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

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

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Big Pitfalls of Big Data

There’s no doubt Big Data creating big value for businesses, however, reality could be much different than predictions. This is actually happening nowadays, in this technologically advancing and innovative world even the predictions made on much comprehensive data are getting wrong. So what could make such projects turn bad, what’s the limitation of data analytics, and what are the pitfalls of managing Big Data?

  • Do not understand business problem clearly, not thinking hard enough about the RIGHT data, perhaps a subset of 'big data.' Specifically, the data that help answer the right and correctly posed question..  Not framing the problem. Big Data turns to be the big answer to look for the big question, without a thorough understanding of a domain simply because reams of data are available. 
  • Use of wrong statistical techniques / wrong interpretations: Managerial pressure to deliver 'insights', directly proportional to investment in tools. Not understanding the limitations of applicability of a tool or a 'solution' or disregarding 'fitness for purpose' of tools used. Believing one can number crunch one's way to spectacular results, not to mention being able to interpret them appropriately
  • Ignoring ongoing structural change, and insufficient understanding of data quality, or erroneous data conditioning, which means existing data may have low predictive value, Predictive analysis assumes that history predicts future. This is a very strong assumption which might not be true all the times. Data sanity, data quality and data filtering can be issues. 
  • Letting one's biases come in the way of analysis/decision making. Going through a detailed list, it’s easy to come across instances where such biases impact analysis. Ego/lack of humility, unhealthy in all research endeavors

  • A data model is only for Known-Known and Known-Unknown sets. Unknown- Unknown sets cannot be modeled.  So predictive analytics can only tell part of story, which could be misleading, see the trees, but missing the forest., etc.
  • The limitation of Big Data talent or resources. We always believe that by using past data we can predict future, but that might not always be the case when the factors governing the results changes itself and many times modeler ignores many factors due to unavailability of data, resource, or many other reason.
Is history always repeating itself, in deed, the successful predictive analytics intends to stop the worse cases in the history from happening again, but first of all, Big Data shall be careful of those big pitfalls above.

How to Measure ROI on Talent Management

The more definable "Return on Expectations” need to define what business results you are hoping to achieve.

People are the most critical asset in organizations today, business is also moving from treating talent as a human resource to thinking talent as human capital, not just the cost, but the investment for the future, and from extended research, there are clear linkages between strategic talent practices and improved corporate performance. However, what’re the guidelines to measure ROI on talent management effectively?

  • The values ROI delivers in talent management must be a subset of the organizations' own measure of created business value. Take a look at what is important to your senior team and figure out which metric to use. Any talent management initiative can be measured with ROI to reflect the key set of business value; In order to make TM a viable sought after area from the business leaders, build a Talent Scorecard with metrics that they care about is the best way to measure ROI.  It is the best way to measure success and keep key stakeholders engaged.
  • A good starting point is to look at what you currently do and where do you want to be. Sometimes a guided questionnaire can help framework your intentions and, therefore, demonstrate clear logics. Such as Why are you implementing talent management processes - what's the reason you're tasked for making the investment in the first place? What're the good mixes of character, mindset and skills enable the future of business growth. etc. Once you've defined those clearly in the context of your organization that should give you the critical factors you can measure progress on.
  • Macro approach vs. micro Approach. Take a macro approach to well align the talent strategy with the business vision and goals, then take a micro approach to identify programs and initiatives within your talent management strategy, learning and development programs, organizational performance goals, succession planning objectives. Establish benchmarks. For example, you might be investing in leadership development programs because business unit x is growing and don't have sufficient people to fill critical jobs there. If so, then the task is to look at the impact of that business unit being under-resourced. The more specific and linked to priority initiatives the better.
The more definable "Return on Expectations” need to define what business results you are hoping to achieve, and this is essential for all business units to be consistent with their goal setting and measurement (a function of the Vision and Alignment aspects of leadership). Thereafter, once you've designed your activities to meet those goals, measurement becomes a matter of determining, "How well did you meet collective goals. JUST trying to measure ROI often confounds your contributions to the top or bottom line with everyone else's efforts. ROE is more definable, and, therefore, more measurable.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

From Mind ‘Set’ to Mind Flow

Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier. -Dorthea Brande

Change is about moving forward and improving. People are complicated, probably the most complicated 'thing' on the planet, but it doesn't mean we can't change to improve who we are and what we're doing, the critical step in change is to change one’s mindset, perhaps our mind should never get set, but keep flowing, to compete with the speed of the machine, the speed of wind, the speed of light….

 Mindset is at the heart of our belief system. These are beliefs that we all hold and have formed over time via education culture, or hard experience. It is in the individual's mindset to either adapt or embrace the change(s).  It has been said that "To embrace change requires a change of mindset at every level and an understanding that things cannot stay the same. This is the groundwork that has to be done at all levels prior to initiating major change”.

Shiftmindset’ to mind-scope or mind-flow, so that it allows the mind to seek possibility. It requires that we move from one mind SET to mind FLOW, from fixed mind to growth mind. What is needed right now is continuous change and flexibility of our mind, completely away from being set in a fixed way, to put another way, our mind needs to be continually sharpened & shaped in order to adapt to the changes.

The corporate culture is the collective mindset of organization:
On one level, you have the organizational mindset, this is usually experienced as "the way we do things around here". The prevailing management paradigm can be moved from command and control to system thinking through intervention and then results in the prevailing culture or organizational mindset changing. By implication, those at the lower level in the hierarchy are liberated to think and behave differently by this change. You end up with people who view the design and management of work differently. 

