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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Agile Suitability

From mind shift to culture fit, Agile suitability is multi-faceted assessment and multi-dimensional conversation.

Agile is on demand more than ever. The face and pace of digital enterprise is mainly dependent on SMAC (social media, mobile computing, digital platform, cloud computing) etc. All they need are faster, better, simpler IT-enabled business solutions with high user experience. But the question is how to determine that particular project is suitable for agile or not?

There are multiple approaches, frameworks available to help teams identify the agile suitability for particular projects. Organizations can use "all agile some of the time" and "some agile all of the time" on projects delivery journey to ensure the project success and customer satisfaction. Certainly agile helps meet these objectives, the point is how to get agile understood, adopted in right way (the agile way) on right projects. Here are Agile suitability “formulas”:
-Project size and complexity = smaller, less complex
-Customer availability =Available frequently thorough out project
-Integration with external systems = simple or no integration
-Customer tolerance for scope and cost = Flexible budget and scope tuning allowed
-Time to market = partial deployment is allowed, exposure of solution in parts
-Client readiness for Agile = Client understands Agile well

The lightweight factors to be considered for Agile suitability: Quality, due to the fact that quality related practices are built in right from the beginning of the development cycle, and also because of the automation testing practices. The following is the minimal and lightweight factors to be considered for suitability of agile. If all of the following factors tending towards higher side of scale 1 to 5 (1- small, 2 to 3- medium, 4-5 – Large), then true agile or blended agile looks like suitable.
· Project Uncertainty
· Customer Responsiveness
· Complexity
· Urgency
· Risks
· Dynamism (Like hood of changes)
· Novelty ( Innovative Culture)

The theoretical fit and practical fit are often quite different. At the end of the day, Agile is a mindset change and it has to do with a change in human behavior. Change in the choices is what a developer / tester / any other role takes every day during his or her work every minute. The theoretical fit and practical fit are often quite different. The above factors and logic is a simple tool and not a replacement for thought and dialog with the project stakeholders.

The agile suitability assessment can be used to start conversations about agile suitability and build consensus around the method of choice. From mind shift to culture fit, Agile suitability is multi-faceted assessment and multi-dimensional conversation.

CSF in the Strategic Planning Process

 The CSFs are very important, more particularly in ensuring strategic focus!

Organizations large or small face the new VUCA reality –Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Can Critical Success Factors (CSF) narrow the universe of uncertainty in the Strategic Planning Process?

The CSFs are very important, more particularly in ensuring strategic focus, as the organization is aware of the key issues it needs to responds to, in order to create value in its core business. While these (CSFs) might not have changed much, due to the fact that at most of the CSF are closed aligned with the sector/industry competition pillars (what each industry player needs to deliver on to survive), what does change most often is the critical business activities which dictates what organizations do to respond to the CSF. For example, the four areas business should consider in their strategic planning will include:
  • Internal factors that are specific to the organization.
  • Strategic objectives that line up with the business' mission, vision and how the business will like to position themselves, their competitive strategy.
  • External Influencers such as economy, technology, etc. 
  • Industry characteristics that the organization needs to stay competitive 
Exploring the CSFs and detailed critical business activities should reduce the uncertainty by anticipation, because there would be an increase in the range of planned activities against the potential unplanned (presumably unforeseeable) activities. But caution should be taken in managing the cost associated with reduced uncertainty as a function of time spent improving the quality of informational inputs for better strategic decisions. At the end of it, all businesses are dealing with measurable efforts of attempting to influence external factors that by all accounts, no matter the efficiency in planning are not controlled by organizations. The CSF Types:
  • Industry structure (industry CSFs) 
  • Competitive strategy, industry position, and geographical location (strategy CSFs) 
  • The macro-environment (environmental CSFs) 
  • Organizational problems or challenges (temporal CSFs)
  • Management perspective (management CSFs)
CSF really depends on many variables that are influenced by the advancements and changes businesses have experienced to date. From each variable, you yet have to pick adequate CSFs for your business. And you will notice that immediately when you try to make a CSF more concrete by identifying a CSF, assigning a rule with values to it, developing an activity plan and 1) determine (within some %) when your business needs to start and complete its changes, and 2) pinpoint the processes that must change in order to successfully deliver the new business (survivability) in the new market. Or, determine when to begin to move into a different market, product set, so business losses can be mitigated? The CSFs as elements are industry or sector specific, which drive success for actors in that industry. They are pillars or rather core competency areas, with performance against which determines whether a company in that industry stands a chance of survival.

If you want to narrow the universe of uncertainty, aside from CSFs, you can do environmental scanning, force field analysis & consider frame-breaking & sustainable improvements in the organizational, operational, management & financial aspects of organization. Business environment is ever changing with increasing speed, however, the marketing mix conceptually is more static. How it is executed might be variable as customers, technology etc become more sophisticated but the principles, as guiding pillars still apply.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Push vs. Pull: Which Way is Best to Do Big Data & Analytics?

Take a Hybrid Big Data Approach: Centralized vs. Decentralized; Quick Win vs. Long Term; Push vs. Pull and Innovation Lab vs. Expertise Lab....

Big Data is in every forward-looking organization’s agenda, and a lot of companies are reorganizing themselves in order to push Big Data & Analytics mindset and agenda. There are many paths to do that as each company has its specific culture and history. But ‘Push’ or ‘Pull’: Which way is best to do Big Data & analytics?

A Big Data and analytics strategy must be aligned first with the business strategy, to ensure business challenges are addressed. To be an independent function or part of an existing department is the second piece that should be tackled. Businesses must start with "WHY" and "SO WHAT" before the "what" team, technology and analytic tools. Also, the more strategic the problem statement, the more you get the ear of senior officials in the organization, which is a prerequisite for obtaining the right allocation of resources to ensure the success of the initiative. Big data and analytics are just a new great tool to solve business problems, find a specific use case that delivers some tangible business value. Remember there is no benefit to adopting the latest hot technology if it doesn't solve your business problem. If you don't start with the challenges that keep top management awake, escalating costs, customer churn, high employee turnover, etc. you risk investing in a team and technology without really helping the organization.

