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

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

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Strategic IT thinking in One Sentence

The strategy like GPS, Guild you through Change and Transformation Journey.

The strategy is like GPS, it zooms in vision as a destination, leads the organization in the right direction, leverages resources, and executes effectively.

The strategy is the business direction: If you have a very good idea of where you are going - what your systems will be like and how they will work - then it is much easier to choose quickly between immediate opportunities: pick the ones that take you in the right direction

The strategy is a business playbook: A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to-win, and core capabilities enabled by IT, and management system choices that uniquely meet a customer’s needs. It is only through making and acting on choices that you can win

The strategy is a business signal amplifier: By crafting strategy, the business has the ability to filter the short-term signals of business and technology changes to identify the longer-term changes in business and technology that require significant and long-range adaptation for business success.

IT strategy is driven by Enterprise Business Strategy: It then cascades down to specific IT Goals. This approach ensures that the IT Strategy is always aligned with the Enterprise Business Strategy. Any IT strategy cannot exist in isolation to business strategy. If the business dynamics are changing, the IT strategy will need to be revisited and should be crafted in a manner of keeping flexibility.

The strategy is to connect the unconnected to create long-term value and synergy: Thinking that produces unique, non-obvious technology-based ideas that lead to solving critical business problems or positions the business to act on opportunities in the marketplace. A key characteristic of the IT strategy is that it should be "fused" with the business so that as the business changes course the IT strategy is also modified.

The strategy is cascading: The first strategy goal should be: Keep your capability to have agility in the case of unforeseen urgent changes in the business or other fields. The strategy is the direction you're heading, agility comes into play when you're defining the tactics to get you there. For example, a company may have a strategy to increase its footprint. You can grow organically or by purchasing competitors... either way it doesn't change the overall strategy that you want to grow.

Advocate the emergent strategy, not ivory Tower Strategy: CIOs need to think beyond IT strategy, to embrace the three Cs of emergent strategy: Creativity, Context, and Cascade. Otherwise, it becomes upfront yearly ivory tower strategy or SPOTS (Strategic Plan on Top Shelf),

To date, IT is strategic, running strategic IT takes strategic thinking, The IT leaders play a critical role in refining IT reputation. It is challenging, but keep at it; equip with the strategic mindset, innovate new ways to bring value to the business, then try new ways of showing the value you have created.

A Measurable Board

Modern Boards set key tones in building a fact-based business culture.

The corporate board as one of the most critical high-level governance bodies plays a crucial role in business advising, monitoring, and setting key tones in corporate culture, does modern board also need to be good at numbers, what are KPIs should be communicated at Board level? How to build a ‘measurable’ Board?

The one common denominator of all organizations is an objective to achieve and hopefully maximize stakeholder value. However, who those stakeholders are, and how they view value, is unique to each organization. KPIs should not come from some boilerplate list. They must derive from the needs of the organization, which will be influenced by the industry within which they operate, the stakeholders they serve, and the path that leadership has mapped out in delivering value. The emphasis on particular KPIs will, therefore, vary in relation to the risk and complexity of the industry, the lifecycle of the corporation, geographical concentration of operation, shareholder structure, financial strength of the corporation as well as the background and the composition of the board.

Corporate governance plays its full role when all the "stakeholders" are satisfied -customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and the community at large: The business KPIs can be taken into general categories, such as business/stakeholder, operational industry. While developing and implementing the KPIs, businesses always wanted a roll-up model around (a) Finance (Top line to Bottom line across all segmented verticals) (b) Customer (Customer satisfaction, loyalty) (c) Operations (Strategies focused largely on HR, Productive processes, and effective service delivery Information / Project Management/GRC etc.) Within each of these areas of accountability, there should be a considered set of KPIs that are identified as business orientated and outcome focused (d) Strategic scorecards covering capability building, performance-based culture, organizational integration and leadership development.

The Board exercises the supervisory power: In its supervisory role on behalf of the sovereign power, the Board of Directors delegates the operational management of the company to the executive power on the one hand, but needs to define clear milestones or KPIs to control behavior of the progress made by the executive power on the other hand.
-The “executive” power is responsible for the implementation of the strategy: The proper functioning of the operating organization and the achievement of financial targets. The executive power is entrusted to managers who share responsibility as an executive management team.
- The “supervisory” power: validates, organizes and controls the proper implementation of the strategy by the executive power. This power safeguards the evolution and sustainability of the company, preserves the company for possible deviation or risk and informs the shareholders on a regular basis on those subjects.
-The “sovereign” power: Votes a motion of confidence in the supervisory power and legitimizes the proposals and conclusions of the supervisory power related to the start-up or continuation of operations. Generally, the shareholders of the company exercise this third power. 

The KPIs to reflect strategic shareholder values include: (1) Return on Equity (ROE), (2) Return on Investment (ROI), (3) Return on Assets (ROA), (4) Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, and Depreciation (EBITD), (5) Annual Growth in Revenue, and (6) Annual growth in Earnings Per Share (EPS). (7) The rate of Functional / Enterprise Fragility/ Resilience (how the strategic and Operational KPIs perform when Political/Geopolitical Risks, Reputation Risks, Market Risks, Security Risks, Legal Risks and Environment Risks occur)

Board-controlled KPIs must deal with the progress made versus the approved long-term strategy and shorter-term budgets: From the Board governance responsibility point of view, the progress must also be measured in terms of financial, social, stakeholders, risk and compliance, and industry relevant yardsticks. Effective and transparent corporate governance creates the environment in which the driving forces of a company are being stimulated to work together in a harmonious way. Therefore, it is essential that each of the forces fully performs its own role, but also adheres strictly to this role, without interference in the responsibilities of the other forces.

Boards as a whole do need to both have an overview and do a credible drill down, the modern boardroom should exercise supervisory power via a well set of ‘hard’ numbers and comprehensive understanding of businesses, with the ultimate goal to achieve the high-performance business result.

Corporate Performance Management

Performance Management methods embedded with business analytics provides perspectives of business capacity.

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) has many descriptors and understandings globally. However, there is universal agreement that best practice performance management frameworks should inform the board, management, staff and key stakeholders on the performance of the organization in delivering services/programs efficiently, its effectiveness in achieving organizational outcomes and its progression towards achieving sustainability. Therefore, a holistic CPM discipline can enforce the culture of execution and provide data-based business capability and capacity.

Corporate Performance Management facilitates the flow of the right information to the right people at the right time, to coordinate and execute STRATEGY, TACTICS, AND RISKS: This means to translate strategy into operational terms aligning the organization to create synergies in making strategy everyone’s everyday job and a continual process mobilizing change through executive leadership anticipate, monitor results and act. All company’s performance is directly related to the decisions your people make every day—from executives to the frontline, across functional areas and regions. 

Performances are not just numbers with metrics, they are numbers in context, results related to your GOALS: Managing performance means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure it happens. New competitive challenges and active market changes underscore the strategic imperative of managing performance more than ever. But the various activities needed to manage performance— STRATEGIC and OPERATIONAL plans, METRICS, day-to-day decisions.

Corporate Performance Management is part of the business culture: All industries must have a vision, strategy, and tactic for performance management. It is part of the development of a business culture. How formal or informal is also part of the culture. Too many organizations don't receive the true return on their software investment because they cannot or will not create a culture of CPM. This takes discipline at all levels of the organization to adopt such analytics and measurement culture. Many organizations believe that if they implement a CPM software package, that makes them a CPM organization. The software is a tool to accomplish this approach to provide information to people so that they can perform better both individually and collectively as well as holding them accountable for their performance.

