor change management that does not start when the project starts, every organizational chart has a 'shadow' of movement, opinion, and power underneath it, so does every project. That undercurrent must be managed with strong relationships that outlive any project and with a team culture that is unafraid of direct questions and healthy conflict. 
  • Business initiated projects run as an interesting technical challenge, Business initiated projects may have relatively simple and sensible scope but get over-engineered by an excessively risk-averse IT department, adding so much cost and complexity that the project exceeds the cost / benefit or technical viability hurdles. 

  • Governance was missing or was skipped; no significant Project Board was developed for the major development works. Projects that compete for resources should be assessed on the metrics of the business - they should be at least ROI but could include balanced scorecard metrics; or strategic input. The focus of many IT internal methodologies is the technical delivery of the software, not the delivery of a business solution that must require business participation. 
  • Miss the components of project management processes such as standardization and institutionalization of project management processes, integration with other corporate processes (e.g., procurement, strategic planning),  prioritization of projects and application of a standard project life cycle, utilization of project portfolio techniques, and continuous improvement.
 Both business and IT are to blame for project failure. Organizations do need to establish a project management framework with four core elements: processes, organizational structure, people, and systems. An effective project management methodology is required for managing scope, time, resources, change, risk, cost, issues, configuration, quality, and communication.

4.     Twenty Failure Symptoms

  • The project is a solution in search of a problem. 
  • The solution wasn't fit for purpose or projects not being scoped properly
  • Only the project team is interested in the end result. 
  • No one is in charge
  • The project plan lacks structure.
  • The project plan lacks detail. 
  • The unrealistic project plans
  • The project is under-budgeted. 
  • Insufficient non-financial resources are budgeted. 
  • The project is not tracked against the plan.
  •  The project team is not communicating
  • The project strays from its original goals
  • Incomplete Requirements
  • Lack of User Involvement
  • Lack of Resources
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Lack of Executive Support     
  • Changing Requirements & Specifications
  • Lack of IT Management
  • Technology Illiteracy  

  5. Ten Project Success Factors

  • User/customer Involvement
  • Executive Management Support
  • Clear Statement of Requirements
  • Clear Vision & Objectives
  • Proper Planning defines the project carefully.
  • Realistic Expectations
  • Smaller Project Milestones
  • Scoreboard Metrics, ROI
  • Ownership
  • Hard-Working, Focused Staff
 Top management need understand that project and portfolio management are key to drive many business initiatives such as strategic planning, investment priority, capital budgeting, new product development, organizational changes, M&A, etc, the businesses understand the vital importance of project management will outperform the competitors and reap the business benefits for the long term.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Plum Blossom Symbolize the Spirit of Spring Festival

Never be surprised Plum late, struggle to catch a glimpse of the snow.
If  New Year's day is the time to self-reflection and make resolution, then Lunar Near Year's day, or Spring Festival could be the time to refresh and re-imagine:

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, which is a legendary creature considered to be sublimely auspicious: a symbol of power, health and happiness. The dragon is often shown clutching a pearl -- a symbol of supernatural powers -- and accompanied by swirling thunder, lightning and rain. Balanced dragon-energy is free-spirited, creative, confident, passionate and courageous.   
Plum blossom, the flower symbol of Spring Festival, means the hope, the passion, the harmony, the prosperity and tranquility. Early plum, or winter sweeter, also called plum wax or wax flower, a bloom mostly at snow flying day, want to reward bloom until the snow coming.
There’re many classic poems to convey the plum as a token of friendship, uniqueness, to spend more without the attitude, full of snow spirit. “the Spray of Spring”.
EarlyPlum --Wang an shi
Corner a few sticks of plum, see the spirit of independence flowing, blossom to experience the cold alone. Remote is not snow, as the subtle fragrance to open the Spring.
Plum with Snow
Plum with a few early snows, painting the lone style is difficult. The aroma emanate with rhyme, make me feel no cold. Listen to flute with oblique look. Wind, such as interpreter and easy to move. 
Plum flower --Yu Xin Tang

