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, May 28, 2012

Leadership Like Bridge: To Celebrate Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday at Memorial Day Weekend

A great city with water barriers and no bridges is like a skyscraper with no elevators. Bridges are a monument to progress.” – Strauss by Joseph P

Memorial Day reminds us of veteran’s leadership lessons: the courage, the sacrifice, the commitment and the disciplines., etc. We also celebrate Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday on Sun., what can we learn from this man-made miracle, the most beautiful bridge in the world?

1. Leadership Build Up Like Bridge Construction, is a Purposeful Journey

The construction of what was to become the world's largest suspension bridge was a colossal task. At the time many people did not believe it was technically possible to span the Golden Gate.

But despite the disbelief, sneering and the Great Depression, Joseph Strauss was able to find support and financial back for the project, It took thousands of workers, four years and 35 million dollars to complete the structure. On May 27, 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was inaugurated by 18.000 people who walked across the bridge.

Same as leadership build up, need  purpose, courage, character and determination to break down barriers and avoid pitfalls. What is authentic leadership: the real leadership is about bridging the cultural, cognizant and conceptual gap, not setting boundaries, and strengthen the weakest link in the leadership chains; The future of leader'ship' lies in the ability to not only navigate new waters, but also to create those waters in which the ship will be lead.      


2. Leadership like Golden Gate Bridge, the essential, the style and the color

Golden Gate Bridge average traffic crossings are about 41 million per year, it becomes significant transportation channel in San Francisco bay, The bridge is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists as well as cars, The Golden Gate Bridge has always been painted orange vermilion, deemed "International Orange”, the distinctive orange color was selected because it blends well with the span's natural setting as it is a warm color consistent with the warm colors of the land masses in the setting as distinct from the cool colors of the sky and sea. It also provides enhanced visibility for passing ships. Besides it’s functionality, Golden Gate Bridge is also a stylish world famous landmark and bright symbol of city

Same as real leadership, the main functions may include: improve business efficiency via working inside the system; and influence on effectiveness via working on the system to shape the environment at multi-dimensional way, leadership landmark is its influence, full of color, brighten the human society.
Courage is valuable in position of the leader. You can win only if you don’t think in traditional way and don’t over-trust existing systems and question structures and yourself. Your thoughts, education and experience might be not valid tomorrow, because things are changing.

3.The Mighty Task is Done, but Leadership job is never Done


When the Golden Gate Bridge construction was completed, the chief designer Strass wrote the poem:
the Mighty Task is Done in May, 1937

“….An honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.”
The same inspiration is for true leadership, however, the leadership journey maybe never done, courage is valuable in position of the leader. The leadership need awareness, trust, choice and focus, the future of leadership like bridge, need observing, encouraging, supporting, recognizing and rewarding, with influence essential to embrace the true color.

Seven Deadly Sins of “Culture So Yesterday”

Culture is a habit. Habits can be changed with understanding and strong will.

Every organization has its unique style of working which often contributes to its culture. Culture is a blend of core values, belief, myth (how people think and do things) that translates to the overall success of any company. it becomes the most invisible, but powerful fabric surrounding in modern business (micro-culture) and society (macro-culture) today, as the old saying: “culture eats strategy for breakfast” or “culture eats process for lunch”, more critically, culture now becomes key factors for talent to decide their next career journey, as culture likes water, can lift or sink the ship, or push it towards the right direction.
A healthy culture will always encourage an employee to stay motivated otherwise lead you to quit. Usually organization has mix bag of cultural ingredients,  if it turns to be too toxic or salty, then business will tarnish its brand, and alienate its employees and customers. Here are seven deadly sins of “Culture So Yesterday”:

1.   Homogenous Leadership Team

Culture is set "intentionally" or "unintentionally," and  is (always) "set from the TOP." To quote Drucker: “The spirit of the organization comes from the top.” The homogenous leadership team is uninspiring for the diversified, multi-generational workforce today, it will also leave the blind spot in strategy crafting and culture inertia for business transformation.  

The numbers speak for themselves ---- Gallup reports only 17% of employees are engaged. A well-defined culture can 'make' an organization thrive, however, it takes leadership who "walk the talk." Those who don't, destroy their own credibility as well as their organization!

2.   Bureaucratic Business Process

The bureaucratic business culture and process are not agile to adapt to the expedited change facing business today, over-trust the process, not people, and excessive bureaucracy impedes quick, hypothesis-driven decision-making, also stifles innovation and business progression. Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, "adhocracy" replaces bureaucratic.  In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, a new era of information sharing replaces hierarchy.

3.   Negative Office Politics

Then there’s mini-culture or sub-culture within cultures unknown to the chiefs, which is called office politics that can lie, cheat, and steal, even beat up / kill outsiders, even consort to take down other tribal members. Culture is indeed important. Most of us may not like to be too deep in the office politics on which your performance evaluation is based on, or being in an office where the relationships have gradually been damaged by the inefficient management decisions. 

