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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does the Business or the World Really Want Transformational Leader?

Transformational leadership is based on vision, to connect dots into the future.

We live at a time when organizational longevity has never been shorter and leaders have been born with a limited life span. There’s a tough choice for leadership practice facing in business and society as well: do you prefer transactional leaders who care about the short term result or shall you advocate transformational leaders who articulate long-term vision and direction? Do you think that the majority of transformational leaders are "nuts," what do you mean? Do you see these as positive character traits that transformational leaders should have? In your experience interacting with transformational leaders who were "nuts," do you feel that they articulated the vision adequately? Do you have a positive experience with them? Are you willing and able to implement the changes they proposed? How often are you persuaded to support the changes they proposed? Put simply, does the business or the world really want transformational leaders?

Transformational leadership is based on vision, to connect dots into the future: Transformational leaders reject conventional structure and thought without apology. Operational managers reject them and fight against them because it is risky. It is true that individuals who try to effect significant change usually face opposition and skepticism. This opposition often stems from a fair of the unknown. That's why the skill of persuasion and the ability to effectively communicate new ideas in ways that the average person can grasp is so critical in transformational leadership. The questions that we need to ask ourselves when facing push-back against the change we are seeking to implement is: Are the skeptics failing to see the idea? Or am I failing to communicate the idea in ways that the skeptic can understand and buy-in to the concept? It is easy to say all the right things, but when it actually comes to making the hard choices that will deliver the changes they say they want, the organization does not have the “intestinal fortitude” to actually deliver.  The challenge is even more fundamental than transformational leadership. It is the operational mindset that enables leaders to be successful and the belief that that Business-as-Usual (BAU) mindset can deliver change as well. Therefore, transformational leaders are seen as trying to crack an egg with a sledgehammer.

The transformational leaders are called “craze one,’ which is a compliment from an innovation perspective: People usually call others crazy when they don't understand them. To be a transformational leader does not require one to abandon the realm of reason, logic, and research. It is true that often times, individual and organizational transformation require a shift in thinking and decision making in order to produce improved results individually and corporately. While the shift in thinking and decision making may be novel to most of the individuals or to organizational leaders, the idea may be founded on strong research and experience, and even good common sense. Hence, transformational leadership requires the person leading the transformation to woo and persuade other key stakeholders to come along with him/her on a nerve-racking but significantly rewarding and invigorating venture. A better solution is to communicate the new vision in ways that are understandable to most and to figure out the most effective way to achieve the goal. If the goal is to implement a transformational change and the change requires a certain number of individuals to achieve the goal, then figure out ways to get those key individuals to buy-in to the idea. To borrow a phrase from Jim Collins: Get the right people on the bus.

The transformational leaders need to have strategic intelligence, the interrelated set of skills--foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating, etc. Transformational leaders tend to be quicker to recognize and potentially impact the social or economic change in very early stages. Transformational leaders see beyond the conventionally perceived barriers and head toward a goal because they know the goal is achievable. The problem followers face is how to determine who is truly transformational and knows how to get there. The true transformational leadership requires the leader to have a deep understanding of themselves, and be conscious of the impact they are having on others. Effective transformational leaders will strike a balance between taking people outside of their comfort zones whilst building confidence that the change is desirable and achievable. This takes time and resilience..... The art is to create a burning ambition rather than a burning platform.

Transformational leaders can see beyond conventional boundaries. Transformational leaders perhaps propose ideas ahead of their time or intend to fill the gap when people’s mindsets lag behind the era in which they live in. Transformational leaders are leaders who are driven (almost to obsess) by a purpose bigger than themselves and, in the moment, not obvious to most people. There are transformational concepts that may be seen by a majority as a departure from logic. This does not mean that the concept is crazy; neither does it mean that those who reject the new idea are ignorant hermits. It could be that the idea is proposed ahead of its time, or the “mainstream” mindsets lag behind the contemporary era we live in. And, often, the time needs to be right for change to occur. In situations like these where the ideas of a transformational leader are viewed by the conventional populous as conceptualizations that are void of reason or logic, it is the duty of the transformational leader to demonstrate the need to depart from conventional thinking and into the realm of the "on-known." This is where pilot testing and research comes in. And this is the very reason transformational leaders have to step into the void to bridge the gaps.

Transformational leadership styles have different dimensions: Inspirational, Game-changing,  Intellectual stimulation, Idealized. There are transformational leaders who dare to believe they can do what conventional wisdom says is either impossible or so improbable, things that only the truly "touched" would do. Transformation is all about growing and we all know how much most people embrace that. Could transformational leadership be a quality that exists within an organization such that it permeates every position and individual? Could the very culture of an organization define settling for a solid, predictable past as unacceptable? Could excellence be an unattainable goal that comes to life only at the moment, one moment at a time? If culture is not ready, perhaps there are the types that may start in an organization but cannot survive within its constraints. These transformational leaders break out and find avenues to create transformation. Many become entrepreneurs and or consultants. 

