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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Are We Entering the Digital Inquisitiveness Era?

The Age of Inquisitiveness Stimulates Imagination; Amplifies Influence and Accelerates Improvement.

We are in a time of tremendous change, the dawn of digital age, the path to the next level of innovation, also the era of confusion and information overload. Can we participate peacefully, look forward optimistically and engage constructively for mutual benefit? Are we entering the inquisitiveness era to stimulate imagination momentarily?

Clearly, the human imagination has proved itself appropriate for the task of providing sustainable scientific and engineering solutions to what we use, for what purpose, and how we go about obtaining what we require. We have a world with ever-increasing instantaneous communication and hyper-inter-connectivity. We have geopolitical groupings at every point on the spectrum between enlightenment and suppression. We may not be in the era of enlightenment yet, but are we entering the era of digital inquisitiveness:  As it’s the time to connect, to learn, to explore, and to experience our commonalities, and appreciate our uniqueness; as it is the time to tremendous awakening toward "inquisitiveness" with cross-cultural sharing via technology and inner insights if given to allow that to blossom.

Will it be the beginning of the end, or the end of the new beginning of diversity of economy, values, culture, languages, thought, with the result of diminishing or accelerating creativity and invention?... It is true: deserts, mountain ranges, and oceans will no longer be the walls to the cognizance of the diversity that have been the gene banks and engines of human creativity and invention. Because, the natural barriers that separated the world's societies have disappeared, thanks to technology. Are we on the way to unify the best of the best; recognize originality from mass, shift the old way of thinking, or simply blend the best or worst into monoculture?

Are we on the right path leading enlightenment which is an absolute freedom of thought from any dogma, and open-mindedness to any new or old knowledge/experience? With another side of the enlightenment which is about appreciation of every human being, our humanity - how well our social life is organized to fulfill individual development and overcome common mankind challenges?

Are we entering the era of learning, inquisitiveness, openness, universal happiness, and collective wisdom?  Are we "satisfied" with progress and embrace the better and prosperous New Year with a positive theme?

Innovation Mantra: Fail Forward

Fail fast and fail forward!

At the age of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience. Failure is part of innovation. It depends on how you read failure: A way to improve until you find the wonderful solution which will suit market or simply a waste of time. It depends on what you learn from it. It follows common sense: you learn more from failure than from your success!
  • There's an old saying goes, "there's a million ways to fail and one to succeed." In normal companies, most of the time failures are not structural. They missed a market opportunity, over-invested in a particular opportunity, etc. In structural failures where the learning can be applied in the future, the company generally fails. This is why from a senior leadership perspective their experience (both success and failure) are important for future positions...
  • WHAT vs. WHY: One sign of how well a company is able to learn is whether the focus on any new initiative that is more about "what" the results are vs. "why" we are getting these results.The company focusing on "what" sees only the current result and not the possible learning opportunities for future projects. Asking "why" is harder, but it is ultimately more successful in figuring out how to deliver real breakthroughs.
  • Failure is part of innovation; it is very much an intrinsic part of innovating. Like many other things in business, it is a balancing act to have enough failure and an environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive. Ultimately it is critical that innovation results in financial successes or a business will not remain competitive. 
  • The other condition necessary to make failure a learning opportunity is self-insight. It is the insight into the cause of the failure and the alternative courses of action that could have been pursued that makes it a real “lesson learned.” Without the insight, the likelihood of the same situation repeating itself again in the future is higher. 

Failure builds knowledge and resilience
. Part of being a leader is taking the risk. If you take risks in life, you are going to fail at some of them. What makes leaders successful is what they do after they fail at something. What gives them the chance to do something else after they fail is making sure that they do not put at risk something that they truly cannot afford to lose. 

It is one of the biggest cultural change of innovation-Fail Fast and Fail Forward.

Top Fifteen Posts with Hot Keywords to Trend the New Year!

New Year Day is not just Another Day, it's the Moment to Look Back, and then Move Forward. 

New Year is around the corner, it’s not just another new day, but the transformational moment to look back and then move forward, what’re the hottest topics continue to attract fierce debates? What are the keywords to highlight the future trends? What is the dream weaved to be realized? What are the positive influences should you bring to the future.

Here are our top fifteen posts in 2013.

1. Mindset 


3. Digitalization:

4. Big Data 

5. Culture

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Customer-Centric Innovation

One of the key characteristics of digital business is customer centricity.