One’s mind is not necessarily as old as one’s age. The world we see is dependent on the lens of proximity, the openness of mind and the perception of eyes. The other level is the individual mindset or "personal paradigm". This is much deeper. It is related to your functioning as a person - how you think about yourself and the world. Believe it or not, this is the biggest single contributor to how you act in a business situation. Changing this takes a substantial intervention on an individual level, working to expose and unravel the existing personal paradigm and then introduce a new paradigm. The wise man does not grow old, but ripens.  -Victor Hugo

Leadership is a light to guide the change; while people only change when seeing the light or feel the heat. The spirit of an organization comes from the top, at the leadership level, mind shift from the top is a prerequisite for any change management effort. However, at the staff level, there is a saying- 'people only change when they see the light or feel the heat' and it mainly seems to be the heat factor. Change in mindset follows the change in behavior, it does not precede it. Change in behavior usually follows change in the environment;  this is what the data tells. 

Changing the mindset is certainly the most important thing in effecting change
- as the level of the mindset that is changed affects the scope and longevity of improvement in an organization. Part of the challenge is the Mindset of those initiating the change. Those who are leading the change must first examine their own mindset. This may include but not be limited to:
1). Their mindset about how easily or difficult the change will be to complete
2). Their methodology about how change is done
3). Their perceptions of the players who will be in the change initiative
4). Their decision making about the direction of the change
5). The degree, scope, and nature of the change required

A healthy mind is like a running river, keep flowing, keep open, keep cleanse;  keep touch, to prepare for merging into the sea....Changing mindset is challenging, from the set of constant such as fixed mind, closed mind, control mind, negative mind to the set of X-variables such as open mind, positive mind, growth mind, empowerment mind., etc. Change mindset is a choice of life, as only you can change you that includes your mindset. And that’s the only way to make mankind’s progress.  “Well, for us, in history where goodness is a rare pearl, he who was good almost takes precedence over he who was great.”-Victor Hugo 

Shall you Support the ‘Hybrid’ Agile Framework

Every Agile methodology has its own characteristics.

There are emergent methodologies fit in Agile toolbox, Agile process tools such as Scrum, Lean Kanban, Extreme Programming XP and others bring their own characteristics and advantages to the table. So can you mix different Agile Frameworks and be successful, or the other side of question is, "can you not mix and be successful"?

The technology team should use whatever processes and artifacts suit their circumstances, then measure and improve them continuously. After all, Agile is a just short list of preferences, not a rigid method. Lots of people saying things like, 'What you're doing is fine but it's not Scrum', as though being 'perfectly scrum' is the ideal objective. In fact, what matters is doing a good job, adding value and learning how to improve as you go. If that means mixing different agile frameworks together then so be it.

Every Agile methodology has its own characteristics: For example, Kanban focuses on improving whichever methodology is being used rather than providing its own framework while Scrum provides a definite framework with essential artifacts. The focus of the Agile method is to deliver value rather than fixate on the method itself. Therefore, organizations can customize several Agile framework methodologies to suit their needs, enabling them to deliver maximum value. One can mix and match ideas from any source as long as it is:
1) adequate; it produces the desired results,
2) attainable; it is within the capabilities of the people who will do the work, and
3) efficient; choose your own metric; it needs to suit your needs.

Any project can be successful if you are able to align the project demands with that of the aspects of different Agile methodologies to fulfill the demands. Agile methods are not totally rigid like the Waterfall method. Agile frameworks are divisible and best practices of different methods can be combined to cater to project success, where implementing a particular method does not suffice. Sometimes there may be hurdles in adopting all the aspects of a single method (it can be organizational, change of team and roles or process related).

There’re both cautions and encouragement in such endeavor. Organizations are customizing several Agile framework methodologies to suit their needs... There’s caution against the organization imposing such a mix, but heartily endorse an organization that is prepared to support such a mix, as imposing methods on developers opposes the first line in the Agile manifesto: 'prefer individuals and interactions over processes and tools. The work should proceed with only just enough ceremony to ensure that:
1) End-users get to use a product that they acknowledge is fit for its intended purpose
2) The customer (the entity that pays for the product) acknowledges that they have received value for the money spent
3) Developers (the whole product supplier team) get to work at a sustainable pace, have a sense that they have produced a technically robust product

Scrumban, the combination of Scrum and Kanban is a classic example of combining Agile frameworks. Kanban was used to regulate, prioritize and monitor the BAU work-stream and when larger, more project-like pieces of work appeared, place a Scrum 'wrapper' around the Kanban process, essentially breaking-up the continuous flow of Kanban into project sprints. You can also ring-fence the sub-team working on the new project to free them from the relentless interruption of BAU. Once the project was complete, developers would fall back into the Kanban/BAU work-stream. Such joint-but-separate process may increase productivity

Doing ‘hybrid Agile’ first implies sufficient expertise in the two or more desired mixed implementations of Agile Methodologies. Some Agile frameworks perform better than others on some of the following bullets. In the end there is no one right way, so we all have to mix, experiment, and keep trying new things until we get something that works better than whatever we use today. 
(1) Software is getting built and delivered
(2) The pace of development is "quick"
(3) Bugs are few or nonexistent
(4) Costs/Expenses are reasonable and under control
(5) There are no surprises at the end; surprise you have 500 bugs that didn't surface in Unit Testing; or a bunch of requirements nobody mentioned until t-minus one month.
(6) People who depend on the software like it
(7) The software is relatively easy to fix, update, enhance.
(8) The net ROI is positive

Some studies discover that when organizations start with XP first and Scrum later, these organizations tend to have much better results than those that start with Scrum. XP is insufficient on its own to make an Agile organization, but the foundational principles one gets from starting with XP create a proper foundation for whatever layer you put on next. The other possible reason of starting with XP first works better is the difference between XP coaches and Scrum Masters. XP coaches tend to be pretty hardcore as a group, thus know what it's like to be on the critical path. Scrum Masters are more focused on how to run a standup. Also, Scrum is a workflow framework with lots of little rules and idioms, whereas XP is about fundamentals that split the fence between Agile and Lean.