Transformational leaders are not only inspirational but also systematic. Many organizations today develop systems of management and performance which are designed to make the individuals replaceable or at least to minimize the cost of replacing the individual (employee). The logic and wisdom behind systems management are solid, however, it has ripple effects that can put a lid on the organization’s effectiveness. An effective leader is someone who improves the overall effectiveness of a person or an organization. In order to do that, a leader has to gain the trust of a person or organization so they can take ownership of its weaknesses and to begin the necessary changes to become more effective, and most people are capable of transforming well beyond the capacity they currently believe they have. However, what many leaders often fail when constructing transformation is the need to design real transformative change at the individual, relational, and systemic levels simultaneously. Programmatic approaches often focus on just one - coaching the leader, building the teams, or changing the culture or designing the organization. Transformational change sticks when the leader guides all three domains simultaneously and engages the whole organization on the journey.

Transformational leadership is the higher-level digital leadership, history has shown us that transformational leaders place a high value on human being within their organization. The world will always need transformational leaders because it is only failing that you achieve experience and later success. In reality, most transformational leaders are not recognized until well after momentum has been established and the risk of recognition is much lower. Still, transformational leadership is the sunshine to brighten the future.

Complexity vs. Innovation

In business, complexity both drives innovation and also hinders it.

Complexity is like energy. In the biosphere, for example, the "life potential" of a species is proportional to its complexity. Its fitness is proportional to its complexity. This is why the biological evolution is equivalent to an increase in complexity because this means an increase in functionality, which, in turn, means the ability to better cope with the uncertainties of a constantly changing environment, however, simplicity is ultimate sophistication, does complexity drive or hinder innovation?

In business, complexity both drives innovation and also hinders it. When a business becomes overly complex and people get frustrated and annoyed by not being able to accomplish things easily, this drives the search for simpler concepts and methods, which is the need to take the innovative initiative. At the same time, however, over-complexity in a business may be hiding simple and innovative ways to achieve things because the people involved just don't get the time to step back from the complexity and hence, they continue to follow the old routine to do the things, lack of the out of box creativity.

Look at complexity in different lenses. There are at least two ways to look at complexity - the first is to try to analyze what the impact of complexity is on a system (a process, business, economy) - the second is to look for the impact of removing some of the complexity (by simplification). For instance, in business we can see this complexity in terms of the useless time of the staff, and so on. Spare time is energy (a capability to provide work), that can be dedicated to getting the news from the internet or to talk to a colleague about the competencies of the boss (increasing the entropy of the system) instead of making other useful tasks. This kind of complexity is hindering innovation. However, there are needed complexities such as design complexity that competitors cannot imitate easily; or the collaboration complexity that makes people more productive and business agiler to adapt to the changes. Usually, innovation either through need seeker or technology driver is the key factors to weave such complexity in order.

Manage complexity in structural ways. A lot depends on having someone in the business who recognizes that complexity is a problem and looks for solutions to this. Functionality implies the capability to make work (a classic definition of energy), then complexity can be seen directly as energy. In order to make new things you will need additional functionality (that depends on new staff, funds, and other resources), or to turn old functions into new ones. New functions can be simpler than old ones, but be more innovative.  Some reactions can be spontaneous and release energy under certain conditions. With innovation, we are modifying the product and processes of the business but if mass-energy must be kept, a simpler structure will produce extra complexity (due to the useless resources) and the surplus must be released. When we are talking about a simpler business we expect that the extra complexity will be always released out of the organization.

The business is complex, the people are complex, and the world is complex, there’s no such thing as absolute good or bad, you just need to have the special eyes to discern it; the system mind to untangle it and the strategy to manage innovation portfolio out of complexity more effectively.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is CIO the Leader to Mind the Gap between the Age of Industry and the Era of Digitalization

A Bridging-like CIO  has the mind to think via the multidimensional lens, has the gut to innovate fearlessly; has the strategy to lead wisely and has the skill to move progressively. 

Most of the C-level executives including CIOs are transactional leaders who keep the light on and focus on the short term quarterly result. Now we are approaching the inflection point in which businesses are facing accelerating changes and can be disrupted even overnight, which CIO shall you become the transactional CIO to keep your hands busy, or the senior advisor style to spend more time on leveraging business strategy? Are you a gatekeeper to control the legacy IT system and continue to live in industrial silos, or are you the digital pioneer and Chief Innovation Officer to bridge the age of industry and the era of digitalization?

CIOs need to be the change agent to step into the void of digital leadership: Most CIOs do not realize that they are change agents in their daily functions. It is an inevitable journey even though it is not often recognized. So how do CIOs make an impact on the C-Suite to persuade them about the potential IT can make for their business, either be disrupted, or become the digital disrupter? IT also plays a significant role in shaping organization’s culture through applying the latest technologies to empower employees working more creatively and productively, and enable cross-functional communication and collaboration; CIOs as the change agent can also scale up the agile manifesto, to improve value-added project success rate across the organizations, and advocate customer-centricity relentlessly. 

