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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leadership Wisdom: Trust is a Two-Way Street

Trust is a two-way street, which plays a key role in the effective functioning of both society and organizations.
Modern business and human society become over-complex and inter-dependent, therefore, companies that foster a trusting culture will have a competitive advantage in attracting talent & harmonizing business relationship. No matter what kind of organization you manage, trust is an integral component of your brand.

 Trust-based management concentrates on designing appropriate incentive structures and reducing barriers to motivate appropriate action and inspire high-performance result. 

1. Trust is Two Way Street

I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself. Robert E. Lee

  • TRUST Starts with respecting:  Leader need show staff that you respect them, first, understand what they care, trust them in a safe environment. Help them not to fail, and if they do, show yourself to be trustworthy by supporting them. That will motivate them more than just throwing out some platitudes about trust as the opposite of micro-managing;  trust, but verify.
  • Optimal Level of Trust – People may have different value systems for trust, leading in such an environment requires acting in ways that provide clear reasons to decide to trust.  No blind trust or trust too little. There is no returning to the days when organizations expected—and received—unconditional loyalty. Communicate, Delegate, Trust and Hold Accountable.
  • TRUST is Bi-Directional: Trust isn't one way, the employee needs to trust management too. How much will you tolerate mistakes as part of learning? Does your staff feel safe to try something innovative? When employees are allowed to develop and do the job for which they were hired, without micromanagement, they become more self-motivated and rely less on external motivational factors. 
  • Four Elements to Build & Maintain Trust:
a)  Shared Expectation & Sufficient Motivation by all parties
            b) Incentive Structure & optimal Process
            c) Requisite Capabilities to deliver against expectations
            d) Mechanism placed to warn any potential shortfalls in performance

  • TRUST is Two-Way Street via Alphabetic Root:
      1. The Trustworthy Management:
        T: Thoughtful
        R: Respectful
        U: Uplift Spirit
        S: Supportive
        T: Thankful

      1. The Trustworthy Staff
        T: Trustworthy
        R: Reliable
        U: Up-growth
        S: Self-Motivated
        T: Teamwork 
Trust, but verify. Ronald Reagan

2. Trust Takes Empathy

How can people trust the harvest, unless they see it sown?  ~Mary Renault
  • Empathy: More deeply understand your employees, what's his/her value, priority, the way to think and do things, the lens to see the world & work and what they see; one of the most important functions of a leader is to find the right places for each member.
  • Fairness: Treat them same by treating them differently, trust needs to come from both mind and heart, set the guideline, but always trust employees for the detailed solution. To be able to do that, you need to show leadership and build on your relationship with them. Be humane and fair while showing competence and character.
  • Openness: Always open for new ideas, trust means to embrace divergent thought, respect the difference, then converge them into fresh ideas:
      a) Respect to individual means open-door approach to value new ideas, 
      b) Always appreciate for members’ contribution;

  • Motivation: trust could also create a great positive impact on a team member. However, not all people have the same motivations, via intrinsic motivations, staff can unleash potential, and it means knowing what motivates them.  Give them trust and they will give you loyalty.

 3. Trust Takes More Logic Steps

 When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineerCorrie Ten Boom 

TRUST takes breadth and depth of collective cognizance & effort to build up a more creative working environment. Here are some logical scenarios:
1).  First Direct them - Lead by example - Show how it is done
2). Then Supervise - Help them become independent and gain confidence
3). Then Manage to help them understand how you think,
4) Then Mentor Guide so they align with goals while using independent thinking
5)  Then Delegate - Complete Trust
a) tell staff WHAT & WHEN, but encourage them to pursue WHY and HOW;
b). share the resource, provide the guideline, but give staff freedom to find answers;
c) shape the right business problem need be solved, let staff frame the solution.
d) remind the staff of potential pitfalls, but tolerate the calculated risks;
e) trust but verify; lead, not micro-manage. Trust the team with clear deliverable and alignment;

Trust is a measure of the quality of a relationship—between people, groups, or between people and an organization; and trust is a two-way street, which plays a key role in the effective functioning of both society and organizations.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. -Ernest Hemingway 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Is Private Cloud More Cloudy?

Think defining business cases, modifying change control to meet automated demands and a general shift in management strategies.

Cloud becomes mainstream: majority of businesses no matter large or small, have stepped in Cloud, especially public cloud service, to share computer resources, and improve business agility; However, security,  privacy and service availability., etc are still main concerns to adopt to public Cloud, that’s why private cloud fill out such gap, Forrester Research projects that private cloud market will grow from roughly $ 8 billion in 2011 to nearly double that by 2020. But as an emerging trend, private Cloud maturity still faces some barriers psychologically, methodologically and technically.  Both Information Week and Info World private Cloud surveys & report share some good insight and success stories: 

1. Seven Takeaways from Private Cloud:

  • The idea behind private cloud is to pool computer, storage and network resources and manage them from a central software control point rather than scrambling to provision, monitor, manage and reconfigure all that infrastructure manually. Breaking down the elements of the private cloud include metering and chargeback systems, automated configuration and self-service provisioning

  • IW Survey Result: 72% of the respondents to InformationWeek 2012 Private Cloud Survey who have clouds today call their efforts a success; for 13%, the adjective “complete” applies. And the majority of these projects took 18 months or less and cost 30% or less of the overall IT budget; 27% spent less than 10%. The result: data centers that are more responsive and efficient with reduced capital and operational costs. Private clouds relying heavily on virtualization and automation let IT manage data center resources and applications easily and at scale.