It's possible you may have a hybrid approach of centralized vs. decentralized; quick win vs. long term and push vs. pull: A centralized team focuses on long term strategic questions, as well as small focused teams in specific departments tackle pressing business problems. The quick wins solve handy business issues, but Big Data road-map focuses on building long term business analytic capability, so the result of short term interests controlling assets are needed to prosper in the long-term. The "push" is "pull", it means if there is a business that requires immediate and valuable help, it will "pull" the analytics services, as the solid analytic capability underpins business strategy and improve business decision making scenarios.

Big Data Innovation Lab vs. Expertise Lab: Generally speaking, the “Innovative Lab” strategy works better because it is less bureaucratic. The team will be accountable and have the dedicated focus that is necessary to get things rolling from the ground-up and innovation always works best in an empowered centralized approach, but long term adoption and transformation in an organization comes best through a decentralized pull that each stakeholder can leverage based on specific needs & priorities. 

”Innovation Team" seems to be the best approach if 
1) Sponsor/Leader of the Lab is a business-oriented person, not a technical one, and who is recognized throughout the company, as a consequence, he/she knows how to find internal opportunities to demonstrate the technology and how to sell the projects to his/her peers. 

2) Base on this first assumption: quickness to find the first internal project. The pitfall of this team will produce an Ideal solution to your organization, but the transition from current ‘AS IS’ to ‘TO BE’ is expected to be Complex. And you may get a few "quick wins" due to focus, but it is difficult to sustain when working in a vacuum --separate from business. 

“Expertise Lab” approach has its merit. The experts who knows in and out of organization understand the complexity and will not make a move to go to Ideal (customized/assumed Ideal) state in quick time, Instead, they would like transition to happen in more phases over a long period. This group can act like a SWAT team and enable different parts of the organization to take advantage of big data. Folks in different parts of organization could feel empowered by this approach and would be more likely to share best practices with others. 

The pitfall of “Expertise Lab” is that the team may come up with the best criteria to evaluate which projects to go ahead, give occasional advice to the project teams, but they won’t be accountable to deliver projects themselves, and you probably end-up with a panel of judges on a talent show! Both approaches help transition, but it is up to organization to decide on how quick and how ideal their Big Data & analytics should be.

The power of “Pull":. The bigger and more strategic the problem statement, the greater the overall interest, and pull is main force. It might be quite worthwhile not to "push" at all, but instead, focus on making big data accessible to users. Who can turn massive data sets into manageable small ones, fast, and support users who want digestible, accessible data? Not big science. In all cases, any investment must be aligned with value. But the question is more about how to get started, the underlying issue is that either your innovation team or expertise team, need the expertise and skills to be successful with big data. The companies have to gain incredible insight, value, momentum, etc, big data can be truly transformational. Things like gaining a better understanding of your customer (customer 360), or even how to monetize big data. Drive and fund analytics on the back of a real project.

Big Data deployment scenario

1) get executive business sponsorship 
2) start with a small dedicated team 
3) identify quick wins (the "low hanging fruits") and go for them. 
4) put big data science results into production immediately; don't fall into the trap of doing one scientific study after another without generating business value (measured in hard money) . 
5) as soon as something is found to work, automate it (=software development) and repeat it as often as possible. 
6) grow the Big Data team either innovation lab or expertise lab according to the skillset required 
7) measure the result and make continuous improvement. 

Today, organizations know a much better HOW to build a "Data Intelligence Unit" and "Advanced Analytics" hub within organizations, what they should do to contribute to value generation, which tools they need, etc. So businesses can take a bit more "aggressive" tactics to build those teams faster and add value earlier. Be prepared to fail fast and collect learning if it’s not a great fit. You may run across a better fit once you understand the technology better

There is no one size fits all Big Data solutions, organizations have to experiment and learn; take hybrid approaches to solving key business issues, pulling resources and talent to make innovate solutions, and build analytic capabilities for businesses to compete for the future.

What Problem Does BPM Solve?

BPM puts the order from chaos in the life of an organization.

BPM is to manage knowing from flow, processes underpin business capabilities, more specifically, what problems do BPM help solve?

BPM projects serve mostly to reduce the chaos and put some order in the business life of an organization. And the cost of chaos is significant. Not just burned man-hours. Bad decisions, lack of decisions, higher external operational costs

BPM provides orchestration (guidelines), in respect of the performance of work. ­­­­Whereas traditional BPM was critiqued as being "rigid," when you manage work in a Case environment where BPM sits in the background providing orchestration, and your environment also accommodates governance, you have the wherewithal to "manage" work. Workflow management with BPM and Adaptive Case Management yields improved efficiency, decreased errors, increased throughput, improved compliance with internal and external rules and regulations, setting the stage for improved outcomes.

BPM improves operational excellence. Any company that would like to achieve operational excellence to get a competitive advantage, will get a benefit from BPM approach. BPM is a key factor for business success in the current dynamic and competitive environment. Of course, there are some challenges to adopt it right. Otherwise, the BPM approach will fail to meet a high expectation for it. Success with BPM occurs, when organizations well align the people, process and technology, roll out templates of best practices and encourage (without forcing) staff to use them, well balance standardization and creativity, management practices, and governance discipline.

BPM is a "business" tag that recognizes the need to focus on people and their processes. As such, the problems addressed and benefits gained will be different depending upon where you sit:
  • To business, it opens the door to "buy a solution to their problem"
  • To "IT," it might help understand how business really works
  • To users, it will remove the fear of asking for change
  • To “third parties”, it should improve the interactions as customers or suppliers
  • To management, it will contribute to a new model that empowers their people
BPM should be led by the business and for the business. IT as a key enabler will contribute to and support its success. BPM is to manage the seamless connectivity between the process and the mess of legacy so it is delivering real adaptive capability at the enterprise level where it matters with people. The focus is on people and processes. It is business people associated with "IT" who see the need as the gap between "IT systems" and people in the real world of work widened so "BPM" emerged and engaged.

BPM must be driven by business people and focus on HOW to solve business problems, it shouldn't be too ‘rigid’ to discourage innovation; and it needs to be dynamic to adapt to the changes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Customer one of the Biggest Influencers of Decisions in your Enterprise?

Business decision makers must not only take outside-in customers' viewpoint, but also zoom in the future to capture the next wave of business trends to win over customers in the future.