The “I” in CIO’s title represents more as INNOVATION: Innovation is certainly messy but would you agree that it is a key requirement in IT given all the moving parts and strategic changes that happen in business, IT must become the business’s innovation engine because it’s always one of the most critical ingredients in building business’s differentiate capabilities and improving organizational level maturity. Innovation is squishy. We hear so many people say, "we need to be innovative." Or we need to create a culture of innovation. Then - the field dwindles when the discussion comes to "how." People that step out and take actions to drive disruption are needed - and often lead to new products and services that are considered innovative. We don't have a choice on innovation. We can choose to direct it rather than just let it happen. And it can happen in so many ways that you can hardly miss. IT has so many issues to tackle. But one constant continues to haunt "innovation" and its "value." The ultimate innovation isn't what you do; it's what you deliver for results. 

It’s not lack of innovators, but the lack of the eyes to recognize them and lack of guts to empower them. The right talent may not be easy to get on the “bus” due to the traditional talent recruiting practices and culture of risk avoidance. In searching for CIOs, the act of identifying innovators is discouraged, CxOs will tell you that innovators are "too technical" for the boardroom, and then tell you how ineffective their chosen CIOs are. Innovation is messy, inconvenient, hard to quantify and seemingly random, none of which plays well in the boardroom. Great CIOs exist, but with traditional recruiting practices, they just aren't getting the job smoothly.

 A common challenge for many CIOs seems to be learning the progressive skills. Innovation is crucial; however, it can't be done at the expense of keeping the operations running and progressing. Humanity had long figured out how to represent complex, real-world objects in symbolic languages, including those with only two elements (people and process) before the modern computer were conceptualized. Driving digital change isn't always sexy or groundbreaking. It involves hiring/firing for the right talent, setting up the crucibles to allow for greater innovation within the teams that are close to the product development/ marketing/sales/ distribution teams. Collaborating strategically across lines of business, understanding and speaking as a business executive (not just a technology executive), while having the technical chops and understanding to keep the organization moving are all required - plus that something more that is often hard to put your finger on.

A bridging-like CIO adds business value for digital transformation: The choice of what would deliver value requires an understanding of the business. CIOs will get a lot more respect when they start showing themselves capable of translating business requirements into business results. The company is growing but is currently strapped for capital, shall you invest in tools to get more utilization out of the current base, or just cut the budget? One is easy (cut), one is harder (utilization), but utilization allows your business to grow and requires positive action. Is that innovative? It sure can be. Innovation is not an end, it's a means to the end.

CIOs are in the unique position to oversee the business, they need to have the portfolio of skills to lead the digital transformation, change and innovation are certainly significant, and the CIO's real challenge is how do you move the ‘needle’ forward, and really mind the digital gap to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation.

Is Creativity only Achieved via Diversity

Diversity is the engine for creativity and a facilitator for merging building blocks of new ideas. 

The world is hyper-connected, there's nothing in the universe that exists in isolation from everything else, and certainly not a culture in particular. Cultures, as collective mindset and habit, are mainly shaped by the “mainstream” mindset at the particular time, need to be reprogrammed when it lags the era we live in, only creative and transformative leadership can make such shift. Culture is like the soil, the key factor to spur the seed of creativity. But what is the real engine of creativity? Is creativity only achieved via diversity? Should diversity mean more about the color of characters and the difference of cognition, than the physical identity?

A creative team shall have the cogitative difference and diversified worldview. Diversity is a facilitator for merging significant building blocks of new and existing ideas and concepts. It is an excellent engine for creativity, although it does not necessarily mean it’s the only success factor to spur innovation. It is important for a creative team to have people who do not have the same view of the small part of the world that the team is dealing with so that they can pay off each other. Do you find yourself getting inspired, challenged or intimidated by people of a different background from you? In a sense, does diversity spur new perspectives in an individual then? Can you always discover new perspectives and really valid learning points in work or any social community? Diversity in the people you socialize with can provide you with new perspectives on life and possibly work as well. 

It is situation-driven. The question of greater diversity bringing greater creativity always depends on what we're talking about. In troubleshooting, it's studied that diversity brings a greater host of possible solutions. But if you think of art it's not that simple, nor theoretical science. For the creative process artist often do as individuals what society is doing all the time. One example may be that the artist will play with changing contexts or juxtaposing differing elements. It may be the artist uses a juxtaposition in culture, contrasting diverse elements. Mostly, human systems (collectives of individuals) are living organisms on their own, different from the sum of its parts. So how collectively creative it depends on the individuals composing that collective and depends on the rationale for the gathering of people. To put simply, diversity can help bringing up creativity, even if not in collectives of individuals, at least as a way of promoting ideas in creative individuals! You never should refuse participation to someone because they are not like the rest of the group, nor should you bring a less qualified person on board to increase DIVERSITY based on their look, not their thought. 