Agile at its core is a state of mind, mixing framework elements can and probably will be common practice when the overall goal is to practice Agile. This type of Agile journey can be both enlightening and fun-filled and very rewarding. It has the upshot of ensuring that the whole Agile organization becomes fully conversant with more than one form of Agile while still all agreeing on a single consistent approach. The matter of fact is not about what mix of label/brand/fad being used. Surely what really counts is that a group of committed people collaborate to economically produce a fit-for-purpose product within time and cost constraint

The Key Words to Convey Value of Strategy

"Let your plans be as dark as night and then strike like a thunderbolt". -Sun Tzu:

A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge. Here are the highlighted keywords to convey the value of strategy.

  • The strategy is to envision the way forward to a predetermined goal, de-risk to the maximum possible extent while contending with unforeseen circumstances that may arise; it makes Strategy Planning important for every organization, whether large or small. 
  • Strategic Planning provides the opportunity to confront the future while recognizing the current state of the business and putting plans in place to realize that future. 
  • Strategic planning provides focus. It helps the leaders to focus on the 20% of activities that will yield 80% future success. 
  • A strategic plan is important as it is the road map for the achievement of an organization's goals, mission, and purposes. 
  • The aim of any strategy is to optimize the return with minimizing the risk, it reduces the risk of lost opportunities and increases the probability of value creation. 
  • Strategy thinking unites a community of people who want to achieve multiple objectives with limited resources while ensuring sustainability in a changing environment. 
  • Good strategy is a funnel through which all ideas that have been previously filtered, now flow and create a positive result for your company growth.
  • A clear strategy improves internal motivation, performance, and accountability as well as external communication, leading to greater success through the focused application of time, skills, and other resources. 
  • Strategic planning puts in place the bridge between the objective(s) to be achieved and the resources available. 

  • The strategy weaves the key elements into a clear picture of future of business. The universal elements of strategy are timing, location, and people, the business elements of strategy are: people, process, and technology  
  • Strategy is the pillar of organizational existence, its design, structure, functions, vision, and mission.  
Without a destination, the journey becomes aimless; where strategy is setting the direction and the road map in the journey.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Is Innovation a Science?

Innovation is the art in the eyes of the artist; innovation is the science in the mind of the scientist; innovation is the bridge between art and science. 
Creativity is about thinking a new idea, and innovation is about creating or doing the new things, so is innovation serendipitous or is innovation a science or art? If there is such a thing as 'innovation science', then what are its core principles, practices & operational theories?

Innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity in real life. The first hint was coining of the word "retro-synthesis", wiki summed up synthesis as: “the noun synthesis refers to a combination of two or more entities that together form something new; alternately, it refers to the creating of something by artificial means.” The science of innovation can be understood as retrosynthesis-“planning a synthesis backward, by starting at the product, the "target" and taking it back a step at a time." Simply put, start with what you want to see or do or have. Then think backward from there to what the next simpler step is, then back to what are the next simpler components, back to what you have at hand. Simply put, creating is being able to think backward (from product or outcome of components) and forwards (from materials or resources at hand) at the same time. 

Innovation, in general, is surely a discipline. It covers innovation management, knowledge, and technology transfer, entrepreneurship and it is closely related to several other disciplines. It stands in between management, economy, psychology, sociology, and law, not speaking about disciplines that are related to technologies implemented by the particular innovation. Theoretical treatment of the discipline may give rise to a science. The bulk of data, methods, and approaches involved as well as the complexity of processes encountered speaks in favor of scientific approach.  On the other hand, the subject of the study is very subtle and difficult to distinguish from other sciences mentioned above - in a sense innovation would be a "cross-science." 

The science is "the ability to produce solutions in a problem domain repeatedly." What defines science from chance is the ability to repeat a process with the same resultant solution every time, through the application of known facts. The core principles are the Scientific Method, using the design of experiment type approaches where a portfolio of options are pursued knowing there will be pruning as new facts emerge; this is the fundamental principle where the facts are left to speak for themselves. At the current situation "innovation science", if there is such a thing,  is rather more a complex of rules, practices, and examples than a science. Also, innovation is a good mix of art and science. 

There are innovation methodologies & tools based on a theory first formulated 65 years ago by Altshuller and is known as TRIZ, which has four major tools for innovative management:
1). Problem-solving tool
2). Failures prediction and analysis tools
3). Tools to develop new products and new technology
4). Tools to develop and protect patents

Business innovation management is more science than art. At the individual level, innovation is a personal irrationality that is unique to every individual, it’s one’s inward creativity leading to outward innovation, we can describe the outer silhouette as a statistical percentile, but the crazy things that each of us does to arrive at a new idea will be different. However, at business scope, innovation expands its horizon and flexes its muscles, goes beyond creating the new things, it also includes communication innovation, culture innovation, business model innovation, process innovation, structure innovation, innovation management is more science than art, it takes an effective framework, core principles, systematic management discipline, as well as best & next practices.

How to Achieve True Business and IT Partnership

The true IT-business partnership is not only possible but the ‘must-have’ in order to build a high-performance organization.

Some say there’s an inherent conflict between business and IT, is it true, why are always so many arguments between business and IT, is it possible to achieve a true partnership between Business and IT? If so, what're the key factors and how to achieve it?