Being customer-centric means to really live on the mantra everyone is already familiar with: “Customer is King or Queen”, take look at the business via outside-in customer’s lens, and build business capabilities to optimize customer experience. However, to what extent do you feel comfortable to make customers one of the biggest influencers of decisions in your organization?

Customer is still the key element of any business, as they pay for your products, and if you do not have paying customers you do not have a business. To continue to attract more customers and grow you business, you need to definitely be concerned about how your company delivers and that will have a whole gamut of people and things. Likewise, if customers are not buying your products or services, then the organization may not survive in the long run, thus, customers should be influencing organizational strategy. A common practice to on-board a C-suite is to have the C-suite talk to the top ten customers and beyond.

To put simply, the objective of organizational strategy is to gain a competitive advantage and to win customers for long term: Winning requires meeting the customer on the consumption chain with products and services that (1) create value, (2) are unique, and (3) are difficult to imitate. Therefore, if customers are buying your products or services, then customers should be influencing the organizations’ net promoter score (NPS) and influencing organizational strategy, which is aligned with the financial management, marketing management, operations management, and people management strategies throughout the organization.

Customer’s feedback is surely important, but merely listening to customers can be dangerous, only meeting customers’ current need with ignorance of disruptive marketing or technological trends, businesses may completely miss the demise of their industry despite the perfection of their product. Or in a B2B environment there's the risk that a large customer can 'hijack' your agenda by exerting pressure to get things their way...which might not serve the needs of the rest of your customer base, or your profit goals. Organizations must heed the demands of the markets while never ceasing to evaluate future options...even at the expense of the current customer base.

 Products and services follow a S-curve or product life cycle (PLC). At the top of the S-Curve, growth matures and flattens. Therefore, it is very important to know a product and/or service's position on the S-Curve when developing a portfolio of strategic initiatives. After all, the purpose of strategy is to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Any product / service follows a product life cycle (PLC) where it grows, matures and finally declines. PLC underpins the fact that old products / services need to terminated and new products/services are developed to replace them. PLC emphasizes the need for planning of a balanced product /service array. An organization with all the mature products may be profitable today, but as it enters the decline stage, profits may fall and the organization may become unstable. A balanced mix of products / services would ensure that some are in mature stage, a number in growth stage, with the prospects of new ones in near future.

Customers are key influencer of decision making, but it is not the only factor to make the effective decisions for business’s growth, business decision makers must not only take outside-in customer’s viewpoint, but also zoom in the future to capture the next wave of business trends and build the solid strategy to win over the future.

Can a Company Culture be Changed on Purpose?

Culture is Collective Mindset, Attitude, Habit, and Brand.

Culture is perhaps the most invisible, but powerful fabric weaving around the modern businesses; can a company culture be changed on purpose? In fact, not so many organizations do so, rather, they take culture as something they have to accept, instead of something they can shape and influence.

Culture can absolutely be changed on purpose with the right management strategy. To systematically change the culture takes time, vision, and persistence by the senior leaders. If the leadership fails on one or more of these characteristics, the "old culture" wins by default. If the visionary leader and his or her team do not first go through a fine process of understanding their vital role is explaining the rationale for change, its benefits, the impact on people' roles, minimize any overdue resistance, and agree their modeling of the 'new' behaviors consistent with the change, then there could be issues. Thus, it seems to be common mainstream that culture change comes about 'on purpose', meaning through some sort of strategy or model.

Achieve awareness and get buy-in. But culture change is not simply a matter of defining a vision or "purpose" and then telling the people to get on with it. First, you need commitment and then resources, interaction, perseverance, repetition... It is about doing things differently...Even if you want to influence one individual, you have to achieve awareness, understanding and finally buy-in, and then multiply that with the many different people in an organization. So it takes time, repeated and consistent communication and very importantly authenticity in those who are the thought leaders. But the processes of change have started in the wrong place for the last century. Change management focuses on business process changes, assuming that culture change will occur as a result. The problem with this assumption is that culture is seldom created by business processes. It is created by management decision processes and management team interaction, both of which are directly impacted by what management believes about change, management's role in change and what is possible to achieve and change. These beliefs can form barriers to change that are labeled as "unchangeable" or are not recognized as drivers of the change process.

The process for culture change begins by revealing the links between the management system and culture. Culture is seldom changed intentionally because companies do not have a clear understanding of the link between profit and culture. This link affects today's profit and future profit. It offers new perspectives that help "free" management teams from old beliefs and behaviors that steal profits and prevent change. The greatest barriers to change reside in management perspectives. If new perspectives about change are not presented to management for consideration and adoption, then old management perspectives will work behind the scenes to sabotage improvement success and slow change down, outliving change initiative after change initiative. Once people gain new perspectives on change, change can happen very quickly and people will not go back to their old way of thinking. That's when culture change is accelerated and becomes sustainable.

The SENSES of people need to be engaged in organizational shifts. Culture is a socially transmitted process involving emotional values which drive core and sustainable business conversations which leadership and middle management need to engage in and measured accountability; Artifacts - what people can see and feel in the organization, and rituals - how business marks events, such as wins and how to celebrate, what is censured if deemed unacceptable under vision, mission, and strategy. One of the most effective ways (but not a quick way) is to empower the people to define their own meaning and actions to contribute towards culture changes, the evidence of needing change has to come from within the organization and that evidence needs to be visible to all to ensure the tipping point is reached.

All change management can and should be simple, using simple tools and clear messages. It should be owned and lived by the employees and the leaders, not by internal or external specialists in change. When companies turn change over to a department or group of experts, they "wash their hands" of taking total responsibility for its success. When this happens, real and lasting culture change becomes "someone else's problem". HR and OD are given the responsibility for culture change because they oversee "people processes" (hiring, firing, promotions, pay, training, etc.) and, therefore, must be the culture experts. When culture change is assigned to these departments, the ROI may never meet expectations because the right people are not directly involved in the effort or the commitment and because HR and OD have created some of the barriers that prevent change. The challenge, however, lies in making the message clear and advocating streamlined processes and simple tools.

Hence, culture can be changed on purpose, but it is not an easy task, it needs to apply systems thinking and process that bridge psychology and sociology; nature and nurture; science and art; mind and heart as well. But do not make a change too complex than it should be.We all know the simple is really hard and simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Can Corporate Do Disruptive Innovation

Corporate innovation stagnation is more of an evolutionary process.