Corporate Performance Management is needed for all organizations as a way of living, what is the reason of their existence and how and what: Performance Management is critical for all organizations, irrespective of headcount and structure. This is critical to employee and company growth. Objectives in line with the vision set out by management, KPIs an essential tool for performance management, for which all concerned are accountable. Achievement of target automatically perpetuates them towards rewards; thus, the reward for performance link is an impartial exercise. If you build KPIs at each level and cascade this upwards towards Corporate Performance and also add a fiscal marker wherever possible, this achieves the quickest take-up and understanding. Also in this way the discipline can be self-perpetuating because it affects everyone’s understanding of profit

Corporate Performance Management methods embedded with business analytics provides perspectives of business capacity: When assessing the current landscape, overcapacity is a challenge for many industries. This challenge is a symptom of an overall need to de-leverage in the global economy, and then it could be argued that CPM is critical for almost any industry. De-leveraging is a slow process and it may indicate sluggish growth at best for the near future. Not many industries are optimally situated for this macroeconomic environment. All companies have resource constraints, and that performance management, per definition, is “overhead.” This would imply that there exists a trade-off between the realization of value through formalizing and structuring performance management processes and practices and the attached costs. Surely, this trade-off should not be balanced equally by all companies.

In principle well managed companies will outperform badly managed companies. And "well managed" companies will include a thorough benefit or cost assessment of investments in supporting processes and systems. Therefore, corporate performance management is an important capability to help business navigate through the strategy execution. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The KPI Promises & Pitfalls

The KPIs are indicators of your progress towards achieving business objectives.

You can only manage what you measure, defining the right set of Key Performance Indicators is important for managing project or business effectively, and measuring KPIs to keep track of progress makes a certain level of promise for success.  However, there are also big pitfalls when selecting or measuring the wrong KPIs. What is a good process to determine the right KPIs, and what is the process to change it when they are no longer relevant?

It is critical to identify the objectives before one embarks on quantifying the performance.  Otherwise, a misguided KPI becomes a distraction. It is crucial that the KPIs selected have to be adapted to the specific objectives that you want to achieve. Without properly aligning the objectives with the indicators, monitoring KPIs will not add much value. If you start from understanding your objectives and then identify the KPIs that will provide an indicator as to whether you are progressing towards achieving that objective, you are more likely to succeed.

Successful KPIs must be connected to performance evaluation at the operations level. You should start that after verifying that the KPI is effective and measures what you want to measure to monitor the progress of the critical success factors. You should use change management to ensure successful implementation and closely monitor the impact and modify as required until businesses achieve an effective linkage, satisfied staff, & an improved business process. A frequently overlooked benefit of KPI is rather psychological - what's measured usually gets done/addressed.

Evaluate the potential risks from a KPI. Wrong selection of KPI could get the devastating effect on business. The most dangerous part is when KPI/performance system is connected with motivation system on an operational level. At first look, everything is OK, the chosen KPI looks like it was well connected with business strategy, but in most cases, it leads to negative behavior from employees, it is crucial that organizations select KPIs in a balanced manner in order to protect against behavior such as gaming, sandbagging or tunnel behavior. The one way to find out that the KPI is bad is by looking at the behavior and culture the KPI is driving. If behavior and culture are off, and politics is becoming more and more dominant, then you know that KPI is just not the right one. Remember also to evaluate the potential risks from a KPI, PEOPLE DO WHAT YOU INSPECT, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT!

KPIs are not static, but adjustable to adapt to strategic dynamic. Any KPI must be relevant and actionable for management today. Even if you choose the right KPIs, you must change them from time to time accordingly. Otherwise, your business is going to be driven by that specific set of KPIs: you are going to focus on them only, but ignoring the bigger picture. Any KPI must support strategy, which means there must be a strategy, the strategy is more dynamic in today’s digital torrent, therefore, KPIs may also need to be adjusted accordingly. Having poorly aligned KPIs is, at best, wasteful of time and energy and, at worst, destructive to the business.

A feedback mechanism needs to be taken in place. You should start by devising a change management plan to address impacted parties and closely monitor the impact and modify the measurement process until you are sure that you are effectively measuring what you want to measure without negative side effects. Even if one is able to strike the right KPI with its correct measurement methodology at a point of time, a feedback mechanism needs to be in place to make sure that both the KPI and the methodology remain current with current business. Also, one needs to get into prudent decision making as to whether KPIs need to be modified or business process, as altering the wrong one might get the results of that particular KPI on track, but other KPI and business would suffer.

Further, there is no concept of one size fits all in business; the procedure to set KPIs must be defined for the achievement of the objective & its measurement. At the operational level, the requirement of KPI, when not well understood, results in friction. This may mean that you need to collect data you have not collected before or look at your existing data in a new way. A KPI by definition should tell what action needs to take place and by which team. Wrong KPIs or incorrect methodology to collect data for relevant KPI's spells doom for business if not corrected quickly.

Selection of KPI is the tricky part & selection must be aligned with the objective, and as a business strategy is more dynamic than ever nowadays, therefore, there’s no one size fits all, you may have to adjust KPIs from time to time accordingly. The Objective is what you are looking to achieve, the KPIs are indicators of your progress towards achieving it. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big Data’s Big Interest: Profit Maximization or Revenue Maximization?

Reading Big Data, just like reading the mind of organization, is for capturing the  perspectives of business. 
Big Data attracts big interesting across the industry sectors, but why are so many companies interested in Big Data, for profit maximization or revenue maximization?

Profit or revenue is a byproduct of the successful use of big data. Big Data, should be used to generate improved products and more advanced services based on insight from data analytics. Ultimately, with the business purpose- to create customer in mind, Big data can be directed both at increasing market share by predictive analytics towards new or existing market segments, but also increasing revenue within the existing market share by providing offers based on Big Data analytics to existing customers. Of course, revenue maximization depends on margins and costs within the organization. While most companies are ultimately interested in profit maximization some companies are more interested in controlling their market share rather than their profit margin.

Big data analysis acts a revenue generating medium by offering business prospect. If carefully nurtured, it can prove as a profit generating tool. One strategy to achieve that is to apply analytics to large data sets (big data) to identify hidden opportunities and threats. Once identified, you change something that could mitigate a threat, improve efficiency/ effectiveness and or improve your differentiation in the market. And one of the key Big Data interests is to leverage large amounts of information from different sources: Which means not only consider past client data, but also to triangulate these pieces of information with other data from other repositories (costs, market research, panels, POS, etc.). This is the key to provide an accurate vision on markets behaviors, and consequently provide accurate predictions.

Everything a business does is ultimately done to improve profit. The realization of that profit may be in the short, medium or long term, But people need confidence that their actions will make a positive difference - whichever timeline they are looking at. It helps senior and mid management to build overall information strategy, improve process effectiveness and efficiency. It requires subject matter expertise or complete process knowledge to get practical solutions. Cost on research and resource increase, improved value chain and better brand value or market share are also frequently observed. When that happens, if implemented correctly, the cost of operating the business reduces, more customers are attracted to your offers and profit margins increase

Analytics capabilities need to be built in very foundation of organizations, for examples: Strategists use "big data" + analytics to identify trends that will help an organization plan for the future and meet market needs in a differentiated way - then put those plans into action. Marketers use "big data" + analytics to identify the propensity for a customer to buy a particular offer - then target them appropriately. Operations use "big data" + analytics to identify the sources and drivers of quality issues - then change the process to reduce rework and amount paid on warranty claims. Risk managers use "big data" + analytics to identify the propensity for a person or event to create a loss in a given scenario - then create appropriate risk mitigation strategies. The initial attention was focused on marketing and sales related applications -- tailoring offerings to specific customer demographics, and now the focus has expanded to other areas of the enterprise such as HR and Workforce Management.

