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, August 31, 2014

An Alternative Organizational Structure

Digital favors the hybrid solutions-the delicate balance between solid and flow.

Digital is the age of options. The option to build business physically or run virtually; the option to serve customer via traditional counter or digital channel; the option to work in the large building or the remote office; the option to be the titan industry leader or the fitting niche player? How about organizational structure, what’s an alternative organizational structure, to differentiate from the command-control pyramidal hierarchy?

The delicate balance between solid and flow: Did you realize that the membrane around every living cell is neither solid nor water? Rather, it is a delicate balance between solid and water. It’s just solid enough to hold some sort of form and liquid enough to allow movement in and out of the cell so the cell can interact with its environment. This is the image we need for business, just solid enough to give some sort of form/meaning and open enough to its environment to allow movement (of people, ideas, and information) in and out. This "guiding senses" are a mixture of life experience, knowledge, and the willingness to look for the benefit of a group rather than individual profit.

An "octopus organization” - Octopus is on "building and maintaining significant mutual trust and long-term relationships. An analogy that makes some of the same points about recognizing the need for structure, while continuing to permit flexibility is the "octopus organization." It is a vivid metaphor because the additional complexity of the octopus seems to be a better mapping of real-world business complexities than the wall of a single cell. The octopus has a central nervous system and a set of strategic objectives--reproduction and survival among them. However, each leg is capable of independent responses to threats and feeding opportunities. This diffuses the overall objectives throughout the organism while allowing parts of the organism to respond independently within its scope and ability to contribute to the overall objectives. Thus, decisions within a scope defined by the central system, are made more quickly and, due to the proximity to the stimulus, more effectively than if the stimulus were sensed, communicated to the central system for interpretation, and directives dispatched downward. At some point, the analogy will fall apart, but you get the idea. Empowering, communicating overall objectives, and providing the right resources at the point of interaction, allows those best capable of responding the quickest to do so. Many people feel that they can not lead others or tell others what to do. There is a certain kind of courage and self-confidence needed to take responsibility for others. Octopus organizations encourage to build mutual trust and a long-term relationship.

A “Beanbag organization”: Like a beanbag, these organizations have porous, flexible walls; rather than the thick, impervious, solid walls of silo-like organizations. Like a beanbag, these organizations fit exactly to their environment, no matter how much it changes; unlike the silo which is inflexible and slow to move. Like a beanbag, the individuals inside are free to move far more easily to whatever shape their environment becomes. They can easily move to where they can add the most value to the person being served, unlike silos where people are fixed in jobs and silos of power. Most importantly, beanbags, like all complex adaptive systems, can emerge into systems that self-organize and take on all the characteristics of a living entity. This is quite different from silos or hierarchies that are deliberately designed to reduce variation and retard self-organization of change in favor of control and top-down, linear, no choices allowed, power-based, mechanical change and processes. It would be a good first step transforming an organization into a beanbag to break the silo thinking, to have positions or functions that need the individual to cross the department lines, to think interdisciplinarily, to connect the dots. Every organization has a vision and goals are set accordingly. Every individual has his/her own perception. A full bean bag structure may lead to counter actions because of variations in perception of vision and goals. A clear guideline up to bottom line will be necessary to avoid such confusion.

Leadership and management are boundary activities. This resulted in a different way of conceiving organizational structures which are primarily related to organizational processes rather than hierarchies. This reveals how organizations actually work now. The information feeds into the hierarchy with organizational plan and relationship structures merging to create individual and corporate power. Once organizations understand more about now, you should be in a better position to invent or develop new ways of making things work better. Information and Authority permit informed decisions / personal and corporate power. Once the Relationship Structure and Hierarchy are sorted out, the organization will be massively more competitive and well run.

It is an idea to analyze and observe how things work in organizations before suggesting changes. For instance, instead of ignoring it, you should examine the reason for company politics, how it operates and then start to understand how information flows in organizations, how it is tainted or how its flow is blocked. Negative company politics distorts relationship structures training and strangling information flow. Count the value of lines going to each person and construct a hierarchy of the most valued to the least valued. The extent individuals are valued above or below their management grade indicates how effective they are in their work be able to make informed decisions with surplus influence or how vulnerable and weak they are. When management ceases to understand or comprehend what the staff has to do in order to make the business function, it is time to move on, because all credibility in management is lost.