Create a fearless and diversified working environment to spur creativity. The most important characteristic of being creative is to act without fear and let your self-consciousness express itself. Secondly, looking at the creativity at a group level and assuming similar levels of competencies and capabilities, would a diverse group of people come up with a more out-of-box idea/solution than a group of identical people? By generating scenarios where there is no one solution to one problem, but rather to construct an event where the individual inputs must compound and build upon each other - you can observe a creative result that was beyond the capacity of any one individual. Creativity can be enhanced by a team with members who have diverse experiences. It is important to have members of the team with diverse customer experiences and who have worked with different systems and platform and for both small and large corporations. In this case, where we are focusing on designing and implementing a specific application to be used by a wide range of user diversity is a major advantage. 

The diverse mind is more successful and is always going to be more creative as it has more to draw on. The first most successful societies were diverse mixtures of peoples. It has always been so. Ask yourself who does better, a small gene pool or a large one. Diversity is not an idea. It is not something you need to plan for. It is a basic reality of the modern world that needs to be better understood. There isn't even a great need for high elite performers to extract precious new solutions for some old and hurdling problems. Everyone is valid for brainstorming. they are bringing their existing experiences to the situation. However, if they challenge each other to have to translate/transform their PoVs into new expressions, then not only is the combined creative output novel, but their individual inputs are also novel.

Diversity is the engine for creativity and a facilitator for merging building blocks of new ideas. Creative people use specific systems to be creative, the emergent, the divergent, the convergent thought processes and so on. Diversity is always there to increase the probability of such a synthesis. Creativity demands the possibility of the wrong in order to be exploring in a free and playful way. The creativity suspends or defers judgment. However, it doesn’t mean creativity lack of the principles, the well-set disciplines can streamline the train of the diversified thoughts and the fountain of creativity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What percentage of your IT budget is spent on project-related work?

Keep the light on is fundamental, but investing on value adding projects is progressive.

IT has quite a few impressive mantras such as, doing more with less, doing more with innovation, every budget is business budget, IT is business. However, every CIO knows that walking the talk is not an easy task due to the complexity of IT, the legacy system in traditional organizations and the emerging changes with accelerated speed. From IT management perspective, what percentage of your IT budget is spent on project-related work? Also, do you see this percentage changing in future in order to manage IT more efficiently and effectively?

It depends on the size of IT organization. Let's assume that a project (at minimum) consists of a basic plan, schedule, and has regular status (progress) reports. This percentage may vary greatly based on the types of business and the degree of IT support, the maturity of the IT organization. Smaller companies have more nimble approaches, there’s high percentage ratio (50/50) of development vs. support. Even established companies under 500M can move pretty quickly. But they also tend to have 1-2 big projects not 50 ! The medium companies (500-1.5B) have an interesting mix. Most grew through acquisitions so the mix tends to swing down to 30/70 of development vs. support. Some better, some worse. For the over 1.5B crowd, it's a lot more complicated, 20% development joined by 10% refresh (making existing applications fit new roles) and the massive 70% maintenance.

IT maturity matters more than the size: Yes, size matters, but the types of systems have a greater effect than size. While larger companies are more likely to have huge legacy systems that require a lot of maintenance. Also, let's take the example of the $1.5B companies: wouldn't a percentage of the support and maintenance work be project-related? Certainly a refresh is project related? For the overall IT budget that includes, support, outsourcing and salaries, project spending is not easy to go above 30%. With the emerging Cloud technology and on demand SAAS model, more IT organizations are shifting from CapEx to OpEx, it has better opportunities to spend more on growth and transformation driven projects.

It also depends on the methods of budget calculation: some companies charge project work to the business if they are doing business initiatives, but if the project is part of an IT initiative, it usually has a 25/75 ratio (New project/ maintenance). It also depends on how you calculate the project cost. By "project-related work", are you including the staffing costs for the project? If a developer spends 50% of his/her time on projects, half his/her salary should be considered as a project related expense. Does that change the percentages of IT budget ratio?

There’s no magic formula to assign IT budget with one size fitting all solutions. The wise IT leaders just have to set the project priority right and focus on overall business strategy, keep the light on is fundamental, but investing on value adding projects is the way to improve IT maturity and enable business top line growth, it takes analytics and practice to run IT in the most efficient, effective and agile way.

Leading by Questioning: Is your Team Really Agile?

The competency of agile is to promote value to the organization. 

The spirit of agility is about continually changing best or next practices over time with the intent to do things better. The magic question is whether you want to see they practice change or the effect of the practice change. Of course it's the effect of the changes that matters! Now to go deeper, is Agile bringing the value to the organization? How to use the Agile manifesto and principles to drive questions? How shall you make Agile inquiries both from strategic and tactical perspectives?