  • Self-Service: The secret to automation and orchestration and, ultimately, a self-service portal is the holy grail of private cloud—developer can configure and reconfigure their own dev/test environment; BU can even order and install applications which are automatically provisioned and made available without IT necessarily being involved. For magic self-service portal to work, you need automation, and orchestration assembles those automated tasks into predefined workflows for specific applications or services.

  • Application management and monitoring:  The template is provided for deploying and configuring application, but also monitoring and reporting on application performance to meet internal SLA requirements with dashboards to supply admins with insight they need to deliver on the commitment.At advanced level, monitoring may trigger auto-scaling; it used to take months to provision new servers, now business can do it in hours, the private cloud has brought agility back to business.

  • Quickly Recover from Failure: Practically speaking, “Cloud-enabled” just means that application components can be scaled up and down as demand changes, moving enterprise applications into a private cloud should buy you some uptime benefits. One big perk of server virtualization is the ability to quickly recover from failure.

  • Charge Back as good management practices: OpenStack—have built-in capacity-rights management capabilities that allow IT to define rules on how many VMs can be built and the resources that can be consumed, to either charge back to the department or to make managers aware of their IT costs;  (58%) of those building private clouds say they plan to either actually charge departments for IT services rendered or use chargeback data for cost awareness. Such practices help build up the trust level between IT and business constituents;

  • The big takeaway: Those with private clouds experience more efficient use of hardware and superior scalability and reliability, they make better use of IT’s resource & time. These are all measurable benefits that can make IT department shine in the eyes of users and the CFO. Those with private clouds also report success in lowering capital and operational costs and total cost of ownership

2. Three Keys to Success in Migrating into Private Cloud

The number of new processes IT needs to build a private cloud is daunting—think defining business cases, modifying change control to meet automated demands and a general shift in management strategies—and then you still need new products, CMDBs and orchestration platforms to tie everything together, is it worth it?

(1)  Have a well thought-out migration plan

One of the first (and often most difficult) steps when building a private cloud is to figure
out what, exactly, is running in data center environment by creating an inventory of all applications, from software used for IT operations to enterprise systems, and mapping
their dependencies. 73% of respondents whose organizations require private cloud support in new applications stipulate dynamic scaling—the nature of scale-out features means that static dependencies get in the way of dynamically adding or removing components. Get a handle on what integration features the IT operations vendors offer—such as APIs and  SDK (software developer kits)—as well as the protocols supported for distributed management.

(2)  People Power

Having skilled employees was the No. 2 challenge faced by those with private clouds
and an anticipated trial for those beginning to build. Business need talent and skills to manage and provision cloud service, IT group is going to do fairly sophisticated operation, application automation,  server provisioning and de-provisioning and service management.

(3) Updating the current infrastructure

Finally, 49% of respondents with private clouds say that updating the current infrastructure was a challenge. Pay the technical debt now and get a handle on the gap between current data center capabilities and the ones you need to have in place and your cloud rollout will go smoother.  Make sure new software can leverage the scaling and reliability features of private cloud.

3. More IW Survey Result:

(a) Private Cloud Issue
  • Lack of standards
  • Managing software and VM OS licensing
  • Integrating new hardware and software
  • Controlling VM sprawl
  • Increased troubleshooting difficulty
  • Increased operational cost/complexity
  • Orchestrating new application/VM deployments
  • Orphaned applications

(b) Anticipated Challenges When Launching a Private Cloud
  • Integrating existing IT products
  • Acquiring employee skill sets
  • Acquiring cloud software and hardware
  • Updating our current infrastructure
  • Managing automation
  • Making the business case for private cloud
  • Employee resistance
  • Inventorying existing applications and services
  • Creating run-books

© Potential Private Cloud Issues:
  • Lack of standards
  • Controlling VM sprawl
  • Integrating new hardware and software
  • Increased capital costs
  • Increased operational cost/complexity
  • Inability to hire and maintain staff with the necessary skills
  • Increased troubleshooting difficulty
  • Orphaned applications
  • Vendor lock-in to a private cloud product set or partner program
  • Maintaining private cloud software
  • Orchestrating new application/VM deployments
  • Managing software and VM OS licensing
  • Runaway automated processes

(d) Important Feature when Selecting Private Cloud Technology
  • Application performance management
  • Capacity rights management
  • Audit logs
  • Application mobility
  • VM mobility
  • Demand-based auto-scaling
  • Application deployment templates
  • Self-service portal
  • Delegated administration
  • Support hybrid mode (public/private cloud)
  • Service catalog
  • Run-book automation
  • Bare-metal provisioning
  • Chargeback

(e) Reasons for Not Using or Phasing Out Public Cloud Services
  • Security/privacy concerns
  • Regulatory compliance or legal restrictions
  • Inability to ensure application availability
  • Inability to ensure SLA commitments
  • Peak loads could wipe out cost savings
  • Other

4. More Argument about Private Cloud

(a) Is there Standards Gap in Private Cloud?