The emergence of relationship structure: Rather than try to change the hierarchy/organizational plan, perhaps it is worth revealing the Relationship Structure that goes with every hierarchy? The Hierarchy largely defines the level and scope of authority; it is not an information flow chart. The information does not flow well up to an authority gradient. The Relationship Structure handles key real-time information. It can now be revealed using a very simple series of steps. It wraps around the hierarchy ensuring informed use of authority. There's nothing wrong with the hierarchy as long as the Relationship Structure is healthy. This is formed by relationships and provides real-time information to the hierarchy about what's going on. If the Relationship Structure is well formed, every manager will have the information to make informed decisions and so will have the power to go with their grade. This will create maximum corporate power and competitive edge. 

The problem is freedom versus control. Both are exploited, people are given too much freedom to exploit it, people controlled are exploited by those given the power. Centralism and anarchy are both prone to those who like shortcuts. If your system does not take this into account, it will fall prey to one of these errors or probably both because it will jump from one end of the spectrum to the other without actually solving the inherent problem. The flattening of organizations is an objective of many new managers/executives. The outcomes from this are alienation and the perception of a threat. Neither of these is the positive feature of these organizations. Add the cult of personality to this mix and the final outcomes will be far from healthy. 

Digital favors hybrid solutions. Ideally, the two structures, hierarchy, and relationship structure wrap around each other to ensure responsibility, good information flow and the creation of power. 

The CIO’s Personality profile

Modern CIOs have enriched personas and unique personalities. 

Modern CIOs wear multiple hats and take different roles, they need to be both business strategist and IT manager; customer champion and talent master, so is there a desired “personality profile” for CIOs?

Leadership is an important part of the making up of a CIO. Can you make the influence on the corporate culture, what are your leadership substance and style, are you self-aware? There is a major difference between managers and leaders; CIOs should be leaders. In addition, depending on the company and role, if the role is customer facing personality and ease of getting on with people is paramount. Technical knowledge is respected, but when that is coupled with an engaging personality it is a winning combination.

The CIO should be a change agent. Most of the times, being a perfect fit for the corporate culture is not the best thing, just the best recipe for corporate stiffness, that will further limit the CIO's performance and results. The CIO needs to be a change agent who can influence the culture in a proactive and positive way. The substance of leadership is an influence. As for leadership style, that shouldn't be universal, rather, it should be unique, flexible and adaptive as every person is special, and every authentic leader has his/her own strength and uniqueness, and, therefore, one leadership style will not make it. In the context of changes that a leader has to be able to lead; the CIO should be assessed on the leader's personality and leadership substance, not just leading style...

Personality Test does not measure tenacity and insight. Good personality testing covers critical thinking, problem-solving, handling pressure, creativity, innovation, inventiveness, and communications. There is very little concrete evidence for predicting business success via personality tests and even less for evidence that people fit neatly into any of the hundreds of potential categories out there. One big drawback is, of course, they normally ask you how you think you would respond to a situation rather than asking others what they have actually seen you regularly do when faced with those situations. Testing is intended to be biased towards a desired personality type and skill set. Unfortunately, you cannot teach everything needed to succeed in high-pressure situations and first-time evolution. It is also difficult to measure transferable skills and cross-industry innovation - especially when there is a natural bias to select exactly what you need today (status quo) vs. skills needed to change for the better tomorrow. Consider the test more of a stereotype tool to assess the psychological preferences in how CIOs would perceive the ecosystem and make decisions. These tools (regardless of the pre-conceived merits) should not be used on its own, but as a set of criteria to determine a match for the role.

Paradox: On one side, CIOs are the Chief Innovation Officer, who can leverage the latest technology tools to catalyze business innovation; on the other side, CIOs must work closely with PR and Human Resources to investigate employee concerns about a breach of protocol and other suspicious activities. They must inspect the policies and management of the various teams to balance the governance discipline and innovation practice. So, in these aspects, we see CIOs must be reliable, fast-acting, thoughtful, learning agile, approachable, and trustworthy (especially with complaints). He/she must be far more diplomatic because he/she will be often caught in the middle of what people want to do, and what the policies and rules allow them to do. Also, as he/she has the power to change the rules, he/she will be under considerable pressure to make exceptions and end rules at times. So, he/she must have a strong personality and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth.

Culture, personality, technical prowess are all important: When identifying and selecting C-level leadership candidates for positions such as CIO roles, a critic and basic fundamental core requirement which is often overlooked and compromised along the way is the individual's personal core values such as integrity, learning agility, or trustworthiness, etc. These are basic simple principles that you will find in outstanding successful leaders.