4.   Toxic Macro-Culture Embedded in Business Culture

Culture is a habit. Habits can be changed with understanding and strong will. Every race, country, religion, and each region has different habits. Some cultures may still inherit the primitive old habit back in agricultural or earlier industrial age, they do not fit in the dynamic and contemporary theme needed to advance human society.

As the world is becoming a single village due to globalization, we need to check our culture, retain the good in it and adapt the one that's better. It's the same for business organizations. The better culture means winning organization. The toxic macro-culture may infect business culture, on the contrary, the progressive business culture will influence macro-culture positively and push human society forward.

5.   Culture of Silo Thinking

Silos develop as organizations grow. From executives to middle managers and employees, silo thinking may hurt organization as a whole, functions compete with each other for limited resources, such silo thinking is political at the extreme, the leaders of business divisions are playing for their own teams rather than for the whole business’s benefit, make it challenging to orchestrate business effectively and efficiently.

Moreover, those who have the ability to attract capital may think themselves or their functions superior, with ignorance of the possible reduction in resources to their division benefits the company as a whole, or without considering the criticality of collective team leadership and holistic business perspective.

6.   Culture of Distrust

When a company hires a new professional, it is hiring not only for their experience, skills, talent, knowledge and professional skills, also for connecting talent with the philosophy and business culture of the organization. There is thus a mutual trust, win-win & enrichment between the two parties.

The culture of distrust breaks such links makes win-lose or lose-lose for company and employees. Old-school companies and leaders may think trust is embodied in a paycheck, but it’s not. Trust is earned, like respect. Workers who trust management will also trust the brand. If the individuals don’t think their value congruence with business mission or vision, they may not trust their managers for performance review or feedback; On the other side, managers may micro-manage their employees due to distrust, which may cause stress, tension, fear between management and employees, reduce productivity and staff engagement.  

7.   Folly Stretch Goal without Value & Purpose

Be definition, a stretch goal is a goal "That cannot be achieved by incremental or small improvements but require extending oneself to the limit to be actualized”.  Expressed in the saying, "You cannot cross a chasm in two steps.”, it may have good intention to unleash human potential; However, the folly stretch goal may turn to be  “destructive financial goal pursuit”, that leads to de-motivating / unethical behavior and/or excessive risk taking.

It’s not the goal, but vision energizes people. the stretch goal should not just be the 'crunching finance data", but also need have a vivid picture, embedded with business's value and culture, to energize individual, it also needs to adjust to the very nature of talent. Albert Einstein once said that you "can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree" and he was right. Make the goals attainable/reasonable and the outcomes are positive for all, and the next generation of performance management should include both culture and number.

Every organization will need periodically review their culture, to pay more attention to the toxicity rate of their culture, as the higher the rate, the shorter their business’s life span.

Also, the talent need be culture agile: Culture is a friend, culture is an enemy. today it's a buddy, tomorrow it's a foe. Understanding the culture of an organization is to know where should we compromise & where should we put our foot down? Change or you will be changed. Each one of us is part of culture, we also need to become the change we’d like to see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CIO’s Next Practice: De-Learning, Re-Learning & Learning Agility

A programmable mind embraces mental agility, to practice “delearning” and “re-learning” all the time.

blue dragonflyTechnology becomes pervasive in modern enterprise today, CIO plays one of the significant business roles; on the other side, the rapidly change business climate also makes CIO feels like to live in the tropical jungle, facing many attacks, in the danger of getting dismissed as techies without business savvy by their executive peers, or getting lagged behind  if becoming too far removed from recent technology trends, some CIOs may also have victim mentality to be a second class executive without seat at big table.

How should CIO survive and thrive in such a dynamic environment? Besides practicing the three principles discussed earlier, the next practice for CIO could be to cultivate learning agility. Learning agility has been defined via one of Korn/Ferry’s white papers as the willingness and ability to learn and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. Leaders who are learning agile continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect, and get jobs done resourcefully. They see unique patterns and make fresh connections that others overlook.

1. Mental Agility

--the ability to examine problems in unique and unusual ways. 

To embrace mental agility, CIOs need to become critical and creative thinker at the same time, to practice “delearning’ and “re-learning,” CIOs with diversified experiences such as cross-functional, cross-industrial and cross-cultural background may also help them connect dots to approach problems with fresh thinking and unique ways.

The bias of thinking CIOs as infrastructure/utility manager only or the high rate of IT project failure rate should make every CIO, young or old to shape the new box of thinking and mental agility, ponder further about  future of IT and CIO as a leadership role to make influences.

2. Self-Awareness/Reflection

--extent to which an individual knows his or her true strengths and weaknesses

Through self-reflection, CIO may understand self-best: are you a strategist or techie; are you analytic expert or synthetic thinker; are you visionary or solutionary., etc. at most of the circumstances, CIO may need to wear a couple of hats, take different actions at varies situations. CIO needs to be a big picture thinker, but also needs to master some details in which business can take unique advantage to compete for the long term. Such as, that CIOs are well aware of new market trends & technological advancements, and constantly be on the lookout for how these can be leveraged effectively to achieve improvements for the organization- cost efficiency,  end-user satisfaction/flexibility, security, and governance.