One of the key characteristics of digital business is customer centricity. Thus, the customer is absolutely a vital part of the overall innovation process. Customer-centric innovation accomplishes far more than incremental product improvement, it can also build evolutionary business models, as well as path-breaking products and services that establish new categories, and even internal process improvements arise from customer-centric innovation. 

Customer insight: The customer (including prospects) should be studied and observed. Deep understanding of the user through empathy and observation with the innovator using a more inductive approach as to what the customer wants to accomplish "next". This involves gaining a deep understanding of the motivational construct of the customer, in order that the innovator can become "anticipatory" of what the customer will likely "want next". Remember innovation is not an invention! It must prove its value in the market. Customers must be willing to pay for this, be it a product, process or service innovation. Thus, customers become an important link in the innovation process. 

Proactive listening: In general, your direct customers may not always know what they want. But for sure they know the issues they face in providing their service to their customers. This is where pro-active listening is very important and becomes vital link in your innovation management effortsIt is not a question of whether the customer is right or not, it is more of whether we are truly and proactively "listening" to their needs, and their customers'. The customer should always be involved, but not be the main or the only driver behind the innovation process. The customer is only one of the stakeholders in the innovation process, certainly an important one but not the final decision maker. As customers don't always know what they want and aren't always the best informed. This is especially the case with revolutionary innovations and most especially when it comes to new technological innovations. That's why it is important to think when talking about innovation, not purely about technological advancements or breakthrough innovations, but also about different propositions, approaches to a problem or new interpretations. These can be achieved with empathy, looking beyond the direct customer problem, wish or request, taking the context of use into account and perhaps by using a wide network of experts to come up with these new propositions. 

Customer-centric innovation management life cycle: When manage innovation life cycle, customer involvement at all stages often elicits highly valuable information. In the innovation process, it is not really about whether the customer is "right." That kind of approach implies that the customer should be placed in a judgmental role, rendering a decision about an idea. Actually, this is not the best way to approach innovation. Instead, customers may not always know the "products" they want, but they clearly understand their needs and pains, so involve them as early as possible in the process. Customers cannot solve your problems, but they can provide insight into their goals, their process, their problems, their context is invaluable

For a customer driven innovation, customers are the major focus for innovation process and accomplishment. Listen to customers and involve them in the innovation process to gain insight and empathy, and then, innovators are to figure out how to solve the puzzle presented by differences between what is verbalized, what is acted out, and what is technically feasible.

Big Data vs. Business Intuition

Data is data, it may make one smarter, but not wiser. 

Digitalization drives the massive cultural shift that is taking place at an increasing velocity, variety of data. Does it mean Big Data will make gut-feeling intuition irrelevant?

Data is always management tool, and not leadership tool. Intuition still plays crucial role in decision making. The former drives efficiency (doing things right), the latter drives the effectiveness and vision (doing right things and lead toward the right direction). Business intuition falls in the later category

Big Data is the ability to store, process, and analyze increasingly large amounts of structured and unstructured data, it complements, not competes with the notion of intuition; Big Data provides opportunities to see relationships and correlations that offer access to new perspectives and new insights, which develop and certainly do not hinder intuition. The more ways in which the infinite points in the universe can be connected, the greater intuitive capacity we have. Our intuition is let out of a box constrained by poorly constructed boundaries defined by a radically limited information flow. 

Big Data can broaden intuition. In the end, Big Data provides a platform from which new and big ideas can spring ideas previously unthinkable. Like the printing press offered greater access to knowledge and ideas once limited to very few, the digital revolution manifest, in part, in the big data "movement" offers opportunity to broaden creativity, think unconventionally, and exercise human gift of intuition while being more aware that such a gift is not separate and distinct from data but ultimately buttressed by greater insight.

Big data and intuition do not exist exclusively to one another. If used exclusively, it will lead to decisions that are not best and could be a huge pitfall. Big data gives us an opportunity to link intuition with the insights provided by big data. There will be people who have previously used insight along, and it may take some getting used to using another form of sight in big data. But it is, in the end, just another tool that can aid business intuition by providing supporting evidence (or counter evidence) to the theories and assumptions adopted by the business. Big data and business intuition are not the same thing, nor are they exchangeable, they are different way of providing additional leverage in making decisions

Big data is not the end, it is a tool for end game, which is to make effective decisions, Data is, after all, just data. It has no inherent meaning. It creates smaller and connected world and makes us smarter not wiser. It is a way of dealing with massive amount of data. To even expect it to be "social" or make us "wiser" is like expecting a programming language or calculus to bring about social change. Intuition will always play a part. It is a key part of being human. Context in and with the human experience provides data with meaning, which leads to information and ultimately supports enhanced insight.And it is the ultimate purpose of digitalization, to build intelligent businesses and society. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Characteristics of a Good Innovation Strategy

An innovation strategy is a subcomponent of business strategy.

