Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Four Ingredients in High Performance Organizations’ Secret Sauce

 High performers are more outward-looking and focused on the business dynamic.

There are a variety of factors that drive competitive success in today’s global economy: customer reach, operational agility, cost competitiveness, and stakeholder confidence. The report also articulates the business new normal facing in business during the last couple of years.

<·      Market variation: The new economy is more varied than the old. Businesses are competing in a multi-speed world in which variation between countries and sectors has never been greater.

·     Volatility: Another enduring feature of today’s interconnected market is its volatility. Some are arguing that as the consumers of the rapid-growth markets play a bigger role in the global economy, cyclical volatility has inevitably increased.

·       Cost pressure: As consumers and governments rein back their expenditure, and as borrowing to buy becomes harder, there is undoubtedly a greater cost-consciousness in the wider economy.

·       Uncertainty: In the past 12 months, any global board looking to manage strategic risk will have increased the weight it attaches to major strategic threats

Based on such business dynamics, the objective of the report is to find out what it is that high performers are doing differently and set out the lessons that other Businesses must learn if they are to emulate the success.

1. Customer Reach

 High performers are more outward-looking and focused on the market. They seek a deep understanding of their customers’ demands and expectations and are increasing marketing spend to attain this insight.

  • They are getting closer to customers’ needs, also looking beyond today’s solution. One of the major drivers of change continues to be the impact of technology. Digital technology now allows for both more focused communication and consequent customization than ever before. 
  • They prioritize innovation by focusing on incremental innovation of new products for current customers and current products for new markets.
  • They embed innovation into every aspect of their organization. High performers adopt the innovation 2.0 -a spiral approach to business model innovation suggests a loosely structured, circular process that allows companies to connect with the various points of the spiral in different ways and at different times, ultimately reaching an innovative breakthrough.
  • By adopting innovation 2.0 approaches, the most innovative companies can:
    1. Take advantage of changes in the external environment
    2. Continually revamp their business models to achieve competitive advantage
    3. Innovate to obtain specific business outcomes, such as increased agility, or productivity. 
  • On speed: Being fast is more important than being first. Only one person can ever be first to do something and the record of commercial success for such pioneers is at best mixed. Speed, however, matters for everyone. The speed to market, the speed of change, the speed of operations. These are often the difference between success and failure.

2.  Operational Agility

High performers respond smartly to change but, more importantly, respond speedily. High performers continue to accelerate while low performers are reaching the limits of their organizational capacity to respond. They adapt flexibly to fast-changing circumstances, by deploying technology, devolving decision-making and enhancing the skills of their workforce

  • On flexibility: Consistency remains a favorite mantra for management. Consistency facilitates efficiencies in operations and the ability to deliver a shared brand promise across service, sector, and national boundaries.
  • Taking advantage of technology: Increased use of technology is the most popular way that high performers seek to improve their flexibility. Almost half have taken this step, compared to 37% of low performers. 
  • Based on an earlier report: The DNA of CIO: In the evolution from providing tactical support for the business to becoming a strategic partner, CIOs need to align the priorities of IT to those of the business. CIOs also need to provide wise counsel, turning information into insights when the business is seeking to deploy new technology. At the highest level, CIOs are called upon to help develop the business further -from delivering transformation through to introducing business model innovation.  

3. Cost competitiveness

 High performers understand what drives cost and what drives value.

  • They are externally focused on value-creation and opportunity. They place more emphasis on customer segmentation and market analysis. 
  • High performers can be more confident about increasing prices because they understand their customers. 
  • Finding the right balance: They know the difference between eliminating waste and simply cutting costs. Low costs do not automatically translate into high profits. The best-performing companies not only understand what drives cost but, more importantly, understand how that spending creates value.
  • On price: Profit starts with pricing. The market may “set” the market price, but it doesn’t determine how much value is created or captured by individual companies.
  • Maximizing efficiencies effectively: High performers take a more strategic view and focus more on efficiency than reducing headcount. High performers also place more emphasis on customer segmentation and market analysis, management attitudes clearly vary between the two groups. Low performers have been far more active in headcount reduction — 43% versus 26%

4. The Stakeholder confidence

High performers engage more with stakeholders and unleash their talent, to inform, to explain, and to engage: Business is not just about numbers. The way a company communicates its story to its stakeholders has become ever more important. High performers seek to make the value they create visible to their external stakeholders and have significantly increased both the scope and frequency of reporting. In addition, two areas of particular importance relate to sustainability and human capital. Both are complex areas where we might perhaps have expected to see a growing demand for meaningful information.

  • On external: Making the value visible. Companies today are operating under two opposing pressures. On the one hand, there is much greater scrutiny than ever before. Enhanced governance processes, strengthened regulatory regimes, and increasingly demanding shareholders and stakeholders require higher levels of disclosure and compliance than in previous years. Yet, on the other hand, the world of business has never been more complex, as companies compete or collaborate as partners across ever-changing value chains to serve disparate and dynamic market segments. Success comes to those who can bring the value that they create to the attention of their stakeholders.
  • On internal: Unleashing your talents. The research since the start of the downturn has shown that one of the biggest drivers of differential performance relates to how companies develop and deploy talent. Some 42% of respondents identified talent management as the second most challenging function to manage globally.
    1. High performers are 60% more likely to identify talent as one of the critical factors for determining future competitiveness.
    2. High performers are 50% more likely to see access to talent as a reason to enter rapid-growth markets.
    3. High performers are 43% more likely to be achieving flexibility through devolving decision-making and 30% more likely to be seeking to improve their workforce skills as a result.
    4. Consequently, high performers are 16% more likely to have a concern about labor cost pressure. 
  • On leadership: The two most critical areas of difference concern the ability to lead effectively in an international business environment, where high performers gave a 10% higher weighting, and decisiveness. High-performing organizations are complex and challenging and consequently, call for greater skill in their leadership.
  • Our results, Supplemental research, and interviews show that companies understand where they need to be in terms of talent, but are struggling to get there. For example, they realize the importance of a global mindset but are unable to implement effective mobility or diversity strategies. And although they recognize the need to obtain the best talent, very few are investing adequately in this effort.
In conclusion: Fundamentally, what distinguishes high performers from others is the recognition that focus, innovation, cost, and execution are no longer distinct choices for competitive advantage, but must all co-exist as critical elements when seeking the optimal balance of competitive success. That recognition is based on having a deeper understanding of the drivers of value in their specific markets, the imagination to think differently, and the courage to translate those thoughts into action.