There are few cloud-specific standards today, but when you’re building a private cloud,
integration is more about getting Product A talking to Product B, if your private cloud is basically lots of virtualization and little or no automation, and orchestration, then you aren’t gaining the benefits you could. Only when automation and orchestration hit their stride will you begin to enjoy full operational efficiencies.

(b) Who owns hardware equipment in private cloud?

The cloud’s greatest asset is its use of commodity equipment, so that operators are able to offer bulk wholesale prices to the customer. Some cloud expert argues: a true private cloud means you don’t own the equipment or have to maintain it yourself. A third-party provider is exclusively running resources on your behalf. You have control over the hardware, and it’s not shared with any other clients, but you don’t own the hardware and are not responsible for provisioning it or entering into multiple vendor contracts in order to implement it. Furthermore, the term ‘cloud’ should not be used unless you are accessing infrastructure or software via the web.

© Is Private Cloud for every organization? 

Private Cloud is more complex, expensive, and time consuming, it requires strategic planning and architecture designing. Some also argue: is it only for F100 enterprises, or small or medium size organizations can also benefit from it?

5. Cloud Forecast: Bright or Cloudy

One of the biggest burdens in today's IT organization is that with the explosion in
applications and their underlying server, storage, and networking technology, managing the infrastructure is placing a greater burden on IT staff than ever before, that’s in which private cloud can bring up value, that also make cloud forecast overall bright with cautious optimism.

The biggest barrier to successful cloud adoption may be psychological: the mentality of IT managers, as it’s new way to run IT,  communicating is key to business units at corporate level, without collaboration and cooperation cross-functional silos, any cloud effort is doomed to fail.

Still, Cloud is journey, not a sprint, especially for private cloud, it need long term strategy and well-thought out migration planning, it also need build up strong business cases, vendor relationship, deep analyze value/cost/risk on one side, and IT efficiency/Effectiveness/Agility on the other side, and demand skilled talent to achieve high performance agility in Cloud.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Surveys: What Matters in Boardroom

Strategic planning topped the board’s “wish list.

The prestigious consulting firms and media companies published many good white papers and industry surveys regarding what matters at board level now, especially economies are not completely recovered from recession yet, businesses from the top down are looking for innovation as a new light, strategy as GPS, and IT as a new catalyst.

A recently released annual corporate director survey from PWC highlight business strategy, risk management, IT oversight and human capital as top priorities at board agenda:

  • Top three board priorities: IT opportunities and issues, Risk Management, Developing Human Capital
  •  88% integrate discussions of risk with strategy.
  • 78% establish minimum guidelines for return on investment from strategic transactions;  
  • 74% believe their company’s approach to IT contributes to and is aligned with setting strategy;
  • But fewer than 1% of today’s Fortune 500 directors have an IT background
And another survey by Garner & Forbes highlight:
·       72% believe the next decade will be far more volatile and unpredictable than the previous one
·       68% of Respondents who say ‗The changes arising from current economic uncertainty are so deep and persistent that many companies and industries will have to change their business models
·       66% of Respondents who say ‗We see economic difficulty or recession as an opportunity to improve our market share and competitive position
·       50% of board directors agree that IT is the way to change the rules of competition.

1.    GRC Management

 From PWC survey, board directors recognize that risk oversight is a critical responsibility of the board. This involves ensuring that management has a process in place for identifying key risks and approach to mitigate these risks to an acceptable level.

  • Crisis management oversight, a component of overall risk management oversight, has become an increasingly important issue for boards as well; An effective crisis management plan is an essential part of a company’s overall approach to risk management and business continuity.
  • Over-Optimistic about Risk: Nearly all directors (97%) say they are at least “moderately comfortable” with their board’s understanding of the company’s risk appetite. This significant level of comfort is noteworthy in light of the many criticisms (particularly after the financial crisis) suggesting companies and boards did not fully understand the risks their companies were taking or that they were taking on too much risk.
  • Accountability: Many directors may understand the risks the company faces, but they are not sure who on the board is supposed to oversee them. This structural disconnect could prove troublesome for companies in the long run. If directors are unsure whose responsibility it is to oversee risk, the board could have a risk oversight gap;
 From Gartner’s survey:

· 70%: Board members who agree with the statement: “Compliance with anticipated new government regulations will create a material increase in our operating costs in 2012.”

·  Large Enterprise Top Priorities: Restructuring corporate risk tolerance, Improving the Board‘s risk oversight; Strengthening or pursuing greater workforce diversity.

2. Business Strategy

From PWC survey:

 Strategy Discussion is critical: Directors realize the importance of strategy discussions, and virtually all (99%) discuss the continued viability of the company’s strategy at least once a year.