Fundamentally there are two types of innovations, incremental innovation, and disruptive innovation; on one side, many ambitious organizations have big plans to pursue disruptive innovation in creating exponential value for their businesses; on the other hand, it takes bigger risks to manage disruptive innovation, and therefore, it has very low success rate. Can corporate do disruptive innovation, and how?

Strike the right balance of innovation and standardization: Every time another execution process is added, corporate innovation suffers a little moreThe conundrum is that every policy and procedure makes a company functioning, but efficient execution machine stifles innovation. Innovation is chaotic, messy, and uncertain only if you try to interpret innovation with conventional models, but when you will be able to define a new socio-economy paradigm, the innovation doesn't seem so chaotic. It needs radically different tools for measurement and control.

Embed innovation management mechanism into the corporate DNA: While companies intellectually understand innovation, they don’t really know how to build innovation into their culture or how to measure its progress. The current business models put on different layers of strategy and execution, and use metrics like KPIs based on a theoretical framework and not on the tactical problem-solving. So businesses have to find models that give a right description of reality and you don't need to fit reality to the models.

A synergist's innovation leadership: The 'good news' is that under the current digital protocol, disruption is inevitable. It will take the "synergist," a business leader who can balance creativity with the order, change, and stability to restore vitality and ensure future growth. Unfortunately, synergists are often branded as weak leaders and pushed aside in favor of someone who makes a lot of noise. As disruptive innovation have, even more, obstacles in the corporate setting, specifically a culture developed on the basis of peer-based competition and the resistance to changes, or lack of support, the synergist's leadership has to be advocated in order to sustain innovation for the long term.

The shareholders' innovation appetite: It is not so much the notion of shareholders that is the problem, but what shareholders collectively value that is the issue. If shareholders valued innovation more, then, in theory, they would value companies that devote more resources toward future innovation more than those that optimize short term profits. Of course, the challenge is in knowing how to place some sort of value on innovation and that is hard to do in advance. The difficulty in figuring out how to assess that capability with any degree of certainty makes it easier to judge companies on short-term performance. Money spent on R&D is not necessarily a good indicator of future innovation performance, and there is not much else that is visible to the public other than past track record of the success of innovation.

An "ambidextrous organization": "Ambidextrous organization," is an organization that can handle innovation streams for different purposes and with different time frames. Obviously, there are organizations that are better at "ambidexterity" and those that are worse, but to say that corporations can't do disruptive innovation while executing is perhaps a bit exaggeration. What does it mean of achieving "innovative ambidexterity." From marketing perspective, the question then becomes - does this facilitate Disruptive Innovation - has or could organizations be able to create entirely new industries or products capable of (1) empowering an overwhelming number of those who were previously unserved and underserved, and on that basis (2) expand to displace the dominant incumbents of existing industries that were only able to cost-effectively serve a far smaller segment of the greater market? From a process perspective, these businesses may separate a disruptive idea-generation from implementing and sustaining innovation. Innovation explorers develop unconventional and disruptive solutions, then, when ideas were fully developed and a prototype built, other people – innovation builders or operations gurus - took over and worked on serial production and sustaining innovation to make products or services more reliable, easier to make, and cheaper. All those processes in combination favorably affected the outcome= true ambidexterity.

Corporate innovation stagnation is more of an evolutionary process as bigger companies focus more on value maintenance than innovation management, current organizational structure, and internal metrics discourage long-term innovation as well. But surely the big corporate can do disruptive innovation through an embedding culture of innovation; building ambidextrous capabilities; advocating synergistic leadership and empowering fearless innovators and change agent.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NPS and Text Analytics

Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer.

NPS is based on a direct question: How likely are you to recommend the company/product/service to your friends and colleagues? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale. The point is what can NPS measure, and what is its limitation?

First off, the NPS is not an individual-level score. It is calculated as a percentage that indicates the preponderance of consumer sentiment at some aggregate level regarding a brand or a company. That said, it doesn't correlate with key financial metrics such as top-line revenue, profit, stock price or EBITDA. This is to its credit since, unlike many other consumer metrics, this indicates that it's not correlated with size, market share or valuation. In general, it does track the direction and drift of consumer sentiment towards the thing being measured and, as such may do a better job of differentiating that sentiment from other widely used metrics like customer satisfaction, which for the most part is a measure of the potential for customer attrition. One of the most important pieces of NPS is the comments. Not only those of deflectors, but those of the promoter are very valuable.

Applying NPS is helpful when utilizing additional analysis. From an analytics perspective, it's fairly arbitrary in how it reduces to a single number the percentages of customers who responded with the different scores. NPS is widely used by larger consumer businesses. It's hard to ignore and often shows up in analytics of one kind or another. So a serious analysis needs to define what's being predicted or measured, and then determine whether NPS does a better job of that than some other function of the input percentages. One helpful approach is to apply text analytics to the comments received as part of the NPS survey. Very often the "Promoter" customer provides comments that can provide valuable input on areas that need to be addressed. Very often the Promoter's comments are the same as the "defector's" comment, the only difference is the numerical score.

Focus on key business drivers. There are things about the NPS that make it attractive as a measure of consumer sentiment, just not for its intended use as a measure of revenue growth. As noted, it's to its credit that it doesn't correlate with market size, share or valuation. The number by itself doesn't mean anything. The key to this is to get additional information from the customer to understand key drivers (internal - processes, people, etc. or external - product, messaging, customer education, etc.). While you manage to an NPS goal, you manage it by focusing on those drivers. Without that, it may as well be a random number based on how the customer's day is going!

Generally, the consistency in NPS results from a company measuring its product line or brand against itself: It is historical NPS last year vs. this year to see improvement, it is arguable upon how you can use it to compare as an industry benchmark or vs other products and companies since the inputs are not consistent (different market, geography, product etc..). Analysis that leverage its original raw rating -- not the aggregate score -- can also be informative and insightful for the purpose of targeting communications to specific consumer groups. And if the aggregate score is developed and used in the context of continuous consumer tracking surveys, then it can also aid in refining marketing strategy, spend and content.