Weather Big Data profit-driven or revenue-focused, depends on the line of business and specific business initiative. Big Data technologies, methods and architecture can be utilized for one or the other or both. The technologies were developed to make the solutions viable from a processing and cost perspective, so savings are also available to increase profit from revenue, although that’s merely from a technical perspective. From a business perspective, the initiatives may be split between those that can reinvent or improve an existing business and those that a new business can be based on. Reinvention and improvement can only be improved for profitability otherwise it’s not good business. New businesses need a revenue driver as well as good profit so both are applicable.

Trends depict the pulse of the customers as well as products and processes. Organizations use Big Data not only for profit & revenue generation, but also to show their presence in market using Big Data as the latest trend & technologies for marketing. The intent is to make projections and predictions about sales, market behavior, customer response, etc using the past data and figures. In this way, they can efficiently manage their costs to the target segments. This will ultimately lead to the profit maximization. On the other hand, if the companies can effectively cater to the needs of targeted customers, this can turn out to be a revenue maximization tool. In addition, it will fill the gaps in the processes in order to maximize the profit. Based on the customer chemistry, you can increase the revenue too... that also maximize the profits.

Big Data governance strategy should be in place. At a strategic level, in the commercial world, Big Data’s big interest is about profitability. But at the tactical level it is as diverse as all other data projects. What is getting lost for many big data projects is that they need to be part of an overall data strategy. In other words understanding how big data assets effectively integrate them with other data asset is a large value multiplier. This is done by proactively deciding how those assets fit into data governance. Of course that means a data governance strategy should be in place, and then, dig data is discovery of discernible patterns in data to provide useful insights to understand whatever it is that needs to be better understood. Ultimately, everyone is interested in making the best use of their limited resources (people, money, assets) to create the best outcomes - for themselves, the company, shareholders and customers

Big data + analytics provide focus and confidence to act: You need to understand what drives profit, how that fits within your strategy and how you execute. In that respect, companies use data in every segment of their business to drive improvements, Revenue and Margin related corporate performance. Big Data brings competitive advantages to the companies that in the long run will be traduced in better revenue and profit. Using Big Data in combination with social mining and use the insights gained to drive effective marketing, sales campaigns can drive up revenue and using it to improve visibility and optimize cost across the Value Chain can help reduce operational costs which in effect will drive up profitability

Big data is, without any doubt a big deal. Today’s digital enterprises are keen to discover their big interest about Big Data, how they can use big data analytics together with existing capabilities for enhanced efficiency and business throughput, and build an agile business with digital premium.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is Agile a set of Principles or Practices?

The interactions between Agile values, principles, and practices are tightly coupled.

Agile originally started out as a revolution against rigid, dogmatic practices, but the ironic is that the way some people practice Agile has come full circle back to that rigid adherence to the mechanics of how practices are implemented and have lost sight of the original intent of Agile. So here is an interesting debate: Is agile a set of principles or practices?

An agile mindset - begins and ends with the principles and philosophies. Agile is more a philosophy, a mindset, a way of thinking - a set of principles and values.Any practices should serve the principles, philosophies and should constantly be on trial for their lives based on the principles and philosophies. The agile principles targets in terms of change such as adding value in terms of the supplementary value of practices, the maturity of the teams and management disciplines, increase in customer satisfaction etc.

Set Agile principles as guideline to develop best/next practices. Agile is historically a set of preferences and principles per the Agile Manifesto. Related practices already existed at the time of its manifestation. So it doesn’t mean you should ignore practices, but practices should be used with some amount of good common sense to fit the situation. The principles are what should guide those "good common sense decisions" about how to adapt the practices as needed to fit a given situation. 

Agile is principles, but it comes from many different groups of practices finding common ground. Principles alone aren't enough, though - you still have to produce code and to do this you'll want to use some engineering "practices" to improve agility and increase quality. So in order for a project to be truly agile, you need to follow some engineering practices, without which you cannot be Agile enough, but if you aren't Agile enough, it is not solving the entire problem. So those practices are required for an Agile Project to be truly Agile. You are not agile until your practices match your principles, as they can not be separated completely.

The interactions between Agile values, principles, and practices are tightly coupled. Understand the Agile principles first, but then to make Agile successful you'll need a set of framework practices from other areas, like Transformation/Organizational Change, Stakeholder Management, Financial Management, Risk Management etc. And without proper Stakeholder Management the Agile adventure will soon be over. However, the downfall of many framework practices is that people tend to view them as purely prescriptive. They happily adopt rituals with little understanding of why they are doing them, other than a mystical methodology calls

Practice-Principle-New Practice Cycle: Analogically, just like learning many new skills, you follow a strict and well-defined practice, at some stage you start to understand and perceive patterns, and once the patterns become intuitive, you master the principles, you can let go of the practices, and create your own practice. If you don't start with practices, you won't get there, and the more a practice goes against your nature, the more important you follow the principles, but not restricted to practices. So there is the strongest affinity between principles and practices. These connections are complex and take the time to master.

"Agile" word is not a noun but an adjective. You can have agile philosophy, agile principle, agile practices agile methods, agile development or agile management. An adjective applies a quality to the noun. If any of these nouns refers to something that is characterized by the habit of inquiring and adapting rather than predicting and controlling, it probably qualifies as agile.

Change Agents for Digital Transformation

A change agent is not a title, but the game-changing mindset and the well-tuned skill sets.

Many organizations are at the tipping point to digital transformation journey, but what’re the most effective factors to transform businesses? Is it sponsorship, change agent, public relationship or incentives? The most successful organizations have a very clear vision and understanding of why they exist and the value they bring to customers and the very reason for the transformation. They also clearly communicate such vision both internally and externally. And then, people are always the weakest link in any change management effort, therefore, change agent is critical, as they have been an invaluable source of knowledge, business direction/insight, and support, etc. But more specifically, who are the change agents or champions and why are they so critical in business transformation?

Change/Transformational Leader: He or she is the responsible top manager of the organization, where change has to be implemented. Change the game is a mindset, such transformational leaders can provide the direction as vision, mission, strategy, as well as leadership skills like delegation, decision-making, and monitoring. This role affects most through congruent behavior, continuous endorsement of the change and regular communication to keep the momentum. This is a key role that should always be part of the team. It represents the political will to go for the change. In almost every case, where this role was not functioning, change failed or was at least delayed in a very costly way. The right leaders know what they want, give clear directions, bring cohesive process, and stand by their word and motivate.