1. Trust is Needed from Both Sides 

There is an inherent conflict if IT views its primary objective as standardization, rationalization, and consolidation, but nowadays at the era of digitalization, IT means innovation, integration, and improvement, etc. Trust is the key, which means IT needs to behave more like an integral part of the business.
  • The cause of most of this conflict is a lack of trust, in both directions: Solve that problem, and a lot of the other problems go away. Why isn't there trust? There’re a lot of reasons technically, economically, politically and cognitively. Once business and IT start talking in more strategic terms that are mutually beneficial, then the trust will come. Trust is earned by business and IT working as a whole, head to head and hand in hand.
  • Trust means how to strike the right balance upon what IT can give up control, and what IT needs to control: The trust between IT and business will enable the business to self-service and do more with the technology, so IT can spend more resources on innovation and come up with even better, more relevant solutions for the business; on the other side, IT shouldn't give up control of governance and risk management, as well as building up a strong long-term relationship with partners to gain purchasing power and dedicated supports. It’s about finding the right balance in order for IT and business aligned as strategic partners.
  • The trust also means IT and business work closely to deliver business solutions with optimal speed. Business gets frustrated about the speed of IT because they can see the ease of delivery and use of easily accessible solutions that fit some of their business needs, they see how far technology has advanced, they see the ease with which new sites and services are deployed on-demand, and then they sit around a table with their internal IT service providers and suddenly everything is impossible because business is being too demanding; IT may also need to educate business upon the complexity of IT integration, governance & risk & compliance management issues, to not allow ‘shadow IT’ put their organizations at risk for the long period of time. 

2. Transparency is the Key 

Transparency is critical to developing a trusting relationship between the business and IT: IT leadership must increase and demonstrate its level of understanding of their organization's business and strategy. This will lead to greater respect and trust from the business leaders. On the other hand, more often than not, information and technology become creative disrupter to business growth and industry evolution, business leaders cross-functionally should stay on the same page when sharpening business strategy and sharing information, the overall business transparency will enable effective communication and build trust.

The key is to engage at the right level and about the right things: It should start at the strategic level, IT, marketing, finance, HR., etc all have its own subsection of the overall business strategy. It is invaluable for both IT and business to know what's going in each other's space and why. IT and business must rely on each other's strengths and use each other in the most relevant capacity, both parties have to understand exactly how each one operates.

3. IT Focuses on Innovation, Integration, and Improvement  

IT should be more integration focused rather than re-inventing the wheel with most custom development that takes place: IT can no longer feel like it has a monopoly on delivering solutions to the business. With the vendors offering cloud and hosted solutions that businesses can utilize directly with almost no IT support, IT should feel competitive pressure. It can drive IT to run more like business as well as understand the business strategies more comprehensively. It can become an internal cloud broker to orchestrate business solutions more smoothly. 
  • Practice design thinking and simplicity principle: It also sometimes seems as if IT has a different agenda than that of its end users. When IT delivers business needed custom developments, there is always extensive training required because so little thought goes into the ergonomics of the design, or the simplicity of the interface, give the business a choice, and IT will have to focus on doing things more collaboratively and more competitively. 
  • At the higher level of maturity, IT is the innovation engine of the business: IT is not limiting the business’s creativity, but encouraging out of the box thinking as well as systematic solutions. IT can improve every critical process of business, as well as digitalize the touchpoint of customer experience, the true IT-business partner relationship can move both business and IT forward, and deliver high-performance results.
Therefore, the true IT-business partnership is not only possible but the ‘must-have’ trait in order to build a high-performance organization. It’s a journey, business needs to understand the change and complexity nature of IT, while IT can lead the charge in improving business-IT relations by simply not taking their customer for granted and focusing on customers as if they were in a competitive market. From alignment to engagement, IT and business can be truly integrated and deliver the optimal business performance.

Is EA ‘Golden’ Ratio: 70% Strategic & 30% Tactical?

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  - Sun Tzu

Enterprise Architecture is regarded as a discipline linking strategy formation to strategy execution - a "strategic conversation" is based on the shared, systematic model of enterprise that is the enterprise architecture description. EA is one form of formal 'strategic conversation' that links strategy to technical implementation.

EA is strategic to convey the vision and tactical to bring reality, as it defines (1) the future business process and business technology state; and (2) the relationships between vision, strategy, processes, and technology. EA that focuses on all the details will fail because of the 'boiling the ocean' problem but conversely, EA that pays no attention at all to the details risks becoming unrealistic and impractical. A comprehensive enterprise architecture provides a single dynamic picture and multiple views of the business as it is, and as it will be.

EA is strategic in its nature, and highly tactical in its applicability. EA is about describing the business as a complete system. Consider that EA has to be multi-disciplinary, you can see that without a clear alignment with the company directives then the EA role gets diluted into a solution architect, which mostly operates the intra-operational unit. If it isn’t cross-organizational and strategic. If it isn't about integration or standardization, then it isn't EA. It is solution architecture.

Enterprise architecture includes both business architecture and IT architecture-it is strategic in its vision and tactical in its realization. At any point in time, there are three EA aspects: Current EA, Future EA, and a current to future realization strategy road-map. MIT CISR defines enterprise architecture as “the organizing logic for business process and IT capabilities reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the firm’s operating model.” 

Remaining engaged is what prevents EA from becoming academic. “Remaining engaged" means being aware of the difficulties encountered when trying to execute strategy and helping to get past them. It is a matter of judgment - the implementers on the ground are the experts and they probably know better the right tactical solutions - they don't need inappropriate interference from EAs. But this doesn't mean "leaving all the messy implementation details to others". Standards, principles, guidelines, informal guidance can be managed via EA engagement.

EA provides guidance that does not make it tactical by nature. While tactical realizations are underway, EA focus remains on ensuring that the business and IT strategies stay aligned, and EA is the glue between strategy and execution. There are two risks in EA getting into too much tactical:
1) ineffective or inappropriate meddling
2) losing focus on strategic and important issues.