-Why do so many people measure agile practices and team value instead of value to the organization? Even harder question - what is value to the organization and how do you measure it?
-If there is a difficulty with the context that makes it hard to be agile, would your first thought be to adapt the process, or to adapt the context?
-Sprint after sprint, month after month, are you touching real accumulative improvement and thus becoming better?
-Do they work to delivering features rather than just requirements?  Is quality more important than process, deadlines, or technical coolness? (It implies that the organization truly knows what quality actually is beyond freedom from defects)?
-Do they have a P.O. who is active? What would your Product Owner say about the team and its performance? Do they have daily synch meetings? (Stand-ups)? Are there frequent demos of working product? Do they have iterations? Do they have retrospectives? Is there continuous integration in some form? 
- Are customers (or at least strong customer advocates) frequently involved in reviews, priority-setting, and decision-making about the product? 
-Do teams work in small batches rather than big up-front requirements, design, plans? Is collaboration encouraged among teams across disciplines? No organizational silos? 
-Are teams supported with the authority to structure their work and forge their own commitments or is management required to make decisions and assign work? 
-Are innovation and creativity promoted and recognized? Are teams allowed to fail and learn from their failure? Are transparency and openness in communication and status encouraged or do teams feel they have to spin "bad" news? Does management value the truth or just what they want to hear? 
Is the team empowered to solve its own problems? Does the team think of requirements changes as a good thing? Do you get a buzz out of improving the way your team works?  Does the team value each and every team member?
- Are you enjoying the evolutionary journey that the Agile transformation is, how do you assess agile maturity? 
- Are you acting/behaving with agility?
- Are you delivering value every sprint? 
- Are you continually improving your process? 
- Are you improving your ability to work together and your collaboration? 
- Are you increasing velocity or have you peaked? 
- Are you considering your team to be High Performance yet? (rare) 
Leading by questions in both strategic and tactical perspectives, the purpose is to clarify the goal, make continuous improvement, from doing agile to being agile.

Positive vs. Negative Mind

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.  -Albert Einstein

Positive is just so natural when you feel the Sun hitting your face, hear the trees blowing in the wind, Wake up and take a breath to start the other day. Let go of the negative feeling and feel the positive all around you. Everything, whether tangible or intangible, in the manifested universe, has two poles – the positive and the negative. In nature, the positive is dominant and the negative is submissive. This means that the positive is directive and the negative is receptive, just as is the positive anode of a battery and its opposite, negative cathode. Philosophically and psychologically, what’s the difference between the positive vs. negative mind?

The difference between positive and negative is perception and choice. We have that choice each day to wake up to be positive or negative. the negative mind is mumbling around "it is impossible," but the positive mind is thriving to make impossible possible. The positive mind appreciates other's strength; the negative mind amplifies other's miner defect. The positive mind competes via uniqueness; the negative mind out beats others via unprofessionalism. The amount of energy expended for both is the same, but the results from the two are so different. The results from being positive are so much greater and provide greater benefits than being negative. If we look at it from this simple perspective, why would anyone choose to be negative? The subconscious deals with habitual acts that we do,  as a matter of habit like jumping out of the path of a herd of elephants charging towards you.  Psychologically, positive and negative, also depends on one's perception of a situation. In simple words when one accepts a situation; it helps to think positively regarding the next step as to what to do to manage the situation. Negative means helpless. Philosophically, positive thinking is something that occurs from experiencing something negative. Without the reference, we would not be able to compare one to the other. A frame of mind comes to thought, no positive, no negatives, not accepting the situation and worrying about without thinking of a solution.

Conscious vs. subconscious mind: The true potential of the subconscious mind may be limitless, but potential alone is more detrimental than useful when the programs carried out are negative. The second aspect of your consciousness is your conscious mind. It is also known as the objective mind or self-consciousness. It is the mind of your five senses, enabling you to consciously experience the physical world. Most importantly, it is that aspect of your mind that is able to reason. Given its capacity to reason and discriminate, your conscious mind has an incredibly important function. It is supposed to be the guardian at the door of your subconscious mind, ensuring that only wanted and empowering messages are allowed through. It is supposed to be the sole commander of your subconscious mind as it is only through the conscious mind that you can access the subconscious. 

To maintain "balance" conscious and subconscious minds have to harmoniously merge together. The conscious and subconscious minds are two different minds set up to do two different tasks the conscious mind has to be dominant, if they were harmoniously working together, that would be ideal to keep the mind positive. Only with the conscious mind in control do they function as they should. Consciousness is the very foundation of the most powerful resource you have at your disposal - your mind. It is the most familiar and yet most mysterious aspect of your life. Without it, you could not experience life. With it, you are eternal. The subconscious is an incredibly powerful program that runs every aspect of your life automatically. Simply put any thought, message or order that is given to the subconscious. The most important thing you must know is that it is subjective in nature. This means that it cannot reason or distinguish between positive and negative. Charles Haanel explains it this way in The Master Key System: "The subconscious mind does not engage in the process of proving. It relies upon the conscious mind to guard it against mistaken impressions. When the "watchman" is "off guard," or when its calm judgment is suspended, under a variety of circumstances, then the subconscious mind is unguarded and left open to suggestion from all sources." Only through a good balance of conscious and subconscious, the positive can be a dominant power to keep one energized.