Every CIO may have his/her own unique personality, but as an effective leader, he/she shall master of multi-dimensional thinking - strategic thinking, system thinking, complexity thinking, and creative thinking. etc, he/she shall embrace the very rich persona of the modern CIO, being both the business leader and digital technologist; the visionary and change agent, the innovator and governance practitioner…and beyond.

A Harmonized Board

A board can be harmonized through leadership humility, insightful business understanding, trustful culture, and learning agility.

Corporate Board plays a significant role in business strategy oversight, practicing business governance, shaping effective culture, and perceiving talent trend. First of all, the board itself has to be harmonizing and highly-effective. Do you think that Directors are by nature pretty strong and candid people, or what are the biggest barriers to building a harmonized Board?

The big egos can play a role: Some directors get "comfortable" in their role on a board (complacent) and let stronger personalities take the lead. Human nature makes most people think twice about raising issues or responding to inquiries when the topic at hand is unfamiliar. Some will not respond in fear of embarrassment while others will take an analytical step and look for an analogous situation to draw upon. The old adage of "Check your ego at the door" doesn't always work. People serving on boards should be willing to work together towards reaching the goals or bottom line of the organizations.

The lack of trust: Trust in one another's character and trust in one another's competencies. That is critical for an environment that thrives on useful dialogue. Not all directors can be or need to be broad-based in skills and experience. Experts are needed and they tend to be more narrow. Usually, jealousy and ego are the largest issues affecting board harmony. It is difficult to deal with correcting these problems.

Unwilling to work towards a consensus: The desire to not understand much beyond your singular area of expertise can also cause problems beyond things like communication. Some directors are hesitant to speak out when they are ignorant about what another director is expert about for fear of appearing stupid. Is the following observation true, not just of boards, but of human nature? It often seems that outside of a person's area of specialized expertise and competence, all they usually want to hear from others is the "bottom line." An example of that is most nontechnical people just wanting to know that IT is working correctly. They have no interest in knowing how or why it works. The solid governance disciplines need to be practiced through continuous reviewing by questioning:
     -Is the strategy is incomplete and or flawed or both 
  -What is realizable revenue? 
            -Have we underestimated the competition?
       -Are meeting the needs of our customers that have been validated 
       -What is our innovation index

It's more about the boardroom culture engendered by board leaders. It’s all about leadership from the top which sets the tone and governs board room behavior.  A board can be harmonized through leadership humility, insightful business understanding, trustful culture, and learning agility.

Big Data, Quality Data

There is quality data, but there’s no “perfect” data in Big Data world.

Big data has big potential, also face big management challenges, from understanding three 'V's: Volume, Velocity, Variety of Big Data characteristics to mastering three 'W': WHY, WHAT, WHO on how to handle Big Data.

First things first, Quality Data is the desired data status: By “quality data” –it means clean, organized, actionable data from which to extract relevant information and insight. To get this data, you must have deep domain expertise in the acquisition, collection, management and delivery of structured and unstructured data, and you are equipped to aid both in crafting a business’s content strategy and in executing against such plans. Here are a few more principles:

There is quality data, but there’s no “perfect” data in Big Data world: No matter how "clean" your data is, it suffers from the limitations of chaos theory on its accuracy and applicability to the "real world". You might have very clean data on your customer profiles, but necessarily that data is incomplete. The accuracy and compromise will continue to coexist across the span of information management. Hence, Big Data Quality efforts need to be defined more as profiling and standards versus cleansing. This is better aligned to how big data is managed and processed.

Quality data is like the Holy Grail, businesses all want to achieve it; but not sure if it’s very doable: Business operates in the real world, and the real world is muddy and chaotic. Organizations need tools that deal with muddy and chaotic data, not a focus on making the data adapt to somewhat weaker tools.

Quality data leading to quality decision: Technology obviously plays a significant role in the content practice, contextual understanding, and once you get good data, you want it delivered to the end-users, via data-feed, API, web or mobile application. Quality data means how to transform the clean data into the useful information, and deliver it to the right people at the right time and location in order to make the quality decisions as well.

Quality leadership is crucial to manage quality data: The strong leadership via cross-functional collaboration can add a lot by putting resources on this to support the business, construct a vision and hire strong resources to develop the vision and humbly take the time to understand the business, to construct the business intelligence structure the business needs; to well mix on how to execute it and for how much of the data can be provided back to the business. Many times, the discovery of this is the hard part to see not only linked to metrics and KPIs, but also back to continuous improvement and visibility of the health of the enterprise.