 Strategic planning topped the board’s “wish list,” with over 75% of directors wanting to devote more time to it during the next year to strategic planning, success planning meeting manager from key parts of the company,

From a Gartner survey:

·       Focus on Revenue Growth vs. Cost Reduction: 65% mostly focused on revenue growth.

·       Top 5 Business Priorities of Board Directors:
a.    Attracting new customers
b.     Retaining and enhancing existing customers
c.      Focusing on core competencies
d.     Maintaining competitive advantage
e.      Fostering innovation

  • Top 5 Investment Priorities of Board Directors
    1. Information Technology
    2. Sales
    3. Product enhancement
    4. Partnerships, alliances, and value networks
    5. Risk Management

3  IT Oversight

 Technology continues to evolve rapidly. From concerns about cyber-hacking and customer privacy to the use of emerging technologies to leapfrog competitors, IT has become a key area for director attention. PWC Studies indicate that the average age of directors is around 62. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that some directors may find challenging to understand the latest technological advances. Of course, many directors are quite technologically savvy, but those who are not may have less confidence in the effectiveness of their IT oversight.

From PWC survey:

  • Understanding the importance of IT to the company’s business model is important for effective oversight of technology initiatives. the survey finds that over half of directors (56%) believe IT is “very important” or “critical” to their companies, while only a small minority  (7%) still think of IT as “primarily infrastructure.”
  • IT becomes part of the overall strategy: Technology is rapidly becoming an integral part of many companies’ strategic plans. Most directors (77%) believe their company’s approach to managing IT risk and strategy at least “moderately” aligns with the company’s overall strategy.
  • Not doing Enough from IT: However, a substantial number of board members don’t believe that their companies are exploiting the opportunities inherent in emerging technologies. In fact, more than one-third (36%) believe their company's approach to anticipating competitive advantages from emerging technologies needs improvement.
  • Understanding who on the board oversees IT is important. At present, over half of the boards (56%) delegate this responsibility to the audit committee, while one-quarter (25%) view IT oversight as a full-board function. Even for companies that consider IT critical to creating shareholder value, the audit committee is still the main group responsible for overseeing IT; only 5% delegate oversight to a separate IT committee.
  • Need more IT Expertise on Board: One way to increase a board’s comfort level could be to have IT expertise on the board—but a separate study reveals that fewer than 1% of today’s Fortune 500 directors have an IT background. the survey shows that boards aren’t aggressively seeking directors with IT expertise, despite their elevated concerns; In fact, only 30% of directors find IT expertise a “very important” attribute in new directors, and 31% are not seeking this skill set at all.
  • Talking to the CIO: Boards’ IT oversight may include meeting with the company’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). Nearly 30% of directors meet with the CIO once a year, and about one in five (18%) meet with the CIO at each formal meeting. Some boards (14%) have no formal interaction with the CIO. Not surprisingly, directors at companies where IT is considered “very important” or “critical” meet with the CIO more frequently than those where IT is considered to be more of a commodity; Almost 60% of directors want to spend more time on IT in the coming year, a significant increase from 36% in 2011.
  • IT fundamentals get more attention: Directors are particularly involved in overseeing and understanding more traditional IT issues, such as the status of major IT project implementations (76%), and their companies’ annual IT budgets (57%). Given the increase in cyber attacks, it’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters (72%) of directors are engaged with overseeing and understanding data security issues and risks related to compromising customer data.  
From the Gartner survey:

-  IT is More Strategic: 86% of Respondents who expect the strategic contribution of IT to the business to increase by 2014.
-Fastest Risers: Pursuing Portfolio Diversity, New Markets, and Cultural Change
-Top Two Investment Priorities: IT & Sales- Risk Management: Least Likely to See Investment Reduction.

In conclusion, a tale of two boardroom surveys delivers the consistent message: IT becomes more strategic than ever, risk management is also at the top of board agenda, business strategy, human capital, culture changes are frequent topics at board room to adapt to accelerated changes facing in business today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Five Steps IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys Go Beyond Routine

 Customer survey works but needs to be done more strategically, creatively and flexibly.

Most of the CIOs think IT customer satisfaction surveys help them to listen to users, adjust IT roadmap &  plan to accommodate changes customers need, and help evaluate IT performance; But some IT leaders may argue such survey is just a routine, won’t help IT from out of touch, ivory tower service, the survey result may not be objective to capture the truth what IT need, and psychology behind survey may not be so positive to help IT improve performance. Is there value in regular IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys? What’s the best way to do it?

