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, November 30, 2014

What’s the Magic Formula to Make the Right Decision?

The decision intelligence is putting together facts - own experience, other's experience, and analysis. 

Having all the facts to make the best decision is a utopia we would all like. But as the saying goes, if you don't move swiftly someone may eat your lunch. Technically, how shall you weigh in the data and gut feeling to make the effective decision at the right time?

Advanced Analytics (predictive and prescriptive analytics) plays a more critical role in decision making. Delivery of information is constantly speeding up, but sometimes it's not 100% what the decision maker desires and their gut-check (experience) must be leveraged. When analytics can really deliver actionable recommendations from the plethora of data, business leaders can begin trusting the analysis more and allow their gut to recommend lunch.

Gut feelings can override logical analysis quite rightly sometimes. An informed gut feeling is more likely to be working with more information and possibly even relevant and accurate information, and could, therefore, at least, eliminate some poor choices. It is still quite possible for gut feelings to override logical analysis, and sometimes quite rightly. As there are always some assumptions made in data selection and analysis, it is likely to be some time before totally rational decisions can be universal. Better keep an informed gut around for a while.

Intelligence is INTELLIGENCE whatever is the form. This comes from data (experience is after the event). All intelligence is putting together facts - own experience, other's experience, and analysis. BI no doubt adds to confidence when you take a decision. Ultimately you succeed from art out of science (data and reason). Sometimes the data reveals unexpected results and decisions are made on reactions. So visualization may help to explain the information to reduce that gut decision.

Making decisions is both an art and science. Operative clause in BI is that it supports the decision-making process, it's not supposed to substitute it. It's crucial to get reliable information out to the businesses that support them in their decision making. Your gut feeling is not always accurate. It is fed by sometimes conflicting feelings. The facts are the facts and that can help keep you on track. Also, the facts can be faster than a gut feeling to show when things start to go wrong, or just a different direction than projected or desired result. And it will give you a good insight to what you're saying no to when you choose to do something against the numbers. However what the business often forgets is that it also needs to be able to understand what that information means and what it may, or may not as the case may imply to their business.

There is no magic decision making formula on how much percentage of information plus how much percentage of gut feeling you shall weigh in making effective decision, Test golden ratio (80% of information + 20% of gut feel) for practicing and improvement, in today’s complex business environment, more often, strategic decisions have to be made via information-based insight and foresight, and operational decisions are also based on data analytics to predict what will happen and how to response to it. But in either case, the right dose of intuition is still critical in decision right by the right persons at the right timing.

A Neurologist’s Mind View

The essence of who we are lies in those brain pattern- how & what we think...

The human brain is perhaps one of the most mysterious things in the world. The concept of brain emulation has a colorful history, roughly 85 billion individual neurons make up the human brain, each one connected to as many as 10, 000 others via axons and dendrites. It’s the sum of those brain signals that encode information and enable the brain to process, associate and execute commands. And many neuroscientists believe the essence of who we are, the memory, the personality, the emotion, the thinking process, and even the consciousness-lies in those brain patterns.

The fun facts about wondrous and incredible human brain:
-There are somewhere 80-100 billion neurons nerve cells in the human brain. And the left hemisphere packs in almost 200 million more neurons than the right side.
-Weighing in around 3 pounds, a brain makes up just 2% to 3% of the body’s mass, but consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen and between 15% and 20% of its glucose.
-Brains also put out an astonishing amount of energy. The sleeping brain could power a 25-watt light bulb.
-The axons in your brain could span a distance of 100, 000 miles, that’s four times around the earth.
-The brain lacks pain receptors, and the brain’s prefrontal cortex is impressively resilient, in part because there’s a lot of redundancy in the frontal lobe regions.
-Texture matters –a lot. The wrinkles in the brain, called gyri, increase surface area, letting one pack in more memory-storing, thought-producing neurons.
-The brains, even the exhausted one are pretty prolific, the neurologist believe there are 70, 000 thoughts a day or even more. It depends on how you define a thought.
-Information travels through different types of neurons at a different speed, from 1 mile /hour to 270 miles per hour.
-The brain can scan and process complex images in as little as 13 milliseconds.
-The brain is built for navigation. Nobel prize winners discover a complex network of cells that’s been dubbed the brain’s “inner GPS.”

Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and creativity: The functional and anatomical organization of the PFC supports different aspects of behavioral adaptation in humans, suggesting its role in the adaptive aspects of creativity as they are emphasized in its definition (creating something original and appropriate). Functional neuroimaging and experimental studies suggest that the PFC, in particular, the anterior PFC, may also play a critical role in originality aspects of creativity.

The four stages of creativity based on neurologist’s research. Research Abstract (The creative brain--revisiting concepts. --Chakravarty.) Creativity is a complex neuro-psycho-philosophical phenomenon which is difficult to define literally. Fundamentally it involves the ability to understand and express novel orderly relationships. The creative process involves four stages--preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. A high level of general intelligence, domain-specific knowledge, and special skills are necessary pre-requisites. It is possible that in addition, some creative people might have architectural alternations of specific portions of the posterior neocortex. Associated with such pre-requisites, the process of creative innovation (incubation and illumination stages) necessitates the need for an ability of divergent thinking, a novelty-seeking behavior, some degree of suppression of latent inhibition and a subtle degree of frontal dysfunction.

Modern technologies make it easier for neurologists to look inside the brain and understand how it is functioning and growing. It is even in a tipping point where they can actually see interneural connections forming and firing. But for making continuous progress, you have to understand how the system works. What are fundamental principles, does your brain create your thoughts, or how do your thoughts stimulate your brain, The brain isn’t a flawless machinery system, but a living thing which not only manipulates your physical body and behavior consciously but also connects with nature subconsciously; It is still full of mystery.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How to base your new innovations on known customer needs?

Digital is the age of customer empathy.
For most of the organizations, innovation is still the serendipity, but being customer-centric is the ultimate goals of those organizations, so how shall you base your new product innovation on known customer needs?

Focusing on customer needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit: Shaping "customer desire" is a different task from shaping or understanding "need"; and making consumers believe their "want" is a "need" is a recipe for success. If you're going to innovate without knowledge of "evident customer needs" then "the things that you are good at may distract you to build something which can really increase customer value and help business success for the long term.

How to frame the right questions to get the best feedback from customers: It's tricky to find the right mix of open-ended questions to get feedback we wouldn't have thought about and more precise questions to actually get the customer to think of something he/she wouldn't have thought about. Shall you ask broader questions or shall you initiate more narrow questions, every company just has to take a good look at which information would be the most valuable to them and tailor their questions accordingly?

It is important to capture customer insight, not just getting information and understand it partially: The value of customer feedback is in transforming it from information to insight and using this to interpret customer needs. Sometimes we forget that customers are not that great at answering certain types of questions accurately, they don’t exactly know what they want until they see it, but they know what they dislike, or they can well articulate which features they expect from their perspective.  Hence, it doesn't mean you shouldn't ask, just how you should interpret the results, and capture the insight based on the information you get carefully.

The mechanics of gamification works to facilitate customer interaction and collaboration more seamlessly: Because it gives people a measurable way to earn the respect of their peers. When you are engaged with customers and invite them to co-think and co-create the outcome depends on what, how and who is asked.  A lot of companies claim they want to engage their customers,  to make them more satisfied and increase interactions, but the hard part is getting everyone on board and have a methodology to do that. The gamification mechanics helps engage customers in more fun, but perhaps more effective way.

Always train to take a step back, put yourself in the customers' shoes and think as they would like to have: After understanding of customer needs; you can look at the company’s technical capabilities. Innovation should come in a common area of technical competence, customer needs, and profitability. You might produce the most-sophisticated-in-the-market product, but no one needs and buys it. That will waste the talent and resource of the business. It will be easier to develop an innovative product in order to satisfy a need or shortcoming; rather than manipulating the whole environment and market so that you can define what the customer should need.

Customers can be very useful in providing feedback about future new products/services, helping improve current processes but, the true innovation in the product comes from allowing people free reign to try ideas, it requires a culture of cooperation and collaboration, of constant pushing of the boundaries as proposed in the discipline of innovation leaders. Innovation is a symphony which needs to be orchestrated via seamless synchronization and effortless collaboration.

Self-Awareness Mind: Know Thyself

A self-awareness mind continues to practice reflective thinking.

We are all on the journey to self-awareness; some simply have a greater recognition of being on that road. There are different kinds of leaders and thus different forms of leadership. The one constant is the need to begin by leading oneself.