The message the report also conveys is that to fill the talent expectations gap, companies will need to change and flatten traditional organizational structures, allow for the diversity of cultures and backgrounds, and adopt new and more inclusive leadership styles

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Three Considerations in Reinventing IT Organizational Structure

IT can be a "pioneering" division to walk the talk and lead the change within an organization.

Many IT organizations or enterprise as a whole intend to reinvent their “stale” working environment with 20th culture such as bureaucracy, the inertia to change, reward mediocrity, homogeneous leadership & talent team, over-complex business processes, inefficient communication pipelines, etc. However, reinventing organizational structure is not an easy task, it takes both strategic planning and operational alignment to make it work and improve organizational maturity. Below is some collective insight on how to reinvent IT organizational structure and build a highly creative and productive working environment. 

1. Clarify Business Goals and Key Problems need to be solved

The main reason corporations need to create new structure schemes and organizational designs in IT is because business goals are not being met with current design and structure. As IT becomes less about “operate” and more about “generate differentiation for the business,” the link between IT and line-of-business peers can only increase.

  • Get feedback from business partners on what kind of IT department they want: Try to get involved in board meetings, even if irregularly and partially. All helps to promote IT within the corporation and get an overview of what the 'business' wants. You may get a lot of different answers and most of the time, very little insight into what should be the IT department mission or vision. Keep in mind that the IT department's mission should complement and add value to the company's mission. What are the goals of the organization as a whole and therefore what are the subgoals of technology required to achieve them? Once you solved this equation, it will become straightforward how you should organize putting together a set of processes and resources to execute them. You'll be aligned with the organization and best of all you'll get support from your top management to manage change.
  • A business architecture approach provides a unified structure and context for further analysis: (1). to understand the high-level functions of your IT organization, and (2). to ultimately guide decision making. The output would be an Operating Model, which is a representation of how IT operates across process, organization and technology domains in order to accomplish its function. An operating model describes the way your IT organization does business. Moreover, a gap analysis, skills assessment, efficiency study, workflow analysis, and knowledge of trends and models that work best to meet the business goals are needed before new schemes and designs are created and agreed upon across the business and all shared services.

2. The design factors to consider when building or restructuring IT

In learning about the drivers behind the design of the IT department, if you redesigned IT department, what factors drove the restructuring? How is the structure of your IT department aligned with the organization?

(1) Invite Related Parties to Brainstorm

Designing the organization is a co-responsibility that the related parties such as the senior leadership team, business committees, Enterprise Architecture team, HR, finance. etc. need be invited to bring up different perspectives, as any business reinvention effort should have clear business goals,  never be delegated from top management since they are the architects of the organization. This only means that in the end, you must have organizational-wide understanding and support for the new IT department's organization.

Any IT restructure effort should well align with its IT strategy, and IT strategy is always integral component of overall business strategy, that said, beginning the end in mind:  How to design an IT structure to optimize business processes, improve productivity, also encourage employees to be innovative and enforce cross-functional collaboration, and embrace Agile mindset & methodology? 

(2) Not just align with organizational culture, but how to cultivate the culture of innovation

Before you could create a new IT structure, you have to make sure it’s not just in alignment with the organizational "culture," but also, help to cultivate the culture of innovation, as that plays a critical role in how you structure your department, services, the underlying rules. IT department is not a silo by itself and it draws its energy from within the organization. 

In addition, innovation is the light IT should persistently pursue, shall you create a new team to experiment fresh ideas, or shall you embed such process into the existing structure and tuning it to do more/better with less, and do more with innovation

(3) The structure should have a larger business interest forged in via a partnership model. 

One of the key principles of assigning responsibilities is to reduce as far as possible (while maintaining good governance) the number of people who have to be involved in each task since all the additional communication/consensus seeking dramatically increase the time required to get even simple tasks done. So there needs to be the real delegation of responsibility with well-defined boundaries and clear accountability. 

Create a culture where IT staff talked regularly to their users rather than just using email. This built up a relationship of trust between IT and the users which meant that when urgent action was needed by users or IT there was the appropriate timely response. A project department within Corporate IT - you can offer PM skills through the corporation and support (or lead) numerous projects. This way, you can get closer to real 'business' of your corporation and other departments will see that IT is more than just the tech geeks.

(4)  Improve IT Maturity and overall Organizational Maturity

And like any other organization design effort, structuring IT group to leverage its core and distinctive competencies is an important consideration. The focus on realignment needs to value addition and speed with proper governance in place. With the way the world is changing, IT organization will always have internal and external resource components. When the structure is created, it needs to reflect both.