Learn to abide by nature and let the positive dominate the negative. When it comes to human mindset, your conscious mind is the positive and your subconscious mind is negative, your inner mental image is the positive and your outer manifested universe is negative, and finally, your will is the positive and your desire is negative. This means that your conscious mind is intended to direct the messages passed to your subconscious mind for creation, your inner world mental images are intended to direct your outer world manifestations and not the other way round, and your will is intended to either direct and keep your heart's desire in place or consciously choose not to desire it anymore. When one does something consciously, he/she is in control and knows why it is done and one decides to do or not to do or do differently. One is aware of what he/she is doing. this is the ideal situation.

To be rounded in all areas of life, it's very necessary to remain focused, mindful of the present and consciously develop a profound spirit of appreciation. Then you feel everything taking its proper course and going into shape. The positive thinking is using the mind as an empowering agent to live one’s life as it shows up. Appreciation, gratitude, moving with change is what rounds you to be who you are and what you want to be in the most positive way.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is IT Benchmarking valuable or a Waste?

Metrification for its own sake goes way beyond useless. It's actively detrimental.
Many organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on benchmarking, the results came back and then there was the "So What and Who Cares" response. Is Benchmarking valuable or a waste?

It can go either way; metrics can be useful, or they can be a waste of time. "If you're not going to do anything different based on the results of a test, then don't do the test." (Deming)
So, before a benchmark or any other metric is applied, the proposer needs to specifically state what actions will be taken in response to variations in the value of that metric.

There needs to be a strategic reason for benchmarking in the first place. Executive support of the initiative is critical so their buy-in to change can drive the better results. If an organization is not willing to change directions based on poor results from a benchmarking study, then it should be cautioned whether it is a good use of time, money and resources in the first place.

The question should be what benchmarks shall be used, and who you are benchmarking against. Every organization is different with different requirements, technologies, and workforce. For example, benchmarking a leading adopter of technology who uses technology very strategically against a laggard adopter who is focused only on cost control, won't do you much good, because obviously the numbers are going to be very different. Benchmarking often provides good data and highlights issues and it’s incumbent as IT leaders to use that data in a way that motivates and improves the organization. However, many organizations use it as a hammer to drive out the cost. It can become a demotivator to the workforce and cause organizations to lose competitiveness while achieving only a short term cost improvement. So the benchmarking shall consider the following factors as well:
1) Industry
2) Relative Size
3) Technology Adoption Curve / Strategic Use of Technology

A well-defined analysis shall highlight the issues and provide valuable insight. A well-defined analysis, supported by a current database of metrics and a robust methodology is best viewed as a diagnostic tool. It can be seen as "switching on the headlights when driving through rough uncertain terrain in the dark". As opposed to comparisons against survey gathered data, which suffer from the anomalies of averaging (comparing apples with strawberries), a detailed metrics analysis of variables, compared against carefully selected peers, for each service tower, can highlight issues and provide valuable insights...to the enterprise and to the service providers involved.

Benchmark can be valuable at both macro and micro level. At the macro level, the CIO needs to be focused on a complete picture. They need to be able to identify that for every dollar that spend on IT, you generate x dollars in profit and that is contributing to the overall company's performance relative to its peers. On a more micro level, benchmarks can help procurement understand what the appropriate cost of goods and services in the market should be to be able to stay on top of purchasing contracts. Benchmarking operational costs helps to deal with the endless tension in the allocation of resources between keeping the lights on today vs. the innovation needed to make sure you are around in the future.

Benchmarking may get used as a stick, but as a management tool, it remains popular for its value in providing insights and metrics to help chart a course....hopefully towards better governed, efficient, effective and ultimately agile business catalyzed by IT and achieve a more tangible high-performing result.

Why does HR struggle to be strategic?

HR needs to be strategic because it is an “official steward” to manage the most invaluable asset -People.
Digital is the age of people, both customer centricity and employee engagement is important for organization’s long term growth and digital transformation. However, historically HR professionals have been charged with keeping records and enforcing corporate rules. This turned them into gatekeepers and administrator only. At a time when the world of work is rapidly changing, talent management is transforming from managing people as human resource and cost to investing talent as human capital, HR is facing a transformation of roles, and they must step out of their comfort zone to become strategic in leaping up their organization. 

Most of HR organizations still play the transactional role instead of transformational role: Unfortunately, HR has a general tendency to support various myths and rituals that don't work in today's workplace. This must change for them to participate in a strategic way. HR is being shaken in all directions; some might have lost oversight, leading to being much behind on the requirements of today and tomorrow. Some organizations are now also seeing the impact of this on their overall performance results and the impact it has on their workforce.