 The twelfth lunar month and a half year has felt plum Lanna. Do not believe the show, and all to see snow. Moving ice hanging off the tree, branch high shot cold. If I had known but not seek, I really regret the feeling alone.
Seeking Plum Blossom in Snow Tang Xiao Gang
 Never be surprised Plum late, struggle to catch a glimpse of the snow. Visible under the low branches, height far difficult to understand. All shame unfortunately exposed, wrist, waist and lean phase to give way. Must also be cut mining, at the present to find the branches two or three.
 Painting a Plum -Li Fang Ying
 Plum this day is not there bud, rotating universe is a painter. Pen not the end of the Spring play, East West, painted flowers with spirit of freedom
Plum-loving hymn: Lin Jiangxian
Flower lover's hearts have been growing lazy, plum-loving still around the village. first Spring break scene coming . Much less to spend attitude, the whole spirit of snow. Left to the empty mountains with beauty, for the drainage of the sentence and fresh bamboo,  with river, hill, and clouds. Not recalled in the muddy drunk, return on the long-lasting evening.
Best wish for the year of 2012,  with the Spring Festival Couplets:
Everlasting peace year after year, a bountiful harvest this year to next!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Three Talent Debates: Tough Choice for the Future

"The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing with new eyes."
-Marcel Proust

The great recession we‘ve just been through, the over-complex business eco-system, the hyper-competitive global environment, and the accelerated economic changes make talent management more strategic imperative than ever at the digital era in the 21st century.

Character or skill, which one is more critical? Leaders, would you rather be liked or respected? What’s more important to a CIO, technical skill or business acumen? Hopefully, all these insightful and paradoxical debates at Linkedin forums with collective wisdom help spur the innovative thinking about future of talent management, groom more competent leaders with the great character,  the inter-disciplinary skills, the global cultural understanding and the long term vision.

A. Do you hire for character or skills?

"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."           -Lawrence Miller

1. What is a character? Character means many things, which is inbuilt, the innate self, the individual's intelligence, sharpness, and dynamism, it’s the combination of values, attitude and the integrity. The character is human's blueprint; also like the seed, with the uniqueness & color theme, the nurturing environment may help strengthen it further. Character, like yeast, can life up team spirit and shape up organization's strength.

2. Character vs. Skill:
  • A character is from the heart/spirit. a skill from the mind/ego:
  • Character is a life-long journey, skill is stage-lasting performance
  • Character is more for future, skill is about today
  • Character only has the sky limit; skill may touch the ceiling soon
  • Character means more about quality; skills means more about quantity
  • Many will succeed moment on what they Know. (Knowledge)
    Some will succeed temporarily on what they Do. (Skill)
    Few will succeed permanently on what they are. (Character)
3. Hiring principle:
  • Hire for character, train for skill;
  •  Hire people for their characters and spirit, that's where motivation, engagement and passion come from and they'll be way more successful in the end. The heart (character) comes first, the mind (skills) comes second.
  • The strong characters may develop the habits which would determine whether they could optimally use their skills in our environment
 Being a good judge of character...that's where the real skill gets tested, the value gets rooted, and the performance gets achieved.

 B. Leaders- would you rather be liked or respected? Which is more important to you?                                              

  • Respect based on being trustworthy and authentic: The liking has to be qualified and be able to garner respect, otherwise, a leader who just likes to be liked can be detrimental and indicative of someone trying to compensate for leadership and technical deficiencies.

  • No matter respect or likability should be based on the value: For the leaders, you may need to surround yourself with people who can complement your skills, with independent thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking capabilities, who may challenge your status quo at some point, it could mean the higher level of respect since the  like-minded leadership team will execute with blind spot. Same as likability, the people's communication or interaction need to enhance the value such as time/energy management or mutual trust, no need to give up the principle for likability.

  • Doing the right thing at the given circumstances will earn a leader respect. When a leader consistently takes the right decisions and is perceived to be fair over the longer term, she or he is also liked by the majority. Earning respect comes first, liking eventually follows

Overall, as a leader, being respected with fair value, make the right decision for the organization and majority of people, also live fulfilled life with the energy and balance.

C: What's more important to a CIO, technical skill or business acumen?