Therefore, as most other measures, NPS is best when utilized with other tools. The biggest mistake in using it is to consider it the "sole" voice of the customer. It only makes sense as one more metric among many. Combining text Analytics with NPS provides more of a complete view of the customer concerns. NPS complements other efficiency metrics within the organization really well and such set of metrics can be a good way to compare against other organizations in the industry or even other industries that you are trying to learn about customer engagement from. Last but not least, any metrics, including NPS is means to the end, not the end.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is “Incremental” Innovation not Innovation?

You cannot “disrupt” without incremental innovation being part of the process.

Generally speaking, innovation is how to transform the novel ideas into products and services to achieve its business value. Innovation has different flavors and also has various definitions as well. Is innovation always radical or disruptive; is ‘incremental’ innovation an innovation or oxymoron? How to manage innovation portfolio effectively?

Innovation is in the eye of the beholder – hopefully, a customer: The only test for whether it is or is not an innovation is whether it makes any difference to a dimension that is valued by whoever has a stake in your offering -it is best if that happens to be the customer. If the innovation is meeting a need, expressed or otherwise, it is an innovation. Adding value is the characteristics of an innovation. Too often, companies announce ambitious "breakthrough" initiatives only to see them rapidly folding back to "business-as-usual." This is a problem and this problem must be confronted. The nature of innovation varies depending on whether you are within a paradigm in your industry or the context in your environment, requires crossing paradigm boundaries. A "tweak" that adds mutual value to both the customer and the provider can still be an innovation, the difference being a matter of degree. Incremental innovation has become the value that the customer expects you to provide if you are to remain a sustainable supporting innovation, the unexpected disruption that can re-structure the competitive landscape. Any incremental improvement of a product that allows the company increase sales, revenue, profit margins, market share, etc. is innovation.

Incremental design requirements most often produce incremental innovation results: Such evolutionary efforts often produce quite respectable financial results. On the other hand, when an individual or organization claims they are investing in and managing an ambitious innovation project and then immediately cripples the breadth of possible innovations by prioritizing design requirements down to only the "most important,". Incremental design requirements most often produce incremental innovation results (and relatively limited financial returns, for that matter). Sometimes “logically" focused on only the most important current problems with the product or service are exactly the reason why innovation projects are often found to be risky and fail. 

Build innovation capability: Breakthroughs/ Transformational Innovations are not something everyone can accomplish. You have to systematically develop the capability to execute it successfully, and that is something you do not accomplish overnight. You can have a vision, but that does not mean you can do it right away. On the roadmap for developing the capability to successfully and perhaps continuously deliver transformational innovations, there are a number of incremental opportunities that are also innovation. The more ambitious, radical, market-changing innovations are specifically enabled by complete, systems level specifications of all the relevant valued product or service interactions currently and potentially tied to the targeted product or service. 

Improvement-Innovation Continuum - Incremental innovation is actually a critical part of breakthrough or disruptive innovation: Innovation is not a singular idea or event, as a key part of the innovation is the behavioral changes that occur as the idea is adopted by a user group. Most people are aware of the classic “S” curve adoption patterns of innovation, which is a time-based model. Things that drive adoption up the S-curve are the incremental innovations that continue to improve the value propositions, decrease costs and expand supporting market infrastructure, which in turn drive expanded adoption. Very few, if any, disruptive concepts emerge directly into the mainstream. The disruptive impact is a cumulative effect of continuous incremental innovation of the initial idea over time. You cannot “disrupt” without incremental innovation being part of the process.

The solution to this ‘innovation dilemma’ is portfolio management: The realities of corporate life don't allow companies to spend all their resources on radical--and thus intrinsically riskier--innovation. It's generally believed that companies should have a balanced portfolio of innovation projects composed of ~70% of "incremental" innovations, ~20% of "adjacent" and ~10% of "radical/breakthrough." Obviously, the precise ratio is dependent on the age/size of the company. The "three-horizon strategy" is the name for this approach. Currently accepted corporate management practice most often begins innovation projects by prioritizing the many possible areas of improvements in the customer (or another stakeholder) experience and then focusing on only those "most important" areas which the design team estimates will have the greatest ROI. This common management practice tends to automatically limit each design cycle to small evolutionary/incremental design improvements specifically because the design team is focused on innovations in only one part of the total system of valued product interactions. The team's opportunity to innovate is limited from the start of the project. In direct contrast, revolutionary design innovations most often require design teams to attend to the total system of all valued product interactions and related opportunities to systematically create new design features that efficiently enable new value across wide ranges of current and new product interactions. Such tour de force efforts and results are what most of the businesses get excited about when working on "innovation" projects.

 Innovation comes in many flavors and there are many opportunities in an enterprise to do so. Incremental innovation is quantitative progress and radical innovation is transformational leapfrog, a healthy innovation portfolio needs to have both in order to reach innovation horizon with the optimal speed at the right time.

Enterprise ‘Social’ Strategy

 Digital enterprise needs to have a holistic 'social' strategy to meld communication and context for better collaboration

Digital enterprise is organic and living; social and mobile; always on and hyper-connected; Being social doesn’t just mean to use the consumer social network, a high mature digital enterprise needs to have a holistic social strategy, to diagnose the current issues such as silo thinking and functional process; or lack of culture of innovation, then set up the social guideline and take coherent action for building a truly digital business.

 Social Challenges New generations of social technologies—when coupled with clear vision, good planning, and effective execution—have the potential to change the way business is done. It is the optimal ways to encourage participation. However, one of the biggest challenges of social technology is how to manage or curate the volume and variety of artifacts that workers create using social tools 

Social guideline: Enterprises that diagnose what’s wrong with internal collaboration and prescribe a many-to-many cure are trying to weave social networking into the Information fabric in a complementary way. They are also working on the organizational aspects of creating incentives, reengineering processes, and using analytics to make the information flows relevant to specific groups and individuals. This approach promises three advantages: (1) a creative place to work, and (2) a means of creating context, a significant component of knowledge sharing that’s historically been lacking. (3) the social functionality to users in their familiar application environments

Essential privacy and security rules, appropriate to the enterprise, being understood, and reinforced. There are trade-offs because the more that people share relevant information, the greater the benefit. However, some information is confidential and privileged, and the boundaries need to be set in advance. Social technology trials could be an opportunity to update the privacy rules and reconsider how the risk landscape is changing. Explore social discovery and identify the social network(s) relevant to accomplishing the selected business objective.