HR leaders know people, but they do not necessarily know the industry that they serve or the business of business. To be successful at a strategic level, HR needs to intimately know the business that they are supporting, the industry trends, education trends in that industry to be able to contribute meaningfully or even directly to the strategic conversations. As Gallup reports, only 30% of workers are engaged, while over 50% are not engaged and about 18% total disengaged want to quit. Think of the resources that are being wasted, it is an enormous cost of business. How can HR step up to that table and talk candidly and strategically with senior executive teams, to think people as human capital and invest them wisely. 

One size does not fit all. There are several reasons for this- 
- not all managers/leaders have the same personality, drive, capabilities, aptitudes, attitudes and personalities. Each must adapt to their skill level, personality. 
- not all employees are the same. They have different attitudes, needs, desires, etc. 
-recruitment is part of HR, although often the hiring decision is not theirs.                                            -also a lot is dependent on the vision of the leadership of the organization and the value they give towards the people employed by the organization. Often this last part is strongly visualized in the value for the HR within the respective organization.

Lack of alignment of talent management and business strategy. Regarding HR becoming more strategic, an alignment with the senior executive team will be required to get at the table; although maybe a main part will be that HR leaders have more than only experience within HR but rather also have experience from other parts of the business so they can understand the business and the people to build together towards the mission in line with the vision and strategy of the organization. Leadership, and employee engagement, requires differing skills for different people, and sometimes they change from day to day. You need to look at the cause of employee engagement, not at the symptoms, at least if you want to threat it. If the leadership and management are engaged, they will enable the people to achieve more. 

People are the most invaluable asset in business, and HR is an “official steward” to manage such strategic asset, only via more radical digital transformation, HR can become a strategic business partner to manage people 2.0, also become a culture master to shape more creative working environment, and help business achieve better result via more systematic performance management as well.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How has Russell Ackoff's Work influenced on Decision Making?

Ackoff provided concepts and tools of system learning to overcome blind spot in decision making.

Russell Ackoff wrote a book with Frederick Edmund Emery about purposeful systems which focused on the question of how systems thinking relates to human behavior. "Individual systems are purposive," they said, "Knowledge and understanding of their aims can only be gained by taking into account the mechanisms of social, cultural, and psychological systems". Any human-created systems can be characterized as "purposeful system" when its "members are also purposeful individuals who intentionally and collectively formulate objectives and are parts of larger purposeful systems. More specifically, how has Russell Ackoff’s work influenced decision making?

System learning: Russell Ackoff's work influences on management and decision-making through his work on systems learning. He saw effective decision making when people looked at an organization as a whole rather than single items. That means the effective decision making is based on understanding relationships between activities inside as well as outside an organization. For many business leaders, Russell Ackoff's work enhanced understanding of systems thinking, understood organizations as marketplaces: People in organizations tend to see each other as peers, superiors, or subordinates - while in a critical sense, they are customers and suppliers for each other. Understanding these dynamics enables much more effective analysis and design of organizations. 

The dynamics of design: Developed methods that engaged the right people early in any design activity, in ways that "captured" innovative thinking and managed decisions and conflicts throughout the design cycle. Understood organizations as Socio-Technical Systems: people readily perceive organizations and projects requiring the confluence of multiple perspectives ("Business, People, Process, Technology") to make great decisions. While managers will always encounter significant discipline-based blinders, Ackoff provided concepts and tools to overcome them.

How and Who makes the decision: The key decision factor is how you frame the issue (to be decided on), another factor needing more attention is WHO makes the decision, in particular, why is it that in business decisions are ultimately made by one person, the managers or heads of their respective units? Given the complexity of the digital business world and given the fallacies of individual decision-making, more often than not leading to poor decision-making, isn't it time businesses moved to groups, teams, circles making the decision and being accountable? The fundamental principle remains the same, more often,  that boards (Ackoff) or circles (Endenburg) make far better collective decisions in business.

Focus on the value proposition: Understanding that budgeting is not an accounting exercise but quantifying a planned set of activities bridged the gap. Suddenly the question was not what does that cost but "what are you doing and why? Money was a language through which you could equalize activities that otherwise would be hard to compare, always putting the activities in focus. In addition, people seeing others inside the organization as customers. And the employee’s role is enhanced when you understand the needs of others, particularly from the value proposition. 

The good decision making shall consider both effectiveness and efficiency: Science, technology, and economics focus on efficiency, but not effectiveness. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is important to an understanding of transformative leadership. Efficiency is a measure of how well resources are used to achieve ends; it is value-free. Effectiveness is efficiency weighted by the values of the ends achieved; it is value-full.

Design thinking and socio-technical systems concept are important in digital transformation, and it should become the fundamental principles for businesses to understand digital dynamic and make the right decisions, the purposeful system, which implies both individual and organization as a whole, shall become more value-driven, Ackoff provided concepts and tools to overcome blind spot in decision making and helps businesses climbing business maturity from efficiency to effectiveness to agility.

An Authentic Mind: Grace, Appreciation and Your Genius Factor

The genius factors and appreciation touch all things. The life we live is choreographed by grace which is flowing from our heart into our mind.