1. The Purpose of Survey

  • IT performances: The value of regular independent assessments of customer satisfaction, feedback helps gain customer knowledge and evolving customer need, both critical to design and delivery of IT products and services. By Customer Satisfaction Surveys, CIO can gain some insight on what people think of IT performance; a view as to how the users feel about the service levels.
  • Improvement Opportunities: CIOs Should use the survey as an improvement vehicle. Satisfaction survey allows IT to learn about: Are you doing it right? Is your team doing it well? What can you improve on? Specifically, it allows you to point to particular service areas to identify improvement opportunities. If satisfaction goes down, you need enough specificity to take action.
  • Capture of Pulse of organization: True customer surveys should also capture the pulse of folks in the middle, which is going to be the largest group in any organization.  The survey is the true indicator of employee experience and satisfaction with the IT Services provided to its employee. This can be a great tool to use to engage stakeholders and to agree on rollout strategies, budgets, and Change Management.
  • Capture IT Service Trend: Customer Satisfaction Survey may also tell you what’s new needs of end users to give attention to. In a global organization, IT may not be present in every location, so that time and distance reduce visibility into how effectively IT serves each location. Second, while big problems get brought to the fore, people are often reluctant to tell the IT staff about the smaller issues, such as feeling they do not get enough personal attention. Surveys help bridge those gaps. A good response also gives you a feedback with ideas on making changes as per needs of a specific business units or geographical location or set of identified users by a certain category.
  • Validate IT Strategy/Investment Plan: timing these surveys just before budget planning cycles and/or the development/refinement of IT strategic plans proves quite useful. The surveys are another source of data to validate investment and plans and possibly revise them according to feedback provided. And yes, the questions need to be different for Executives and the day-to-day consumer. This gives business a much needed 360-degree view.
  • Comparison with other IT Organizations: CIOs may also learn with peers regarding how to run IT more effectively by comparing the customer survey result, and understand each IT organization’s strength and weak point.

2. The Shared Methodology & Potential Pitfalls of Survey

  • Customized Survey to Target Different Customers: The key is to ask the right questions to the right audience and get timely feedback accordingly. Survey need be customized to target different customers, for both strategic IT optimization and operational IT improvement.
  • The Positive Attitude: the psychology behind survey need be humbled, with expectation of getting negative feedback, in order to gain space to improve, or with appreciation if seeing anything at survey might be blind spot in strategic setting or the gap between strategy & execution;
  • Methodologies to Do Survey:
a. The survey should be succinct, but not too general;
b. Have customized question by user group. One size does not fit all
c. Change some of the questions once in 6 months
d. Find a way to incentivize the user to take the survey 

  • Two Means of Survey: There are at least two means of seeking customer satisfaction feedback. One by the response when an incident has been resolved on the resolution provided, the speed of response and performance of the analyst; or post-project survey on customer satisfaction; Second by an annual/semi-annual survey which goes into detail on the whole Portfolio of services provided.
  • Complement Survey with Face-to-Face Conversation: IT should complement survey with series of face-to-face conversation with related parties to ensure that both business and IT user priorities were addressed. The survey should also be well integrated with a multitude of communication and interaction practices in order for CIO and IT to gain a more objective view on IT's priority and IT's performance as well.
  • Craft the Right Question to Ask: How about tweaking the standard NPS question like this: "If you had a choice, how likely would you be to use us for your next IT project?"
  • Common Pitfalls: Some of the common mistakes being made include selecting the sets of questions to ask to make IT “complacent”-- believe that IT is doing an outstanding job or providing some "world class" service. but if IT learns to ask better or honest questions, the survey results may be different, though bitter, the survey result causes IT to pause and reconsider the value being providing. Then IT can make real improvements to our organization.
  • Surveys may not be so effective for application development and projects: the most complex challenge on projects is getting agreement on scope and requirements that will actually produce value for the company. Similar to SLA's, having an optimized process from the beginning to the end of projects to communicate and define specification, to monitor progress via  project dash board, and validate whether the value was achieved at the agreed cost and on the schedule is a better measurement.
  • Survey vs. SLA: Survey provides IT some useful information, performance against defined SLA's can also grasp certain result, how to leverage such information to evaluate IT performance more objectively is a learning journey.  
  • The psychology behind the survey: The challenge is how to write a succinct survey in such a way that it extracts meaningful information. It's not enough to ask how well we did. The psychology behind the survey is very important. If we only solicit positive responses, we may get an unreliable view of our performance. One suggestion is to not try and write your own surveys. Be sure to enlist the help of professionals.

3. The Context, Formats & Frequency of Survey

  • Annual/Semi-Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey: Many IT organizations perform one companywide customer satisfaction every year; some think twice a year is a good frequency; keep content at high level, not to ask specific questions about a certain individual in IT and keep it short (not more than 5-10 minutes to respond).
  • Ask Same Questions or Update Some Questions Every time: Some organizations may ask the same questions every year to compare to previous years, but some suggest to update a few questions in order to well reflect IT’s current strategy & priority, Keep the main questions consistent year to year to allow IT to see trends and make service adjustment.      
  • Digital Era need more Smooth Digital Touch:  the survey can become more informal, also more frequent, not just an annual event, but a continuous process to engage employees, as now social platform/gamification may provide even more flexible way to capture users' opinion, well embed into business process in employees' interaction, as now IT has permeated into everywhere in business today, also encourage broader customers to voice out.  IT may even set up a listening center to hear customer’s voice, both end customer, and internal customer.
  • Further Questions to Ponder:
a. Content: Does survey list the right sets of questions to ask, "right" means a lot, to leverage IT service's effectiveness and efficiency, innovation and flexibility., etc.

b. Context: Does the survey result make IT more complacent (we are doing a great job again) or make IT continue to improve? (accumulating enough criticism to help improve)

c. Scope: If survey is really helpful, can it be done at broader base, to include more parties, even end customers, or more often., etc