A self-awareness mind continues to practice reflective thinking: Better understand yourselves and how knowing who you are and your own style of influence affect how you respond and interact with not only your team but also your surroundings. Knowing oneself comes from the practice of actively and intentionally being present to relate to, see all the different parts of oneself and how they operate. Out of this comes a beautiful thing, the freedom of choice. Once being mindful of the ability to choose, and not being bantered about by habitual emotions and reactive thought, the ability to lead in a conscious and helpful way is possible. No one is in this all the time, but the greatest asset is willingness and sincerity in this great endeavor.

Knowing who you are or being self-aware, allows you to become the better human being: Knowing who you are and how you react and respond in different situations can help you understand and improve the cognitive, relational and assertive actions you take on a day to day basis. Self-awareness mind helps you build on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. It also allows you to leverage that knowledge to increase the influential outreach for the betterment of others. It provides clarity, versatility, gives you directional opportunities for personal growth and helps you avoid personal deception.

Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and be aware of how you impact others and your environment:  It is crucial to getting to understand yourself and how others perceive you. Additional, carve out time with some regular cadence to reflect on what, and how, you have been doing lately. Set aside time daily, weekly or monthly and truly take a step back to reflect. Ask yourself questions that focus on know thyself and continuously practice on how to strengthen your strength, also not make your weakness become the obstacle to stop you from moving forward or leading effectively.

Leadership authentication comes from the good combination of self-awareness mindset, the color of the character and intuitive gut/heart feeling. Know thyself is the reflective thinking to enforce effective leadership and best practice to harness management discipline.

Three Ps in Corporate Value

Corporate value, as a component of the strategy, is built on 3 Ps: Purpose, Passion, and Principle. 

Corporate value is not just an abstract or oxymoron, but a multi-dimensional concept, from economic value, quality value to brand value or social value. Values are a component of Strategy, not the entire strategy, though. Strategy, in its entirety, must be at the center, and it is built on what being called the "three P's" of Purpose, Passion, and Principle. 

Purpose: You must understand underlying meaning behind the organization. Why do you exist? What do you hope to accomplish? How does this purpose create value for your customers? Your partners?  Your employees? Your shareholders? The "fundamental reason for being" is the purpose of the organization. Does it inspire? Is it something you, and your team, can and embrace wholeheartedly? The crucial next step is to define corporate goals in line with these values – and share them with everyone in the organization. Everyone needs to believe in these goals and agree that they are worthwhile. Alignment of values and goals ensures genuine buy-in, emotional as well as cognitive. Clear, well expressed inspirational goals also help to define *what* we need to do to achieve those goals and *how* we are going to do it. Our high-level business goals and their relative importance will determine the appropriate sub-goals in every area – and help us to plan the projects to achieve them (with roles and responsibilities, timescales, etc).

Passion: This is a critical component in that the members of your organization must have a passion for what they are doing. This requires a clearly defined and inspiring purpose, but it also requires extending that purpose into the 'real world' with a vision that everyone is on board with. If the vision isn't connected to the purpose, your team will lack direction, lack enthusiasm, lack passion! Values are essential as part of the leadership formula: Do what you say and say what you do. No "say-do" gap. The core values affect everything we do (at work and everywhere else) and how we do it. In a business, all the principals must have similar core values: they do not need to be *identical,* but if there are major differences in key areas, they will inevitably cause conflict.

Principle: We all have principles (values) whether we realize it or not. If you don't define the values that your organization will be run by and clearly communicate them to your team, then the organization will be operated in accordance with the values de jour. In other words, the pressure of a given situation will determine what is to be done, and how it will be done, rather than a clearly defined sense of right or wrong. Your sales staff may cheat customers to close the deal. Your management team may cheat on you to keep you "happy" and off their backs. Your accountant may hide the bad numbers from you, so you don't get upset. If you don't want stress and pressure defining the values (principles) of your organization, you'd better define them up front and communicated them often. 

Corporate culture is collective value in the business. Culture is also a source of competitive advantage for a company to have with a very special characteristic. It is unique, no one can imitate it. It´s just simply what you are, it is your soul. Our values aren't something that we DO. It's what we ARE. Our values are manifested in the way we conduct meetings in the boardroom, the way we treat our employees, speak to the barista at the coffee shop. Values are not a set of behaviors we put on like clothing. They are the driving forces behind everything we do and everything we say. Values aren't behaviors. Our behaviors are reflections of what we truly value in any given situation in relation to what we say we value. The gap, when it exists, is observable by anyone who is paying attention. 