  • How to climb up IT maturity; Manage the teams to more focus on strategic & innovative projects & efforts, besides competitive necessary to keep the light on.  
  • Governance, Security and Risk Management: How to embed GRC well into IT strategic decision-making processes & daily business activities, it needs well alignment of people, process, and technology.
(5) IT & Business unit’s KPIs

Take time to review various business unit’s KPIs. Find ways, on how the design will play a calculated factor into the KPIs. Create a spreadsheet into Profit & Loss calculation factors and how to become a true partner: “It could burn or flourish for either party, but it’s’ the most desirable alignment” 

Whatever the structure be, there are benefits to treating IT as a Profit Center instead of a typical cost center. You set it up in such a way you could charge resource units back to various BUs. At the end of the year,  you are indeed successful if you show that the department is profitable while managing a high-quality team.

(6) Allow room for adjustments, keeping it dynamic

As you receive new insight & vision from various business units do the needful adjustments without fear & hesitation. Setup growth opportunities via a dynamic approach based on skill set & experience to meet new demands.

  • Build up the business's digital capability (a unified digital platform, solution-driven deliverable, analytics, and IT/Business integration)     
  • Agile Mindset: Amplify Agile methodology to manage IT more holistically, to enforce communication and customer satisfaction.
  • Innovation Management: Is innovation serendipitous, innovation capabilities can be cultivated:
(7)  Strategic Workforce Planning

  • Forecast knowledge and skills required to ensure you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and for the right cost. Forecasting demand for specific skills and roles helps reduce project delays: 
  • Continue developing relationships between IT and the business to understand emerging needs sooner. Forecasting the skills and roles you need to navigate the changes driven by mobile, cloud, big data, social media, and security trends. 
  • Statistically, 52% of IT professionals who don’t forecast demand for skills state project work is delayed, compared to only 31% for those who do forecast demand for skills. 
  • To get the most value for the least effort, continue to take a demand-oriented approach by default; remember the three “T’s” to keep the planning process organized: targets, tools, and talent:
    a) Start by identifying your goals in the organization (especially those affected by trends) – targets.
    b) Then, assess the responsibilities and skills required to achieve those goals – tools.
    c) Finally, define who you need to have those responsibilities and skills – talent.       

3. Define Structural Components 

Either organizational pyramid or business lattice, the structure may not be so flat yet, but multi-device support, multichannel communication, and multi-cultural cognizance can all make IT more effective.

  • The role-based structure (Business Planning and Support Branch, Solution Delivery Branch, and IT Service and Operations Management Branch). The idea is to put all the people together to Plan, Build, and Operate into respective branches and work across all technologies. The idea behind this change was to create communities of practice within those areas with people doing similar jobs being able to work together and leverage each other more effectively while focusing on doing things using more repeatable processes.
  • Case Study: (1) In one instance (a large multi-national), the problem - "a lack of productivity with technology" - turned out to be four regional teams all building the same software because that's what the regional business heads demanded. Re-align responsibilities on a functional rather than a regional basis and eliminating redundant work. (2) In another case, the technologists were "so busy keeping the existing systems running and responding to fire drills" that they couldn't "stay in the zone." So re-aligned to have a help desk, production support, tactical development, and strategic development as separate teams. Hence, rather than ask "what factors drove your restructuring," ask "what are the problems we're having meeting our goals," and go from there.
  • Virtual Team Mixed with Physical group: The physical team adjustment or reporting structure change may need to consider business culture and varies factors as described above, but social platforms and tools provide more convenient ways to enforce cross-functional communication, well-mixed business, and IT staff team will help IT talent understand business process and end customer thoroughly, to deliver end-to-end solution, also educate business staff with IT and risk concerns. And the emerging trends such as Agile, DevOps, etc may drive more organizations to do necessary adjustment either in organizational structure or through virtual cross-functional collaboration.       

  • Create a Life Cycle Framework for all Structural Components
    (1) Strategic - Create R&D / Enterprise Architecture / Systems Engineering Organization
    Tactical Create Operations Organization (Add, Start, Stop, Retire, Modify Technology); This will have many teams (Server, Storage, Network, Security, Application)

    (2) Build Security and Quality Organization
    Security report directly to CIOs and CEOs
    Quality report directly to CIO

    (3) Execute New Initiatives - PMO Organization

    (4) Process and Governance Organization
    Integrate processes across organization.
    Improve quality + productivity across concept to deploy value chain.

    (5) Extended organization - Exception Management
    SME / Consultant Rolodex for Emergency Mgmt (M&A, Unplanned Projects)
    It helps to reuse the same consultants from vendors/partners

    (6). Matrix Team to Align IT and Business
    Members from Business, IT, CFO to approve portfolio and plan new initiatives.

  • IT Design Practices:
IT design exercise with and decided to create a new Partnership/Account Management function to help IT better align with and seek innovation through the combined efforts of IT and users. So at the macro level level a) Support, b) Partnership, and c) Tech Development, which is a merge of applications & infrastructure (since so many systems are a combo of the web, mobile, cloud, and apps these days).

Also, by focusing on outcomes (running all production apps and infrastructure and keeping them all up and available for example) we were looking to improve service levels and responsiveness to clients as everyone had a common goal in mind. The Business Planning and Support Branch was intended to work outwardly with our clients to help them plan for meeting their business objectives while also doing internal IT planning and setting of Enterprise Architecture standards to ensure alignment with the organization's goals. Solution delivery would build to the standards put forth by the Plan area and eventually migrate it to IT Service and Operations Management to keep it up and running. The intention was also to create more cross-functional teams to break down the older technology based silos and increase collaboration. 