Life is still full of inquiries: Doesn't energy follow the path of least resistance? Doesn't nature tend to leverage the flow while people more often than not endeavor to harness the flow to serve their own ends? Isn't there a very distinct difference between leverage and harness? How that would be a landscape maintained relatively effortlessly, with grace, response-ability, appreciation, and diversity, in order to create an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and thriving legacy of complementary of natural living systems. As an individual, who are you, what’s your authentic self, your genius factor, your gracefulness and appreciation of life?

Your Genius Factor is far more special and deep than just strength. It is ‘what you can do that no one else can do.’ It is your gift to the world. People who align their work with their Genius Factor achieve their goals at a remarkable pace, because they pursue things that matter to them and make full use of their talents. The purpose is the individual's goal that is knowledge and understanding within the "choice" made to pursue "happiness" through/with "love." When people understand their Genius Factor, they can be themselves in the truest sense. They don’t need to compare themselves to anyone else. They don’t need to pretend to be something they aren't. It gives them power that others feel and want to be part of. Without this understanding, people have little idea about who they are, so it’s little wonder that other people struggle to understand who they are. Because they don’t know what makes them special, they don’t spend enough time on activities serving their purpose or using their special gifts and intelligence. Also because they don't see themselves as great so they don't expect to find greatness in other people. The most desirable genius is to be able to draw out the genius in others.

Grace illustrates the tension between the 'good' and the "real": The word grace is overloaded with a wide variety of use cases (unmerited divine assistance, approval or favor, mercy, temporary exemption or reprieve, charming or attractive, sense of propriety or right, quality or state of being considerate. From our heart does gracefulness flow? That grace has an aesthetic quality. The original meaning of aestheticity has to do with perception. So add grace to Gene's, propriety in the sense of accomplishing the purpose with apparent ease and we are getting there.  Graceful resolution is one that achieves such purpose in a very simple elegant way and moving to a higher dimension. It might even be the colors of grace-to everything in balance, effortlessly at all levels. The context for grace is the appreciated environment-that includes all those relationships we cannot influence or control. Grace is a product when things come together effortlessly in a smooth, awe-inspiring way. It is not a tool or a model, it is an appreciative reaction. It is really aligning with the natural flow of life within a system. Listening to what's needed and responding to what can be perceived as effortlessness. The probability of getting that reaction can be enhanced by 
(1). Ensuring we pay equal attention to what we can understand, influence and appreciate. 
(2). Look for the simplicity beyond the complexity 
(3). Seek beauty in everything

Appreciation: Appreciate many things you do -read, think, understand, reflect, practice deliberately--not necessarily in that order. And below the surface of everything, it takes just a moment to appreciate and consider the reasons they work, its value, its history, its beauty in relation to its function; its beauty BECAUSE of its function, because what you can't appreciate through a historical lens, you can appreciate through its literary lenses--symbolism or analogies based on it, using it, or from an aesthetic or a physics lens, or a lens of how it functions in a society or organization. Appreciation of cognitive differences: Our differences make us strong. Embracing the diversity in one another brings the full circle of the connectedness, interdependence of life; uniqueness of an asset rather than hindrance. What one cannot do another can. Sharing a heavy burden gives one confidence I'm not alone. One puts peanut butter on a slice of bread, the other jam. The world is a melting pot of languages, religions, skin colors, genders, and the life journey has, but only one purpose, to push the human society forward.

Grace should be synonymous with appreciation. The ancient philosophy is all about natural elements such as Ground, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. Which is more valuable than the other? Learning is the process of ever deepening and widening the appreciation--of the challenges of achievement, of the complex nano-scaled signaling involved in digestion, healing, senses, thoughts, movement, interactions. Lenses, frames, paradigms, theories, and modeling--each is appreciated as well, and may access insights depending on perspective and distinction as well as granularity (include the various senses of the word). We can appreciate things by studying them, using them, testing them, needing them, discussing them. Appreciation has a creative aspect to it in that value is perceived through being created by the perceptive observer. The grace-filled stewardship "has a tendency to enhance the integrity, beauty and regenerative capacity of the living community it touches. Grace is the most appropriate way of being stewardship, which is a somewhat paradoxical mix of reverence and responsibility (response-ability). It is paradoxical because we can't control it but we feel called to care for it nonetheless - to create the fertile conditions for it to self-manage and thrive.

The life we live choreographed by grace. Appreciation and the genius factors touch all things. And it’s from our heart flow into our mind, we can come together in an effective way of bringing about change we want to see in the world because we live it in our lives. We discover our genius factors, we appreciate all good, beauty, and harmonized things at an influential level. Grace is then the dominant trait of human beings.... how gracefully humans act would add further grace to the system far and beyond them like the sun. The grace has many traits, in modesty and humility, be like the earth. In tolerance, be like the sea; in growth, be like the tree, in profundity, be like the valley, in brilliance, be like the star; in balance, be like the sunshine and the moonlight….