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The contemporary CIO perception well reflects the characteristics of senior leaders at 21st century:

1. The CIO is a hybrid and complex role: CIOs need to wear many possible hats. CIOs need to be the business strategist to achieve operation effectiveness and efficiency; CIOs need to be the technology visionary to embrace or “handshake” IT for potential revenue growth or new business model; CIOs need to be the customer champion to delight customer; CIOs need to be the talent maser to recognize the right talent for the right project.

2. CIOs need to be a successful communicator: They are able to show how IT changes will result in benefits to the organization, on one hand, CIOs need to communicate with executive peers in regard to strategy, IT vision, governance., etc via the business language to build customer relationship;  On the other hand, CIOs need to communicate with technical people without being out of touch and manage IT vendor relationship with comprehensive knowledge

3. CIOs truly need to be the whole brain thinker: CIOs need to be the inspiring leader first, as a chief innovation officer and chief influence officer, who need to make influence on the high-performance corporate culture; also as the chief integration officer to solve business problems such as business growth, cost optimization, talent management, governance; inspire innovation & analytics at  faster delivery with the right metrics.

 Business-savvy IT leaders and IT savvy business leaders working together will create synergy and energy to manage today’s digitized and global business more effectively.

Three Essentials we learn from Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”–"Strength to Love"     Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s Marin Luther King Jr.’s birthday again, it’s time to keep repeating his dream, and also our dream relentlessly,  King's main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States, which has enabled more Americans to reach their potential.

King spent his last birthday to fight for economic inequility, which is also the significant issue we are fighting today. In the last four decades, for many noble fighting Mr. King advocated,  there’s cheers and tears; there’s progress and backward, it’s the time to celebrate the greatest speech of the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech again,  dig it deeper and carry it on.

 There are three essentials we can learn from Dr. King:

1.     Character

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. “  Martin Luther King, Jr.

  What is character? Character means many things, which is inbuilt, the innate self, the individual's intelligence, sharpness and dynamism, it’s the combination of values, attitude and the integrity. The character is human's blueprint, also like the seed, with the uniqueness & color theme.

Can we shape the character? Well, our life environment may also influence or strengthen the character further, Mr. Kings’ personal experiences in some injustices at his early age may shape his character more radically, the great characters like the fire seeds, are ignited with passion, the universal human love and ultimate fairness & faithfulness.

2.   Creativity

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mr. King’s Creativity: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” , when Mr. King uttered the poetic verses, it’s not just rhetoric, it’s the spirit; it’s not just a speech, it’s the creativity, it’s not just the opinion, it’s the message about the harmony of the nature with the world.

Can creativity be taught? The creative person’s spirit and soul dance with passion and imagination, creativity is infused with an inner cohesion, and comes from a vision of uniqueness, creativity needs a problem, and creative person needs a purpose;  yes, creativity could be nurtured at certain degree by analyzing the thinking processes such as observing, associating, questioning and experimenting, creativity needs encouragement as food, and creativity excellence need be cultivated , however, Creativity has many dimensions, creativity is wings of our mind, you can put a kid to the college, you can’t teach her or him how to think, creativity is a motivation, the component of character.

3.  Wisdom

 “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter”     Martin Luther King, Jr.
  Dr. King dedicated his entire life to pursuit of happiness and the wisdom, it’s not his own happiness, it’s the maximized human happiness about the freedom, the equality and righteousness; it’s a wisdom to well blend his own self-reflection with biblical wisdom, it’s also the wisdom gained from his own life experience from world reality more than four decades ago, it’s the wisdom to shape the vision about our brighter future, it’s not the cleverness, it’s the sacrifice, it’s high as mountain and deep as valley, broad as sea and focus as sunshine.

Yes, we may repeat his speech for countless times, at the end of day, we need  to live at our own era, the more color-blinded age, the better age, the digital age, but we will not be satisfied until the world will be sparked with full spectrum of colors, the color of character, the color of creativity, the color of wisdom, what a great colorful world!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Seven Up Contemplations to Power Leadership

When the mind is thinking it is talking to itselfPlato

Today’s leadership is facing unprecedented challenges than ever, the marketing volatility is constant; the global competition is the new normal, the multi-generational, multicultural  workforce is phenomenal, the “command & control” style leadership is no longer effective and democratic enough to adapt to the change, engage employee and delight customers. The contemporary leadership need go beyond “M&M”: the half mind and half muscle status quo should embrace the “CHARM” principle: Character, Heart, Attitude, Resourceful, and Mind. Here are the seven contemplations help recharge leadership in the 21st century.