EA Governance is essential to the success of a tactical process, yet tactical realizations of the strategy are a separate function altogether.  EA Governance includes:

1) 'Transmitting' intended strategy into guidance during execution (realization)
2) 'Receiving' feedback from execution into where strategy needs to be modified (because it is unrealistic or too costly to implement or doesn't actually fit, stretch or match the position on the ground or ....). Yes, this is EA Governance.

Perhaps one of the most valuable things EA brings is an 'explicatory semantic interpretation service' in bridging the divides- It is generally recognized that a cultural gap has grown up between the business people and the technologists - and this is often expressed as "speaking different languages". EA can bridge the divides by explaining to the business culture in their terms (and semantics) what the technology and systems mean to their enterprise, and conversely to the technologists what the business environment means to their technology and systems. That would be strategically important. Perhaps the characteristics of the EA should include a little linguistics, a little psychology and a little philosophy, along with all the other things like business and technology knowledge

Based on all analysis above, could it mean the 'golden ratio' of EA is 70% strategy and 30% tactic? And any EA should be able to operate on such a ratio with well-setting metrics at each level. EA is a strategic and non-technical exercise, and at another level, EA is a tactical and technical exercise.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  - Sun Tzu

Friday, September 27, 2013

What is the ONE most important thing to focus on when adopting Agile?

Agile is an emergent and complex methodology, besides trust, continuous-improvement, understanding agile, communication, stories, the emphasis also needs to put on communication and clarity, adaptation and inspection.., 

Agile as emergent software project methodology becomes mainstream, however, Agile adoption can be complicated. There are rituals, tools, artifacts, meetings, etc... it's a BIG change. What is the highest priority for helping a team, department, or company adopt Agile

Common Understanding the goals and principle of Agile: Focus on at the start is to come up with a clear statement of what it is that you want to achieve from adopting agile. It is important for all individuals involved in the project to understand the principles and goals behind agile, Having everyone on the team with the same understanding of what is Agile and how it going to work for this team, and understanding of what the team/company hopes to achieve, and how, through agility is critical for success.
  • Trust (or the willingness and openness for trust) is essential for true Agile transformation (rather than just the adoption of some of the practices). Trust between team members and trust between management/ stakeholders and team trust that the issues illuminated by the agile approach will be honestly examined and an attempt made to address them regardless of the root cause, and trust that everyone will do their part, trust as a precursor for the feedback that enables continuous improvement
  • Continuous improvement from iteration to iteration, whether the sprint is 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks or more, it gets the team focused on what they need to do to improve. This tends to get the team focused on collaboration, measuring their success and all kinds of other good "Agile" behaviors.

  • Transparency: By adopting agile practices, you can eliminate the ‘tunnel effect’ and bring forth transparency and trust into software project development. Agile teams along with the product owner (client proxy) would prioritize the business requirements as per ‘highest business value’ and deliver them in smaller lots. The technical infrastructure adopted by agile teams would ensure that the KPIs and metrics used for reporting are derived from the working product and are not mere guesswork. 
  • Stories are the currency of agile, and if you do not set this in the beginning, then you are trying to set a monetary policy with debased currency. By defining a story, all the differences in attitude, behavior and process are forced out in the open.
Agile is an emergent and complex methodology, besides trust, continuous-improvement, understanding agile, communication, stories, the emphasis also needs to put on communication and clarity, adaptation and inspection.., Agile focuses on Team, how to build up a high-performance agile team is the key success factor in project delivery.


Change is always there; improvement can only be there if people accept change.
Change is the only constant, indeed, even change itself changes, but more than two-thirds of organizational change management effort fails, what’s the change all about, why is change so hard, is change equal to improvement?

Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is definitely a change. For change to be embraced by stakeholders, they ultimately need to understand why it is an improvement and what it will improve for them.

Change is always there; improvement can only be there if people accept change, and make the most out of it. So, therefore, it is useless to strive for change, the change will come by itself. Improvement is the reward for being willing to change. We become better individuals; therefore, our 'tribe' improves.

Improvement CANNOT happen without change, and change SHOULD NOT happen without improvement. The two go together. An organization can become or be made differently by the addition or alteration of something for the better. In other words,  change without good reason and adding value is futile and useless.

The difference between Change and Improvement is as obvious as the Wind. In both cases there will always exist some resistant by people, so overcoming resistance is one of the most challenging tasks for both cases:
When the wind of change blows...
Some build walls...
Some build windmills

Radical Change is more about structuring the root of the organization which includes objectives, values, and beliefs while process improvement works more on the surface of the company; so continuous improvement is more likely to be sustained if there is a framework which includes consideration of organizational values. It also provides an opportunity to move away from project-based thinking to a whole system based approaches.

Change requires a strategy. The strategy must include assessing stakeholders and determining methods of getting people on board. Identify key champions and allies. Improvement is a form of change; it's not about painting the building, changing the logo, letterhead, and typeface, it's about creating a better value proposition and successful operating system/culture that delights customers/clients and makes a step change difference in the way and quality that we do business and reward our stakeholders

Change is the alteration of a state of being (Status). The outcome of that dynamics could be positive or negative depending on the viewpoint or intent of the instigators, recipients or observers. Change management is a tool used to effectively accomplish organizational improvement. Helping people adapt to new things in their work environment can be extremely disruptive, and if the goals and values are not clear it will not succeed. Improvement is, therefore, a direct result of a change process.

Revolutionary vs. evolutionary management. Urgency is what mostly makes the difference. If a situation requires short-term and drastic intervention because there is no choice. Apply change management if it is about higher efficiency, better quality, customer satisfaction, go for an evolutionary approach based on continual improvement. Continual improvement is not equal to slow when properly managed. 