Social Action #1: Build Social Hub. Social technology has the potential to address several perennial goals for enhanced, more efficient collaboration and effective communication in a flexible and low-cost way. One approach is to create social hubs. These solutions pull activity and event information from enterprise applications into the social technology platform to create a central hub for collaborative, task-based, and social activities. Enterprise builds the enhanced integration capabilities to support connections and interactions between individuals and communities, between individuals and information assets, and to facilitate enterprise activities in all of their possible combinations. The rise and advance of enterprise social technologies have the potential to dramatically alter the business information landscape and the organization’s ability to more effectively leverage corporate data and information

Social Action #2: Meld communication and context for better collaboration. Context creates relevance, aligns social technology’s strengths with the way people learn today. The true value of enterprise social computing will come from bringing data, content, and people together in the context of business activities. Context is not just a general-purpose content management effort or a knowledge management effort. Social enterprise tools do meld communication and context for better collaboration, which is where the focus should be. The approach and style must synchronize to the realities of social technology and to the organization that the value in social technology will be in the effectiveness of information integration and pattern identification.

Enterprise social strategy is the integral component of the business digital strategy, and it will navigate business’s digital journey via collaboration, innovation and synchronization.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Waterfalls with in the Sprints – a Handshake or an Anti-pattern?

 There seems to have  two conflicting beliefs here. Waterfall is based on the belief that it is best to "get it right up-front"; Agile is based on the belief that it is best to balance "right up-front" against "learning through feedback from building something". Here is an interesting debate: Waterfalls with in the sprints –a handshake or an anti-pattern?

From process perspective, it is a handshake.  Having small defined processes inside of a larger empirically driven project is a compromise, handshake if you will. The whole concept that waterfall and agile are binary yes/no choices at extreme opposite ends is a falsehood. Indeed, agile and waterfall is not opposite, but complementary; It is about how to balance "Waterfall" with "defined process" and "Agile" with "empirical process" respectively.

You really need to work out what you believe. Every project is different and will require being handled from a slightly different place on the spectrum between defined and empirical processes. Pick a starting point along this spectrum that makes all stakeholders comfortable (preferably closer to the Agile side) and adjust as necessary going through the project.

From experience teaching perspective, it is a mindset issue. Remember that if you are a hammer everything looks like a nail. It is important to help everybody to make the transition, otherwise they will continue to do what they have done in the past expecting different results. Provide them with real scenarios where they will go from testing to development to analysis to anything else, and hopefully they will start to make the mental switch until they are all comfortable with the new agile world. Don’t make the process too rigid, but rigorous to allow creativity flow and improve productivity as well.

The end goal is continuous delivery. If a self-organizing empowered team uses a waterfall type process in their sprint to successfully deliver their previously agreed upon work to the full definition of ‘done’, then Agile is working properly. If it creeps in silently, it could be a bad thing, but regular retrospectives should prevent that. If it is forced, the organization has deeper issues preventing Agile from working.

From soft skill or whole-cycle perspective, it could be an anti-pattern. Waterfall & agile shouldn't be seen as exclusive either-or alternatives, but waterfall doesn't lend itself to being 'mini', it's a whole-cycle process. So, in general - every project & team is different, everyone's mileage will differ - if mini-waterfalls are happening inside sprints, it's usually a result of people having not quite grasped agile; putting new agile labels on the waterfall things they already know, and trying to squeeze waterfall procedures into agile-sprint straightjackets. 

Either hand-shake or anti-pattern, a hybrid approach to well mixing waterfall and agile is a better approach to manage project with both discipline and flexibility; well balance defined process and empirical process; make continuous improvement and enforce interaction and collaboration

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Digital Flow: The Future of Knowledge Management

Digital knowledge management is not managing knowledge as an object, it is providing the management system that enables knowledge flow and builds information stock. 

Digital means flow, data flow, information flow, and knowledge flow; there is a shift from more traditional knowledge management approaches to techniques that involve enhancing the "flow" of knowledge within an organization to improve access and use. As the accepted model of knowledge management is too hierarchical, too centralized for the fast-moving, increasingly social or collaborative digital enterprise of today, so it makes sense that something like flow management is seen as a more fitting.

Knowledge flow and stock: Digital knowledge management is not managing knowledge as an object, it is providing the management system that enables knowledge flow and builds information stock. Stock without flow is wasted effort and leads to bloated databases nobody uses. Flow without stock leads to ephemeral knowledge and constant reinvention of the wheel and relearning of lessons. Knowledge Management, taken as a whole, addresses both stock and flow; both connect and collect; both share and create.

Create an environment that encourages the utilization and the flow of knowledge. The knowledge stock should be perceived as something that changes the volume and shapes all the time. Why? Because knowledge does not stand still! It flows into the company, it flows out of it, it erodes; it gets created, and hopefully, it flows to the customers of that company in terms of product and service delivery too. KM is about understanding and driving the change of knowledge stock at minimal cost in a way that fits the strategy of the business the best.

Build the bridge from data to knowledge. Information is data with a purpose. Knowledge is information within context. Wisdom is the ultimate insight from the knowledge you accumulate. Data and information are available but what’s the best way to transform those data into valuable knowledge to the teams or company. The trouble with many organizations is that they don't even know what they know...so buying into the workflow-only or centric mechanism (even if successfully implemented) only means the buyer will make mistakes faster, and perhaps more momentous than they did before.

Knowledge Management is a process to manage known from flowing. Look at the organization chart to find out where in the organization the requested expertise might be sitting - part of taking knowledge seriously as a corporate asset involves assigning responsibility for knowledge within the organization - both maintaining and improving the stock and ensuring the flow. Data is collected continuously and is meaningless until it is processed into information. Knowledge is information put to use. It is about having the social skills to connect, share, find, on and off the line with people who are very different from each other. A robust taxonomy is required to generate the dynamic ontology modern enterprises require turning shared awareness (with acceptable certainty levels) into action lead time ahead of competitors/threats.