Change Specialists: They are the people that stand outside the political hierarchy of the changing area, a cross-functional specialist, an insightful outlier, or an outside consultant. Main skills are understanding the mechanisms of change and human behavior as well as providing appropriate measures for facilitating change. Change management process will cut across several business units and the ultimate goal will be effective business operation. This role provides a set of methods and procedures to facilitate change, layouts, events, and PR. This role is maybe the professional change agent with a set of tools and flexibility to adapt to the various target organizations; it takes transparent approaches to interactive procedures and effective communication. Change is an unspecific way of saying the transition from one to another state. Whether these changes are related to IT, business processes or models, or value systems are not relevant. The mechanisms that have to be applied are the same. The right change specialists provide transparency about the tools used and the factors to be managed. 

Change champion: The protagonist is a member of the changing environment, the engineer, manager, gatekeeper, or similar role, which has a specific skill set in the field of the change additionally to the specialist knowledge. This role affects as a role model, an example that pulls the rest of the organization in the right direction. This role is challenging in two ways. On the one hand, it is difficult to push trust-worthily from inside, against the colleagues. On the other hand, it describes the following problem 'When it becomes necessary to drain the swamp, you don't stand around asking the frogs.' The right protagonist is the one, who is convinced of the change and speaks the language of the colleagues. They are the change champions, assist in resolving conflict, and pull the right strings to make changes go smoothly. 

Change Agent Network: Change is complex and multi-faceted these days, it is more than change agent alone that are essential for transformation. There are perhaps a number of people usually internal to the business appointed by an organization to work with an external/internal Change Manager and act as the "voice of the business," and be the conduit into the business to help with Communication, Process and Organizational changes, Training/Education, Readiness/Adoption etc. If necessary, organizations shall mobilize a change agent network- the network is a group of people integrated with the execution of the plan and who own the required transformation so that the change/transformation can be orchestrated via cross-functional collaboration and iterative communication, as without a clearly articulated reason that is capable of acceptance and buy-in by people impacted by transformation, you may struggle to bring them with you.

Motivated Change Players: An agent is one who acts for, or in the place of, another, by authority from him/her; one entrusted with the business of another.  What a Change Agent most often does is harness the skills, talent, drive, passion and enthusiasm of the whole organization and direct that to a unifying and shared goal. That then provides the incentive for the organization to succeed even the Change Agents leave. A Change Agent is a means toward reconciling all the different factors toward a unifying and driving motivation but it isn't the only answer. Some leaders, managers, staff, volunteers (The change players) can achieve motivation without a Change Agent, but a Change Agent cannot achieve effective transformation without motivation. So the real skill of a Change Agent is the ability to play any role and know which to play, and when. Every team player becomes a change agent, then change is sustained. 

Therefore, any successful transformation starts and ends with a clear vision of what your transformed organization should be. Change agents are the leaders, change specialists, change champions, team players who orchestrate and collaborate to accomplish the desired changes and transformations. And, the change agent is not a title, but the game-changing mindset and the well-tuned skill sets, to do the change and be part of CHANGES.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

IT Dilemma: Is Customer Always RIGHT

IT Needs to Play as Advisor & Solutionary, not a Controller. 

IT has always gone through this dilemma of "customers is always right" vs. "rational approach in designing a solution." If IT always see this as two conflicting forces pulling in opposite directions, you are most likely to get caught and always fall short of expectations. So what’s the right attitude in the face of such customer dilemma?

Listen and have a good discussion with customers. With the emerging IT consumerization trend, no longer are customers willing to let technical people control what they want. So the right attitude for IT is: Listen, have good discussions about what they want, and then look at solutions that satisfy them as possible as you can, not what could work. However, the client is the client but they are not always right. It goes deep to the roots of problem solving, the customer is always right when they articulate a problem they need to solve, a need or a necessity. They start to be less right when they start to jump to the conclusion that: "to solve my problem I need THIS and THAT, done in that way." In this situation, you need to help them understand both the benefits and consequences of their decision. Given this context, the decision is theirs to make. In most of the cases, the customers tell IT what they want and how they want to use it and leave the rest to the technical experts.

IT needs to play as SOLUTIONARY. As long as customers are able to express their need - and IT needs to help them to do so - IT should turn on the ‘debugging mindset’ to do a root cause analysis. Discover what is at the heart of the problem. Get the customer to focus on the root cause and get away from a preconceived solution if you believe that the proposed solution is not what is best for the company or the customer. In many cases, the customer does not really understand the real cause. Once they understand the core problem, then they are able to let go of what they thought would be the best and only answer. This is the CIO’s chance to slowly move the customer to a solution that will benefit the customer, the company and the overall direction of IT. You are planting the seed as the ‘solutions person.’ Pretty soon people bring you their problems without wasting the time and energy to solve the problems. This is key to the IT being an integral part of moving a company forward.

Show and tell. The investment is required to build a model / prototype they can grasp in an agile modeling era, in addition to the starting investment required to support their idea, to what IT has been prototyping these trendy solutions for them as an alternative, and it can really open up the lines of communications on what their requirements may really be. And usually when the customer becomes invested in a prototype, communications open regarding this approach, and it is far lower of TCO drain than managing a "right now" idea over its lifecycle. When you do not provide the wanted solution, you get negative PR right away. However, creating the prototype to show and tell, and visits to prove what is the best for their usage, can provide IT higher level of engagement, and reduces risk on the engagements with customers on solutions.

IT has to work towards building better credibility and influencing, to be impacted for the customers to choose what is best for them. Digital technology trends are offering customers so many self-service capabilities; they feel they need IT less than before. And in many organizations, there is no right fusion between business & IT. Often times what IT thinks as the most logical solution isn't perceived by business in the same way as IT think. Or businesses often try to play and build pseudo-IT team that is very detrimental to the growth of the IT organization, and they may start to adopt this train of thought to support their business model. Thus, IT has to play a role, not as a controller, but as an advisor and solutionary, think and work with empathy, to build better credibility and influence on solving business problems more proactively and intellectually.

IT has to sell the competency and solutions,  that best improve business competency:  Customers are always right, but in the end, the question is whether customers are following any kind of best practice or whether they are using their own innovative and maverick methods to get their job done. The representatives of companies often leverage technology and information in ways that their belief positions them in unique ways when they are compared with their competitors - accordingly they don't want solutions that level the playing field and equalize them with their peers, they want something that elevates them. You have to ask yourself then whether you are offering something in your dialogue that really helps them to see how they can differentiate themselves or their business practices. So IT needs to be influential enough to impact and provide customers with the right solution, in a right manner, and at a right cost. 

They say "the customer is always right" because - you are supposed to listen to the customer and satisfy them. If customers are satisfied, they will be really loyal and promote you...and they will be right!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why is the CIO Struggling to Build IT Reputation as a Better Business Partner?

Communication, collaboration, and creativity are the keys to run IT as a better business partner.

Many IT organizations are at transformation journey, from an industrial model to digital leap; from a cost center to value-added; from 'T'-technology-driven to 'I'-Information focus, from alignment to engagement. But more specifically, how shall IT leaders run IT as a better business partner?

Language influences perception: Without a clear strategy and a way to communicate it in the language of the business, CIOs will always have trouble getting even "aligned," no mention of reaching the higher IT maturity level of proactively enabling and engaging with business, The key challenge is to find a way so that both sides, even though they speak different 'languages' can communicate effectively. Some IT organizations have been perceived as the service provider, that is based on the assumption that the language of finance is the closest thing to a universal language among the different functional types. Services are said to be one of the keys for aligning IT with corporate priorities for a number of different reasons; as it is easier to calculate TCO around services rather than as a resource or asset level, they improve demand and cost modeling, support more rigorous IT service investment analysis and set up the ability to do more service provisioning optimization. However, internal IT has struggled to do so because they are stuck at a cost-center maturity level, from a financial management perspective, if they have even made it that far.

