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

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

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Seven Lessons from Strategy Failure & Monitor’s Fall

An insightful post about Monitor’s failure on Steve Denning's Forbes blogs spurred thought-provoking discussion, which means, strategy planning is still one of critical management activities in modern businesses today; also because Monitor is a strategy consulting firm co-founded by strategy master Porter, surely such discussion is not for gossip, but for brainstorming the strategy in strategy making, and learning more from failures with humility.


1.    Strategy Framework is a Tool, not Gospel

There are lots of Strategy Models, some older, some newer. Competitive Strategy (Porter), Core Competencies Strategy, Disruptive Innovation Strategy (Christensen), Blue Ocean Strategy (Chan Kim & Mauborgne), etc. etc.

  • Strategy Framework is like recipe, not a dish, there are two phases in strategy formulation: the first is carpentry: swot, pest, 5F, etc. The output is beautiful reports, bubble charts, trend analysis and fed consultants. Most of the times,  poor understanding of the business ecosystem in strategic perspective results in a plan that is only on the presentations, excel sheets or board discussion points. Such plans seldom result in concrete actionable item,  that is the point when there is no defined process, no step by step recipe to follow. 

  • See Things Differently: Strategy formulation starts with collating all the intelligence through whatever methodology that suits the company best, then identifying patterns within the intelligence, up until this point the approaches are standardized and with the right consultancy it can be done swiftly and properly. Where most organizations struggle is the phase after the analysis where they need to define what to do and what not to do, the lack of innovation, thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas that challenge the status quo has been the biggest reason why weak strategies are formulated. The inability of today's executives to think in a pioneer way, to see things differently has become the biggest challenge for corporations. To be innovative, you need to understand the model behind your organization, your ecosystem and your customers.
  • The Strategy Formulation methodology depend a lot on the Strategic Maturity Level of each specific organization (management team or wider involvement, as the case may be). It doesn’t mean that frameworks are nonsense, they have a degree of relevance, but they are so remote that you have to bridge them to your circumstances, that bridge is what you call a maturity model.

2. Strategy is not just Hindsight, Foresight is more Crucial

  • Lack of Foresight: From Denning’s posting: "Although Porter’s conceptual framework could help explain excess profits in retrospect, it was almost useless in predicting them in prospect., The strategists theories are 100 percent accurate in hindsight. Yet, when casting their theories into the future, the strategists as a group perform abysmally.. The point is not that the strategists lack clairvoyance; it’s that their theories aren’t really theories— they are ‘just-so’ stories whose only real contribution is to make sense of the past, not to predict the future.' "

  • Past is only part of ingredients, not all: Frameworks have value, but they are also a major roadblock to a successful strategy based on your organization and its context which can never be represented fully by the past. The past is part of the ingredients of a successful strategy, and important ingredient, but it would be a mistake to think past successes can translate into future ones

  • The fundamental flaws of an approach based on pattern analysis and problem recurrence are a) the context and b) the dynamic view, which are both interrelated. In most cases, if not all cases, the context of one business is different from another, in all cases, the dynamic behavior of your organization and consumers will be different than the ones identified in the past. That is when "luck and divine inspiration [are] needed" to succeed.

3. The Root Causes of Strategy Failure

Nine out of ten companies fail to implement strategy, 70% of change efforts fail, etc.

  • Strategies fail because they are conceived in the rarefied air of hierarchical tops and they lack the variety to meet and resolve the complexity of the real world. They lack the depth of understanding that the people who actually deliver value to customers have about the situation. Thus, the strategy fails because of the lack of visibility. Most people consider strategy to be an enigmatic discrete process that only a leader can truly master it. 

  • It becomes just a rhetorical exercise SWOT, PEST, 5 Forces, etc; are often used and documented, and then the executives come up with whatever they had in mind in the first place. It becomes just a rhetorical exercise, really expensive and time consuming exercise, that takes a lot of the planning time and then, the crucial part, formulating the strategy, is rushed or whatever they had before is just rubber stamped. 
  • A strong cause behind this is the lack of a strong strategy. When a company has a true strategy that leverages competences, it has strong fit and makes sense, things usually happen. Disruptive strategies (or strategic models) have their benefit at the right time in a company's life. It is probably true that it better fits the early stages, but can be applied at any point, when the vision and the opportunities (or threats/challenges) push the company in that direction.

  • This question of strategy alignment with organization design opens up a number of possible root causes for strategy failure: Is the strategy realistically given the organization's capabilities? Has the change and implementation effort been properly sized and planned? Often times the focus is on management systems and organization structure but culture, talent and other factors are over-looked.

  • Super egos are behind many ailments in the corporate world, and strategy formulation is no exception. the "ego" and "fear" issue is perhaps a good start to find out the root causes and to develop a strategy for implementing a strategy process. Other factors include silo heads and politics.

  • This outcome has a strong de-motivation effect on the people in charge of the strategy development. Since the executive strategy is not analyzed in detail the implementation of it will be only made partly and the potential outcomes were only a wishful thought.

  • Strategy Formulation is often an analytical exercise too focused on the output contains much of what has been described within (SWOT, etc.) but lacks good structure to implement. The last chapter of a formulation exercise should be Structuring Strategy for Implementation, but most often this is not the case. That's why what's often formulated is usually never implemented.  