Hence, corporate value or purpose is not just an abstract word or oxymoron, in fact,  the center of the organization should be occupied by a clear sense of purpose, a passion for pushing that purpose tangibly into the future, and strong principles that guide and direct how the passionate pursuit of purpose is performed. The "Three P's of Strategy" at the center of the organization. 

An Excellence Mind: In Pursuit of Perfecting, not Perfection

An excellence mind has the wisdom to strike the right balance between two opposite forces. 
A positive life is a progressive journey, from good to great; from fine to excellent; from important to significant, every leapfrogging takes altitude, attitude, and aptitude, and it all starts with mindset, is an excellence mind in pursuit of perfecting – the continuous improvement; or a perfectionism-being a perfectionist in chase of being perfect?

An excellence mind is to make continuous improvement. There's a world of difference between the noun 'perfect' with the implication of a 'perfect' entity and the verb ' perfecting', through progressive problem resolution. Like so many aspects of life, the key is striking a balance between opposing forces, each with its own set of pros and cons. Too little perfectionism leads to a rapid but undesirable endpoint. Too much perfectionism leads to analysis paralysis and no endpoint at all. Striving for perfection is an asset to the implementation of an idea while at the same time it is a detriment to the idea's creation. 

Excellence is more as an attitude while perfection is often a status. Perfection is someone else's perception of an ideal; it is often unforgiving and inflexible. Excellence, however, is an attitude, not an end game. It is a fulfillment of purpose and a more positive approach to life. The problem with perfectionists is that they don't have room for experimenting and looking behind or beyond the borders. So it’s limiting innovation because they are too involved making every detail perfect. When perfection is driven by fear (and it often is, the fear of getting it perfect and right), then the fear lessens the creativity. Only in an open trusting space, then creativity can flow. So the argument is not perfectionism that stifles creativity and innovation - it is a lack of discipline, confidence and not knowing what is really important!  

Excellence mind can cultivate innovation, but perfectionism decreases enthusiasm and slows down progress! For the works need a certain level of creativity, and whose creations and output do not require precision accuracy, you are wasting precious time striving for perfection. Instead, good enough will be and is good enough when bringing innovative, inventive products and services to the marketplace! Otherwise, one can get easily overwhelmed by the details, losing focus on the bigger goal. However, some form of striving for perfectionism is useful in production/process tasks and implementation phase, but it is not a mindset for sparking creativity, as it is unattainable and squelches innovation. Perfectionism can transform your hopes into despair. The objective of any successful innovation is to create what did not exist, to improve on what already existed and to solve problems. Excellence in all we do is something we should strive for,  to try as long as you don't get too obsessed because that is where you push yourself beyond your comfort zones – which helps stretch out to pursue perfecting, not be perfect.

An excellence mind has the wisdom to strike the right balance between two opposite forces. There must be balance and, therefore, all things must be done in wisdom and in order and the role of the leader is to keep the team on course. Getting a team working and performing sometimes means compromising perfection but not on reflection. The creation and facilitation of a reflective learning environment are critical to a team’s development of ‘next practice’ and continual improvement whether with customer service or achievement of targets. The "maladaptive" perfectionist is likely to be incapable of leading effectively in today’s ever-changing business environment.

An excellence mind strives for excellence in all we do include leaving room for risk and innovation! It is rigorous to allow for creative thought and action! The inflexible perfection can derail goals, squash dreams and deflate aspiration. It is important to strike the right balance, perfecting one’s skills and capability in reaching the goals and visions continuously, but no need to be perfect if it stifles innovation and avoid risk-taking.

Friday, November 28, 2014

How to Build Analytics as Differentiated Business Capability

Analytics needs to permeate into the very fabric of organization

Although analytics is at the top to-do agenda of any forward-thinking business today, still, most of them think analytics is one time project, not an ongoing business capability or embedded corporate culture, hence, their data are “floating on the surface”, not being filtered out and abstracted into the business insight that helps making effective decisions; so what’re the optimal level of data analytics success, and how to achieve it?