4. The Analytics of survey

  • Capture Insight via strategic and operational perspective: CIO and IT may care about both strategic perspective and operational viewpoint via survey, still, not just look at the survey in an isolated way, combine them with other communication results via multi-channel customer interaction, and make a fair conclusion to leverage multi-dimensional POVs. how should CIO do such user feedback management, well embed such information in decision making/project investment dynamically, and feedback management as an integral component of customer relationship management, becomes, even more, crucial
  • Dig into Root Cause, Not Symptom: IT need understand the root cause, rather than just try to look at the symptom, The results required careful interpretation as many questions had a wide spread of scores. Reviewing the associated comments and following up with specific individuals revealed that low scores were generally due to dissatisfaction with the company's IT policies.

  • Locate Pain Point & Touch Point in IT Service: we can't lose sight that IT needs to be viewed as a customer service organization. IT provides services back to the organization and need to be measured. It's nice to get complimentary feedback, but, even more, valuable is the feedback that would help IT understand where the pain points are, and perhaps where is the touch point IT service attention may need to be directed.
  • Leverage POVs via Survey Result: at a broader level, some CIOs discover the primary reason that IT groups get rated badly is that the different stakeholders have different goals for the company and what it does with technology... and they don't know how to calibrate toward a more common vision. So, people work at cross-purposes, mostly in good faith but somewhat sub-consciously, so they end up feeling disappointed and frustrated that what they want to achieve is not achieved. A survey focused on grading will generally manifest the dissatisfaction but it will not uncover what the real differences are so that people can change. Other methods are needed to solve the goal-disconnect problem.

5. Post-Survey Follow-Up

  • Follow up is the real challenge. Doing the survey is the easy part, the follow up is the real challenge where not only must you take action arising from the comments but you must be visible in communicating this back to the customers, this engages them further in the follow-on survey and also generally improves sentiment around IT itself (IT asks my opinion, they listen to what I have to say and then they do something about it = more satisfied customer base)
  • Take Action: In doing a general user survey, you discover the things that are really bothering people and that they are not reporting. It is also important to get back to those that responded as dissatisfied so that they understand that they did not waste their time and that you value and are acting on their input.
  • Communicate again, to convey IT's vision, strategy, priority, resource, reality., etc, make the process more transparent via an open feedback loop, also make conversation & execution more iterative and interactive, for the continuous improvement journey. 
In conclusion, customer survey works but needs to be done more strategically, creatively and flexibly. By carefully constructing the questions and analyzing responses with the respect to users, senior managers, and IT members, Most of IT organizations are able to gradually target the biggest issues and have a long term straight line improvement.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three “S” Questions to Contemplate for Future of Talent Management

Because now the business environment becomes more dynamic, talent with the non-linear skill set or learning agility to master S-Curves may help boost the culture of innovation

There are many transformations facing businesses today, from disruptive to incremental changes, one of the biggest challenges facing companies all over the globe is how to build and sustain a solid talent pipeline, what’re the new criteria to evaluate talent, do organizations use outdated models to drive their talent program? The way that works gets done needs to be reviewed and redesigned. 

At the era of digitalization, companies are highly connected and working beyond the four walls of the organization, a major transformation is on the way to transform future of talent development. Here are three provocative questions to ask both talent & talent managers:

1. S-Curve Pondering: Talent --Do you have X years of experience or one year of experience X times?

The S-Curve mental model indicates learning curves, exhibit a progression from small beginnings that accelerate and approaches a climax over time. It means the talent who can successfully navigate, harness the successive cycles of learning and maxing out that resemble the S-curve will thrive in this era of personal disruption. As changes are expedited for both business and individuals, and neither business nor life is linear these days, the capabilities to adapt to unpredictable is critical, and best curve one can compete is the ability to leap from one learning curve to the next.

  • For Talent: The professional may ask a tough question to self: Do you have X years of experience or one year of experience X times? Do you continue to learn & grow, how many S-curves do you throw self in? Are you at the stage of complacency or competency; Is your career path linear or like a circle? Is your career picture gray or colorful? Philosophically, life is just like drawing a circle, if the circle too small, there are not much space to fill out cheerful colors or make enough influence; if it's too large, life is too short to complete the circle and fill out colors, the circle might not be perfect, but many non-linear dots in life will help you define the right circle with your favorite colors, one just need have such courage to throw self more curves.
  • For Recruiter: Modern talent managers are not working for HR-Human Resource, now they are working on Human Capital, the provocative questions a talent professional may ponder:  Am I searching for a passionate talent for a journey or am I just recruiting to fill out a position: Am I a talent visionary to unleash human potential, or am I just a HR person to search for keyword; Am I hunting for both character & skill or I just look for pieces of knowledge?
Because now the business environment becomes more dynamic, talent with the non-linear skill set or learning agility to master S-Curves may help boost the culture of innovation many organizations intensively need now. Manage talent with growth in mind. Growth and innovation are heavily dependent on having the right talent in the right places at the right time.