Big Data, quality data, quality is not equal to perfect, but good enough data to transform into business information and insight for capturing the trend or optimizing customer experience. As it is also important to leverage data quality and cost/benefit analysis. Still, quality data is means to the end, the end is how to run a high quality, high performing and high mature organization.

A Candid Culture

A candid culture is not built in one day, it takes innovative leadership, decoded human psychology and collective corporate habit. 

Culture is the collective mindset and habit, it is invisible but powerful to either “eat” your strategy or disrupt your execution. It is fundamental to influence on “who you are” as a company, your brand, and reputation. Today’s digital age is full of uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity, how to enforce clear communication and accelerate execution by cultivating a candid culture?

The innovative leadership: The effective leaders are the creative disruptors to break down the status quo in pursuit of clarity and simplicity. So as leaders, if you are not getting what you want from others, the first question you need to ask is, "What hand do I have in provoking the very response I don't want in others?" "How do I have to shift the way I see it and be it?" The leaders should be motivated enough to walk that extra mile and work towards change. Many leaders create barriers through their behaviors, verbal and nonverbal communication. Many leaders struggle with remaining in status quo. In many cases, it appears that the reason for the change was the outcome of "desperation with the present and hope for a better future". Does it mean that change can only happen when somebody reaches an extreme point? The effective leaders will build the habit of continuous improvement, enhance the cross-functional, candid communication, and make things as simple as possible, not simpler, as the substance of leadership will directly impact the business cultural agility.

 The psychology of human brain: This aligns with the organizing principle of the human brain. We experience threat and reward and neuroscience has shown us that bad is stronger than good. If someone has done you a "bad" thing, it's going to take between 3-5 "goods" to begin to mitigate the bad effect and begin to move toward the approach or reward side. The workforce had a history of experiencing threat from the empty words and aggressive behaviors of the past; they are not easily forgotten by the emotional brain and long-term memory. The thing about the emotional brain is that you can't command it to feel something like safety. The emotional brain learns by experiencing something over and over again....good or bad. It then stores that memory. The more you have a good experience with someone in a certain situation, the more that gets wired. The more that new way of feeling and seeing a certain situation or person in that situation gets wired for "approach" or "safe" the more that will be what the person feels. 

The atmosphere of candid communication: It is so important to develop an atmosphere with effective and candid communication. It is important to foster an environment where feedback and communication is based on reality and not simply what senior management wants to hear. This could be Principles based leadership with a lot of importance to the leader as role model and real benchmark to subordinates. Of course, this path would be difficult. It is worth. Which also means the leader is self-reliant and will make his/her subordinates also self-reliant. Though being candid doesn’t mean being rude or lack of empathy; it means to point out the issues or share the insight, but also be thoughtful to apply the good communication style and business manner skillfully.

A candid culture isn't built in a day; it takes innovative leadership and long term strategy. Change the culture is the mindset though you can’t impose the desired culture to your organization, surely you can follow the principles and mechanism listed above to transform your culture, and make candid communication and continuous improvement as the right attitude, cultivated habit, and your brand.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Is your Data Analytics isolated from the customer reality?

Big Data is the means to the end, not the end.

There are many big perspectives of Big Data; customer insight is surely one of the key arenas Big Data can make big difference. There are plenty of examples that show the analytics is really working. However, in many organizations, the fact is that the data analytics is isolated from the customer reality, what’s the root cause, and how to truly bridge the data analytics and business/customer perspectives?

The biggest challenge is to create a corporate culture that incorporates analytics into the decision process. The best way is to start small (few reports and few process) and engage in a spiral of continuous improvement. The results in additional revenue and increased profitability can be astonishing. So if there’s data isolation existing, it shows the big gap between proper execution and data storage, all those companies store petabytes of data, but without proper data/information management of that, it’s useless.

Big Data analytics is the means to the end, not the end. One of the biggest invention of corporation is their Great Customer Service. While the biggest impacts come from starting with the customer then building the data insights and business processes to serve them better. Most companies are so bogged down by the complexity of their own businesses and new technologies that they forget to think about their customers enough. "What is it that my customer is trying to accomplish? How can I help him/her do that?" These are the key questions they forget to ask.

The isolation in responsibility is the gap the industry needs to mature up toThe isolation of responsibility plays a part along with the focus of these groups on their KPIs and what insights and data can tell them. How can you give service to customers when many of their call center, data analyst, BI and so on, don't even know the product for which they are given service. The isolation in responsibility is the gap the industry needs to mature up to. While one arm revels in discoveries made through analytics & BI, it does not necessary translate into actions (or even data) for the marketing through a funnel that enables team members with "personalized" approach when reaching client.