Thus, any organizational restructure effort should re-invent talent management from micromanagement to macro-management;  from monochrome to multi-dimensional visions and multi-faceted team building, and from monitor based to a motivational style performance management. IT can be a "pioneering" division to walk the talk and lead the change within the organization,  because IT is like the business's "nervous system," with sense and sensitivity, and usually, IT talent may also be more learning Agile, less political, though, change takes agile mentality, iterative step, and cross-functional communication and support.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Three Types of “Low Hanging Fruits” from EA

EA, as an abstraction, is created to convey the business value of change.
We may all understand the fact that EA is a journey, but we also know stakeholders everywhere want to see results (Value) as soon as it is initiated/piloted. Can Business (Enterprise) Architecture delivers value within 90 days? What would that be?

1. Quick Win is in the mind of the expectant not the action of the executioner.

Can EA deliver value in 90 days? It may depend upon the expectations of the sponsor, the task in hand, and the culture of the organization. What architects see as valuable might not necessarily be any value to the CxO level or anyone else outside EA. However, EA deliverables SHOULD be valuable outside the EA team so - can it deliver value in 90 days? In the right circumstances with the right expectations –the answer is “yes”.

  • The art of the possible and desirable, the EA must establish the scope and scale of the task and that can only be done with the buy-in of senior staff.  For any experienced EA who can study existing business process, systems, organization, etc and map with futuristic business strategy, Enterprise Architecture, systems, etc and then, identify the gaps with roadmap and recommendations can deliver great value to all stakeholders. The intent is not to solve the problem / accomplish the objective in 90 days; it typically takes longer than that. The point is what products of value for the stakeholders could be produced in that duration to keep them committed and engaged. 
  • The purpose of Business (Enterprise) Architecture is to help connect the dot. Often times, there are a lot of projects/activities going on in an organization. There are a lot of objects/components/web services being created. However the context for those projects/activities/objects/components/services is not clear. Within 90 days, EA can create a decent business capability map and use that to frame these activities/artifacts. Then you can use the capability map to drive portfolio management, heat map analysis, capability overlap, etc. And you can demonstrate the value of having Business (Enterprise) Architecture with this quick win.
1) Start with a key division based on needs, exec acceptance and urgency.
2). Perform As-Is study at the same time understanding the business value and future business goal 
3). Gap analysis and find a solution 

For example, a CIO might be interested in a summary of the IT ROI and TCO - as a business case for change - Regardless of the analysis and design, architecture purity, and numerous spreadsheets of proven tangible and intangible benefits, an abstraction is created to convey to the business the value of change. Why should the business invest in what you are proposing?

In addition, it is not all about IT. There are some situations when a business solution does not require technology change and as an enterprise or solution architect, you should (in time) be able to recognize them. 

2. The EA artifacts created within 90 days may provide more value to the EA team

Though what has been described time and time again is the value of delivering EA artifacts within 90 days as 'business value'! This highlights a big EA problem at the moment in that architect's perception of value is the same as the business. The EA artifacts created in most cases within 90 days provide more value to the EA team than the business. What the business sees as value are the final results and not the beginnings of analysis with or without proposed recommendations. Not all EA projects take the same path and there are significant variables that alter its course - thinking otherwise highlights a lack of diverse experience within EA activities.

For a new established EA team, some first 90 days activities may include:
1)     Organize the EA team, create an EA site
2)     A clear statement of intent of the architecture (Architecture Vision - short version)
3)     Engaging Sponsors/key stakeholders and managing their expectations
4)     Developing a roadmap for realizing the expectations of the sponsors/key stakeholders
5)     Establish EA (In this case Business Architecture) framework if it does not exist (Governance, Tools, communication / formal publishing channels, standards, principles, etc...)
6)     Project management (Resources - potential pitfall, milestones, deliverables planning...)
7)     Establishing key measures for value and success (Measure a potential quick win). Link them to the architecture/artifacts (process/capability etc)
8)     Establishing a formal organizational dictionary, catalogs, taxonomies, priorities, core processes, and capabilities, etc.

3. Low Hanging Fruit Gives EA Management Validation

Within 90 days in pretty much any organization an experienced business (enterprise) architect could almost guarantee to identify and present one or more valuable improvements and innovations. Whether the organization itself can be encouraged to understand their value or is prepared to go through the pain or cost of the required change is another matter. Talking about value, from a management perspective, we may also think about metrics, are your EA metrics based on budget, on schedule or on value? Even value is a multi-dimensional concept, how do you measure such quick win via quality value, economical value, utility or different shareholder's perceptive value?

Therefore, EA value can be derived in multiple ways - it does not have to be realized by delivering value to the enterprise customer. Reduced cost of implementing change could be valued. Reduced cost of planning change could be valued. Avoided risk through better quality contracts could be value. There is a full spectrum the value is derived.

Focus on core value chain activities and search for the "low-hanging fruit" where EA can be used for assessing a serious business challenge or problem, then used for defining the solution. Business problems in the production chain get a lot of management attention. Thus, crafting a reasonable solution with EA will give EA a lot of management validation and provide you with credibility, which then can be carried forward into the next EA engagement that might need more than 90 days to complete.

More specifically, from a management perspective, EA can be used as:

(1). Communication Tool: so as long as executives & managers start using EA to communicate more concisely and effectively cross-enterprise level, then EA is valuable. Or put another way... unless there is a tight connection to daily operational details, architecture is little more than an intellectual hand-waving exercise. Within 90 days, an EA should come up with a one-page architecture, covering business and technology. 

(2). Knowledge Management Tool: information is now the precious asset in the enterprise, but the information is not knowledge yet, the breadth and depth of knowledge EA helps manage can also benefit business even on a daily basis;. This is an ongoing effort and will never be done. So defining the top 30 files and 30 reports with unique keys is a deliverable that will yield results within 90 days.

(3). PPM Management Tool: overall, project management success rate is low if EA can help prioritize, optimize project portfolio, then both quick win and long term value are tangible.