The partnership is of course built over time, experiments with a more creative common language to communicate: One has to be able to demonstrate in very tangible ways that IT understands the business, and, fortunately, there are ways for doing so. Besides finance language, there is a different way to communicate, and that is the key to becoming a better business partner. Visual representations provide a neutral language that is not laden with technical terms and allow an effective conversation to happen between the two parties - in fact dramatically accelerates consensus. Analogies are also a powerful tool for communicating with technical IT professionals and non-technical business units. As “lost in translation” is the key issue to separate IT from the business, it is worth the effort to take better communication approaches and be both creative and critical in enforcing business and IT collaboration.

It needs to create an alternative IT value index: It is comprising of value lenses such as strategic imperative, operational excellence, and business agility. The information that IT delivers is what gives executives, managers and general staff details that every employee needs to make the correct decisions in their position. In the end, most business leaders do not care about technology. The CIO must learn to coach his/her language thinking into business first. Technology happens to his/her team but is almost never helpful in the executive boardroom. Triangulate value from different value lens in building a more comprehensive IT value proposition. There are tangible (cost saves, efficiency, etc.) and intangible (brand equity, sales enablement, etc.) components of value. Each organization has a set of capabilities that enable it to achieve successful outcomes, whether financial, brand or double bottom line, IT plays a more significant role in orchestrating such a unique set of business capabilities. 

The CIO must position him or herself as a mentor to the business: The exponential growth of the “digital transformation” opportunities is creating new innovation opportunities for the business. The business must begin to see IT as an integral part of the business and not just as an enabler. The role of the CIO continues to evolve rapidly in the midst of the information or digital transformation and the accelerating changes in technology. While it is assumed that the core of a CIO is to manage the IT organization and systems that support ongoing business operations, CIOs must have a higher level of influence on how businesses change. CIOs must not preoccupy themselves with operational platforms and process improvements only, but this culture must be transformed into creativity, collaboration, and innovation. For CIOs to be invited into the boardroom, they need to speak to the business about the strategic imperative of the organization. For that, he/she needs to very aware of what top people have in mind about the strategies/tactics binary and give them all the required information. Technology must be left in the server room with the team. What the executive boardroom need is "how that server room" is going to assist transform that business.

Business and IT have to work together to achieve their goals: The CIO has to work with the senior executives to understand the business, the business drivers, long-term objectives, and strategy and then ensure that he/she is providing input to support these. This, in turn, will lead to the development of related IT strategies/ initiatives. IT is not just part of the business; it is a critical and integral component of the business. The CIO sits in a unique seat of having the opportunity to see across the entire landscape of the business. Ultimately, what the CIO and IT, in general, must truly understand the business vision and goals. The method that is used must deliver the results that are consistent with the business values and goals.

Therefore, at the digital age, in order to become a better business partner, IT value-based management needs to be driven by concepts like collaborative value or collective advantage and multi-layer ROIs. IT and business have to speak the same language and communicate more creatively, and IT leaders must be both business strategist and technology visionary, always think in terms of the value-add to the business, and IT is the business.

Is Data Visualization ‘Big’ or ‘Small’

 Big Data visualization can be big enough to show executives big picture but needs to be nimble enough to stay focus.

Data Visualization will change how you think about the world. Right now there is a significant knowledge gap between having the data, interpreting it, and finally being about to visualize it. It demands multiple skill sets which are rarely present in most of the analytics team. So what is the focal point for data visualization, and how to make it effective?

Visualization is the best way to really understand Big Data. It was hard enough with smaller data sets to get a real grasp on the meaning of data without visualization. You have to be able to interpret and draw a conclusion based on what you are seeing and that often comes down to being taught how to interpret what you are seeing. You can only combine these two things if you know what you are looking for. Visualization data is the best way to present information because it is in people nature to receive visual information. It is very perspective to develop visualization methods which can leverage multi-factors in discovering 'big signals.'

The ability to combine art and science is like finding a world-class champ, the general principle in understanding anything is to perceive with as many senses as possible. Being able to hear it and seeing it would give a much deeper understanding and data visualization goes a long way in improving human understanding of big data. While data visualization is important for understanding, it’s governed by personnel needs, likes, and interpretation. For example, some people are able to interpret the data well when it’s a bar chart, some will like to have a line chart. The intelligence of the system to highlight deviations and create meaning for the forecast is the need what all business is looking at.

'Lightweight’ Visualization to draw meaningful Insight out of it. Although visualization might not be a new term and for years businesses have been building a presentation layer of dashboards, widgets, etc... the focus is now on building analytics and platforms that allow users to discover value in some piece of information that's available in its raw form and be able to draw meaningful insight out of it, rather than a design/schema heavy approach where one had to ask a question first to look at how the information can be visualized. One of the great challenges of broader acceptance of richer data visualization experiences will be robust filtering or distilling of irrelevant data or content. In a lot of cases, many data visualization tools immediately lose the audience because they are trying to over process and visualize "big data" repositories. It's the old problem of "fire hosing" a customer with too much information. Visualization can make this worst. Some of the best uses of visualization have been simple, small and targeted visualizations of customer problems.

There is definitely a balance (of complex data and simple solution) that needs to be found--it has to be understandable given the complexity of most multi-dimensional information, yet simple enough that people will actually find meaning from it--and maybe even more importantly, find the tool usable! IT may talk a lot about on-time and under-budget, but that becomes meaningless if no one uses the tool--usability has to be a factor that is considered. The key is that a visualization is an important approach to communicating insight. But it has always been thus, visualization is not a new tool in businesses or life. Data visualization has changed how we think about the world; it's been doing so for longer than software vendors have existed. Even industry leaders with their legacy Bread & Butter products find visualization area enticing. Looking forward to the smooth and seamless integration of these data visualization products to the mainstream products and also solve the new buzzing Big Data puzzle

Visualization is often one of the best ways to convey big and small data, contextually. The ideal visualization is one that enables decision-makers to see a high-level view of the data and then be able to drill down to different sublevels. Visualization is often one of the best ways to convey big and small data, contextually, that helps to explain and portray one or more outcomes. It's not the only way to present Big Data, it's not about a list of products either (although they do help). It's a function of good design and analysis. Visualization software needs to be able to throw up data often with the ability to go down to the last minute detail. A number on a graph often needs to explode right down into the details of every record. That's what Big Data is asking of Visualization software now.

Visualization is important, but visualization is just the start of exploring Big Data. Companies need to move beyond visualization to Visual Analytics to truly gain insights into their Big Data. Big Data visualization can be big enough to show executives big picture but needs to be nimble enough to stay focus. Visualization is no doubt the best way to get the understanding of the data, but it should be used in coordination with effective Analytics to present the contextual picture of the data.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Original Thinking Mind

Be original, the world worships the original. -Ingrid Bergman.