A good innovation strategy, either as a key ingredient of corporate strategy, or a separate subcomponent of strategy,  is an inspiring mental model shared by the key stakeholders of a firm. It sets the direction and defines the broad boundaries of the creative space, within which these stakeholders can be inspired to generate new ideas and implement them to create new products, processes, and business models. What are the characteristics of a good innovation strategy?

Innovation strategy as a subcomponent of business strategy: Before you can have an effective innovation strategy, you require a clearly communicated and understood the overall business vision and strategy. A good innovation strategy supports a clear (and ideally an aggressive) vision within the business. A vision is a mixture of the understanding of who you are as a company. What is your value, what is your external image, how others perceive you? The innovation strategy should then follow broader business objectives. Understand where your business wants to get its growth from and focus innovation strategy around it. Too often companies want hard and fast innovation that leaves them with new ideas that don’t necessarily translate in business success because the objective of the project wasn’t thought through.

Making direction and setting boundaries: The key to the innovation strategy is to give direction and set boundaries but not at the cost of restricting creativity and inspiration. There must be different approaches, flexibility, and the possibility for Plan A to D (at least). Is it a strategy that is focused at innovation sensitive opportunities...or...is it an innovative way to weave together defined strategic initiatives....or...all of the above. You have to find out what to start with that makes sense. But you don't have to absolutely stick to one line. You can think of it in term of the type of people you would like to see involved in innovation. It's a delicate balance - too loose and there can be much-wasted activity; too tight and you can prematurely squash ideas. There are several important factors of a successful innovation strategy that should be pervasive in a company. The first is that every employee working on innovation efforts should understand how their assignment, the work they do each day, is essential to the success of the strategy. The strategy should be so compelling to them that they are fully committed to achieving their assigned objectives. 

In-depth understanding of the business ecosystem: The ability to learn about the business environment & ecosystem is a more important characteristic of innovation management. As operating boundaries have become less clear attempts to 'protect' organizations from the uncertainties of their operating environments, the sustainability of an organization is dependent upon its ability to respond to the environment within which it operates. Mechanistic models and closed systems, approaches that attempt to 'protect' an organization from the uncertainties of its environment may have short-term benefits (e.g. meeting targets, profitability),  but in the long term, they are likely to fail due to the lack of insight that underpins adaptive capability. A key feature of creating this insight is the need to learn from the environment and to embed that learning into the knowledge stock of an organization.

Three core elements in an innovation strategy are: (1) Source: where do ideas come from? (2) Scope: what type of ideas would be considered relevant? (3) Sponsorship: How will you fund the selected ideas? Strategy, in general, is how a specific company will occupy a specific market space to differentiate from the competition. Building from this, the Innovation strategy is 1) what the innovation effort is focused on - defending the core, penetrating the adjacencies, or entering the white space and how the resources will be balanced across these domains; and 2) how the company will do it - through internal development and organic growth.

In summary, an innovation strategy should directly support the overall business strategy by creating a focused but balanced portfolio of projects that maximize the output from the innovation team, in terms of adding value to the organization by delivering solutions to the aforementioned attribute. So an innovation strategy should be all about focusing on the creativity of the team on delivering the maximum positive impact on the overall business strategy.

Can Change Management be a Strategic Process?

Change Agents as ‘Programmers’ of an Effective Strategy.

Change is the only constant now, and even the speed of change is accelerating. Thus, the change should be part of a company’s culture and should be stimulated by the top management, it is resulting in a flexible and dynamic organization able to adapt to new and unexpected situations and market demands. In doing so, can change management be a strategic process?

Change Management starts with a thought: It leads to a vision; then leads to a culture shift, market changes, or leadership changes. Perhaps change management can be a strategic process if businesses spend more time on how to be effective in supporting a change in the chaotic environment that surrounds businessStrategic Processes are conceptual while tactics are the specifics that create the foundation for the project or desired outcome. Synergy is the unknown frosting available for use in the strategic process if one is aware of its existence, trusts his/her intuition, and recognizes its value. It becomes the catalytic agent that elevates a project from ‘so-so’ to awesome and defies logic. Visionary leaders are the usual catalysts.