1. Positive thinking

The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.

Positive thinking & attitude can move the mountain! Both Eastern philosophy and Western religion tell you so. What is positive thinking? It’s idealistic realism, also the cautious optimism, it helps you conquer the current barriers in order to embrace the brighter future, it creates the energy and synergy in pursuit of the long-term vision and growth. Positive thinking is also about value thinking, business leaders with positive thinking will deliver both social value & shareholder value consciously.

2. Critical thinking

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinkingGeorge S. Patton

Critical thinking presents the character, it is to perceive unique point of view as the thought leader, expands the lens of collective leadership, to see the problems through different angles, and to ‘dispassionately” examine the alternative solutions.  Critical thinking is, even more, crucial at the era of information abundance, how to make the right decision at the right time is the collective intelligence; critical thinking is also about anti-popularity thinking, to challenge the conventional culture and wisdom, it’s the process from thinking to learning, learning is always the rebellion, overthrow the old model, and discover the new way to do the things.

3. Creative thinking

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit by the Imagination. ~Emily Dickinson               

Creativity is the ability to create novel value, creative mind is defined as originator; creative thinking needs a problem, and the creative leader needs a purpose. Contemporary leaders need master the creative thinking to not only find the self purpose, but also the purpose & vision of organization, to create innovative synergy by framing the dynamic working environment, to connect the dots across silos, to let idea flow, let talent grow, to solve business issue with creativity and agility, and to transform innovation into the business result. 

4. Analytic thinking

 The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. -Albert Einstein

If creative thinking is more from the heart, then analytic thinking are better from the mind. Right-brain creative leadership may instill the vision, passion, left-brain analytic thinking will search for patterns, the quantified information, and qualified data, it’s a fact-finding and the synthetic process to solve problems scientifically.
Leadership with analytic thinking will make decisions via data-driven analysis, the objective evaluations and comparisons, the progressive pursuit of structured process and solution.

5. Abstract thinking

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planningWinston Churchill

Leadership with abstract thinking has the capability to foresight the future of an organization, to zoom in the furthest things closer, it’s also the thinking process to shape the holistic view from silo functions, to abstract wisdom from information, to manage the detailed business issues from architectural, social, philosophical perspective. Be brief, be succinct, be essential!

6. Situational thinking

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.  ~Albert Einstein

At today’s hyper-competitive, over-complex business environment, the leaders may need to play many roles or wear varies of hats through different situations, leadership with situational thinking will help make the fair judgment or the right decision depend on the circumstance, to put it in more logical way, today’s leaders may need always see the both side of coin via multi-dimensional angles for either strategy making or business execution.

7. Collective thinking

I like to think of thoughts as living blossoms borne by the human tree.  ~James Douglas

Last but not least, collective thinking is unbeatable in the era of social computing, crowdsourcing is the attitude, the resource you shouldn’t miss, and the social business is all about the collective effort through the collective thinking to achieve collective performance and share the economic prosperity.

 With Seven Up contemplation,  leadership should go beyond the charisma, with the essential and blended styles such as transformation, democracy & distinction.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten Disciplines to Measure IT Performance

“You can only manage what you measure.”    - Peter Drucker

In today’s rapidly changing environment, information & technology becomes a more invaluable asset for business to survive and thrive, on the other hand, many IT organizations are struggling with the image as a cost center,  intend to improve reputation as an innovation engine and value center through high IT performance. When you think of "IT performance," what comes to mind? Operational excellence such as customer satisfaction, IT effectiveness or efficiency, or strategic value such as competitive advantage, leadership edge, cultural agility. How to measure IT performance more effectively may base on the audience, the nature and size of your business, here are some new year resolutions and general evaluation and principles.