  • Five More Reasons Why Strategy Fail: for strategy practitioners, some common pitfalls to cause strategy fall, not because an imperfect framework, but because lack of true strategist, treat framework as strategy, think strategy planning is annual routine, no scientific process, as well as do not think execution as part of strategy

4. Strategy Framework like a Map, need continue to be updated

The strategy framework is like a map, a city map drawn decades ago may not fit in today’s circumstances as small town expands into the metropolitan area or mega-city. It need be updated to adapt to the new normal: 

a)     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;

b)     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.

c)     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.

d)     Knowledge life cycle is shortened at today's digital era, either frameworks, laws, principles or best practices, all need be continued to be updated in order to adapt to the accelerated changes and the new business/economical circumstances.

The missing factor at both academic and corporate ends is corporate contextual integration of national strategic planning and tactical moves with EMERGING GLOBAL CONTEXTUAL ENVIRONMENT. The push and pull contextual factors invite attention to shift in comparative growth patterns in developed and emerging economies due to rapid in-controllable globalization

Global Contextual Influences visibly and invisibly dis-configure all the carefully planned elements of a well researched strategic plan and its implementation process due to external influences on internal corporate culture, normal practices, tested doing business procedures and expected outcomes.

Therefore, not only the strategy planning need be cascading, but also the framework should be updated. 

5.    Strategy Goes beyond Competition

As Denning put in the article: “The purpose of business is to add value for customers and ultimately society”. The knowledge of competitors is an important component of strategy. But it’s not the whole game. “The essence of strategy, business and business education is not coping with competition. The purpose of a firm is not just to make money for its shareholders”.  

If strategy is only about competition, why not call this trick “the discipline of strategy”? Why not announce that a company occupying a position within a sector that is well protected by structural barriers would have a “sustainable competitive advantage”?

A good strategy should orchestrate all key factors below to make it proactive and practical:

  • People are still strategy master, the biggest responsibility of any leader is to provide clear direction - to ensure that the organization has what it takes to be successful in a future.  Super Big Egos' as the cause of failure in effective strategies

  • Culture Trumps Strategy: Culture eats strategy for lunch! If your culture stifles creativity and innovation, then it's impossible to view your prospective market from virtually all angles to establish the most effective strategy to implement. Keep it simple, take constructive criticism as it comes, streamline your processes, and keep the floor open for fresh ideas. Neither lose focus on the long-term goal(s) by trying to prove dominance nor make others feel as if their opinion does not matter.

  • Other factors can also derail strategy. The nature of core processes, talent, management systems, and organization structure along with culture all equate to the "plumbing" of the organization or the System (large S) design. If your strategic intent is "A" but your System is plumbed to produce outcome "B"...outcome B is most likely.

  • Customer Driven: Many companies are inner directed and lack the keen real-world insights of companies that are truly customer-driven so they make other false assumptions about their SWOT. Trying to develop breakthrough strategy with this myopic view of the world is impossible.
Execution is a part of good strategy. Was Monitor’s main problem operations?

     6. Five Dimensions of Strategy

Outlining the strategic intent and framing the strategy to be understandable and implementable is harder than one might think, as very few people excel at articulating truly leveraging strategy and making it practical so it can be execute.

Sun Tzu’s “Strategy without tactics is the slowest path to victory”: even with a clearly formulated strategy,  companies still fail to deliver appropriate strategy execution, because many companies do not have a good handle on how to implement and deploy their strategy effectively and efficiently. They lack a concise and structured strategy implementation framework and are too focused on organizational silos.

To get stakeholders pulling in the direction of the strategy, five-dimensions (5"C"s) strategy implementation frameworks need to be considered.

(1) Consensus – Deploy the strategy and engage the organization to understand, accept, and stand behind the strategy. This includes the process of business planning to ensure that strategic programs have the funding they require. 

(2) Calibration – Align the business processes to support the strategy (this includes extending capabilities which underpin strategy). 

(3) Coordination - Synchronize business process interaction to minimize cost and maximize efficiency. 

(4) Champions – Maintain a strategy aligned, capable, and motivated workforce. 

(5) Culture – Incorporate successful strategy implementation mentality into corporate culture.

If companies have a framework to engage these 5 dimensions they can swiftly percolate their strategy into appropriate execution.

7.    Failure is not Strategy, but Failure tests Resilience

Failure is not strategy; but we still need some positive thinking about failure: it is not necessarily "celebrate" failure, but tolerate, understand and even "promote" failures: a failed strategist can grow into a true business person, a guru can also become glue to connect past and future, and a strategy is a shareware, not a shelfware. Paradoxically, success is failure inside out.

A true strategy is a combination of key factors and collective effort:

1) Time/effort - developing a good strategy takes time. You have to understand your own organization, its culture, its strengths and do so in the context of your competitors and marketplace trends. This is especially important as your competitors are moving too so you can't just position to where they are now.

2) Skill - the analysis and holistic thinking process that is required to deliver a true strategy is often not sufficiently available.

3). Depth - many strategies are too high level to allow them to be actioned. A strategic roadmap is an integral part of a true strategy.

4). Discipline - many organizations do not have the discipline to hold the organization accountable (and its execs) to executing against the roadmap while adjusting as needed due to changes in the environment.

5). Investment/long term thinking - delivering strategy requires investment in resources and the time to deliver is often long term. Executives are not often rewarded for long term delivery even when it is the "right" answer

It is easy to react or to take tactical steps to address individual opportunities or weaknesses. It is hard to harness the skill and time to do work in sufficient depth and discipline for a long enough term strategy that will allow you to execute. 

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.