2. Social Footprint: Talent--Who are You at Career Ladder & Social Ladder?

The need for a stronger, deeper leadership pipeline is nearly universal. Business becomes always on, "borderless", hyper-connected, and interdependent than ever, the standard to cultivate and recognize talent potential may also need to be updated:

  • More about who you are than who you know: At traditional business environment, “who you know” may decide who you will become later; however, social ladder will complement such steep and even biased career ladder; your social footprint will enhance the reputation on who you are, your value,  expertise, and strength. Your social influence is more powerful than your status quo. Talent management also takes magic quadrant, businesses are looking for the leader, visionary, challenger, and niche player.
  • Communicate deeper than speak louder: At typical physical working teams, speaking louder often makes one stand out, however, at today’s hybrid, complex global working dynamic, communicating deeper is more crucial, the more senior you are at career ladder, the deeper thought leadership is required for the position. You should also become more digital fluent, from sharing content to creating content; from absorbing knowledge to co-create updated knowledge. Many organizations are looking for real critical thinkers who have the potential to be change agents. It's how plenty of senior executives got where they are. 
  • Global companies need true global leaders: High-potential leaders must be able to execute on a global scale and adapt quickly to change. They also need the depth and breadth of skills and experience to work across converging industries, bring new insight with cross-functional, cross-sector and cross-cultural perspectives.   

 3. Solutionary Hunting: Talent -Are you Solutionary or Order Taker?

 Many business leaders talk about treating human capital as a strategic asset, but few companies put the idea into practice. traditional HR practice at command-control, hierarchical environment, is to evaluate talent via compliance, order taking the lens, not inspire talent to take initiatives. However, the next talent practice is to shape the new talent box. The solutionary mindset takes multi-dimensional thinking and intelligence:
   (1)  Critical thinking (Reasonable and reflective thinking, consciously examining deep assumptions, getting at root causes)
   (2)  Systems thinking (understanding and architecting complex social systems)
(3)  Design thinking (exploiting creative disciplines in problem-solving)
(4)  Emotional intelligence (an ability to understand and shape human emotions to productive ends)
(5)  Spiritual intelligence (an ability to apply ethical thinking to business dilemmas, and to imbue work with purpose and meaning)
(6)  Social intelligence (an ability to use the new tools of the “social web” to create organizations that are transparent, flexible, meritocratic and collaborative).
(7)  Change potential. Driving and responding to change; seeing opportunity in uncertainty
(8)  Intellectual potential. Thinking thoroughly and flexibly
(9)  People potential. Adapting to changing and complex interpersonal communication.
(10) Motivational potential: Adapting personal drive and focus on performing well in new and changing context

  • The Solutionary has the character to overcome obstacles and avoid pitfalls, she or he can see through the problems and see around corners, connecting the dots in new ways by lowering the walls that keep business and people apart.
  • The Solutionary is an innovator: today’s innovation has been defined more broadly to include processes, business models, communication, and  efficiency improvements across the enterprise, talent managers can help by aligning people-related factors, such as leadership, capabilities, processes, technology, and organizational structures, around innovation to foster a more innovative organization and culture.
  • The solutionary is also learning agile and coachable:
a. Give me a man who is eager to learn and I can teach him anything.
b Give me a man who does not want to learn and I can teach him nothing. 

Talent management is the top priority of any business today, as human capital is still the most invaluable investment in businesses and our society. The good talent strategy is an integral part of business strategy, businesses need to lead ahead on the future of talent trends, put social hiring at your agenda, to improve capabilities in talent analytics and talent blueprint. The digital talent management is both art and science.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Future of EA: Framework or Frameless

Framework is an attempt to unify approach, grammar and process diagrams, to help communicate decisions among multiple practitioners in different domains.
From Wikipedia: Enterprise architecture framework is organization of the structure and views associated with an enterprise architecture.

Frameworks add value as they are implementations of the patterns to avoid having to reinvent the wheel for every project.  However, there are more than 200 frameworks around, a related question maybe, why are there so many EA frameworks? The answer could be, because EA is immature, most of the frameworks are also immature, therefore, they may not well serve the purpose. What’re the pros and cons of EA framework, here are five perspectives:

1. EA in Enabling Communication & Decision Making

A framework constitutes a collection of artifacts under a common architectural pattern and interaction model.

Pros: EA Frameworks are an attempt to reach more common ground. Hence, framework is an attempt to unify approach, grammar and process diagrams, to help communicate decisions among multiple practitioners in different domains.

From enterprise management perspective, frameworks have certain value in providing a common language, starting point and reference for efforts on enforcing communication.

Cons: however, does the use of a framework ensure (or increase the likelihood) that the correct/proper/complete requirements have been identified? Frameworks provide terms for communication and analysis. But systems are a lot like buildings - it is hard for leaders to figure out what architects and builders will be able to achieve results, since even the best sometimes fail to deliver what was expected.

The other argument is that the business cannot clearly define what it wants. Business people tend to describe what they think the solution should be, without having thought through the problem. Any architecture approach which starts with a badly defined solution will end up not solving the right problem.