Structure Frames Behavior” and it is the easiest and visible way to incorporate change; and that the people introducing change need to understand what is going to give them a better chance of avoiding simply making things worse. Managing change is tough, but part of the problem is that there is little agreement on what factors most influence transformation initiatives, be customer-centric, to the point, in language the customer understands. Demonstrating how we can directly support achieving their objectives. Also recognizing risk management is about reduction, not elimination, and resistance to change can only be reduced, never eliminated.

Change Analytics Tools: Organization Net Analysis are revolutionizing the world of change management, by giving the business first opportunity to get an objective observation on those issues that were considered "soft" and non-measurable. Those analytic tools are for estimating the effects of cultural change, and for evaluating the organization's agility (flexibility, dynamics and ability to adapt to changes).

Change agents as ‘programmers’ of an effective strategy. One of the very first things you have to kill is not always the strategy, but the strategic planning process itself. Complexity and complication do not have much to do with strategy, but a lot to do with strategic planning. Change management also needs to use strategic thinking that takes analysis, the other is synthesis and synthesis requires intuition and creativity. Only then can they-the change agent be programmers of a strategy, helping to specify the series of concrete steps needed to carry out the vision. Because analysis has encompassed synthesis, people now believe strategy planning is strategy making, and strategy execution needs to go hand in hand with change management.

Change management is the overarching umbrella that encompasses extensive planning, outreach, communications, discovery of concerns / objections / potential points of failure, addressing fears and resistance, developing a shared vision, communicating valid and compelling reasons for cooperation, recognizing sacrifice and incremental success, measuring outcomes in a shared and mutually understood and agreed upon fashion, being able to declare an end-point and successful conclusion. It needs to be a strategic process underpinning key business capabilities and strategy execution as well.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Trends to Shape ‘World-Class’ Talent Management

People are always key pillar of the business, and Talent Management is Human Capital Management nowadays. 

With continuous digital disruption and highly dynamic business environment, now more than ever, top executives and talent practitioners need to design and implement a much more holistic, strategic approach to talent management. With the New Year around the corner, it’s the time to identify the top trends in reshaping the future of talent management, and how talent practitioners can best adapt to create the most value for the business in light of the trends over the next five to seven years.

HR plays a role as a strategic partner to the top management for defining the proper organizational culture. There has never been a greater opportunity for a truly qualified HR who can be a strategic partner in scaling a business by finding and fitting talent into the organization;.from industry statistics, HR helped "lead the charge" which resulted in high-performance work systems with high commitment cultures, which were 25 - 55% improved in every performance measure (productivity, profitability, innovation, safety, quality, reduced labor issues, etc.). The traditional roles and the newer roles, when understood holistically and designed as such, together make HR into an amazing force for success.

HR has the most power and potential to impact an organization's future when it drives bifurcated strategy--strategic and operational. The ability to anticipate talent for current and future needs is a critical capability for any organization.
  • Sourcing, recruiting and competing for talent
  • Building global leadership
  • Reengaging the workforce
  • Managerial excellence
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Career opportunities
  • A flexible work environment
  • Great online tools
  • Corporate mission or purpose 
HR plays a strategic role in driving the Agile Organization. As the world becomes increasingly unpredictable, organizations that can adapt to changing business conditions will outperform the competition. From industry survey, there is a significant difference between the responses of high and low performers:
  •  High performers are 60% more likely to identify talent as one of the critical factors for determining future competitiveness.
  • High performers are 50% more likely to see access to talent as a reason to enter rapid-growth markets. 

Social Media Drives the Democratization of Work: Instead of relying on solutions dictated from the top of the organization, organizations will be populated with knowledge workers who harness social media to create solutions in conjunction with each other, thereby radically disrupting organizational structures, hierarchy, and job titles. Companies with wide adoption of social and mobile tools will find it easier to attract and retain people, they can collaborate and perform better, and their people can learn faster. From survey:
  • 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.
  • Consequently, high performers are 16% more likely to have a concern about labor cost pressures.
The multi-faceted talent practitioners to handle talent paradox: Are employees truly satisfied? Or are they simply accepting their fate by “making do” with their current employers because of a difficult job market? Employees who believe their employers make effective use of their talent and abilities appear to be overwhelmingly committed to staying on the job, while respondents who said their job does not make good use of their skills are looking to leave. Due to the globalization of the economy, companies must be nimble in managing talent to have the right people in the right place at the right time. The talent practitioners must be capable of becoming:
  • Animators—capable of breathing new life and energy into their organizations
  • Culture propagators—able to design people policies and processes to build a winning culture
  • Change facilitators—able to instill in employees the beliefs, values and basic assumptions required for the organization to succeed
Capabilities Development: Surveys find companies which outperform their competitors
because they have deeper skills, a stronger learning culture, and a deep investment in leadership. These winning companies continuously invest in their team’s skills (technical, professional, and leadership)—and they do not slow down during recessions. This “continuous capability development” approach makes them more innovative, responsive, and agile as their markets change.