The word, Original, comes from 'origin.' What we probably mean when we say original thinker is to be the origin of our thoughts. In other words, make our own mind up, or formulate our own conclusions, or ideas, or expressions. Original thinking is independent, creative, original, special or different. This world needs more of an original thinker than ever to handle the ever-increasing complexities, and organizations need to be able to recognize them not least in order to innovate and adapt, to de-mystify creativity in a way that makes it seem approachable, understandable, and generally applicable

Originality is valuable as authenticity. It is not easy to recognize "original thinker," and it becomes more difficult as most of the modern people are too busy to even think and observe. Original thinking is a tough job and recognizes original thinking is equally tough if not less. The points like motivation, characteristics, personality, and confidence can be an indicator of original thinking. It can be done if someone remains conscious, alert and has the inclination to search excellence. Originality is valuable as authenticity. Be true to one's own personality, spirit, or character. Consider authenticity to be a positive outcome of enlightened and informed motivation rather than a negative outcome of the rejection of the expectations of others. Have the courage to use your own intelligence! It is, therefore, the motto of the enlightenment.

Who are the original thinkers? Those come up with conclusions and solutions for problems with their own unique brain processes. Nearly all thoughts, come from some sort of internal or external stimulus, thus, the seeds of original thinking may come from the unoriginal input, but it’s such dot-connecting capability to synthesize the unoriginal input into unique output, which makes one an original thinker. What might be the traits, dispositions, and motivational orientations that help us to be original in our thinking? It is like seeking. the treasures. The rules are: To every question is more than one answer. To every answer is a plausible other question you don’t know. You only know what you already know, but the next moment is open to all answers and questions you do not know yet. That means, with an open mind, the creation can enter consciousness. The creation bears its own signature of truth which is communicated in time from mind flow. This could be called intuition, but in fact, it is a state of not knowing and open to whatever.

Meta-cognition: Understanding how we think is the first stage of understanding our creative style - how we approach and solve problems and embrace opportunities. It is the process of being open to wonder, It is like setting time aside to allow an idea or a problem to incubate. It is in combination with immediate learning give way to advancing insight. It is also in combination with conscious awareness: Creativity -The art of and in the conscious proceeding

Is original thinking sort of integrative thinking— a heuristic process, not an algorithm. The integrative thinker develops a stance that embraces not fears the essential qualities of enigmatic choices. The integrative thinker is a relentless learner who seeks to develop the repertoire of skills that enables him or her to engage the tensions between opposites long enough to transcend duality and seek out novel solutions. Integrative thinkers understand that they are engaged in a creative process that avoids easy, pat, or formulaic answers. In short, integrative thinking is the management style we need if we are to solve the enigmatic problems that face our organizations in the new millennium. American psychologist cognitive learning ...ideas are based on categorization: "To perceive is to categorize, to conceptualize is to categorize, to learn is to form categories, to make decisions is to categorize." ( Jerome Bruner)...similarities and differences, narrative mode and the paradigmatic mode, ...sequential, action-oriented, detail-driven thought...paradigmatic thinking, the mind transcends particularities to achieve systematic, categorical cognition.

PEARIAQ: Recognize Originality by Quality, Authenticity, Integrity, and Appropriateness for Purpose of the thought or Effectiveness...[PEARIAQ]. Hear it, see it, and understand it...and you will appreciate it! A person can recognize original thinking if he or she has ever tried to be original. The people who have copied throughout the life may not recognize originality. The people who have always followed instructions from seniors may not understand originality. The real goal of original thinking is for Effective Thinking and Problem-Solving
Identify the problem. — "What’s the real question?"
Define the context. — "What are the facts and circumstances?"
Enumerate choices. — "What are our most plausible three or four options?"
Analyze options. — "What is our best course of action?"
List reasons explicitly. — "Let’s be clear: Why this choice?"
Self-correct. — "What did we miss?"

The Purpose is to enforce the Culture of Innovation from Management Perspective: Do you think that original thinking might have something to do with self -belief? And the courage to be original, wondering if real originality needs a driver, such as desire on the one hand, or adversity, on the other, to provide a motive force to see new connections, see the new paradigm, see the limitations of the orthodox...or if the conditions that produce such drives also produce a context in which the new view has value and utility – and is therefore recorded and disseminated? Perhaps we all have original thoughts every day, like random mutations in genes, but they melt away, ‘repaired’ by some self-censored process so that you don’t appear ‘different’ from the peer-group. Perhaps you need a stressor to provoke a meaningful response. As a team, the purpose of the collective mind with different thinking is to enforce the culture of innovation. 

The business and the world need original thinking, original ideas, and original inventions. And change towards a culture of creativity and innovation must begin at the individual level, Only individuals understand and develop their own creativity, they start to respect the opinions of one another far more, develop creative units, teams, groups...and society. 

Interview Questionnaire Set for New CIOs

The Well framed Questions can Help Leaders Contemplate their Role More Profoundly!

It’s the time for planning, change, and transformation, either you are a current CIO or prospective CIO; CIO promoted through IT rank or an unconventional CIO taking the different path, here are set of the questionnaire for interview preparation or contemplation more profoundly upon CIO role.  

Q1: Why do you want to be a CIO?

It is based on the passion you see in the eyes of the individual answering it. Do they have a passion for what they are doing? Will they have a passion about the vision and mission of the enterprise? Will they have a passion about the employees in their charge? Do they have a passion for success, and know how to envision what that should look like? Do they have a passion for being a CIO?

The question is about leadership, not technology. CIO as senior executive is a leadership role, leadership is an influence. First, ensure to have the right leadership quality; a good combination of leadership skills, ability to manage the organization dynamics, ability to convey the vision, communicate up, down and alone with peers, ability to craft a dynamic IT strategy which is integral component of business strategy, ability to handle IT spend, etc.

Every CIO has a first time of being a CIO, When one knows why they want to take on one of the most important positions in the organization, it will reflect whether they are prepared to do so. Being a leader is important. Of course, there are different kinds of leadership styles, a thought leader, a business strategist, a visionary or a talent master,  today’s CIOs have to wear multiple hats. Ensure first, you have the right leadership qualities, and then seek after the technical competence. When you find the individual that has both, you have found the individual that is the right hire.

Q2: What’s your understanding regarding the nature of the business or the company?

At that level, they need to have a certain level of understanding and insight of the business they will inevitably be partnering with.  How can you help the business increase revenues, decrease costs, improve customer service, be compliant, and secure? In other words, how can you apply technology to benefit the business?

The candidate can bring viewpoint from customer’s perspective or investor’s point of view, to identify some strengths and weakness you have viewed. If you’ve been loyal customer of the company, the prospective CIO can bring fresh insight from outside-in customer view, as being a customer champion is one of the characteristics of digital CIO today. This question also gives an opportunity to gain a different perspective on what the corporation may be doing right or wrong and the interviewer perspective. In addition, it shows how the future of CIO would represent the corporation in front of customers. Did they take the interview seriously and prepare or they opted to do the later and not take the time to prepare for the interview. 

This question says they have researched the organization have a general understanding of the companies ‘mission, vision, budgets, structure, and operation. A perspective CIO should have a good idea of some on-going key issues in a company before attending an interview that she/he could address. When preparing for an interview, it's always a good idea to scour the Web for company news, and read the last filed company accounts - plus read up on the company's closest competitor news too, so you've got a good idea as to how they're really faring.

Q3: How will you correlate your capabilities with company's vision? 

After walking through the first two questions, this question will help recruiter in exploring the wide array of capabilities and knowledge that some one will bring to the organization.