IT Mantra: Running IT as Business; Doing More with Less

IT Performance Motto: Measure what Matters.

IT Performance Principle: SMART which stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound.

IT Performance Disciplines: IT Operational Excellence, IT Strategic Value

1. Reliability & Security - infrastructure running 24/7

Keep the business lights on with reliability and security, which is still the fundamental of IT operation, availability is a reasonable measure of infrastructure performance, IT scoreboard need measure internal customer satisfaction, the IT operational excellence needs to leverage the business growth, the goal is to satisfy customers with low cost.

2. IT Capacity & Capability

IT needs to expand the capacity and capability by improving operation efficiency & effectiveness with the KPIs to resolve incidents and problems, increase in the number of problems successfully resolved and an increase in # of development projects handled without increased staff. IT scalability and change capability will directly impact business growth. 

3. Customer/Vendor Relationship Management

IT must contribute or facilitate and accelerate organizational performance. and IT needs to perform from a customer perspective. The efficiency and effectiveness of the end user are crucial in this. How IT manages customer and vendor relationship has become the key to delivering the right solution at the right time, it includes the enhanced communication with business customers, iterative interaction with end users, and strategic relationship with vendors. The set of questions or measurement such as:
-Does IT create a revenue opportunity?
-Does IT create competitive advantage?
-Does IT solve a business need?
-Is IT priority and business priority consistent?

4.  IT Fiscal Health

IT mantra "run IT like a business” means to manage IT with financial transparency, governance, cost management, and business agility. IT has to deliver the projects that provide the business an edge in the marketplace with minimum cost and on time. IT also needs to be innovative and provide business solutions that have a direct impact on the bottom line. The IT Fiscal health dashboard may include such as Balanced Budget, Variance, Chargeback., etc.

 5. IT Application Portfolio Management

It’s important for IT to deliver the project on time and budget, but more critically on quality or value, the business value of IT project is a priority for any forward-look organization now.

There are no IT projects, only business projects, IT application portfolio management needs to reflect the business priority, also through the most effective methodology such as AGILE via iterative interaction and continuous communication. Before a project begins, create a common dashboard that will display the metrics both business and IT teams will use to measure progress against milestones and deliverables.

6. Innovation Capability with Revenue Generating Initiative

The innovation capability will enable IT as a strategic asset and value center, the most sophisticated questions or measures need to be initialized:
 -What efficiency and revenue generation opportunities are supported/delivered by IT?
 -How does IT impact customer retention?
-How can IT have a "P&L" even if it’s only for communication purposes?
-How can IT impact business metrics like RONA., depend on the nature of business

  7. Talent Competency

Talent is still the most competitive asset in any business, the total quantity, and depth of competency of all are your people. The more people you have with useful skills, the better your IT Performance. The leverage point is also to embrace the latest technology and methodology trend, the right measurements help to improve talent competency and increase IT performance without increasing the numbers of IT resources beyond the budget.

8. Optimize business processes

The philosophy of running IT as the business also means to expand IT lens for process driven, IT is just in such a unique position with helicopter view of business processes, since information and data are permeating into every corner of business, IT performance may also depend on the value created  by optimizing processes, break down the silo, and improve customer experience by instilling the process thinking, via taking advantage of the latest technology trend such as cloud/social/mobile/analytics., etc.

9.  IT Agility

IT agility is the IT ability to serve business needs quickly, the decision points include such as Build vs. Purchase; On-premise vs. Cloud; Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud,  it may also help determine the 80/20 rule: Does 80% of your IT resources spend on maintenance or innovation & growth. The KPIs may include such as:
- time to access: timeliness to access updated information
- time to value/market: how much time before value realization
- time to change: how much time does it take to change to happen
- time to recover: how much time to resume normal operation
- time to compliance: how much time required to achieve compliance
- time to detect: how much time before detection of risk
- time to resolve: how much time before awareness turns into resolution

IT agility also directly decides IT maturity, from the lower level of business & IT alignment into high-level growth engine and a game changer which are the goal for high performance IT.