3. People Agility

-- skilled communicator who can work with diverse types of people

Communication is one of the critical factors to decide CIOs’ effectiveness, As they need to master all styles of conversations to develop situational wisdom and influential competency, to rebuild IT’s reputation as a value creator and innovation hub.

The bad communication syndrome includes such as: getting lost in business-IT translation or getting distracted in technical details, the wrong context & KPIs for a different audience, or lack of business focus., etc. Best communicator CIOs need to know how to present strategically at round table and how to make value debate with business customers; to drive IT staff’s progress via effective conversation of understanding IT project complexity, also have a touchy-feely talk with knowing end customers’ concerns.

4. Change Agility

-- The mind with learning agility likes to experiment and comfortable with change.

Today’s business leaders need to get a new set of skills such as leadership, critical thinking, creativity, ethics, global perspective, and cultural awareness. What other skills are demanded by twenty-first-century business realities? From a couple of academic and consulting surveys, “The key skills include innovating, dealing with situations that you have not dealt with before, possessing the confidence and the experience to be entrepreneurial. You have to be able to deal with other cultures and situations you’re not familiar with. So, all of these types of soft skills are going to be as important as the technical skills that traditionally thought sufficient.

By very nature of information technology, change is the only constant, the CIOs with learning agility can move out of their comfort zone, take risks, learn from mistakes, and create the environment for innovation and creativity, reward risks, invest in new revenue generating initiatives. They will be walking the talk- showing the team in a very personal manner that it is imperative to cultivate the culture of learning stay on top of technology advancements. It means the successful leaders continually learned, bent, and flexed as their work climate changed. In other words, they were learning agile.

5. Result Agility
     --delivers results in challenging first-time situations

Most of IT organizations today still stick to level two or three of maturity for business/IT alignment, muddled in the middle. Through practicing learning agility, CIOs need to learn both from their own experience and from success stories or failure case studies cross-disciplines  and apply those lessons to succeed in new situations, in order to improve IT project success rate and IT performance maturity level.

The IT management results may also need to be presented via balanced scoreboard to leverage business agility objectively, both judge the result from short-term gain and long-term growth perspective.

At the age of digitization, experiment on innovation, delivering a result at the first-time situation will be more frequent than ever, CIO with learning agility can continue adopting agile methodology and run IT more effectively. Learning agility is even more critical for the executives at larger enterprises such as Fortune 500, as they are the one anchoring big ship towards the right direction timely, make an influence on macroeconomic climate, exemplify the positive culture for our society.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BPM ‘s Mighty Waters

Companies are using Business Process Management to support new ways of interacting with customers
BPM walk through the rocky road, and start climbing the value trails, through recent surveys, that BPM is increasingly becoming a part of mainstream management thinking, though only 16% of respondents believe that their organization’s processes are currently at the “optimized” level knowledge and practical experience of the topic, 82% believe as more executives know about BPM –to manage the knowing from flowing,  the more C-level executives may enjoy the BPM’s mighty waters, especially a few live streams merged in recently.
1. Social BPM

Social business is the transformation many organizations blueprint now, beyond social platform, in essence, social enterprise means the new mindset, the culture of learning & sharing, the more creative way to do business in order to adapt to the new generation of customers, always-on, hyper-connected, hybrid operational environment and extended enterprise boundary.

BPM is moving into an unstructured, more collaborative age. Rules management will be the way to stay properly governed, visible, and compliant, while dynamically keeping business processes on track with changing and complex, to reach desired goals and KPIs.
Social business processes can be categorized into:
·        Social co-creation via collaborative projects
·        Social profile management via user participation
·        Social publishing for content sharing and aggregation
·        Social feedback via engaging customers to improve customer service.

Social BPM also means to converge BPM with CRM, BI, MDM and other cutting-edge technologies in order to optimize processes and cultivate competitive business capabilities, to go beyond inside-out business process, to delight customer via outside-in viewpoint. Companies are using Business Process Management to support new ways of interacting with customers

Though social BPM is not fully mature yet, the business need ride the wave, to re-tool the key business process via social angles and embrace change management via social collaboration.

2. Gamification Embedded into BPM

Gamification is a way of using game mechanics (challenges, recognition and rewards) to improve a business process, with the goal of fulfilling business objectives.  Organizations can use gamification to motivate behaviors that elevate business performance.