Managers need to envision favorable futures—not dwell on the past--no matter how elaborately presented, to impact corporate culture, analysts need to present managers with historical perspectives that enable estimation of favorable futures. Corporate culture can be implemented through goal, mission, performance tracking in top down/bottom up strategic decision; then analytics-supported problem solving and strategic change management can achieve sustainable profits.

Analytics needs to permeate into the very fabric of organization. When analytics becomes part of daily measurement and business action within business teams, only then it gets into the fabric of an organization. It must start with an inside-out view rather than an outside-in view. Don't do it just because there is a general buzz about things - big data, predictive modeling, digital analytics, real-time analytics etc. What measures are we willing to impact, by which teams within the company, how is it being aligned and therefore how can analytics support those business decisions is when it becomes a part of the corporate culture.

Analytics that doesn't help a business person make a decision is wasted data. Integrate big data into strategic decision analysis supporting corporate strategic decision and execution to achieve sustainable profit market shares. Nowadays, businesses are barraged with "data", but that's not equal to information. Analytics comes in stages. First data, then metrics - which are simply data combined to something meaningful, then models - which predict, then decisions - which act. Any organization needs to take a business decision through this framework step-by-step. Often, analytics providers "jump to the end" without taking the organization through the journey. That just creates complex, unusable analytics that get overridden by tribal knowledge because that's what everyone understands. 

Good analytics brings meaning to the measurements, by uncovering relationships between, inputs, effort and outputs. To be valuable, it has to do so in the context of theory about how the system should behave. Otherwise, the strongest correlations in the world are dangerous bases from which to make decisions. Like any other engineering discipline, look for something in analytics project, you could reuse before inventing from scratch; both in the need for a systemic view of a business (data science and analytics) and the difficulty in adopting new approaches (confirmation bias and experiential bias).

Take an integrated "top-down" and "bottom-up" approach: (1) Top-down: an organization needs a vision of being a data-driven organization, which means in this context: to maintain a single version of the truth, to constantly seek for better tools in order to have better and faster insights. It is more of a cultural challenge, if the technology and the implementation are good enough. And luckily, you have reached such maturity. (2) Bottom up: to successfully deploy quick (sometimes dirty) solutions in the organization and to work with agents of change, spreading the word and creating the appetite for more, and amplify the best practices & next practices.

Because businesses that invest in Analytics projects may cost a fortune in today’s competitive market, they need to see clearly tangible and intangible ROI in numbers and other key parameters such as decision-making, out-hustling the competition, how can they differentiate in the competitive landscape, Analytics should help in elevating the firms /organizations in parameters such as Branding, Sales, Marketing, Operational efficiencies, Customer Satisfaction, etc. If you want to speed it up – influence by changing the culture, encouraging the demand. It takes both leadership vision and systematic approaches in building analytics based business capability as competitive advantage and business differentiator.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Key Factors for Organization from Good to Great

There is no magic formula from good to great, first things first, doing these fundamental things right.

Every organization, from industry bellwether to fast-growing niche player, or even startup tries to figure out the magic formula from good to great, besides talent, what are the other key factors that contribute to the business’s long-term success? 
Vision: First an organization must have a vision that is well articulated and communicated through its ranks. Leaders should actively make decisions that are in concert with the vision. There’s also a collective belief in the organization’s vision for the future, that this vision can and will be a success. This vision should drive all decisions, both those taken by the leaders and their subordinates and their subordinates. If we all work towards one goal (be that increased profits, a greater customer experience, a more efficient service, etc.), it becomes far easier to achieve. Machines work best when their cogs turn together in the same direction. Though the modern business is more like a living body, only through seamless collaboration from each part, it can function at an optimal level.

Culture: the people in the organization must be empowered with decision rights relative to what they are responsible for. Empowering people to make decisions, take actions, and innovate is crucial. A 'fear of vulnerability' can appear if people are not encouraged to try new things or are punished for making the wrong choices. To avoid 'fear of vulnerability,' employees must not only be empowered to make decisions but trusted to take risks and given the support to learn from any mistakes. After all, we learn from trial and error. If you don't have the chance to error, how can you innovate?
Measurement: Effective Performance management is important as well. You can only manage what you measure. The team must be rewarded appropriately both intrinsically and extrinsically for their contributions. The effective performance management is both art and science, not only shall you measure the tangible or quantitative result, more critical for the long term, you need to assess the VIRTUE or shared VALUE, which directly impacts organization’s culture and brand, virtuous people, and virtuous actions are necessary for the business’s long-term success. Sustained business success depends on good virtues such as professionalism, positives, teamwork, trust, empathy, and loyalty, etc. You might call these shared values or a belief system.
Digital organizations today are more organic than mechanic, hyper-connected and always-on, in order to achieve the long-term business vision, they have to continue to refresh their collective mindset – corporate culture, they have to build the learning capabilities, empower their talented employees to make effective decisions, and measure the right things (both tangible productivity and intangible factors such as virtue and value) and measure them right (following S.M.A.R.T principle). There is no magic formula from good to great, businesses just have to experiment and learn, first things first, doing these fundamental things right. 