4). Risk/Governance Tool: Either at strategic, logic or tactical level, the business faces risk more frequently than ever, recognize pattern or loophole, to keep business resilient is another value point for EA to reach. 

EA also has the potential to contribute to three major business challenges, in conjunction with other tools and approaches: 

1). Set strategy: We are living in the turbulence of the external environment, EA can help an organization set strategy, keep appropriate control, develop sufficient resilience while remaining agile, identify and manage strategic risk. 

2). Managing the internal complexity of the organization. EA can help an organization to model and so understand itself, define and deliver decision-taking information support, reduce information overload & complexity, produce a pipeline of core capabilities, focus and manage innovation, plan and deliver technology deployment, plan and manage change

3). Manage the boundary between the organization and the external world. EA can help an organization understand and manage globalization, manage its supply chains, influence / comply with relevant regulation, manage its partnerships, assess and execute M&A

Very often the reason an organization hasn't already recognized and implemented such improvements is that its culture or methods act as a kind of glass ceiling preventing it from doing so. This applies even when the improvement is apparently a quick fix. Again that glass ceiling puts them tantalizingly out of reach. Moreover, 'architectural' improvements are by definition more than a lick of paint, so are going to require more fundamental, invasive changes, with larger, longer-term payback

In conclusion: quick win builds trust and trust builds advocacy. However, EA, as an abstraction, is created to convey the business value of change. Overemphasizing on short term result may stifle EA real value. And EA's main purpose is to bridge strategy and execution, it’s a journey, not a sprint.

ITIL Framework: Value Added or Out -of-Date

Do not let ITIL or any other framework ruin your common sense. Take it as a guideline but put your own flavors and ingredients. 

It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame.  --Marshall McLuhan

All companies are quite different and CIOs also have different understandings and experiences of ITIL. Some think ITIL provides a tremendous amount of benefits to many global companies; while there are also many companies fail at its use and others using it as an excuse to slow down the speed of business.

Is it one of those "old school" frameworks from the era when IT focused on risk mitigation and process integrity rather than customer satisfaction and business success? or does ITIL still add value in ITSM at digital speed? Some CIOs are abandoning ITIL, while others use it religiously. Is it still appropriate and why?

1.  Common Understanding of ITIL is vital to its Value Proposition in ITSM

1)    ITSL is a framework, not gospel. The elasticity and resiliency of any frameworks start with an understanding that we are trying to provide a foundation for continued success . . . the goal should not be the construction of a monolithic standard that is incapable of adapting to the changing needs. 

2)     ITIL is Recipe: Don't eat the recipe; eat what you make from it! ITIL doesn't give you all the answers for one thing. It's more a book of recopies than the finished article. It was intentionally designed to be a guideline and not the gospel. As such, it is expected to be tailored to meet the requirements of the organization.

3)    ITIL is basically a detailed analysis of all the aspects of operations and recommendations for the best practices. However, you can't just implement ITIL as written; you have to use it as a guide for the development of operational procedures that suit your own operations. ITIL clearly doesn't develop and adapt as quickly as some organizations change and therefore,  operational managers have to use their brains to adapt to satisfy the needs of the organization in which they work.

4)    ITIL is a set of best practices and a framework, and Best Practice is not a one-off implementation, nor is it self-sustaining. As Version 3 of ITIL underlines, there should be an iterative and interactive lifecycle approach to the various processes. Best Practice is an ongoing commitment and not a time-restricted project.

5)     ITIL is a guideline - not a standard. Weaving it into the fabric of compliance as a standard will continue to cause heartburn. The more we change, the more we often stay the same . . . in so many respects. 

2. Top Ten Reasons Why ITIL fails or Some Move Away from it

1)     The #1 reason for anyone to move away from ITIL seems to be lack of flexibility: The CIO's misconception that it adds more time to implementations, modernizations, and transformations

2)     ITIL is not to blame. The implementation of ITIL is to blame. To be efficient, ITIL should never be a burden to the operational staff, but a toolbox to work efficiently. The administrative burden should be taken by the support system. ITIL is to frequently hijacked by administrative forces and turned into a nightmare of controlling layers. 

3)     It takes too long for ITIL to keep up with trends and new technologies requiring different models, such as cloud and other new architectures. They also feel it has required them to spend too much time on operational aspects.

4)     Change Management Fails: The biggest failure in many organizations and their implementation of ITIL or other methodology is their strict adherence to the methodology without any consideration for adapting the methodology to their culture, business, technical infrastructure, operations, or even the circumstances of a given project.

5)     Too Much IT Focus, not Enough Business Focus: TIL is still relevant, but sometimes organizations spend so long focusing on implementing the processes that they forget about basics - focusing on discovering what is the cause of the problem and constant improvement.

6)     Becoming the end itself: Some organizations treat ITIL as an end in itself rather than a tool to help IT efficiently and effectively deliver the services the organization needs to achieve its overall goals. It is also essential to take into account the skills and experience of the staff that will operate the process when designing it so that it doesn't become overly prescriptive and takes advantage of their professional expertise. ITIL can help you get there, but it doesn’t have to be the end at all. 100% adherence to any methodology is not necessarily a good thing.

7)      Misunderstanding & misusage: It is not mandatory in its entirety and that it is one of several tools and guidelines they can use. There is no reason why you can’t make the best of ITIL, the parts that work well in your company culture, and tailor the rest. Infrastructure and operations benefit greatly from well-designed, air-tight processes that can be automated. The goal should be to right-size ITIL for your organization without breaking the bank.