Change - It's a decision, you must think harder to take this decision; Improve - It's the process, you must work harder to improve.  Change with improvement in mind is a proactive approach that allows for planning and support considerations to be made and, therefore, is much more likely to turn into a smooth and successful collaborative transition. Change without wanting to improve is a reaction to outside forces and, therefore, full of limitations. It often reflects a disorganized environment and major irritations for everybody.

Improvement is a form of change, change can also be leapfrogged into business transformation. The magnitude of improvement and the impact it has on the organization, short term, long term, effectiveness, and profitability all depend on the vision and the competence of management leadership. There are four Phases of Improvement
1) Expect resistance.
2) Small Improvements take best
3) Constant ongoing small Improvements
4) Reward Improvements.

Therefore, change is not for its own sake, be proactive, with the improvement of the mind, create synergy in the multitude of its impact. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


In the contemporary corporate board, ''learning'' and ''performance'' are key fundamental themes of better organizational governance.

Due to the increasing velocity and variety of changes in the digital era, corporate board, as one of the most significant governance bodies, also faces the unprecedented changes, including the new perspective of boardroom composition, the priority of boardroom agenda, the stakeholder engagement, as well as the merging strategies or risks driven by the latest digital technology. So what kind of board should be ideal, and how to shape a culture of “learning board” in adapting to the speed of changes?

1. Board’s Collective ‘Learning Capability’ 

The first principle of an effective Board (Decision-Ready Board) needs to be knowledgeable, capable and committed in order to contribute to decision-making quickly when required and effectively at all times.

  • In order to build such an effective and innovative board, start with a series of self-assessment questionnaires in the boardroom: Do we have cognitive diversity for genuine discussions? Do we have experience of good and bad days? Do we have persons with new ideas and approaches? Do we have a balance between the driving style and analytic style? Do we have board members devoted to their task? Do we have persons to bring different perceptions for strategy or governance issues; the board, as a whole, do we have the sufficient learning capability in leading the changes?., etc.
  • ''Learning'' and ''Performance'' are key fundamental themes of better organizational governance: It is the organization as a whole, not just in the boardroom, from top-down, needs to systemically learn how to adapt and renew itself over time reducing potential disruption risk.
  • The board's role is to enable dynamic governanceIt purposefully embeds by design of these fundamental notions of ''Learning'' and ''Performance,'' in the design and linking, the dots get connected across culture, strategy, execution, and reporting, so that everyone can see and agree on what has been done and what should be done next all these with proper check and balance. A governance approach drives organizational clarity instead of complexity and ambiguity.
  • Board learning capability' is cultivated via 'mindful' learning not 'mind full': It's about removing the roadblocks to collective learning, focus more on performance and less on conformance. The spirit of the organization comes from the top, as a culture of ‘learning board’ will set the tone to shape the corporate culture, pointing better decision making for everyone, in the allocation of limited resources with the clear purpose to drive sustainable performance. The richer knowledge is shared and leveraged in a learning organization which is shifting from what's next to what should be next! 

  • Boardroom diversity goes beyond gender or race. it’s more about the cognitive difference: Every board member, especially those belonging to diverse Boards by the structure are different observers of the "reality" and should add her or his self-reflection so the anticipation issue should be tackled. The board also needs oversight and development to enable, to oversee if the group is working effectively and to boost the learning processes inside the board by resolving a number of learning challenges.

2. The Board Governance for Value Creating and Value Protection

The Board is responsible for contributing to both protecting values (the risk side) and creating value (the growth side) for the organization.

  • Risk vs. Growth: Assessing the organizational strategy is one of the key roles of the board: It must be done in consideration of the risks associated with these strategies. The one part of the governance process is to create value depends on understanding the intrinsic risk of the strategies.
  • WHAT & HOW: The corporate values (WHAT) board governance needs to create and protect includes such as, legality, prudence, empowerment, quality standards, etc, as they are vital to business success; then, finding or researching the most effective HOW(s) to accomplish the WHAT. Without the understanding of the WHAT, the HOW will wonder all over the place and be debated endlessly.
  • Diversification is a component, and in some cases a very good initiation of value creation: If it builds on and across supports other assets, people start to think, understand, learn and work together leading to better decisions and better performance, as we live with complex systems, it takes a ''different'' thinking, uses the right tools and leverage effective process in governance practices.
  • Although a Board should be long-term oriented, the perspective of a Board must encompass the past, present, and future when assessing risks and growth opportunities: Board governance (as opposed to other entities with governance authority and responsibility) is the delegate process by which a board carries out the governance of the organization.
No organization today wants to keep looking in the rear view mirror to move forward, the strong governance can eliminate the risk of dysfunction. With experienced and competent NEDs on board and culture of a "learning board," there is plenty of opportunities for boards to improve their effectiveness.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Inherent Interdisciplinarity

Strategic Managers see 'blue ocean' currents; Operational Managers only see 'red ocean' currents.

Strategic management as long-term planning requires a vision. In other words, a company needs to define where it wants to be in a decade or two (what's the vision) and how they want to get there (Strategy) and then Operational Management will translate the long-term plans into smaller scale plans to operationalize the move toward the vision.