10. IT Sustainability

Sustainability is no longer just corporate social responsibility anymore, IT as the biggest energy consumer in the enterprise, now has the opportunity to make green as the new gold, IT performance may also need to include the capability for IT to achieve high energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprint by taking advantage of cloud and virtualization technology.

In summary,  IT has the power to affect not only break-fix day-to-day technical operations but also directly impact the bottom line of business activities & efficiency and the top line of business growth and competitive edge. The characteristics of good measurement are consistent and calibrated (will you get the same responses each time you undertake the measurement),  validity (does it measure what you want it to) and the purpose--measurement should involve an appreciation of what good (and bad) looks like, as well as a clear understanding of what actions you will take in each situation.

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks the real advance in science."   — Albert Einstein

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year Reflection: Who AreYou, Really?

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Lao Tzu

New year day is every human’s birthday, it’s also the time for self-reflection: who are you really? Are you getting wiser since you are getting older? Are you getting happier if you are getting wiser? Are you getting healthier if you are getting happier? Are you getting more fulfilled since you are happier?

At the emerging era of information abundance, no matter you are individual or business, you may also need explore the blueprint at the open space of data constellation or the deep sea of digitization: Who are you really?

1.    You are What They Read

Besides your physical identity: the gender, the race, the age, or the social identity: a parent or a child, a professional or a retiree, if you can ever trace back to the nature: who are you really? Are you the flowing cloud or the running river, the hidden hill or the crouching valley, the growing tree or the blossom flower? Who are you really?

 (1) Social Ladder vs. Social Flywheel

  • For individuals: at the age of digitization,  you may climb the other ladder: the social ladder: you start to share the content, then may criticize or comment it, after that, you climb to the higher level to create or co-create the content by writing  blogs or producing a website, compared to traditional career ladder with ceilings or bias, the social ladder could be more open, transparent and fluid, you are what they read, and you are what you are pursuing and what your are creating!

  • For Businesses:  your social footprint becomes your social flywheel: you are not just the purple cow to serve your own stakeholders, you are also the voice to delight your customer, the super-linear entity to support your community and society, you could turn the social flywheel via collective wisdom, create social momentum by building the brand and the reputation, you are what we read!

(2) Compete for Uniqueness

  • For Individuals: you digital blueprint may reflect your purpose, your vision, your uniqueness and your six sense: Who are you really? At era of social computing, each one of us can become the leader at the favorite domain: the thought leader, the domain expert, the talent master, or the culture evangelist,  you can grow and flow both horizontally and vertically, you don’t compete for the best for anything, you may just need discover your true authentication, and you are competing for uniqueness.

  • For Businesses: your uniqueness is not just your size or your specialization, it’s more about your culture and your social value, your entity is no longer the hierarchy of products or staff, it’s more about the network of relationship and capability, and your uniqueness is about your diversified leadership, the dynamic workforce and he distinctive capability.

2.    The Power of Convergence

We’ve also been living in the time with the power of convergence: the convergence of real word and virtual space; the convergence of  machine thinking with human mind; the convergence of enterprise technology with consumerization of IT, and the convergence of world with full spectrum of color: who are you, really, at such a wonderful hybrid world:  

(1) Power of Positive Thinking

  • For individuals: positive thinking can move the mountain, it will decide your attitude and maybe also your destiny: “Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” -Og Mandino   

  • For Businesses: at this hyper-complex world, are you part of problems or the solutions?  positive thinking can change the world . the business’s positive thinking may shape your talent strategy: The world is not lack of ambitious talent, it’s the lack of  insightful eyes that recognize them; or the systematic process to cultivate them.

(2) Power of Pull

  • For individuals: the power of push may come from our heart or our head, the power of pull at age of digitization may help us bridge the weakest link: to access the right people and resource at the right time, it also the ability to pull from within ourselves the wisdom and the motivation required to more proactively achieve our potentials;

  • For Businesses: the power of push is the traditional sales channel to push your products and service to your customers or partners, the power of pull at social business will attract the customers’ participation or employees’ engagement and form the virtuous cycle  to amplify customers’ voice or employees’ feedback, to predict the trend and optimize your business.

Individual or business, what’s your self-reflection at 2012, before you embrace your new year resolution?