There are still quite a bit of work to do in turning analytical results and connecting to the operational system. More often, the analytics team in the company correctly recognizes the customer value, but that knowledge is still only within the analytics team. The connection between the analytics and the operational system has not been made yet. There are plenty of organizations doing the analytics, but not yet have matured the process enough to drive the front end systems.

Focus on alluring new customer, with the ignorance of long term loyal customersThe business model ignores long term loyal customers because the model says that those customers are satisfied and will continue paying the company for services, many companies currently do not care whether you leave or not; their emphasis is on using marketing, advertising, data analytics to entice new customers to pay for their services. There're analytics gaps need to be filled out for delighting the current customers as well.

Lack of incentive to motivate customer service professionals to take extra milesRegardless of how good machine learning gets, companies will never be able to achieve the good customer service with machines and big data as they can with one customer representative that owns shares in the business. The customer representative works with the incentive to do a better job in customer service than a machine could. This is the incentive business needs to really succeed in customer satisfaction.

Big Data has big potential, however, it shouldn't be grown in the ivory tower, it has to be connected with the business reality and explore the customer insight in order to build an intelligent and customer-centric business.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Insight about Quality Management

"You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make a dream a reality" ~Walt Disney

Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent. It has four main components: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance, and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality but also the means to achieve it. Quality management, therefore, uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality. (Wikipedia). 

About "international standards" of quality:
In Germany, quality means precision and perfection. 
In France, it is a luxury. 
In Italy, it is technology. 
In Asia, it is a simplification. 
In the US, it is innovation.

When leadership is combined with knowledge, there is quality management. Quality management is determined by the human resource, production process/service delivery, and output. 'Quality Leadership' is the capacity to understand and utilize the information, and incorporate that information in ways that inform and enlighten the management teams. Further,  'Quality Management' is the capacity to approach the change of system or process creatively and inspire support to develop and achieve milestones and goals across teams. The highly functional HR teams bring forward leadership training and enrichment to all the departments of an organization, thereby raising the performance and the confidence of the staff and the leadership.

As a degree of quality is in everything people do and experience: What is required is clarifying the purpose and engaging all the people involved working together as a team to excel in the delivery of product/service, as quality management is to help them in doing what they are doing better, easier and so on. If the people aspect is taken out, and compliance (policing) becomes paramount, it usually fails. People/ human experience are what define quality management. Some organizations have turned the very essence of "HR" into something of a contrast from its very purpose and intent. For without human interaction, there is no quality. Having that stated, the principles of quality depend on the people employing them. People as the actors in the quality process determine the extent to which we desire to achieve quality. Unfortunately, money is often the driving force rather than the desire for quality. Hence, quality needs to be established at the onset rather than checking for it later. The bottom line is that HR needs to be focused more on "Human Investment" than acting as the organizational pendulum of desire. In order to get quality out of anything whether it is people or process, you need to provide investment, dedication, and commitment. Organizations need to employ leadership and cultivate a climate that is conducive to growth rather than using catch-phrases that make things look good.

Quality is not one specific department's job, it's the digital principle and a holistic management discipline: "Quality management" is like "change management" in that both appear to be an oxymoron; in which quality and change =process-in motion and management = stabilize and control; the process data is meaningless without theory and knowledge to understand how it applies to people in the process, explain it and continuously improve upon it. There are about 12 specific management functions in any organization. For instance, ~ Quality and HR sit on either side of Change Management in the 12 Sector Management Wheel. Quality tools such as PDCA, Continuous Innovation and Five Why's and so on, are ideal for identifying problems in procedures. These tools, however, have no use in dealing with quality in human systems.

Look at the measurements that are already captured; employee satisfaction/engagement, customer satisfaction, employee sick time being used/not used, injury on the job, customer complaints, turnaround (not all in any order rather the big picture), and the vine/energy of the people who make the company/organization run. Quality management means that finding someone who is not doing her/his job correctly. That does not mean that these individuals are lazy or any other negative characteristics. Then, the quality team checks how far this individual from doing his/her job correctly. The results can specify if training is needed (re-alignment) or this person is just not fit for the job. To win the heart for people who need quality change is to confront them with their fears in a careful and emphatic manner.

Quality Management is basically the fundamental purpose of serving the customer and meeting/exceeding their expectations. The rest of them are the tools, which can be used as the situation warrants. All the factors raised in the discussion are to address some of the aspects, which eventually influence the customer's satisfaction. The tools that are used by people in control (top management, middle management or supervisors etc) depends on how they perceive the problem, what they feel they are hired to produce (implying their KPIs) and so on. This can be the basic quality of the product/service, attracting new customers, retaining customers and so on. For example, the marketing people influence the customers’ thinking/beliefs in the product/ service. 