  • Strategic Thinking: The title isn't what makes someone a CIO or not, rather it's their mind and capabilities. A CIO needs to be, first and foremost, a strategic thinker - with a good knowledge of technology and, more importantly, the ability to be able to connect the dots by proposing ways in which the business can use technology to create strategic advantage.
  • Gap Identification: This question will help in evaluating the logical thinking of the prospective CIO who will try to explain the gap that she/he can fill in the organization, be it resource gap, knowledge gap, quality gap, or capability gap. Based on your findings what recommendations do you have and how do you plan to achieve results? The most important thing is his/her knowledge, understanding, capabilities, and leadership that will be realized by answering the question related to building the IT Strategy, the Planning and the Execution of it in alignment with the business goals and objectives
  • CIO’s Insight: This question will help know the person's interest in the organization as she/he will also be explaining you about your organization's vision and strategies, which is an essential part of any interview preparation process. This question will help know the person's awareness of self-adequacy, knowledge, thinking process, experience, responsibilities undertaken Her/his answer will automatically fall into how she/he sees the role of the CIO, who can speak in depth about information and its importance to the business rather than about technologies and how great they are. 
  • Culture Influence: What moral booster (innovation, etc) are you able to bring into this organization that would maximize profits/productivity/personalization?
The most important question is the one that determines if the candidate can do the job and solve the most important needs and/or pains. The question will vary from one interviewer to another and depend on each individual’s perception of the problem, their relationship with that person, where the business is at in its cycle and what the business is trying to accomplish.

Q4: What Qualities make you an Effective CIO?

That depends on what the single most important competency is for that position within your company, leading change, execution, strategy, driving innovation, global acumen, etc. What are the specific things in which the CIO needs to excel in order to be successful within your company?

  • Passion: To give their absolute best in the job. CIO job involves solving and working with a variety of challenges. The CIO might not always know all the answers - but it is this passion that will drive the candidate to learn and find out and work towards the best solution for all stakeholders. Followers like people that are passionate about their job. On the other side, when making decisions, CIOs need to have enough distance in order to choose what is best for the company and not what they like better.

  • Vision: CIO as a senior business executive, needs to have vision upon business and IT. We do not live in a utopia, but a dystopia, as such, there is always motion, or as we know it, an ever changing environment. Since change is the order of every day, embracing and harnessing its power the step towards sustainability, a leader, any leader, must know how to create a vision to accomplish that. Creation of vision takes passion, for without passion, the vision is devoid of organizational objects that will create growth. A great many CIOs were placed because of technical competence but lacked the ability to create a vision that their people could support. It is not enough to tell those folks, we do what we do because the business needs us. That is not a vision; it is simply a reason for maintenance. Vision is the ability to see growth and increased productivity within an organization. All else are tools in the leaders toolbox. Knowing why you want to use that toolbox is the first step in creating a viable vision.
  • Strategy: CIO is part of senior leadership team whose role is to drive strategic thinking, strategic planning and strategic execution, as a team they must leave their silos behind and embrace collective thought. As a team they must distill strategy to one piece of paper so that it can be communicated and executed collectively. IT strategy is integral component of business strategy, keep it simple. CIOs need to be technology strategist and integrator, sometimes he/she runs the operations, align IT with business priorities (streamline business processes with technology support), but more often, technology also become a game changer, significantly drive business trends and directions.   
  • Promote and Execute Strategy: If every CIO is currently entrenched and aware of competition from outside the company, understand IT transformation from a cost center to value creator; from back office to innovation engine, they will be seeking ways to cement and fortify their positions as masters of value / profit. Thus, in order to become more effective in conveying the vision and strategy, today's CIO literally needs to have experience in sales and marketing within their market or similar in order to be fully effective. Intermediate knowledge of technology and software systems should be a baseline but having the knowledge of how to employ them to improve all areas of a company is not only key but rare, PCI, marketing, sales, web design, mobile realm, app design & integration, UX & UI mastery, when applied to monetization and behavioral modification, they have to be effective on both promoting vision & strategy, execute it collaboratively.

Q5: What’s your Technological Vision?

CIOs today need to be technology visionary for IT transformation, as in the past and in the future, technology will continue to change rapidly, and the speed of change is accelerating,  so  focused on three things.

  • Transform IT as business partner: What is your strategic vision for how IT will support the vision of our company. The answer will demonstrate some degree of homework about the company; provide an opportunity to discuss innovative ways to make IT a profit center. CIO is hired to enable the core vision of the hiring company. Most company's vision is to create and sell a product or service and in doing so - to create value for either shareholders or other stakeholders by increasing revenue from the sale of such products or services, and reducing the costs of production and delivery of these
  • Insight upon digital technology and methodology such as SMAC: What’re prospective CIO’s vision upon emerging digital technologies, and how could apply them to achieve business goals effectively? He/she should also therefore be able to talk about data, including Big Data and Business Intelligence, in an intelligent way, and should understand the challenges of using the Cloud to store information (not just the technical challenges, but for business transformation). 
  • SWOT Analysis: Based on analysis, identify technology solutions/ improvement opportunity so that best value is provided to customers.  Not only be giving the company recommendations on how to capitalize on its strengths, and use information and technology to mitigate its weaknesses, but also be delivering any transformation programs that need to be implemented as a result of such recommendations (if on board). 

Q6: What’s your management style, and how would you do to move IT organization forward?  How will you make senior management aware of IT need in the organization and how will you make IT resources be more aware of business drivers? Or how would you turn things from a cost center to a profit center?

This question says, will this person fit the cultural of the organization and can they lead the organization successfully. The questions that the interviewee asks the interviewing panel (and how he/she asks them) often say a lot about his/her level of intelligence, linguistic skills, common sense approach and sensitivity, and sometimes also highlights a presence or absence of past experience in similar backgrounds. Generally speaking, CIO shall spend significant time on strategy, the management style is more like coach, not a micro-manager. 

Management Philosophy/Technique: Ask if they favor internal control or outsourcing IT related tasks and service coverage; or cloud / SaaS /PaaS services. There are many factors help decide which way to go here. But regardless of the current environment and size of the company, having some insight on whether or not the candidate favors one over the other may tell you a lot about their management style, the level of creativity, intellectual curiosity, continuous involvement and perhaps more. Therese are all good things to know about a candidate that will potentially have huge business-impacting responsibilities.

Transformation Planning: The key for a CIO is the candidate’s ability to view technology as both a business and a service. If the candidate is able to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats regarding the technology function the candidate will be well prepared to leverage technology as a value added services to the overall business. For instance, a common weakness to a technology function is that it is often view as an expense. This weakness can be strengthened by linking the value the line of business receives from implemented technology to offset the investment made in technology. This transforms technology from being a cost center to becoming a profit center as the profits reaped from the business are aligned with the technology organization. This type of thinking displays that a candidate has both the technology and business skill needed to build a strong technology offering.

This question will lead to discussions around following topics. As this touches on a lot of different paradigm shifts that must happen for IT to sit at the same table as the business.
-org structure and org systems
-leadership & management

Q7: How do you intend to set your priorities?

If CIO is one of the highest executive profile  in an organization, then It really does fall on that person to take the reins and forge solutions for the company that minimizes human labor and error while maximizing the tools and resources to other departments so that they can not only increase sales but also provide a solid customer service experience that yields positive feedback.