Focus on Continuous Learning: More organizations adopt “continuous learning model”—one in which people receive some amount of formal training, coupled with a significant amount of coaching, support by experts, developmental assignments, development planning, and management support, learning includes development planning, rotational assignments, coaching, mentoring, and lots of expertise sharing. Companies that outperform their peers have an entire tapestry of learning occurring—driven by a learning culture which permeates all levels of management.

Redefining Engagement: Focus on passion and the creative environment to consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Higher levels of engagement come from recognition, feedback, growth, and opportunity. While compensation and benefits are important, they are only the foundation. Top performers are looking for growth, recognition, career opportunities, and learning. Organizations should continuously monitor employee engagement through social communication channels with people at all levels. Building a sense of purpose and mission, to build a strong corporate brand to attract top talent.  

Talent mobility: It is not just enough to talk about it at leadership meetings—you have to take the plunge and invest. Developing a culture and set of programs around talent mobility is not easy. It takes work on behalf of the employee, manager, HR, and the top executives of the company. The top leadership team has to feel comfortable in letting people move around—creating a system of “continuous re-education” of people.

The emergence of the “Corporate Talent System: Talent practitioners need to think of all of the elements of talent management as one integrated “system”—each working together, but fitting into a total employee environment. Further, there’s a new opportunity emerge—the need to shift from “integration” to “optimization,” driving new practices in almost every part of HR. These new programs no longer stand alone; they fit together into an integrated system—and HR organizations need to learn how to apply them to your business challenges in a highly customized way. More organizations will make a bold step—reengineer or redesign the old fashioned performance appraisal process, and focus on “enabling high performance. In many traditional organizations, their performance management, development planning, benefits, learning administration, and other HR applications and programs are simply too complex and reactive, not agile to adapt to changes or focus on the delivery of talent services, performance consulting, and deep expertise in management, coaching and recruiting.

Leverage analytics for global talent management planning, and embed it into talent management strategy and key processes: Data-Information-Insight- Intelligence lifecycle needs to be managed effectively to make sure you have an integrated infrastructure that makes these systems easy to use, secure, and available at all times

 Innovation comes to Talent Management: Talent practitioners must plan for the future. HR, through its particular lens into the business, has a unique perspective on the people challenges and opportunities. Therefore, talent practitioners must innovate, think outside the box and drive a view into the future—develop an understanding of future skills gaps, and take a systematic approach to the art of people management. 

The dynamic economy will continue to present opportunities and risks in talent management, Talent management needs to have a strategic impact. Take human, physical, economic/financial assets as "pillars" of the organizational dynamics. In the upcoming New Year, with top executive team's support, talent management practitioners need to establish a set of strategic priorities, develop a roadmap of processes to build competitive capabilities they want to deliver and make people a true asset and human capital of the business.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Innovation via Social Collaboration

If culture is a collective mindset;  and then innovation is collective imagination, inquisitiveness, improvement, inquisitiveness, and inspiration.

More often than not, innovation is a team work, not an individual effort, and the effective approach to foster innovation is through talent engagement and social collaboration.

Collaboration does create a sense of belonging. Collaboration is a fundamental part of what ultimately fueled inspiration, imagination, and innovation! Management must be supportive of any innovation or collaboration thrust, and teams must "own" their goals, also allows a team member to "belong" and its team leader to learn - motivate – persist. Part of the innovation capability coherence comes through the sense of ownership, which is different from managers "owning" their people. Identifying shared goals is a crucial collaboration success factor, collaboration not only propels innovation, and it’s the heart, soul, and DNA of innovation. 

Hyper-connectivity can foster innovation through collaboration. In other words, try to digitally connect key resources/assets in their vicinity/context to the resource-rich innovation hubs/clusters across the business ecosystem. In doing so, you can create the collegiality and "shared context for learning." That, in turn, should lead to "inspirations," that will further fuel more collaboration in innovative projects and enterprises nascent to their communities/environments. In addition, innovation must be a multi-disciplinary effort. The innovation collaboration teams embraced multiple disciplines, and understand how systems work, and this yielded a competitive advantage.