The obstacles to Quality Management: "A Lesser Category of Obstacles" to Quality includes: 
(1).Neglecting long-range planning 
(2).Relying on technology to solve problems 
(3).Seeking examples to follow rather than developing solutions 
(4).Excuses, such as "our problems are different" 
(5).Obsolescence in school that management skill can be taught in classes
(6).Reliance on quality control departments rather than management, supervisors, managers of purchasing, and production workers 
(7).Placing blame on workforce who are only responsible for 15% of mistakes where the system designed by management is responsible for 85% of the unintended consequences 
(8).Relying on quality inspection rather than improving product quality

Therefore, without human interaction, quality is not possible. How quality is defined and measured is crucial. Improvising a definition of quality management as the process through which certain characteristics of an object (product/service or a process) are achieved or attempted to being achieved. What does define it? The togetherness of theories, profound knowledge, processes and tools actually used put into action and delivered it, and the most important thing is you need to define quality as management and quality as leadership.



Inspirational butterflies flap the wings to make big Impact; the Dominos accumulate the energy to release the power. 
The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small.

 In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. (Wikipedia)

Scale: The difference between this two effect is mostly a matter of scale. The Butterfly Effect can start from very tiny events and spread to massive change downstream, so from narrow scale triggers to broad scale outcomes. The Domino Effect, on the other hand, seems to usually refer to a narrow scale trigger that creates narrow outcomes, in a few areas. We see domino effects a lot in politics or economics, or 'rolling blackouts' when they happen. On the other hand, a butterfly effect would be consistent with a small change in water temperature in one area of the ocean creating an altered weather pattern for months or even years in a completely different location, though a butterfly effect could also be a political or economic event as well.

Non-linear vs. Linear: Butterfly effect is about a space lag interconnect (not time lag). A small change in an entirely different arena causes a big change in a very different arena. Because ultimately all 'systems' are also interconnected. While domino effect is the effect of how a trigger in a system can lead to big change due to reinforcing loops within that arena itself. The Butterfly Effect is subtle, possibly spread over a very long time period, and almost impossible to detect. Is it possible that the butterfly effect is one of indirect cause and effect - nonlinear causation over space and time so more in alignment with the paradigm of complexity? See the butterfly effect as an example of inputs into a chaotic system, so it is inherently unpredictable.

Traceable vs. Unpredictable: If you could trace the input to the eventual output that would be an example of the Domino effect, no matter how big or small the consequences. The butterfly flap of the wing may be a necessary, but by no means sufficient cause of the changes. The adjacent butterfly's flap might have been necessary, but not sufficient for making weather changes. So the set of all butterflies in their grove and their specific wing flap times might be considered equivalent to the initial domino.

The world has been impacted by multiple effects, either Domino Effect or Butterfly Effect, with the cognition of their difference, humans can adapt to nature and influence the environment in more positive and proactive way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Design Thinking: A Useful Myth

The design does need more recognition as thinking and problem-solving process... maybe even a strategic differentiator.

Before it acquired a name, design thinking started as a rare activity that exceptional individuals did, it wasn't documented as a way of thinking, and it was completely mysterious to most others. Today, rather than being a mythological trend, the invention and popularization of the term "design thinking" reflect the emergence of an accessible thought framework, a holistic, flexible and creative way of seeing that anyone can appreciate -- more than a specific set of codified methodologies. So how to debunk such a popular myth –Design Thinking (DT)?

Non-linear thinking: At its core, Design Thinking is NOT linear; it is NOT the kind of thinking that got you into whatever mess you're in the first place, it is NOT dedicated to perpetuating the status quo, it is NOT predicated on following a method. There are different tools and ways which you may or may not use to bang away at the issues, but as soon as you start assigning rules and processes, you are back to linear thinking -- but with frills.

Outside-in view: One of the great advantages of design thinking is to have the outside-in view, in most situations where the process isn't producing solutions. The "methodologies" being put into the design thinking bucket are somewhat unique and previously outside of the business norm, but have the potential to reframe the problem which in itself is a pretty huge contribution. You don't do certain things in a certain order; you just look at things from a non-business-standard point of view until the form emerges.  Design thinkers aren't afraid to turn things inside out, look at them from underneath, break them down into bits and pieces, paint them purple and orange, shove bit A into bit B, all with no particular expectation that anything defined will happen, but it might be something else and that may push you in a useful direction. 