8)     People take "it" too seriously. The key is to look for improvement opportunities to solve problems or increase value, not to simply pass some process audit, and sending people on training is never the silver bullet. Otherwise, ITIL just becomes the flavor of the day until the next fad comes along. Or when you start to expect it to be an all-encompassing solution for IT is when you start to get into trouble. This is where you need to start to embrace other frameworks and even bring in your own creativity to be successful in the delivery of IT services.

9)     Some believe ITIL is still relevant but it is costly: That may explain why some are abandoning it. Efficiency should not come at all costs. The reason for failure is a mismatch of expectations and failure to deliver on what was perceived to be the outcome.

10) TIL turns to be an inflexible doctrine that drags down the enterprise: Failed ITIL initiatives lie not with the service lifecycle management framework, but rather with the application of that framework. Fundamental, conceptual understanding of continuous improvement is lacking from many implementations

3.  Define the Right Set of Questions to Evaluate ITIL Objectively

ITIL gains some reputation, also cause confusions or even resource waste, if any comprehensive surveys are taken to ask ITIL users, what is the right set of questions shall you ask:

1) IT Maturity: on average, do ITIL users have significant higher IT maturity, or not so much difference?

2) Innovation: What matters now, innovation, most of the businesses now also think IT as their innovation engine, so, do ITIL users have better capabilities to be innovative or less? Why.

3) Value: What are the key values it can bring to IT or business as a whole? How about the value/cost ratio? How about User feedback and overall customer experience? How about short term win vs. Long term Perspective?

4) Agile: Is Agile complementary to ITIL? Or does ITIL become a barrier for the company to adopt Agile? Although Agile came out of the software development world, can things like kanban and scrum be used effectively by infrastructure and support teams?

5) Change: Can ITIL adapt to change? Is ITIL still an effective framework to embrace IT/Business Changes with the right governance discipline? Or is ITIL an “old school framework” to be very rigid applying controls or stifle changes?

6)   Simplicity: Does ITIL add the un-necessary restrictions on users/systems? Or It has the necessary design complexity to enforce service delivery?

7)    Digitalization: Can the ITIL framework help to build the business’s digital capabilities/maturity such as: business/IT integration, tailored solution, or a unified digital platform?

4. ITIL Tips for CIOs

  • ITIL is not one Size fits All: ITIL and other processes can only work if tailored specifically to the environment a CIO finds him/herself in. What works for one organization may not work for another, even if implemented by the best ITIL practitioner in the business; and sometimes the CIO may rightly take the decision that a bespoke process is what's needed rather than a widely adopted one such as ITIL.

  • Cloud Transformation: Which role ITIL can play in such a transformation? With more and more companies adopting cloud, the opportunity has never been greater for IT to transform into a service-oriented organization and grow the business it serves. According to IDG research, more than one-third of current IT budgets are allocated to cloud solutions. However, in their haste to adopt the cloud, CIOs may be missing an opportunity: the chance to use this transition to reshape IT. The key to success is IT transformation to services broker. With a service lifecycle approach, organizations can increase the velocity of IT service delivery and operate efficiently, without sacrificing governance.

  • CIO must see what they can get out of ITIL and at the same time what is the best for the organization to adopt. No one is forcing anyone rather it is just a tool that helps you to be more vigilant and smart. CIOs must see the ROI using this tool for business in terms of value addition, controls, business benefits, etc.

  • BUILDING TRUST THROUGH TRANSPARENCY: In many organizations, IT needs to gain the trust of the business. Research to measure the business perception of IT across many companies clearly demonstrates that, while IT is seen as an important partner, it receives low ratings in areas such as budget effectiveness, business understanding, and communication, any framework should enforce such transparency.

  • CIOs should have an in-depth understanding of ITIL at strategic Level: Most CIOs, including those who actively champion ITSM, have little more than a superficial understanding of the ITIL, or the implications of adopting ITSM processes. Worse, they rarely regard the effort as a true organizational transformation effort touching every aspect of the IT organization, and many aspects of the enterprise organization. 

  • Be pragmatic, not dogmatic: An organization has to balance the time it spends on the process (ITIL) and the time it spends on products/deliverables. If the ITIL implementation became such a focus that the organization loses traction on deliverables, then a re-balancing would be in order.

  • Embrace Agile: Agile Scrum and IT management, many organizations use agile as mainstream software development methodology, and even as a management discipline, that said, what is needed from an effective framework is the governance process also being agile enough to adapt to changes

  • Social Collaboration: The emerging ITSM solutions may add social collaboration in service management to build up a better democratic environment, such as  DevOps to converge IT development & the operation for improving agility, the CIO’s evaluation for new tools may also include how the framework supports the new trend and deliver innovative IT services & solutions.

  • Value-Driven Questions being asked by CIOs:  'how much of this particular process or method should I implement in this role to get the business to where it needs to be?'. The answer to that question should never be based on the technology in use in the business, rather on the particular needs of the business - including taking into account where it currently sits with regards to the good practices proposed by ITIL and other methods out there.

  • As a reference framework, ITIL is not a "one size fits all" solution. CIOs should be innovators, not lemmings. Use what makes sense, apply it in a way that considers what's unique about your organization but without abandoning the spirit of the framework. 

IT becomes the business catalyst to build competitive uniqueness, but how do you differentiate yourself from other IT organizations, besides standardization, there're optimization and innovation, IT is shaping your business, but the framework is not a strategy. Do not let ITIL or any other framework ruin your common sense. Take it as a guideline but put your own flavors and ingredients. Select a mix of the framework, toolset, and process architectures to improve flexibility and agility for speed of business change, doing better with less, and doing more with innovation.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Butterfly Effect: Do you agree there’s Link between Employees’ Disengagement & Global Economic Issues?