Gamification can also help business understand key processes, then how to improve and optimize them to encourage positive behaviors and improve staff satisfaction. As BPM is no long just process automation in which everything is mapped in a step-by-step process flow; through gamification, BPM will help diagnose flaws in process design, also identify the key steps to success, then become integral part of process design for business,  to achieve high-performance result. Such as: the learning management approach speeds domain mastery, or the service excellence via incentives and leader boards

 3. BPM Meets BI

The other trend is about aligning Business Process Management and Business Intelligence to achieve business process excellence. The traditional BPM may have the limit to see the context of processes. By integrating BI and BPM, the closed loop performance management can be achieved, where the metrics compared with goals, and KPIs fed back to improve processes and decisions.
  • Optimize decision making process via integrating BPM & BI, takes business insight to drive decision process;
  • Closed Loop Performance Management by combining BI with rule management associated with BPM to monitor process from outside-in perspective.
  • Business agility is enabled via process and data linked dynamically, fueled by master data and ruled by data governance and principles.
The more agile and intelligent process via social BPM, mobile BPM or BPM in the Cloud,  will improve cost efficiency, business agility,  governance, compliance with regulations, customer centricity, innovation-driven and improve staff satisfaction
In last two decade, BPM has its roots in industrial management practices such as TQM, BPR, BPI, at the age of digitization, BPM may become the mighty waters for more business to dive in, to nourish the new fruit via innovation.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three Perceptions of Global Diversity Ranking Report

Recently released Globaldiversity ranking report, commissioned by Forbes Insights and conducted by Oxford Economic, based on a weighted composite index to compare and benchmark employee diversity across countries, industries and occupations.

The index is comprehensive and takes into account many different types of diversity. Three separate indexes compose the composite index: a country index based on 50 nations, both developed and developing; an industry index based on 14 industrial sectors; and an occupation index based on the nine core occupation categories used in ISCO (International Standard Classification of Occupations). This report provides a statistical look at worldwide workforce diversity data. The perceptions may include:

  1. The Progress of Global Human Society

·         Workforce Diversity Drive Culture Evolution: The culture worldwide varies, some traditional cultures may become the main obstacle for workforce diversity and societal progress. However, the industry leaders in the report take initiative to proactively support diversity, as they believe diversity will enable innovation and innovation is the power of business growth, the business development will further help make societal progress and economical improvement.

·         Female Workforce Drive Economy Growth: It’s worth noting that greater economic equality between men and women has been shown to reduce poverty rates, boost GDP and lead to better governance. In order to improve female participation rates, governments can adopt a number of proven approaches such as flex-time  initiatives, free or subsidized childcare, and tax breaks for married couples when both partners work.

2. The Power of Leadership Diversity

·         Breaking  Through Glass Ceiling: The proportion of women who have climbed the corporate ladder and made it to board-of-director status varies greatly among countries. The nations with the highest percentage of female board members are Norway (36%), the Philippines (23%), Sweden (23%). It’s not surprising that Norway is at the top of the list, since it was the first country to mandate a quota system for board participation in publicly listed companies

·         Businesses led by Female Leaders Outperform Market: Studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between women in leadership positions and a company’s financial performance. For example, in the Forbes 2010 “World’s 100  Most Powerful women” issue, a study of the stock performance of the 26 publicly traded companies run by women on the list discovered that, as a group, they outperformed the market, where most companies were run by male CEOs. On average, the 26 companies beat the market by 28% and their respective industries by 15%.

3     The Pipeline of Talent with Multi-dimensional Diversity

·         Build a Global Power House of Multi-culture Talent: The multi-dimensional diversity includes gender, age, ethnicity, disability, country of birth, skills and education, number of hours worked, language, and sectoral and geographical distribution, The vision of the diversity program was to be a truly diversified firm in terms of race, gender and organizational culture and to promote the principle of strength through diversity

·         Worldwide Point of View: Diversity program success has come from increasing understanding of the diverse characteristics of the workforce, and the use of a variety of approaches across as many aspects of diversity as possible. The biggest challenge could be to pick the best of the best.

Diversity Is Integral to Growth, the report concluded: A diverse workforce is critical to reflecting a global society and companies’ customer base. It allows executives to understand  their clients’ needs better and communicate more effectively. Additionally, diversity drives innovation and fosters competitiveness.

 In summary:: Diversity reflects human’s progress to make difference and gain wisdom via professional growth, to retool the modern culture via business influence and digital footprint.

EA & BA: A Tale of Two Roles

"In order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."  -David Ben-Gurion

Est century: enterprise visionary and business solutionary. The diverse understanding of the two roles may also depend on the maturity of EA, the maturity of IT and overall maturity of enterprise, Here are five key differences between the two roles:
A-Enterprise Architect and BA-Business Analyst are two interesting business roles that cause a lot of debate, it may indicate both roles are crucial at the hyper-complex enterprise today, also reflect two talent trends in 21

Breadth & DepthEA may focus on enterprise-level scope, while BA might need to dig into a specific project, though it may not say breadth is always superior to depth. The BA works at a fine level of detail to fully understand the current situation and/or problem to be solved. The EA works at a coarse-grained level of detail, a synthesis (summarization and/or abstraction) of all projects and/or business areas that are, a portfolio view of business areas. 