Loosen-up: Design thinking as a methodology, it intends to loosen-up business planning process (writing product/market strategy documents with profit projections) and legitimize less regimented tactics, open to a multitude of inputs and influences. Traditionally, business people equal creativity with chaos and overlook the potential for solving problems the way designers work - starting with little certainty and heading for the unknown. The recognition that some transfer of approach is valid and actually provide structure to guesswork is not entirely an unrealistic proposition. Solving problems shares a lot of ground, irrespective of different professional domains. The increasing popularity of this meme implies a mind-shift in our cultural thought patterns which is creating a receptive and fertile field for the concept and actually frequently jars something loose in the brain that turns out to be a useful datum.

Start with the end in mind: While doing actual work using Design Thinking, you must end with solutions, but you do need to understand that those solutions may come through back doors and side windows, or have perhaps been hiding in the basement. Therefore, always be careful to examining the *potential* points of engagement, rather than saying "first we'll fix this." Frankly, it can be a bit exhausting to explain the approaches to someone to whom such thinking is entirely alien, but it is necessary (usually). A sense of ongoing motivation needs the support of a notion that one has a hypothesis, appropriate skills, and tools. Often, this framework is simply a vocabulary of terms ascribed with the agency and a set of prescribed activities to formalize work.

A powerful myth has arisen upon the land, a myth that permeates business and academia, it is pervasive and persuasive. Design thinking is a practice; it takes a fairly uncommon interdisciplinary personality type to be interested in this approach. So at least in the short term, its usage will still probably remain in the hands of a relatively small group of professionals. But as going forward towards more radical digital transformation, the design does need more recognition as thinking and problem-solving process... maybe even a strategic differentiator. The trend globally will be toward interdisciplinary and systems-based design thinking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Three Benefits of BPM

The merit of BPM needs to focus on solving business problems, not just conquering technical challenge.
BPM as an abbreviation can mean Business Process Management, Business Process Modeling, Business Process Monitoring or Business Performance Monitoring. Wikipedia recognizes Business Performance Monitoring, Business Process Management and Business process Modeling, all under "BPM"- Business Process Management. BPM is indeed more strategic imperative for improving business maturity, so what are the top three benefits of BPM?

The "empowerment" of people. Real time feedback reporting allows this. Since most work today is a mix of structured and unstructured work, so it make more sense in talking about ACM/BPM/ BAM instead of BPM only. Having said this, with the modern data analytics technology,  it is becoming more and more difficult to justify having separate BAM tool just for BPM monitoring and reporting. With good BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) tools, you can monitor anything in the enterprise, even if you don't have BPM. Without BAM, the reporting available in BPM is backward looking and typically somewhat static. BAM provides real-time visibility into what is happening now. BAM and BPM are very complimentary, but distinct sets of tools and capabilities, and they do work in concert. BPM defines KPIs, process flows, SLAs and produces data which BAM monitors and reports. BAM would not be very helpful without knowing what the process model is and what the performance and business metrics are that we are interested in. Surely 'automation" was put in place plan-site so that it becomes a benefit of "Business Process Mapping". If the BPMs run time environment is a Case environment, it empowers users by allowing them to skip over tasks, re-visit completed tasks, insert tasks not in the template and record data at tasks that are not yet current. All of this, comes from background ACM which provides governance. 
 Insight – It’s definitely a benefit of Business Process Monitoring in that if your run time environment accommodates background BPM (Business Process Management) i.e. a mapped, improved, compiled business process template where process steps post automatically at User Interface, users get to see the tasks they have to perform (tasks automatically post to the attention of users who have the appropriate skill sets to perform these). There are two other dimensions to "insight": (a) the ability to visually track which sub-pathways an instance went through (providing the environment is able to "mark up" a copy of the process map for each instance).( b) the opportunity to carry out data mining on data collected. 

Simplicity - "Simplicity means people can understand what to do, when, how to fix, what to fix, how to react, who owns the problem, what the impact is, when we need to deploy more people and what people they are". The benefits of "business process management" (having processes, encouraging consistent use of these, taking the time to collect data, analyzing run time data from instances with a view of increasing competitive advantage) quite simply are the ability to do the rights things in the right way, using the right resources at the right times/places.