Moreover, the framework "obsession" comes out of a practical need to work with EA clients, business management.  Framework is a facilitator, it can be ontology, methodology, or simply breadcrumbs in approaching "framing" concepts. So the word "obsessed" is interesting as it's foundational. It's irritating to be in a room with other technologists who are all reinventing approach without agreement on facilitation.

That said, abstraction and composition in EA shall promote agreement, in reality, engineers see the world as black & white, architects see it in grey, what’s the next practice to see business as it is,  in full spectrum of colors?

2. EA in Bridging Strategy & Execution and Connecting Optimizing Dots

EA provides a common basis for partitioning the solution space. Every problem is a potential opportunity. Every opportunity is a potential problem. Every problem has multiple solutions.

Pros: Architectures (enterprise or otherwise) are built from reusable assets; frameworks are built to manage reusable assets; once a proper framework is provided and understood, most would employ it to save time. The mature framework helps improve business/IT efficiency, standardization and automation; the mature EA framework may also help maximize & balance point of views via a set of principles, processes, practices and patterns.

The Good intention of EA framework:  "Search underlying nature laws" -Zatchman

Cons: EA Frameworks intend to bring clarity of thinking and meaning into being, but many frameworks do not succeed in becoming prescriptive, they lack repeatable implementation methods that consistently produce working, maintainable solutions. 

EA framework is more about the scientific & systematic approach of architecture, but EA also need design thinking and creative thinking, to reflect the art of architecture, Today's EA is at lower level of maturity to fumble around many pieces of Big Elephant (enterprise); future of EA will train elephant dance (agility), think (knowledge management), speak (communication) and guard (governance)., etc. Today's EA is more inside-out IT process driven, the future of EA will be more outside-in, customer oriented.

Ideally, such EA framework should not restrict creativity, or cause over-complexity, it can help define the right set of problems and figure out the right alternatives of solutions.

You don't need a framework. You need a painting, not a frame  --- Klaus Kinski

3. EA in Encompassing Change Management

Framework = standard set of practices documented that encompass a specific process.

Pros: EA framework defines a set of artifacts, which need to be tailored to a particular development effort; it also defines how it can be extended and how it has to be used to create something. The frameworks approaching that recognize that all solutions create new problems are the business transformation & change frameworks. There are some of the more complex frameworks in EA that take this into consideration and provide a mechanism for project plan.

Cons: the Effective framework need encompass business transformation and change management via capturing the original intent rather than the formalized requirements. EA framework should enable change, than stifle innovation, increase change management and project management success rate, than work as an ivory tower approach. In reality, there are 70%+ of change management & IT project failure rate due to vary of reasons, EA may take fair share of responsibility via architecture perspective.

Furthermore:  the term framework is mostly addressed as a business issue. But taking this back to a technical level: the real issue about frameworks is: When to use them or not. A simple example: The more heterogeneous your component world gets, the harder and less effective is it to enforce a framework. So, the big question for architects is: Which frameworks to use? And if a solution can not be ready made with one, how can one find compatible ones?

4. EA Framework in Enforcing Governance

Each solutions is not classified in terms of right or wrong,  but in terms of cost, risk, quality and flexibility on the one hand, and effectiveness, efficiency, agility and durability on the other.

Pros: Frameworks eliminate the costly re-inventing of the wheel and the redefinition of EA at each and every attempt. Frameworks ensure that efforts deliver to expectations and results are comparable, predictable and repeatable. Frameworks help to find common identity and dictates common rules and behaviors.

Cons: Frameworks are as someone said "not cheap", it means the context and depth requires experience and investment. They are not "casual" and they are never complete. Adoption can be difficult if the parties are used to operating in stovepipes. Thus, the less mature EA framework may freeze process, disable innovation; add complexity, not enforce governance; lead inflexibility, and not improve agility.

There will be a growing link between financial management & EA, with budgets becoming a key input, and architects become responsible for cost and other financial aspects; there are also links between risk intelligence & EA, project investment & EA. etc.

An EA framework ensures that we work on the description of holistic enterprise rather than on how we should do the description.

5.    EA Framework in Enhancing Knowledge Management

Today’s EA is more about managing static knowledge, tomorrow’s EA is about managing dynamic business insight & foresight.

Pros: Mature EA frameworks, methodologies & tooling will more clearly identify the architectural subjects from the architectural context (the business environment & ecosystem), which may also include standard industry and domain frameworks & models, as well as logical and tooling linkages between EA, Business Strategy & Planning (up-stream) & Projects/Solutions (downstream), EA captures and develops enterprise knowledge with breadth and depth of business insight. 

Cons: lower mature EA framework may only capture partial knowledge, or outdated information, not being transformed into business intelligence or wisdom, to help business. grow and mature. Furthermore, a framework is content free and offers no assistance or guidance in the development of the required content.

Today's EA is shelf-ware to mange knowledge, future of EA is shareware to craft business insight & wisdom.

Shall we say: today's EA is more about framework; future of EA is both framework and frameless. Today’s EA is more about analytics, future of EA need becomes part of solution. High-performance businesses need high-mature EA.

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. --Charles Kettering