Synthesis vs. Analysis: Enterprise Architect is a "synthesis" role - key words are holism, visioning, aggregation, while Business Analyst is “analysis” role-key word are artifact, insight, segregation. EA’s main focus is on understanding the links between the parts, as EA needs to synthesize the holistic business view to ensure enterprise as a whole more effective and efficient than the sum of parts; while BA needs to analyze and solve the specific business problem via gathering inter-related data & fact. Both EA and BA could be process-driven, EA with the synthetic mind, helps to blueprint the future of business; Business Analyst with analytic mind help breakdown the problems, they may have complementary skills to solve complex issues

Insight vs. Foresight, Reality vs. Future: EA needs not only to walk through today’s enterprise, more importantly, but it also helps to perceive the future state of the business; while BA needs to focus on reality,  untangle current business puzzles. Business Architecture and Business Analysis are linked to each other in a closed reinforcing loop (analysis provides "insight" to synthesis, while synthesis provides "foresight" to analysis) - each feeding on to the other for a better outcome (which is understanding and management of business complexity).

Accuracy vs. Betterment: Two roles may focus on different business objectives: The BA works towards the accuracy of the representations (e.g., artifacts, models, etc.) of the current state of their projects and/or business areas for localized decision making. The EA works towards enterprise “betterment” (which is dependent upon the enterprise business strategy & future state of business) which leads to decisions that affect multiple projects and/or business areas that embrace collaboration, consolidation, and reuse. 

“Dispassionately” breakdown vs. “Passionately” blueprint: From innovation perspective: business analyst needs to "dispassionately" examine the alternative, also need such curiosity and creativity to open the new box of mindset in order to solve the old problems; for EA, to blueprint the future of business is not just knowledge & skills, but also passion, vision, and imagination. No doubt, the organization needs both types of talents: EA as enterprise visionary,  and BA, as business solutionary. If the talent is good at both disciplines, which is even more valuable, and at least, two types of talent need to work more closely either via the physical team or virtual group to solve complex, cross-disciplinary issues and shape an optimal enterprise. By working together, they can achieve first-rate intelligence:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five “C” Words at C-Suite

Either culture change or business transformation, change is the only constant today.

Modern business executives may inundate with numerous meetings, sometimes they get over-optimistic about blue sky strategy, or get lost in business details, or get limited by their official title,  what does big table conference need focus on, which roles C-Level should play: movers & shakers, innovators or thought leaders?

1. Customer:  the “Center” of strategic conversation

  •  Customer Insight & Foresight: How does executive team make effective decisions to delight current customers and enchant potential customers.
  •  Blue Ocean Strategy: “In Blue Oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for both growth and profit.” The customer-centric strategy is also about how to make fresh choices to explore the blue ocean. 

2. Culture: The Spirit of the Organization is from Top

  •  Toxic Culture sinks the ship: culture is about how people think and do things in the organization, the toxic culture includes such as uninspiring homogeneous leadership, destructive office politics, bureaucracy, or myopic goal setting., etc.
  • “Culture” is Big Talk: Building a performance culture starts with management of organizational change, something that is rarely successful when driven from the bottom up. Organizational culture need be first shaped at C-suite, and executives need become culture masters first.

3. Capabilities: 21st Century Business Capabilities

 If the customer is the center of business strategy, the big “WHY”, and culture is “HOW” to do things,  and then, capability is about “WHAT” that enables us to execute the strategy. The strategy conversation need also focus on how to cultivate 21st century’s business capabilities:

  • Leaning Capability:  it's about Knowledge Management Capability, Human Mindset Capability and Organizational Intelligence.
  • Change Capability: it's Change Management Capability, such as agility, elasticity to adapt to the future;
  • Innovation Capability: Core Competency, Business value system,  information flowing capability., etc.
  • Process Optimization Capabilities: How to keep business lean, reduce inefficiency & complexity --the process, cost structure., etc
  • Governance CapabilitiesGRC-Governance, Risk Management, Compliance

4. Change: The leaders need to be change agents first

 Either culture change or business transformation, change is the only constant today. The inspiring & authentic leaders need become change agents themselves,  to encourage critical thinking and creative thinking and to adapt to the changes. Therefore, Change need be the always on the topic at C-Suite, not for change’s sake, but for achieving long-term business goal and purpose.

  • Continuous Improvement: the well-defined KPI Scoreboard helps leadership team to measure business improvement scientifically.

  • Business Transformation: Only high-performance leadership team with cognitive capability and diversified viewpoint can help transform the business into the right direction and avoid blind spot.

5. Cloud: Not just technology terminology, but also the new mindset & model to run business

Cloud is not only about future of IT but also about how to run an “always-on” business without border and how to satisfy the customers at the hybrid business environment. It might be another interesting talk at C-Suite.

  • New business delivery model: Businesses see the cloud model as a good response to business and market demand.
  • New mindset: Despite potential savings in infrastructure, costs and improved business flexibility on the cloud, the new mindset is needed to leverage security, governance and risk management.

 Bonus Word: Concentration.