There’re BPM management tradeoffs between short term gains with long term business benefit. The merit of BPM needs to focus on solving business problems, not just conquering technical challenge; it has to stick to the long term goal such as harnessing business maturity, and pick some low hanging fruits as well to improve organizational efficiency.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How do Businesses Perceive CIOs

Competence, vision, communication, and enthusiasm for the business are superior

Contemporary CIOs wear multiple hats and play different roles in information-abundant organizations today. So should a CIO have the ability to understand the mechanics of what they are the chief of - their information flows and processes, the knowledge representation effort, and key additions from there. How do businesses perceive CIOs? And what are the arena IT and business can work more closely to make a continuous improvement?

Knowledge: CIOs have to understand both sides of the coin -both business and technology. After all, the CIO’s primary function is really about leadership and management, and the majority of people the CIO interacts with (on behalf of the department) are not highly technical. As the CIO, you must lead the efforts of the department, but you also have to facilitate communications with stakeholders. A breakdown in communication foreshadows a significant number of perceived IT failures. If IT doesn't completely understand what the stakeholders are asking for; or if the stakeholders don’t understand what IT is delivering the results will reflect that disconnect. The importance of communication doesn't begin and end with the defined project either, it spills over into all of the operations and strategic planning; crossed every departmental boundary and affects every facet of the business. You might say it is a pretty difficult job. The highly technical leader who can’t communicate effectively with stakeholders (and the stakeholders decide if you’re effective, not you) may fail in the conference room to create allies and partners to take on the business’s needs. On the other side, the highly competitive business leader who fails to understand technology is likely to fail in communicating with peers within the IT department.

Trust: CIOs need to understand how technology affects each area of the enterprise. You have to speak business terms by area, not the technology. So when they ask what time it is, you don't have to explain how the watch works. You must do this without sounding condescending and simultaneously create a level of trust which transcends that discussion. Stakeholders, even the very brightest who are excellent at using technology as a tool will never truly understand the delivery of technology and why should they? If you want to succeed as a CIO, you need your department to succeed and that starts and ends with understanding and trust. Conversely, without trust, it is difficult to correct course on projects because it’s too easy for both sides to start making excuses.

Partnership: CXOs are all people fundamentally, and their approach to problem-solving and collaborative working is what shapes how either of the CXO would contribute. However, at lower mature organizations, IT has been treated as the backroom and business comes to them only when they need them. But more mature organizations treat tech as their partners and often engage them in situations of no real tech need in the short term. More often than not, in the latter scenario, the best business solutions emerge that leverage tech to the most. It is all about how the businesses treat people as core contributors, and not only expect answers to the immediate questions but genuinely respect their opinions even though they may not be direct answers at times. The common goal of the business partnership is to build business competency. Competence is competence. Competence with a vision is a good thing. Competence, vision and an ability to communicate is great. Competence, vision, communication, and enthusiasm for the business are superior. People don't tend to follow people who say "this is awful, follow me." They do tend to follow people who say "look at what we might do. We have issues to overcome but look at what we could be."

BVDs: An option can be to leverage Business Value Dashboards (BVDs). BVDs provide a metrics-driven approach to demonstrate the direct impact of I&O (Infrastructure and Operations) as it relates to business performance and objectives. IT Operations needs to have KPIs that show how IT is enabling the business. Projects need to have business KPI’s built into them that track the stated outcomes to hold the business accountable. And the board needs to improve its Governance, Risk Management, Change Management, and Process Management. Businesses need to see the technology around us and ask "how would that help my company." CIOs should be accountable for the information and technology just like the other C- level officers in that command and control chain because of their positions in the audit practice for the entity.

Walk the talk: The leader of IT needs to focus with his/her peers by putting together a solid IT Management Framework that matches the needs of the business, have a supportive management team, and let his/her management team execute. All IT needs to do is “walk the talk.” And the CIO should have the final say on technology because they are ultimately accountable for failure, and they certainly need to know the business they are in. If you prove yourself and your department to be a willing and capable partner, you will keep that seat at the table and that is good for everyone. The quality of IT engagement with its company's core activities should not depend on who is in the CIO's chair at any given moment, but rather on the establishment of good governance practices, sound architecture, and effective processes to ensure good communications. It's not magic, and it's not circumstantial; it's the result of discipline and hard work.

The head of an IT department is an important role that may (or may not) be filled by the right person. The best technology can’t ensure victory. How someone or the business perceives you as the CIO is your own responsibility. That perception may (or may not) be fair or even well informed, but you must take a personal approach to improve that perception. If you want a seat at the table, then spend more time knocking on doors and offering to help. If you prove yourself and your department to be a willing and capable partner, you will keep that seat at the table and that is good for everyone.