Strategic Managers see 'blue ocean' currents; Operational Managers only see 'red ocean' currents: Strategic Leaders have the capacity to read change and emerging change wavefronts, in the same way, navigators read ocean currents; Operational Managers only see 'red ocean' currents. Strategic management is focusing on empowering company's resources for its competitive advantage in facing the competition... Operational management is getting things done through team efforts.
Strategy Management takes a holistic view; and Operational Management takes an internal view: A strategic perspective or capability is an analytical, synthetic and rational decision-making process combined with innovative, out of the box thinking and most important of all whilst being a visionary; an operational view is being pragmatic and committed to realizing the strategy. Operational Management may be viewing things from a single side (internally) and strategic management is a holistic view of things (both internally and externally) as the way of coming up with actions that will improve organizational performance and conformance in order to achieve the set goals.
Strategy Management focuses on effectiveness and agility, Operational Management focuses on efficiency: "Strategic Management" is concerned with establishing "where" the organization competes (which product, customer, geographic markets) and "how" it chooses to compete and capture value in each market; Operational Management, on the other hand, is concerned with "how do we run the business?" including (1) determining the role of the corporate center, individual business units, divisions, and the employees who staff them. (2) establishing standards and procedures used to make decisions around strategy and resource allocation. (3) defining and developing the employee capabilities and behaviors that are required to execute, and (4) establishing and monitoring KPIs that will be used to manage the business and individual employee performance.
The purpose of strategic management is to thrive business in the long term, and the goal of operational management is to make the business survive at the moment, both are crucial and interdependent management practices in running a truly successful business.  

What are Key Practical Steps to Improve IT Performance?

The first thing is to listen to the other side - "the users."

How to achieve IT efficiency, effectiveness, and agility is the goal every CIO wants to pursue, however, It is not easy because it requires changing the culture and getting the buy-in of the IT resources. Also, in reality, the problem is that quite often productivity metrics are nearly nonexistent in organizations for most of IT functions and monitoring is not an easy task. Though the situation varies, still, there are a couple of key steps can be shared in improving IT performance across vertical sectors.

  1. Listen: The first thing is to listen to the other side - "the users": Find out what their pain points are and what issues they face, and you need to understand and agree with people across your organization what does success look like. Only then can you define a plan to improve performance. It is amazing how often this step gets ignored, but the improvement has no meaning if you do not know what the target is.  
  1. Define a compelling purpose and vision for the IT team: Make a seamless IT-business alignment to ensure that this is well aligned with the purpose of the total organization. Develop a strategy that is focused on building capability and closing the gap in your success measures over time. Select an IT service framework which can provide a road-map to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of IT services. It could be implemented gradually with Priority to high-risk areas, and play a very important role in providing guidance and a common focus/language for the team.  
  1. Cross-Communication with different parties: (1) Be honest to stakeholders. Tell them what you know about things which are working well and items which are not working well. Tell them how you plan to work on improving them. (2) Talk to business about where you should focus more, sell the strategic plan and demonstrate the strategic partnership by helping business select technology and help them think through the full cost model of the purchase. (3) Demonstrate operational leadership by being close to the user community on different levels (power user, some general user base) and getting the issues across levels, speaking the language business speaks in.
  1. Develop an Action Plan for Implementation: After making a strategic plan, and communicate with the business, a detailed action plan is drawn with all key activities taken as inputs. The detailed action plan should carry the important things like a timeline, individuals responsible for carrying out the tasks, any shortfall in the completion of tasks and what stretch targets are taken to compensate the shortfalls. That responsibility should be committed enough to ensure that the tasks and assignments are completed on time. Automate routine tasks, provide structured information, knowledge sharing. Provide whatever training and support your team needs to develop the skills 
  1. Define how you will measure success in meeting that purpose and vision: Ensure that these measures are quantitative, and implement whatever mechanisms you need to be able to gather the data. Your measures should cover all areas that contribute to value creation including service quality, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and financial outcomes. These represent well as a balanced scorecard. 
Always keep in mind, people matter: Achieve progress by measuring the key objectives for all your team members in a mix of team and individual objectives and highlight examples of progress and performance you want to encourage.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What are the Top Reasons that Fail Innovation in IT Organizations

Often old IT thinking cannot move fast enough in the age of the digitalization.

An IT organization has three dimensions to focus on: Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Agility. Often time the focus is on the first one where the last two support innovation. So what are the top reasons that kill innovation and value creation in IT organization?

Traditional business culture: How to create and grow a start-up spirit inside people in a large organization? Because only people can drive innovation, change and create value. How to build the conditions inside an IT organization and use social business, cloud, and agile approach to making it happen? The aspects of change management and how change makes people feel are important considerations for any innovation project.

Solely focus on quantifiable benefits or short-term result: Old IT thinking cannot move fast enough in the age of the digitalization. Aside from treating innovation initiatives like typical IT projects that are constrained by quick ROI, the emotional obstacles for innovation are significant in large, mainstream organizations.

Outdated Methodology: The traditional waterfall methods are not sufficient anymore. Large programs should be broken up into shorter deliverables which don't mean that there should be an ROI for each deliverable. IT needs to embrace a more agile development with deliverables rolling in the shorter delivery cycle, to encourage IT and business to try out new ideas, learn from what is working and what doesn't, and improve the deliverables in the next iteration.

Excessive IT complexity: Complication limits innovation and historical lack of success in IT project compounds the situation. It is due to analysis paralysis, narrow thinking - not leveraging the collective brainpower of strategic vendor partnerships, and it is also a lack of understanding the capabilities/resources, lack of business/IT understanding and lack of outside-in approaches as well.

Lack of the alignment of people, process, and technology:  Lack of buy-in and executive sponsorship, the innovation is not goal-congruent with corporate goals; lack of expertise to deliver, lack of  resources, early termination / budget cutting for initiatives, redesign of goals, "square pegs in round holes" syndrome, and in the longer term, a lower prioritization for such initiatives; or assumptions are made that by simply undertaking the innovation, without setting the effective processes and the latest technology for systematic innovation management.