Strategy need focus & priority, C-Suite just needsd to walk the talk, to execute it solidly via practicing above five “C”s, to become the Change Agent and achieve high-performance business result.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Five Myths of Business Architecture –Blue Print or Stove Pipe

As an emerging domain, enterprise architecture plays a significant role to help shape contemporary enterprise, as today’s businesses become over-complex, hyper-connect, and always on. However, the high percentage of EA project failure rate is a good cause to revisit its fundamentals, refresh its knowledge, debunk its myths, and make continuous improvement. BA as part of EA via Wikipedia definition also has the same mystery: attractive to become an effective tool but puzzled with diverse understanding.

1.   Definition of EA & BA

 From Wikipedia:
Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles, and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.

Business architecture is a part of an enterprise architecture related to corporate business, and the documents and diagrams that describe the architectural structure of the business.

Object Management Group'sBusiness Architecture Working Group as follows:
"A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands." 

The myths are:
1) Is.BA is a PowerPoint presentation or a Business Solution?

2) Is EA = BA+ EITA?  If we translate this formula as Enterprise Architecture is a synthesis of the Enterprise Business Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture disciplines.

2. Purpose of BA

The business architecture equivalent takes a look at balancing the business priorities and forcing conversations that are otherwise difficult to have. The real value of business architecture is keeping the priorities in balance and that is within the office of executives.

a) Business planning to bridge business strategy & execution
b) A business communication tool to keep the leadership team on the same page, and stay focus on key priority.
c) Business improvement initiatives of sufficient significance to warrant Board attention
d) Risk/governance management
e) Board performance

EA is to ensure the enterprise as a whole is more effective than the sum of parts via better designing and envisioning.

1) Is BA an effective communication tool at C-level, to keep all executives on the same page by walking through discussions about strategy planning, governance, transformation, etc.

2) How to make the full architecture framework, documents, and charts simple, but not simpler? Highlighting the CHANGES, with standardization, coherence, and visualization.

3. The Main Components of BA

BA’s components and views may include: A Process View, A Business Strategy View, An Organizational Structure View, An Organizational Governance view, A Business Capabilities View, A Business Value Stream view, A Business Value Chain/System View, a Business Operating Model view, and other views."

The lack of proper focus on BA is one of the biggest reasons why we have had mixed results (mostly failure) on EA

The key point: Keep Focus and ‘critical success factors’ 

1) Why is there a need to segregate the ‘business’ and ‘executive’ layers?

2) How should they be segregated? How will the segregation improve enterprise business architecture?

4. The Users of BA

 Business Architecture is one practice driven by the C-level and INTERWOVEN throughout EA or a company's operating strategy. Therefore, BA’s users include:
1) C-level:  BA could become a great executive communication tool, particularly when the BA discussion is kept at a higher level. 
2)  Managers: The architecture that is created needs to be maintained and used by the managers to adapt and improve the organization in the future. 
3) EA (Enterprise & Business Architect), BA (Business Analyst) who are both BA designers and users.

How to use BA?
The following are examples where you use Business Architecture:
• Shifting Business Structure
• Acquisitions
• BPM or Re-engineering for efficiency
• Business Planning
• Project Initiation

Keep BA and EITA separate for most audiences. Better simplify the presentations by highlighting differences and how the strategy is supported.

1) Tractability is the major way of verifying BA correctness, but how?

2) There are not that many times when there are major strategy changes. How to keep BA relevant?

5. Is BA Part of EA?

Enterprise Architecture is a synthesis of the Enterprise Business Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture disciplines.

BA should provide the business context for EA and therefore part of BA may become a component of EA 

 BA should drive much of EA. It should be part of the EA framework but doesn't necessarily need to be part of the EA organization. The lack of proper focus on BA is one of the biggest reasons why we have had mixed results (mostly failure) on EA 

Based on the Business Strategy, the sequence could be:

1) BA ending with a Future Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap.

2) Based on the BA results, develop an IT Architecture (Apps, Data, Infrastructure) and end with the future EITA, Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap. The ‘nexus’ between EBA and EITA is that they both contain components related to applications and information at different levels of abstraction.

3) The future EBA and EITA documents highlight (a) changes to the current architectures, and (b) how the future architectures support the business strategy. The emphasis is on ‘hot issues’ and ‘critical success factors’

1) The argument:  EA is BA, but BA is not necessarily EA. Nothing else makes lexical sense
 Is lexical sense critical from an architectural perspective?.

2) A business architecture would look for leverage within the ecosystems, industries, and domain knowledge that defines it.  How to define the BA’s scope?

EA/BA is such a discipline to blend art and science, requires critical thinking and creative thinking at the same time, to invent new ways of doing things, new solutions, new approaches, and new perspectives. The myths are not completely busted yet, and the debate is still on.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Three Big WHEREs to use Big Data

By deploying Big Data’s WHY, WHAT, HOW, WHO, consequently we come to discover Big WHEREs need Big Data insight:

1.   Decision Point

Both academic and industry research suggest that companies use data and business analytics to guide decision making are more productive and experience higher ROE -returns on equity than competitors that don’t.