A Prioritization Mind: How to Improve Productivity and Reduce Stress

 The prioritization mind can spend time and energy on strategic thinking and focus on result-driven activities.

At today’s always on, always connected working environment, faced with ever-expanding workloads and endless interruptions, digital business professionals appear headed for a collective nervous breakdown. How to shape the thinking and action which can prioritize well, make work more effective, productive and fun?

The ownership mindset: The more opportunity employees have to make decisions, use their mind, and take responsibility, the more fulfilled they will be. To make this work, employees and their leaders need to be involved in the career enrichment process. People want to feel part of something great, and they want to feel that they are making a significant contribution to that greatness. When they feel this way, they not only become energized by challenges, they can also endure much greater pressures and demands without becoming burnt out.

The mind focuses on results: When leaders and teams focus on results, they develop the energy and excitement to achieve. When an employee’s everyday experience is one of frustration, failure, and defeat, they use up all their energy just dealing with the obstacles to success strewn in their path. This is energy that won’t be available for high productivity, spirited customer service, and a “Bring it on!” attitude when faced with big challenges. From a management perspective, have a respected intra-organization agreement of priorities and resources; otherwise, there is no hope of making - keeping the organization healthy.

A simple prioritized daily to-do list can work wonders: For longer-term items break them into pieces and slot in the pieces each day to ensure they get done. List in order of importance the active things you need to work on. If the top item is active, then work on it until you are waiting for something or it is completed. Then do the same with the next and so on down the list. If a higher priority item comes active again then go back to working on it. This simple list technique is very powerful for keeping the focus on what matters each day. If new items come up during the day slot them in according to their priority. This avoids giving interruptions too much importance.

The mind likes to have such “power of control”: What KILLS productivity, however, is interruptions that are asynchronous and out of one's control. People don't mind the stress if they feel in control of their work, When people experience frustration and defeat on the job, due to things beyond their control, they disengage: they realize that the organization will not let them succeed, so they stop trying, or they reduce their expectations. They start to view their work as "just a job." The way to prevent that is to empower them. The manager's job is to remove obstacles: have a frank discussion with the person/team about what is possible, and what you plan to do to remove obstacles, and identify which obstacles cannot be removed. Then empower the team within those boundaries. Have their backs, and let them know it. "Happiness" is a keyword against Stress, which amazingly is one's own choice, and results in the best performance. Management as a whole can make sure that it is helping the employee to be happy. Productivity will come automatically and hence, stress will be lowered rather gone in most cases.

The prioritization mind can focus on the most important tasks, spend time and energy on strategic thinking and result-driven activities, talent with such thinking is not easy to get distracted, or to be over-stressful. It is an important thinking skill for today’s multitasking, multi-devicing digital workforce, because they are more empowered to apply their knowledge, and gives them accountability for what they choose to work on, how to get it done, and understand the purpose of work, to manage their career from “just a job” mentality to autonomy and mastery.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Gratitude Mind: Leadership Contemplation in Thanksgiving Day

Be grateful to understand others and be understood.

It is another Thanksgiving day approaching, regardless of which situation you are in, there’re still plenty of things to thank for, the sunshine, the moonlight, the season of changes and the abundance of information, etc. From a leadership perspective, what’s the breadth and depth of a gratitude mind? And how does it make the positive influence upon your surroundings?

Grateful for Insight: First and foremost, leadership is neither a title nor an acting, it is the mindset of forward-thinking and continuously progressive actions that motivate others to emulate. It is the day to be grateful for insight and wisdom, which are the invaluable treasures to warm the heart and fresh the mind in ultimate level, to cure the root cause, not only the symptom of problems. When it comes to giving, one must take some time to assess situations where others have given their time, treasure, or talent to help ourselves succeed or grow. There is no such thing as a 100% self - made leader. Thankfulness and giving are the key ingredients to leading. The more thankful an individual is for what others have done for her/him, One should reach out and try to do the same for others. The key to becoming a leader here is to make it as natural as breathing.