  • Well align with business strategy and supporting the needs of the business. Today too many companies have too many departments that are not tied together culturally, or even directed by a steering committee. The CIO's goals should be aligned with company goals. They can only be aligned with the CEO's goals if you actually have a discussion about the long-term plans for the company
  • Balance IT Role as business enabler and driver. Typically IT is seen as an enabler for business rather than driver for business. How does a CIO or IT Director draws a balance between the two is the question that can be asked. Given the fact we know a CIO is expected to be a trustful team player for the CEO (management or executive board), thus IT is to balance customer service and tech support with advancing the organization's business further... 
  • Setting Milestones for Digital Transformation: CIO must align with business providing information and knowledge to increase the effectiveness of decision making, identifying opportunities, and reaching objectives for each customer and person in the organization. This is the business value that the CIO and the IT department bring to the table. Leverage resources to achieve short term business goals, but set the milestones for long term digital transformation.
(Further questions to articulate IT management style and methodology):

Q9: How will you make senior management aware of IT need in the organization and how will you make IT resources be more aware of business drivers.
Businesses are not looking for a technical position, but one of the senior leadership team, an individual that understands the depth of how technical support and service apply to the given organization or venture, but first and foremost understands how to lead the people that will carry out those duties. Without a vision of how to move the organization forward, one is simply holding a positional title and never truly achieving forward momentum.

Q10: How do you differentiate between transactional IT and transformational IT?
Hear from the applicant is how he/she can use existing information (or perhaps access new sources of information) to transform the business. How do you see the goals that a CIO has to meet, and how would you organize to get to realize them?

Q11: What are your thoughts on measurement criteria for transformational IT? How do you measure the revenue creation opportunities for IT? Measuring IT is multi-dimensional effort, it needs to define the set of KPIs well reflect the result business concerns, rather than just internal IT parameters.

Q12: How would you create a framework for quantifying IT value to business?
How would you create a framework for assessing the need for transformative steps leveraging the value quantification framework?  Discuss modern approaches for obtaining and supporting infrastructure; managing a motivated workforce; and, supporting all aspects of the business.

Q13: Typically what is the most potent IT requirement for a forward-looking organization? What makes an organization future ready using IT. And how will you go about determining whether IT is a business partner or simply a service provider and why is this important. For detailed planning, the prospective CIO should be provided with a detailed business overview and an outline of the business five year plan and then asked to provide a outline of how they would achieve the stated objectives. 

Q14: What will you do to help the organizations customers succeed?
The only way organizations can succeed, is by helping their customers succeed and yet this seems to be completely ignored in all the responses Is it about targeting internal or external customers? ..Some might be out of CIO's normal area of targeted focus. Beyond "What have you done?" is a question, you may consider: "If you were CEO or President, what would you do?"

Q15: What's your strategic approach or perspective on gradually achieving this goal in the near feature while performing in the long run? 
Embrace innovation as a driver for cultural change. Is IT for you a business driver or a transformation and support aid and what does that mean for your strategic approach?
? Check the ability to be able to think outside the box, and propose solutions to a business that enables the business to achieve its strategic objectives

Q16: How will you create our IT Infrastructure to allow IT to help increase profitability?
IT can continue to be run as a cost center and provide resources or we can set-up IT to create a competitive advantage for us. The person acting as CIO is responsible for integrating technology in support of business "Intermediate knowledge of technology and software systems should be a baseline but having the knowledge of how to employ them to improve all areas of a company is the key

Q17. How can we be agile enough to meet demands of our environment today but not lock us out of changes that will be necessary tomorrow? How would you create an environment that will allow us to make quick changes as we see opportunities?

Q18: How will you encourage your senior IT staff to get out of their comfort zones and be more open to looking at disruptive technologies that will help us create that competitive advantage and move IT more into helping to generate bottom line revenue?
What leadership skills do you bring to the table that will bring a diverse group of technologists together with one singular purpose or goal; and once on that path what managerial experience do you have that will keep this momentum on track

Q19: What are the procedures and the important initial steps to be taken in the organization?  
This question will guide you of his/her ability and how he/she will lead the organization.
Armed with that information you should require the candidate to describe a time when he/she had to exercise that specific competency (probably several competencies) - Have them describe the situation. What action did they take? What were the results? What alternate actions would have yielded different results? 

Q20. What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?
Look for the traits to reflect “I” in CIO’s title, such as influence, innovation, insight, improvement, intelligence, inspiration. Etc.

Q21: If you only have 60 days to transform this company from the IT standpoint, what would you do and more importantly why?
This question will provide a solid measure of (a) does the person truly know the company beyond the obvious (b) does the person have some sort of a plan (c) how well do they articulate the plan and (d) does the plan make sense or is it full of generic "hot air"

Q22: How would you gain pro-active support from executive peers for the IT department and its projects?
Understanding the cost of IT, the value add of IT and how this contributes to the bottom line of the organization is critical to gaining the financial support necessary to achieve strategic IT goals. Many have difficulty speaking to the quantifiable value that IT adds to the organization in order to gain financial support for initiatives. Know the core value and how it contributes to the bottom line will help gain financial backing of IT initiatives that further improve the bottom line. Given that the candidate understands the direction technology is taking and can articulate a vision, the key question is 'how to achieve the clarity necessary for balanced investment'

Q23: What’s your first 100-Day Plan?

Asking about the approach to the first 100 days is a solid question. Will show how prospective CIOs approach a new situation, how they would prioritize, where they see their role in relation to the business units, and how they would evaluate/improve the existing IT architecture .Sums up the essence of expected activities for the first 9-12 months and any reply along those lines will show the new CIO is a person who knows how to listen, understand, plan, and communicate. It then remains to be seen if he/she is also able to implement the plan

Listening: A new CIO will need time to understand the business before implementing any major changes. Any other expectation would be unrealistic and counter-productive. This is not to say that he/she should not be able to come up with a plan of action covering the first 6-9 months.

Communication: Communicating with IT staff to build a relationship with and understand such things as motivation, aspirations, any issues and grudges and so on. Communicate with manager within the organization (as practical), during which a two-way dialogue should take place, listening to the manager and providing assurance that what can be done will be done, but without raising false hopes. A review of the strategic plan for IT, with one of the outcomes being a prioritized plan of action with a road-map, it is critical that the plan and road-map can be understood by (or should be explained to) all the managers. A review of IT partnership., etc.

Plan: It is important to have an entry plan. You do not have the benefit of just meeting with people. There must be a purpose, a schedule and the plan should communicate to what you plan to provide them into the process. Each plan must be laid out according to key discussions with top management, that plan must be communicated with similar level and lower level staff so that they know you are purposefully seeking their input and are interested in helping them achieve their goals.

Develop an action plan: Look for low hanging fruit that can demonstrate your insight and ability to produce results, listen carefully, and move forward accordingly. Also be prepared to cut loose any dead weight. It takes a village. Cut unnecessary costs, streamline workflows, and watch the bottom line.

Further, for prospective CIO, the ability to think on your feet during an interview and deal with the unexpected question is something you have to be prepared for. For recruiters, CIO may not know how to fix the company at the interview stage. Any question asking for a crystal ball response sets the candidate up to fail; There should be a considered set of sensible and business focused questions in which the prospective CIO can give a wide ranging outline of how he / she would approach the objectives, and you can get the best results from interviews utilizing simple behavioral based interviewing techniques through the right set of question, to give ideas of the candidate’s strengths, approaches, vision, and presentation skills. As CIO is a leadership role, search for character, insight and leaning agility, besides skills and knowledge. It's not the title that makes someone a CIO, rather the capabilities and 'mind' of the individual; and the responsibilities of the role.