  • Big Debate: There are many interesting debates to brainstorm Big Data potential to influence decision making:
1)      Does big data complicate decision or drive the right decision?
2)      How to filer out the noise of big data in order to make sound analysis?
3)      Big Data is about those small tweaks and chat, can it help solve big business problem?

  • Big Judgment: That is said:  Big Data need big judgment. “. Big data and big analytics will dramatically amplify the effects of human decisions, which is great if those decisions are timely, sound, and effective—but potentially catastrophic if not.

  • Big IQ (Insight IQ):  Some organizations build an “Insight IQ” index to measure the analytic maturity of employees: such as ability to find and analyze relevant information to make better decisions. The three elements of Insight IQ are information attainability, information usefulness, and employee capability

2.   Customer Touch Point

  • Behavior & Sentimental Analysis: Customer-centric businesses have already used data to segment and target customers. But Big data leapfrogs such analysis to the state of the art by making real-time tailored customer solution possible via tracking the behavior of individual customer, update their profile, and model their likely behavior in real time, such in-depth customized analytics or sentiment analysis will increase the chance for high value customers to purchase higher-margin products or service , also help adjust business/marketing strategies accordingly. 

  • Insight from Call center: some call center providers are embracing new analytic tools to dig deeper into the big data they generate. Companies are applying text and sentiment analysis to the unstructured data, and looking for patterns and trends,  to analyze agent records, identify customer concerns, highlight trends and patterns, and provides early warning capabilities. Call center logs can provide invaluable insight on what customers were calling about, and can also provide foresights for future product trends and what customers need for the next.

      3. Process Optimization Point

Like business analysis, the rise of BPM reflects a growing view that processes are instrumental in driving sustainable competitive differentiation. Distinctive business processes make one company stand out from its competitors. Differentiated and effective processes can create speed. Efficiency and agility to help organizations better adapt to the dynamics of the business environment

The alignment of BPM and Big Data Analysis can be seen from following perspectives:
  • Injecting analysis into business processes to improve decision-making – i.e. it helps take well blended,  inside-out process view and outside-in Big data vision in decision making process.
  • Closed loop feedback management—via big data analytics by digging into customers feedback & suggestions, business may practice closed loop feedback management discipline and optimize end to end business process to further delight customers or engage employees.
  There might be many BIG WHEREs need Big Data insight, via exploring such big three WHEREs, the business can walk the talk, to reach the destination step by step

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Strategy in One Sentence: Ten Creative Insight

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail" - Winston Churchill

 1.  The strategy is like GPS, with zoomed in vision as a destination, lead organization in the right direction, leverage resource, and execute effectively.

2. The strategy is like a 'Kite on a String,' it's about projecting and balancing variables on the business continuum to achieve that goal further away in the distance.

3. Good strategy is a funnel through which, all ideas that have been previously filtered, now flow and create a positive result for your company growth,

  1. The strategy is the pillar of organizational existence, its design, structure, functions, vision, and mission. Without it, it's a black hole!
  1. Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. A Goal without Plan is a foolish wish.
  1. The strategy is the art of executive decision making.
  1. Strategic planning follows 80/20 principle to provide focus. It helps the leaders to focus on the 20% of activities that will yield 80% future success.
  1. A strategic plan is important as it is the road map for the achievement of an organization's goals, mission, and purposes.  
  1. A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge.
  1. You can judge the outcome of the good strategy, the people are happy working with clear purpose and the organization has the competency sailing through the thick and thin of the changing environment because it has more willing people.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Three Principles Modern IT Needs to Practice

Every IT Project is a Business Project!

Information is like blood, and technology is like a backbone for any modern business today. However, most IT organizations have a reputation as a cost center than a value creator, a controller than an enabler,  a tool than magic. With the new wave of latest technology trend such as cloud, mobile, consumerization and social, the contemporary IT leaders need to refresh the innovative mindset, embrace the lightweight technology, practice the following three principles, run IT with simplicity technically, culturally and politically, in order to become the strategic business partners and reach high-level of IT maturity.  

1.   Every IT Project is a Business Project

Every IT investment has a business purpose, therefore, every IT project is a business project. Some critical root causes of IT project failures include:

  • The business purpose of the project is not well-defined and communicated, a clear-defined project purpose should well describe the business problems need to be solved or the strategic vision needs to be implemented.
  • Business initiated projects run as an interesting technical challenge: The projects may have a 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; with the convergence of enterprise governance and IT governance projects that compete for resources should be assessed on the metrics of the business - not only ROI but also include business case &strategic input, and balanced scorecard metrics.

 2.   Simplicity is an Optimum of Sophistication

Managing complexity is a systematic effort: as today’s IT switch focus from “T” technology to “I” information focused, permeating into every corner in modern business, and related systems such as financial, productivity or customer service, supply chain platforms will be simplified either via the effective process or methodology.
  • EA, BPM, PMO need to be managed holistically: The IT complexity may be also caused by short term goals, to run IT as a silo, with overcomplicated, poorly architected application/platform infrastructures. However, long-term success requires enterprise architecture, business process management, and project portfolio management teamwork more closely to reduce the waste and optimize the process.
  •   “Less is more” for modern enterprise architecture design: Overall, simplicity should become the rule for communication: less terminology, more business language; Furthermore, “Less is more” for modern enterprise architecture design; resilient process and elastic IT framework are all based on “simplicity is optimum of sophistication” philosophy.