The more satisfied and inspired employees feel at work, the better performance can individual business achieve.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state.  The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

One interesting online debate “Do you agree that there’s a link between disengaged employees and our global economic issues?” spurred very active brainstorming on how to engage employees, improve staff satisfaction, and unify their heart, mind at work.

1. Add Value Results in Engagement 

There's compelling evidence that employee engagement, especially in the form of employee involvement, leads to higher profitability. That's not to say that employee engagement is a pre-requisite for profitability, you can still be profitable even if you treat employees like cattle, but you'll be more profitable if you engage them. Since one key measure of capitalism is the profitability of companies, it seems to follow that employee engagement strengthens capitalism.

Why is engagement so critical? New scientific discoveries in neuroscience and physics are showing that the elements of consciousness that must exist first, such as inspiration, coherence, empowering beliefs, etc. and even more important than conventionally believed. It's the very quality of consciousness holds the potential for revelations in business performance and organizational culture.

The capitalism is the natural expression of free humans. Freedom is an innate condition of our creation. When humans are not restricted from their natural expression, the more a person has control over their own ability to build value in a capitalist system, the more engage they become. By its very nature, adding value results in engagement. When employees align, they bring their whole selves to work. You can feel it in the air when an organization has such vitality in its culture. As they create that dynamic culture, you can watch the assessment data show smaller and smaller entropy stats and the profit and share price data get bigger and bigger.

Engagement at many organizations is suspect, though - employees are certainly engaged in something,  but the quality of what people get engaged in matters most and that comes down to leadership consciously building a culture based on engaging values. Because when people mutually engage at the level of values, their behaviors cure entropy and create the vitality to maintain winning edges. 

The other concern is that the more we use external and extraneous labels to describe what we think companies should do to add multi-dimensional value, the more opportunities we give the companies to market apparent value instead of adding real value.

2. Cause Effect –Financial Performance & Corporate Social performance (CSP) Mutually Enforce with Each Other

One might suppose that companies that are operating optimally do a great job at helping all employees understand and appreciate how they can add value, resulting in high levels of employee engagement. As those employees feel good about themselves,  they are more likely to positively engage their communities with value added activities as well. The result, high CSP (Corporate Social Performance) 

There are data-driven studies that conclude that engaged employees are causal for higher profits, share prices, innovation, stakeholder loyalty, collaboration and more. There are certainly companies making high profits with poor employee engagement but they have a significant entropy which means they don't manage their human resources optimally. When employees leave the unengaged parts of themselves at home, the company can't fully capitalize on its most critical and usually most expensive resource, humans. 

Further, there is always an element of social benefits goal in any industry; it is however for the organization and its promoters to draw the balance between social and commercial objectives. It needs to be kept in mind that in a hugely capitalistic environment today, the basic human needs have gone to a much higher level. And only once these are satisfied, do organizations look at social goals.

From a marketing perspective, CSP, if done and adequately promoted, does build the positive aura around the organization and its products. It will, therefore, be quite natural to favorably inclined towards the company. Yes, employee morale does change, but the direct correlation with the financials of the organization is difficult to establish. Moreover,  there will be a time lag. Thus,  doing CSP is not enough. Promoting it is also equally important. And then One might suppose that companies that are operating optimally do a great job at helping all employees understand and appreciate how they can add value, resulting in high levels of employee engagement. As those employees feel good about themselves, they are more likely to positively engage their communities with value added activities as well. The result, high CSP (Corporate Social Performance) .
The issue of larger than life promotions which could lead to the organization getting more benefit than what it deserves. On the other hand, there could be those that do CSP but may not have the capacity to promote adequately. Depending on the time horizon that the stakeholders have, CSP could go to the back seat. There are two ways to approach the issue: 
  • Change the time horizon. The benefit of CSP is always a longer term issue. 
  • Change the rules of the game to give benefit and even promotion to such organizations in the shorter term
The first aspect is more an attitude issue. It is difficult to alter unless general sentiments change across the industry. However, there are organizations are doing it regardless of what others are doing. The second aspect is where the administration comes into the picture. The laws, benefits and the entire approach towards such organizations could be made favorable. In the course of time, the sentiments will change and with that,  the attitudes. The end result thus can be achieved better and in a shorter time frame.
From a cause-effect perspective, the high CSP causes high financial performance and high financial performance causes high CSP for the long term. As in the entire exercise, we must not forget the cold logic of the end consumer who looks for value for whatever he/she spends, and that applies to every penny spent, and anywhere in the world.

3. Reconnect Employee, Leadership, and Organization 

The core issue in many organizations today is: Employees or followers have lost a connection to the organization or the leadership of the organization. Leaders and organizations will need to determine where leader and follower relations could be improved, and take immediate steps to create an environment that stimulates overall positive organizational self-esteem and strengthens the overall connection between leader and follower relations.

If an organization is showing economic distress and if there are enough employees (followers) who feel connected to the vision/mission of the organization, employees will find the means to sustain business during challenging times and be market leaders when markets are thriving. The negative side: When enough employees feel disconnected to the mission/vision of an organization or leadership, it will only be a matter of time; the organization will fail in its market. NOT the other way around... 

What are the effective remedies for addressing employee engagement? The research has found that leaders who focus on "being interpersonally flexible" are the most effective at building trust with employees. Flexible leaders recognize that other's needs are at least as important as their own, and focus on achieving win/win outcomes. This is where comes in as leaders and employers. The leaders must help people understand how they can add value. The research also finds a strong correlation between the trust employees have for the leaders and their level of passion and commitment to their organization.

There are proven drivers of inspiration, making it possible to actually measure the "inspiration level" within an organization. The findings are easily actionable and the organization's inspiration level is a leading indicator of many other things now on the scorecard... Including engagement, productivity, turnover intent. 