Digital knowledge management has been expounding many of the principles such as connect-collect-collaborate; ask-learn-share, and solving some of the pains underlying it, unlocking latent expertise, collaboration through communities, getting the right information to the right person at the right time; geographically-distributed teams are connected by technology, there arises an opportunity to analyze and reuse the data they create as they go about their activities, and from that to generate valuable knowledge that can be shared to help everyone in their work and keep talent grow, as there's a fundamental difference between knowledge and expertise, but they're obviously related since knowledge changes as expertise grows. There is also an epistemic distinction between knowledge as the information put to use by human decisions (a flow, instantly obsolete), and the expertise (a stock) compiled by systems, by understanding these differences, the knowledge management can be more tailored and focused. 

In summary, digital knowledge management will enable not only the information flow and knowledge flow, but more importantly, it will empower the mind flow, and transform the modern business from static to dynamic, from efficient to agile and from functioning to delight

Monday, March 17, 2014

Is Innovator ‘Trouble Maker’ or ‘Rain Maker’?

 Innovators think differently via non-linear or different angle.

Although innovation is the light every forward-look organization is pursuing, very few businesses have a systematic approach to managing it, or lack of wise eyes to recognize their special breed of talent- the innovators, or worse, when innovator are punished for their initiatives –typically always "Are you a troublemaker?”

Being a trouble maker is not a bad thing when it comes to innovate, since innovation is all about doing something in such a way that gets noticed in a manner that disrupts legacy thinking or the old way to do things. In order for something to move, it may need to surrender first. So, true innovation always spurs certain disruption otherwise it is not innovation. People don't know how to react in front of something new, in front of something unknown. The feeling of fighting on the front line is unique; all the innovators experience that especially when they fight for their products and succeed.

Focusing on communicating the insight is the key to restore innovation: Innovation always appears with a strange cover. Communication problems are normal when something is new. When people can't formulate their insight with enough precision and they can't communicate that insight effectively and objectively, then the world if full of "trouble" makers; when innovative ideas get the right management support through the streamlined process, to transform into the new products & services & processes, or the innovators stimulate or foster such culture of innovation, then innovators also become rainmakers.

Systematic innovation can improve innovation success ratio: New ideas always cause troubles and it has a very low ratio to bring success. In such a case, people may feel pessimistic about how many chances the idea turns into innovation. That's why they resist to new ideas - always troubles and doubts of success. Reduce the ratio and maybe the situation will change. Organizations should ideally have a sustainable approach to innovation:. Systematic innovation methods may reduce the ratio down to accepted level, a systematic approach is to depict innovation as a system (rather than a traditional process) whose performance depends on the alignment of its various components (people, actions, controls, resources, etc.). 

Innovators think differently via non-linear or different angle.: Innovators whose work continues to move forward and, in turn, is profitable to self and others think differently than those who are traditional thinkers. They see the old problems from every direction and find different solutions. However, the ‘trouble' maker reputation is due to the lack of true democracy in most of the working places.This is unfortunate because such an old system needs innovators more than ever because they will break the chains.

The power of innovation may also come from the collective creativity and collaborative effort. Have the good sense and charisma to attract or to surround yourself with the right people who can move the idea into action. Sometimes the main trouble is that every person follows his/her own interests, which coincide with the interests with the others' interests and the interests of the whole system. More often, innovation is a team effort, a group of ‘trouble makers’ may have to be well tuned to create synergy in making innovation fruitful.

Innovators are the one who can see things differently, not negatively; dare to take the risk, not risk-reverse; be courageous to ‘disobedient’ with good reasons; to push the world forward, not backward.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Five Steps to Customer - Centricity

More often,  the linkages between customer-centric capability and sustained business performance aren't understood by enough business leaders.

 Making the business case for customer experience is as we all know not so easy. Building customer centricity consistently in a way that delivers the right experiences to the right customers at the right times is, in most companies, enormously complicated. What are the wise steps businesses should take to customer centricity, and what’re the milestones on the way to celebrate the success and push business maturity to the next level?

1.  Continue to Create Customer Value  

Customer Experience (CX) value creation is to provide the tailored customer solutions, it is the process of making a company's products and services extraordinarily relevant to the wants, needs or desires of customers - physically, spiritually or emotionally. Value creation means the company management knows enough about their customers, and takes action to fill that type of need, be transparent to an extent where you don't lose profits.

Gaining such customer empathy will help organizations to understand and orchestrate business through outside-in customer view; and empower employees with the latest digital tools to analyze customer’s behavior or needs, to capture the growth opportunities through innovating the next products or services for continually creating customer value. Therefore, some say digital is indeed the age of customer empathy. 

2. Strike the Balance between Customer-Centricity and Profitability

Without customers, an organization cannot survive, and without profitability, an organization cannot grow. The business has to continuously understand its customer needs and requirements also have a clear understanding of how customer-centric approaches enhance the business model and extend profitability.

It requires consistently digging deeper and having both strategic and tactical level CX metrics in place that keep a pulse on the inner workings of the business. It is extremely challenging to strike the right balance between short-term profitability and long-term prosperity: While some companies could increase profit on the short term, to lose a customer-centric approach will impact the bottom line in the long run.

3.    Build Capabilities to Deliver Superior Customer Experience  

To build the customer-centric business, the organization needs to think in terms of building business capabilities. Too often, the customer-centric effort is layered on top of the ‘REAL’ work so the customer mantra pales in comparison to the rigor of other areas of the operation where there is measurable clarity of what needs to be done, by when and by whom. 

Having a strong sense of how to develop customer-centric programs within the business means to build the integral and unique set of business capabilities to combine technology and business tactics, the smart or popular processes and dedicated talent that drive customer value creation. It's about building competitive capabilities that create and sustain customer values. The challenge is demonstrating to a company how capable they are relative to where they know they need to be to be better than their competition.

4. Knit Everything together into a Great Customer Experience  

Learn how to collaborate across your business, network, and ecosystem. One common element in all these areas involved in creating the customer experience is people, and how people interact with customers and how proactively and promptly they solve their needs, the effective change management effort can convert many departments from rather inward-looking organizations to having an external focus and customer-centric approach.