Therefore, IT needs to move up the maturity level, in pursuit of effectiveness and agility by having governance in place, with a long-term focus, to enable value creation initiatives, agility and endeavors for managing innovation.  

Business Intelligence - NICE to have, or MUST have

Big Data has Big Value if exploring it effectively.
Business Intelligence or more specifically, Data Analytics is at its evolutionary journey, from descriptive analytics, predictive analytics to prescriptive analytics, for organizations large or small, is it nice to have or a must have.

It depends on the type of companies and the maturity of the decisions makers. Nowadays it is a must for some businesses and nice to have for others, depending on the type of business even in big data era. Most companies will benefit from getting relevant information, but you need the right people to understand what information is needed. Selecting the right sources is not a simple task.

The BI should be something between "nice" and "must". It is important for an enterprise to develop a BI strategy using the available technology in order to provide useful information for business decision, direction, etc.  The real challenge is weather high level people really want to make data transparent and they really want to make decision based on data, rather than only the gut feeling or experience.

 For any visionary company with complicated business territories and ambitions, it is a must. With technology evolvement, BI /Data Analytics will become more and more fundamental for companies to best utilize their data and make sound decisions. It should not be a question of having it or not, but a question brought to leaders is how to maximize its value after you spend huge efforts of building a fantastic BI solution. You should not only think of it from pure technology side, pure data side, but from business, digging insights, marketing, customers etc...

BI/Analytics is the right tool to achieve business agility. The business world is changing rapidly; today we have the tools to go through all the data that used to live in the archives. There is a gold mine of information there. The tools are becoming easier to use and navigate, and the Big data quagmire is real. It will always be a mix of history, personal touch in decision making, but what the information you can garner through BI will give the competitive advantage in the survival and thriving of business

For long term, It’s a must have to stay competitive Big Data has Big Value if exploring it effectively. Big data, once business gets used to using it, will become a must have. It is just so much better predictor and guide. With information on your business, industry, customers readily available, it makes business sense to use it to your advantage.

Either ‘Nice to have’ or ‘Must Have’, add a reality check to the unbridled enthusiasm.  Be strategic and be tactical when doing analytics, to manage the data analytics project with clear business goals, not for technology’s sake, and improve overall project success rate.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Is Business Risk Process Driven or People Driven?

Both people and processes need to be orchestrated via the latest technology in order to move up from risk mitigation to risk intelligence.
Organizations today are hyper-complex and inter-connected;  they, therefore, face more business risks than ever, so more specifically, what are the causes of business risks, process-driven or people-driven, and how to manage risk more intelligently.

1.  Both Process and People factors Contribute to risk 

It’s not so hard to understand both people and process cause the risks, the percentage split can vary considerably depending on both the context being examined and indeed the organization itself, as well as what level of the risks and issues is talking about.

On one side, the leadership discipline is critical at the top tier of the organization; on the other side, every process should be designed to avoid or minimize risks. In addition, people behavior is stronger in reactive activities than in pro-active activities and therefore you can compensate such human natural behavior by giving enough focus on pro-active planning and business process management.

Risk analysis: One of the important aspects when designing a process is to perform a risk analysis so all reasonable risks are avoided or eliminated at that precise moment, to analyze risks once you have already implemented changes in the process is a total waste of efforts, time and money for the organization, thus,  assessing risk both from people and process perspective is a critical step before process implementation.  

To put simply, it isn't people or process, it is people and process: Processes/controls need to be designed based on (amongst other things) people and the culture within an organization at that time. Do people need to be forced to comply with risk management activity or do they naturally consider it as part of their daily job? These are two extremes, but the point is that processes should not ignore where on this spectrum an organization is.

2. Build a Risk-Awareness Culture 

People aspects are probably the least well-understood part of Risk Management, but the most challenging part to manage risks. In essence, the underlying themes and balance in risk are centered around cultural and organizational transformation. 

Leadership sets the tone for the business culture. Risk management may require a lot more future vision as well as a strategic mindset, therefore, management discipline is critical. Primary responsibility for people's behavior and performance must lie with the higher levels of management; they after all set the tone for the organizational culture. Leadership is not only saying, but acting, showing, guiding, teaching, etc., and that comes to a leadership process, as to tackle risk is to create a culture from the board of directors to senior leadership team to front desk/customer service staff.

The meaningful Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) is as much about changing organizational culture as it is anything. Instead of risk management being viewed as the role of a few people in risk management or internal review, it needs to be viewed as the responsibility of every person in the organization that makes a decision and involves risk. Since nearly every decision impacts future events that have yet to happen, this really means that understanding and managing risk should be a part of everyone's job description. Having great processes will not address the organizational change management challenges needed to develop the needed organizational culture. Therefore, process management and change management need to go hand-in-hand.

Cultural values: Cultural values are the result of strategic and governance model of the organization that is supported by their processes, culture is not what you said but what you really do ( live by the values), how can you get people responsible and willing to live your culture? Your recruitment process and your internal process management system as well.  In other words, people are important of course they are the most important element of the organization, but process define the rules and boundaries of performance.

Managing the Grey: In terms of risk avoidance and the risk-tolerance culture, there is grey area in between, the key is balance, give enough autonomy to the business to make its own decisions on taking or avoiding risks, put in place a mandated risk tolerance structure via escalation requirements based on current risk ratings, and get the balance right should result in the future vision aspects, and also provide information to the assurance lines that evaluate the business risk profile for analytical breakthroughs.

Therefore, the holistic risk management shall provide the strategic light and tactical angles to the issues of and in support of pending local, national and global efforts and mission/challenges of changing working environments, economics, regulations, and globalization. Both people and process need to be orchestrated via the latest technology in order to move up from risk mitigation to risk intelligence.