Diversity with cognitive difference can stimulate innovation. Since innovation is fundamentally about breaking assumptions, having more assumptions uncovered will lead to greater innovation. As we bring more people into the dialog, we increase the probability of those various assumptions surfacing as each person filters different things. Of course, that only works if those people are somewhat different from one another. Collaborating with entirely like-minded people probably won't yield results. The more diversified the team is, the more innovative the collaboration can turn to be.

The forefront of "social innovation": It is excellent to bring social media to this realm, to urge a sense of connection via virtual "conversations" beyond the confines of a blighted neighborhood. Organize around the vision and create a new context for it. You are already having an impact. But consider starting new conversations that galvanize inspiration and gain traction on a powerful theme of renewal and growth. One other point: collaboration and innovation based learning need patience and strategic support from management. 

Collaboration is at its essence, the intellectual harmony between humans (not clones): It is a system that is not scalable so easily. Every collaborative team will be different and hence, produce different results. So if you have a group that is doing exceptional work, it would behoove the company to maintain the balance of that group for as long as possible. If the collaboration is not bearing fruit, then, by all means, upset the apple cart and start anew. But don't expect your collaboration to be the same, and find your own balance and you will find your innovation.

Collaboration in the business & world requires a much higher degree of innovative thinking than the competition and winning. It is easy to work alone and take the attitude of competition, but it is much more difficult to collaborate with different parties even competitors. Sharing is about innovative compromise. Win-Win needs a lot of innovative effort. Recent neuroscience research has shown that our entire experience with our world is subjective, passing through numerous unconscious filters before we become aware of what we are seeing, hearing, or understanding.

As a result, no individual has a complete view of what is really happening around him or her, not mention the whole world.  Therefore, winning in the global economy means engaging innovative thinking, and strong collaboration.

Data Scientist Mindset: Scientific Data Artist or Artistic Data Scientist

Data is Art at the eyes of artist; and Science at the eyes of scientist; and vice verse. 
Data presentation is meant to communicate information in a way that resonates singularly with its intended audience, and it may require technical/artistic skill to pull that off visually. Perhaps an interesting question upon Big Data talent is: Do you need a scientific data artist or artistic data scientist?

The data scientist must be an effective communicator more so than an artist. But is not communication itself an art? Yes it is! Do data scientists require creativity? Yes, absolutely. Their creativity must be harnessed for asking new questions and puzzling out logic to accomplish tasks in ways that are increasingly effective and efficient - in measurable, accurate, scientific ways. 

Being insightful, that’s the ability needed for data talent. When talking about "big data", so much of the narrative of its usefulness is around eliminating subjective decision-making in favor of objective decision-making. The point is that the ability to produce evidence must be connected somehow to the ability to draw meaningful and actionable insights. Scientific data approach shall not be overly rigid and artistic perspective also does not mean the subjective discussion such as "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and "art for art's sake," etc.   

Creative data scientist and well trained data artist are both welcomed in the Big Data team. The very vagueness in the definition of data science is the reason it opens the door to so many disciplines. We all love the graphs and the visual display of evidence, as it makes communicating results so much easier. But making graphs that is visual and effective takes lots of practice and tedious work. The majority of the data scientist's skills must be scientific skills, No matter how beautiful a chart is, the business users who are looking at it need to know that it is accurate and trustworthy - that was created through a scientific process. If the data artist has the training, experience and good judgment to produce informative graphs, then it would be a welcome addition to a data science team.

The team with well mixed skills can perform the best. Scientific Data Artists are the folks who have the training or experience to determine what is truly informative, what relationship to display, as well as the methodological insight needed to know how to deal with crucial aspects related to data (outliers/ extremes comes to mind). One can display all sorts of "interesting" relationships from the data. One way for such a role to be relevant and functional is that it be integrated within a team of statisticians/data scientists so that it can provide the needed guidance

Big Data talent, either you are artistic data scientist or scientific data artist, need to have three ‘C’ qualities: Critical thinking to find patterns & challenge old knowledge; Curiosity to ask good questions and puzzle out the business logic; as well as the Creativity to visualize and explore unknowns, and communicate well to solve business problems.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Digital Shift: A Hyper-Connected Enterprise

Digital organization Enforces the Dot-Connecting Culture.