3.   Do More with Innovation

Though CIO & IT staff work extremely hard to support businesses. However, they are still being beaten down and told IT is not agile, too slow to adopt the new technology, with over-complex processes.

  • As a steward of information technology in the organization, how can IT stay ahead of the curve, to build up security and governance model & framework before business requests new technology or service, such as today’s BYOD & consumerization of IT?
  • How to leverage flexibility, effectiveness, and efficiency by continuously communicating with business partners? And keep in mind with clear business goals such as how to improve employees’ satisfaction & productivity, how to delight end customers, and understand what customers need even before they know themselves.
  • “Do More with Innovation” is the mantra for business & IT in today’s uncertain economy, through taking advantage of new IT trends, not as new technology toys, but as timely enablers to deliver the business solution with elasticity and agility.
If CIOs and IT can really practice these principles, CIOs may not get perceived as techies without business savvy, and IT will turn to a value center, an innovation incubator, a business transformation center,  a business strategy verification brain yard, a GRC headquarter, a business rule influencer and even a game-changer.

Three Big “WHO”s to Master Big Data

Big Data is big deal & big distraction as we put in Three Big “WHY” for Big Data.  There are three challenges Big Data presents.: Ocean of data amassing with departmental silos; The second is the old “needle in the haystack” problem; The third is making use of the information by developing framework and methodology to find meaning in it..

At series of blogs, we also explored: Three Big “WHAT” about Big Data; and Three Big “HOW”to Tame Big Data, and now it’s time to be more specifically asking Big WHOs: who are those data masters and data stewards to form a successful dream team and conquer the Big Data challenges:

1. Big Data Visionary

As we addressed above, the first Big Data challenge is the fact that the mountains or oceans of data many companies are amassing often lurk in departmental “silos,” how to manage data life cycle including data storage, data cleansing, data integration, data integrity, data governance,  timely exploitation., etc. So who are these data visionaries:

  • Executives who sponsor Big Data: such as: CIO & CMO & like-minded executives understand business’s long term view, proactively craft Big Data strategy as a core element of strategy,  and sponsor on experiment with calculated budget and resources. 

  • Data Enthusiasts with intuition & vision: who can help recognize game-changing effects of big data; who can connect the dots to focus on the business issues, to add fresh insights, sharp perspectives and different capabilities, who know what questions to ask, and then be able to translate the answers into business strategy or operational effect

 2. Big Data Analytical/Technical Expert

To conquer the second challenge: the old “needle in the haystack” problem of uncovering the information you need amongst the massive amounts of data, is making use of the information by developing framework, talent and methodology to deploy,  you need have:

  • Data Scientist/technical expert who can build up a flexible infrastructure which can integrate information and scale up effectively to meet the surge, who can also understand and employ quantitative methods, design, test and deploy models,. experiments, algorithms, and analytics can make sense of all this information.

  • Analytics specialists: who can practically deal with data, who understands how to take data and can take on the basic manipulations of the data in databases and management tools; who can program and apply the statistical learning and modeling techniques used for extracting information from that data.

3. Big Data Solutionary

  The third Big Data challenge is to find meaning in it. Big Data is the means to the end, not the end. The key is to turn the data into understandable information analyzed and transformed into knowledge which then be abstracted as wisdom that allows people to make better & faster decisions. Technical driven analytic niche expert on team are important, as building data models, understanding them and running them is important, but pure technologist won’t get you too far, data solutionaries are those:

·        Emerging hybrid business-IT Analyst: who can make sense of the tsunami of data flowing through cross-silo corporate systems; who can also excel at blending IT and business together for great outcomes, to solve the complex business problems.

·        Data masters who can interpret data, who can use creativity to ask provocative questions, who can think “outside of box” about experiments to run, who can ponder questions such as,
1) How does information flow?
             2) What forces underlie those currents?
             3) What’s the best way to pull insights from that sea?
             4) And how does the way a company works influence what data is available and  
                who can find it?
            5) 80/20 Rule: every bit of data is fact, but not all data are created equal, how to
                 get the best value via the most critical 20% of data?
             6) How to improve business capabilities via the data insight?
             7) What are the set of KPIs to measure Big Data project?

 As Joke on the web: “The data scientist is the data analyst who lives in California”, it may uncover two pieces of truth: Data mining might be the new gold rush in 21st century; and data masters not only need hard discipline, the soft skill is even more critical to tame Big Data-a big learning effect to combine the science and art.

Through asking Big Whos, successful companies are likely to be the ones that cultivate their talent masters, and compete on insights—striving to derive insights that matter and applying them to their business.