A silo and disconnected organization could not deliver value effectively to its customers, there are quite a few paradigm shifts: Operation efficiency needs to be the solution to the customer problem, not create it; and profit is the by-product of customer centricity, not the only goal business is pursuing; the holistic thinking and solution has to be encouraged, either for crafting strategy or optimizing process, as  updating and re-deploying processes ends up being a lot like making updates to software - a change in one place can easily cause problems elsewhere so you have to spend a lot of time testing any new process. A customer-centric digital business is fluid, agile, flexible and resilient in knitting all necessary elements together into a great customer experience.

5.    Bold Leadership to Promote a Strong Brand  

Last but not least, success comes with leadership truly believes and commits to customer centricity. Many times, businesses generally don't have bold enough leadership and strategic movement to drive the change required to really develop customer-centric business models. Or the linkages between customer-centric capability & quality and sustained business performance aren't understood by enough executives. If senior management doesn't believe there is an acceptable return on investment, the race never starts in earnest. Most pay lip service to customer experience but don't have the kind of commitment and guts necessary to show real results. Hence, everyone at the C-suite needs to be aligned with what customer-centricity really means for the organization. It's a fundamental shift in operations and philosophy. The reality is that without ‘radical’ change in organizational structure, culture and measures nothing more than small incremental changes will transpire.

In addition, Customer Experience and Brand Experience can mutually enforce with each other. Customer Experience can attempt to shape each and every potential Customer Experience (touch point/pain point/joy point) with its brand personality such that the firm provides customers with Brand Experiences that are unique to the brand, and on the other side, the delightful customer experience can enforce its business brand as well.

The path to customer-centric won’t be straight or flat, there’s bumps or curves, roadblocks, and pitfalls, as it is a transformation journey which needs to have both step-by-step progress and a quantum leap from leadership to culture; from strategy to capability.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Human Capital Management Strategy

The talent strategy needs to be agile and resilient enough to accommodate fast cycles of strategy evolution. 

 Digitalization and globalization have huge impact in the business and world, and talent has become the defining theme of this new digital paradigm. However, very few organizations have well-crafted people or human capital strategy as an integral element in their business strategy. But what are the ramifications for digital Human Capital Management (HCM) Strategy. Does the structure of the organization need to change to achieve the strategy? How will it impact on the overall digital capability (competency + performance) of the organization? What are the core digital competencies needed to achieve the strategy? Shall you need to unleash talent potential via training and development, or shall you recruit through alternative digital talent pipelines? How are you going to differentiate talent strategy, in line with the business strategy, that will ensure the business has the right skills, in the rights position, at the right time and for the right cost?

A successful HCM begins with understanding your business: The competitive environment, customers' expectations, strategic and operational goals and other factors affect your organization. and talent management is a strategic matter, they are too critical to be assigned only to specific functions and regulated by silo processes or mechanical procedures. Build a people strategy based on gaps identified against whatever information available at hand and benchmarked against best industrial practices, legal compliance, and progressive HR strategies. Defining digital talent strategy shall focus on strategic growth areas, future business needs, and continuous measure and refine strategy. That means strategy must also be based upon the collective strength of the resources available.Connecting these (potential) strengths with the opportunities on the marketplace is a key driver for HCM.

HCM strategy is about discovering, cherishing and developing the philosophy and signature processes for long-term talent focus. With continuous change and digital disruption, HR role these days is of talent enabling, facilitating, and collaborating to leverage opportunities and maximize investments. There is always a delicate balance to be achieved between corporate, business line and individual perspectives. In the end, business as a whole is all working towards achieving the same goal, managing change on a larger scale based on strong business imperatives and a sense of joint responsibility across the organization. People make a difference, as well as quality relationships

HCM strategy needs to be Agile and resilient. Because the digital world is VUCA, short-term guesses must be tested and revised more often, more quickly. The results of each test should be put into a management feedback loop to see if results are aligned to and supportive of longer-term talent strategy. It's less risky to fail quickly and recover quickly. Managing strategy in the short-term is analogous to agile software development methods or crowd-sourcing beta products and rapidly incorporating feedback in product revisions; it is very iterative. The talent strategy needs to be agile and resilient enough to accommodate fast cycles of strategy evolution. If the human capital management framework is perceived as too cumbersome to operate and to lag strategy cycles, then HR justifiably earns the 'irrelevancy' anchor to wear around its neck.

The HCM strategy may also involve the development of performance and capability framework.  It is also important to tie-in HCM strategies to the Capability Maturity Level of the organization. The definition a performance management system is a system where the expectations are properly defined and the individual manager or employee can manage their own performance and utilize it as a regular reporting tool (empowerment). Under good governance principles, the development of performance management systems that are also reporting systems is essential. People management is complex; the effectiveness of people strategy depends on how it draws upon all the various HR/OD etc fields to come up with something integrated. And all the various levels or elements of the strategy that flow from that - be it an overall HCM Strategy. Many HR functions don't think cross-functionally and holistically and as such, can't formulate an effective and comprehensive HCM Strategy to align with  the business. Now, the available digital technology and tools enable the HR assets to be placed on the balance sheet. If the organization is using modern human capital management approaches, they will be able to plan, measure and manage the human capital more effectively.
From strategy on the paper to living on the strategy is a key step in business execution. The HCM strategy document needs to highlight broad strategy per talent management process, key components, deliverables agreed to the time term, main risks and control measures, supporting technologies noted and defined metrics. If HR understands this strategy, they can live and influence components within this strategy in their relevant sphere of influence, whether it is with local, regional or corporate business leaders. The follow-through from strategy to well-defined operational guidelines and buy-in of suitably equipped people in HR infrastructure is the key to moving from a strategy on paper to living on the strategy. In many ways that are perhaps the most productive part - the strategy that comes out of it more like the icing on the cake. The more that dialogue to develop mutual understanding between HCM and business occurs the better!

Once the holistic HCM strategy are well defined with all key strategic players, everyone knows exactly what is the recommended or agreed processes and the interdependencies of contributions becomes clear, the talent management leaders or managers will gain the level of expertise to get into the heart and mind of their digital business, to play the connecting role in bridging the weakest, but the most critical link in the business-People. A well-defined HCM strategy distinguishes actions to guarantee your workforce consists of the right people with the right skills in the right roles at that right time and are supported with the right tools to achieve your business priorities.