Command-and-control came about through the Industrial Revolution with the perspective that everything, including organizations, can be viewed as mechanical in nature. In the "Birth of the Chaotic Age" with explosive information abundance, it makes a very strong case that command-and-control organizations are inherently incapable of handling, processing, managing the sheer volume of information we are faced with. The crucial digital shift is to build a hyper-connected, widely-collaborative and smart organization.

Hyper-connectivity is the key characteristic of digital organization: Connecting the dots, both across and within organizational boundaries has always been a problem. Few organizations have found a way to reward the type of thinking that allows people to connect the dots. Dot connecting is knowledge alignment. There are often lots of people capable of "connecting the dots" but unfortunately, a lack of cultural support for independent thinking and sometimes contrarian positions are often prevalent. In short, it's often risky for people to stick their necks out particularly when they may not have the concrete data to establish certainty. Therefore, the emerging digital organization shall update the old-fashion of stuff:
1) Silos
2) Autocratic management
3) Individualistic cultures
4) Good old bureaucracy (invented when management was invented)
5) A culture that must have winners and losers
6) Fear of litigation and making mistakes generally (human error is no longer a reality, it’s forbidden as accidents and taking responsibility) 

Broad-collaboration across-business ecosystem: An organization is about collaboration. Collaboration through the cloud and social media is already driving changes to enterprise systems to expose them to outside change. While people fight over the correctness and structure internally within organizations, the customers and clients are turning to businesses that give them the control and power to maintain their personal data as the source, though they understand the digital normal is moving away from privacy towards transparency. Being customer-centric is a transcendent digital trait and core of corporate strategy in today’s digital organizations

Use technology to enable integral design and seamless customer experience, rather than use it as a constraint: The cost benefits of maintaining data is in the design of the overall system (people, process, systems) and not the tools. That is why collaboration matters. Organizations need to move away from mantras like "Truth is in the data and data must be in one place" as an excuse for creating barriers, gatekeepers, constraints, and overlords to saying "It is relative, but hey here's the context." As you do need to enable it in the design of the systems, with business goals to optimize business process and enhance the customer experience.

Create business harmony: Collaboration is good, but it’s not an end in itself. Creating a context where people can collaborate where they are empowered and respected and make collective decisions is the essence of information governance. It is the business "harmony." A business organization can only achieve high performance via seamless execution, by taking the collaboration road; the organization will not be blind to underlying organizational challenges. Moreover, such a path should offer a more holistic view, hence, allowing for the review of work design, pay& incentive systems, decision-making structure. And the design of an organization will have a significant impact on how performing and considerate the organization is.

Hyper-connectivity enhances people-centricity. Complexity science & chaos theory, which demonstrate more of a biological model, are still fairly new & have not yet gained widespread acceptance & understanding. Combine that with the fact that most decision-makers grew up in the mechanical/command-and-control perspective & it's no wonder that we're not there yet. But many enterprises are learning to be much more considerate in order to build customer-centric, employee-satisfied, high-performing and sustainable organizations by getting the structure right. And dysfunctional social-political contexts are reprehensible of bad structure, not bad people. Thus, organizational design (structure, which includes policy) must be adaptable, take advantage of the latest digital technology platforms & tools, and provide the space for people to exercise their capabilities.

At a hyper-connected digital organization, business execution, innovation and transformation are fostered via high-degree collaboration, transparency, and business harmony, with the laser focus on business values and people centricity.   

How to Build Change Capability within an Organization

Change capability is strategic for digital businesses today.

Change is the most significant characteristic of digitalization, the pace of change is accelerating,  therefore, organization’s change capability is crucial for its surviving and thriving today, but how to build such capability within an organization?

Leadership: Leaders can use various techniques to obtain feedback from the organization regarding a critical change effort, use a process to prioritize and include that feedback in the plans going forward, communicate with great frequency and repetition, the progress and steps to adjust the approach based on feedback received and measure the results with an emphasis on what's working / not working with the change effort.

People: Developing change capability in those who'll help to drive and deliver the change, consider also the capability or ability of those impacted by the change to handle its impacts; their resilience will be massively increased if they are involved, included and educated as to what they should expect. Many people across the organization are either 1) directly involved in contributing to the change effort, 2) have the opportunity to participate and choose to hold back but know they had the chance to contribute, or 3) at least hear regularly about the key change effort, the design and progress made even if they have no direct involvement at all. The key trait is credibility, no matter what level of the organization. Of course, it is imperative to find a progressive executive sponsor, but you must also find other like-minded, well-respected individuals throughout the organization, take accountability for the change project or any transformation effort. They will serve the organization with more energy and determination

Assessment: It is important to first understand how much change capability is really required for the effort you are kicking off. Organizations can make major leaps forward in change capability by involving the entire organization in major change efforts (just one is a good start) that support key business strategies to drive performance improvement. The stage to start depends on how transformational the scope is. In some cases, it's best to start well before a project has even been conceived. On the other hand, if you want to build an enduring capability that will go on to support many projects, then it's never too late to start. An honest assessment of the lessons learned from a previous project could be a good place to begin.