At employee engagement working environment, Five Practices (Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act) empower employees to reach high level of passion pyramid: Level1. To be respected   Level 2. To Learn & Grow Level 3 To be an “Insider”,  Level 4. To Do Meaningful Work,  Level 5. To be on a Winning team.

That also being said, "being trustworthy" is essential to success, not just for leaders but for the organization to build a loyal customer base. The challenge found is that being trustworthy does not guarantee that you will be trusted. There are many honest, ethical leaders who believe they are trustworthy (and to an extent they are) and yet they fail to earn the trust of their employees and perhaps consumers. So it is actually what leaders "do" that builds trust, but many don't understand what to do.

There is no question that as an organization, company or nation, if we capture the whole "being" of every member,  then the "doing" will be made so much easier. Capturing organizational spirit has to "lead from within", be part of it, identify with it, share its values and its beliefs. Only then,  can we hope to influence it, and lead to a creative and productive workplace.

So there is indeed a butterfly effect: Each individual creates energy, each computer consumes energy, each business fill with energy, the world we live in flow with energy, and nature is full of energy. The more satisfied and inspired employees feel at work, the better performance can individual business achieve, and sure, employee’s  engagement will impact global economy overall. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

BPM & EA Hill View: Can you see a single version of the business process truth exist in most enterprises?

There might be “a single truth of the business process” at an atomic level and at a very high level,  but there are many different versions of the business processes in the middle. In order to get to a single version—

BPM walks through a tough journey from bottom up, while EA oversights enterprise from top down, and they meet at a hill, to view the enterprise scene, can they see a "single version of business process truth" tactically, logically and strategically?

Level: 1: Tactical View: When you look at a mountain, you see a static mountain

At this stage, you just see what you look at on the surface, you see the altitude, the shape, the color, only capture the physical characteristics of mountain, it’s inanimate.

  • In EA, it’s about realization or generalization, EA abstracts the fact and knowledge from business.        
  • In BPM: In short, there should be at an atomic level if a process has a single, unquestionable version of truth.
At tactical level, A BPM view is completely repeatable, single-truth processes should probably be automated to the greatest extent possible, rather than relying on human processing power, then they become systematic.

BPMers should stop worrying about it and leave it to software engineers to automate. For lengthy organization-wide processes, strive for repeatability and documentation of the process truth, but do not get upset that you may never achieve it; Because the processes are more contained, the simpler, more repeatable processes leave less room for interpretation than the broader, more exception driven ones do, though businesses differentiate in their LOBs by having variations in the process,  it  should be using the same atomic underpinnings where applicable.

Process Efficiency: At tactical level, doing things right --usually means business automation to improve process efficiency, stop questioning the process correctness and just make sure they work. This allows you to concentrate on the parts where people are adding value, rather than being a possible point of failure.

2. Level II: Role-Based View: When you look at a mountain, you see not a mountain

That said, you may concentrate on a few trees, the snow covered on it, or an eagle stops on the top, you do highlight something more interesting or beautiful, more matters for yourself, you desire to dig deeper, understand more.  

  • In EA, it’s about specialization (Implementation), or classification (portfolio management), EA provides business insight on project priority or technical integration. 
  • In BPM: At such logic level with role-based view, the answer is not about “Single Version of Truth” because nobody can agree on what the truth looks like, it's a matter of perspective from which angle of the process you are looking from.
If you put three process actors in a room,  you will hear four interpretations of how that process works. But that doesn't mean there isn't a "truth"; what it means is that the truth, whatever else it may be, is non-deterministic and therefore not really useful.

Therefore, the truth is in the eye of the beholder. Everybody involved with the process thinks they know how it works and where the issues are, but putting independent eyes upon it almost always ends up painting a somewhat different picture.

Once you rise up from atomic level or move down from the strategic level, at this middle level, there are so many needs and value propositions that the business processes vary, plus business is changing everyday so single source of truth, if there is one, inherently changes by next week. Rather than focusing on a ‘single version of the truth”, you need to set up a framework that allows for differing opinions about what process stands for, what it means, what’s important about it.

At logic level, it also means process effectiveness (doing the right things): how to create business value, as value also has multi-dimensional perspectives such as: quality value, utility value, monetary value and perceptive value, so if there's any "single version of truth” in process, it's about overall business benefit from process when integrating all related parties’ viewpoints.

3. Level: III: Blueprint View: When you See a Mountain, you Perceive a Live Mountain 

At the highest level, you see and perceive a mountain again, but it means, the mountain is alive now, you may not so much care about its physical look, you capture the spirit of mountain, regardless which season you are in, you can see its full colors, you can imagine what the top look like, you feel it and touch it holistically, you can even communicate with it, and harmonize human nature with mother nature., etc. It’s about wisdom, idealism, symbolism.  

  • In EA, it’s also about inclusion or holism. Most organizations that adopt outside-in thinking are in a strong position to share information and outcomes with customers and business partners to foster trust, gain foresights and spur ecosystem investment.
  • In BPM: At strategic level, “a single version of process truth” can be unified. But the broader the reach of the process, the more diffuse the truth becomes, and the more important it is to commit the time and energy required to at least achieve the essential "truthiness" & "wholeness" of the thing. Without that minimum stake in the ground, it's really hard to derive any sort of value from any kind of BPM initiative.
At such conceptual level, BPM and EA also mean the same things such as inclusion and holism, embrace “Outside-In” customers’ POVs, enforce communication, and capture insight and foresight of business.

Thus, there might be “a single truth of the business process” at an atomic level and at a very high level,  but there are many different versions of the business processes in the middle. In order to get to a single version—the strategic business goals, leverage is the key.