Methodologies: There are good methodologies that can provide a framework for building change capability within an organization. Without a quantitative tool to understand the individual behavioral tendency toward change, it would be very challenging to define who your target is within the organization. Different people will respond differently to change understanding the behavioral predisposition and integrating that knowledge into your comprehensive change strategy can measurably increase the success potential for the change

Resources: In organizations that are saturated with changing circumstances, resources, requirements, there isn't much bandwidth to deal with change initiatives. This suggests a slower pace of change for anything new unless the need is commonly perceived as urgent. This scenario requires a few key resources that are committed to the long-term outcome.

Change capability is one of the strategic capabilities which underpin successful execution, and move the organization from efficiency to agility, however, no change is for its own sake, there's always a clear business purpose behind it, and people are the core of changes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas with Poetic Wisdom

Poetry is that which arrives at the intellect by way of the heart" -R.S.Thomas
Christmas Eve may not always see the stars, but poem goes down the page like shooting star;

Christmas Day may not always be covered by snow white; but the thought can dance like snowflake;

Christmas Day may not always be full of joy; but your heart shall fill with Sunshine; 

Christmas Day may not always be so poetic; but we can always enjoy some great poems.

Four Quartets    -Wisdom of T S Eliot

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time" 

Small excerpt from the Navajo Night Chant
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.

The Christmas Life -Cope

Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.
Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold 
Bring the Christmas life into this house.

Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,
Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.
Bring in your memories of Christmas past.
Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.

Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,
Bring in the stillness of an icy night,
Bring in the birth, of hope and love and light.
Bring the Christmas life into this house.

Forgotten Language by Shel Silverstein

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

Begin     -Brendan Kennelly

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exhalation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing through with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

IF               -Rudyard Kipling's

”If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on"; 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! "

Now (Robert Browning)

OUT of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, -- so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, -- condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense --
Merged in a moment which give me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me --
Me -- sure that despite of time future, time past, --
This tick of your life-time's one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet --
The moment eternal -- just that and no more --
When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

Thoughts about Pain in Pleasure --Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A THOUGHT ay like a flower upon mine heart,
And drew around it other thoughts like bees
For multitude and thirst of sweetnesses;
Whereat rejoicing, I desired the art
Of the Greek whistler, who to wharf and mart
Could lure those insect swarms from orange-trees
That I might hive with me such thoughts and please
My soul so, always. foolish counterpart
Of a weak man's vain wishes ! While I spoke,
The thought I called a flower grew nettle-rough
The thoughts, called bees, stung me to festering:
Oh, entertain (cried Reason as she woke)
Your best and gladdest thoughts but long enough,
And they will all prove sad enough to sting !

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Inwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Frithjof Schuon, The Garland

A finite image of Infinity:
This is the nature of all poetry.
all human work to its last limit tends;
Its archetype in Heaven never ends.

What is the sense of Beauty and of Art?
To show the way into our inmost Heart.

The singing of a bird came from the sky;
The world had been a dream; the song was I.

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.


Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you. 

Little Gidding  - T.S.Eliot:

"...There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:

Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons;
and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives—unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle.

This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past..."  

With the cycle of life in mind and with one eye firmly shut: 

She learned the three Rs and she learnt what was what
She searched for the truth and she searched high and low
She had mountains to climb and she had places to go
She wandered all day and she wondered all night
She wrote in the dark and she read in the light
Soon she arrived in the land of the Know
Where no means yes and yes means no
Where red is green and green is red
Where what we hear is not what’s said
Where black is white and white is black
Where going forward is going back
Where all is nothing and nothing is all
Where tall is short and short is tall
Where right is wrong and wrong is right
Where light is dark and dark is light
Where left is right and right is left
Where weft is warp and warp is weft
Grasping the nettle and grappling at the door
Her head was aching and her feet were sore
So she went hopping back to where she began
With a run along, spin along, twist along man
Along the hall, through the hatch and up the stair
With one eye open - to - we know not where