Grateful for Guidance: Start with thankfulness and giving in yourself; starts to answer the age old question 'are true leaders born, created from their experience of their environment or can leadership be developed'. Both are two of the few things in life, that when given freely openly, build and grow to more than one can imagine. Does poor, unprofessional and ineffective leadership deliver positive culture & structure, happy people and teams, generate love, gratitude, respect & a productive, healthy society on the whole or just the opposite? Regardless of status, title or qualifications, unless example one sets in their (being) carries respect, and gratitude towards others, how can one hope to be listened to, followed, or respected? The Power of Gratitude in based on leadership effectiveness and profundity.

Grateful for Empathy: Sympathy feeds the hunger, and empathy connects the world. Be grateful to understand others and be understood. When someone is sharing a thought with you, do you focus on what’s been told contextually and listen OBJECTIVELY with an open heart and mind. Be grateful for those who can truly understand you, empower yourself with the ability to deliver constructive feedback, guidance & support to those sharing with you, and if you want to avoid being gossiped about or judged, best make sure you are not gossiping or judging those around. As a leader, what changes do you need to make, to see the changes you would like to see in others?

Grateful for empowerment: Growing and empowering others is the gratitude mind for leaders. One of the most important attributes of effective leadership today is having the ability to grow and empower other talent people, give others the right things at the right timing, recognize talent via wise eyes, and build trust via intuitive heart, in all aspects of our lives and if we fail to do so, how can we expect ourselves or others to grow, learn and support.

Be grateful for being who you are, as every life is special and purposeful;
Be grateful for what you have, though life is like the moon, with full and wax;
Be grateful for what you understand, because it gives you the confidence to move on;
Be grateful when you don’t know something; for it gives you the opportunity to learn…..


The key to doing DevOp well is to realize that this is going to make everyone change perspective.

With Agile emerging as a mainstream software project methodology and management philosophy, DevOps has also become the culture thing in many forward-thinking IT organizations, culture is the collective mindset, culture is the habit, culture is how people think and do things in the organization, so how does exactly DevOp influence IT organization’s execution and performance? DevOp Culture: Are you Ready?

DevOp is a mind shift not only in the way products are developed but also the way is supported; developers and operation staff should be in lockstep from the conceptualization phase, in this way specific needs required by the operation teams are integrated during the development of the solutions, automation, monitoring, performance, etc. Another key element that will influence how the product evolves is the feedback loop needed to continue to enhance the software.

DevOps, as a technical discipline allows IT to short-circuit a lot of the longer human-oriented processes and automate things; so instead of increasing the supply of humans on the supply side, which is never going to happen, DevOps allows IT to decrease the demand for the labor market, shifting it inward. Although overall DevOps is still in a growth phase to make corporate cultural differences, and there are unreasonable expectations in some organizations because there are major gaps in talent and knowledge. There are generally gaps in DevOps operations due to flaws in configuration management. DevOps is still being driven by the front office. The skills required for an automated and integrated service-centric team require collaboration and scripting (coding), configuration, application, and networking skillsets.

The key to doing it well is to realize that this is going to make everyone change perspective. Cloud-enabled it but the real change is that where IT (architecture, development, operations) used to think single-threaded, they now have to think multiple streams. So to lay DevOps issues solely on the applications is somewhat misleading. There are changes necessary throughout IT. Infrastructure, Network, Applications, Architecture, Sourcing, etc all will need some changes. The connection to business value is still an issue for all of IT to solve. For example, more often, infrastructure is well managed along a single dimension, cost reduction. And like any organization with cost as the primary driver, the focus is on avoiding change. The less change the more efficient you can become, but in order to run IT effectively, consolidation, integration, and optimization are all necessary steps in improving IT maturity.

There are also knowledge & skill gaps. For some entities, there is a lack of clarity among engineers who lack the aforementioned skills in agility that work to move the entity forward. DevOps requires use cases and architectural principles to support transformative technologies. When there is a knowledge gap then an enterprise is dragging the anchor effect impact. There are often information breaches when mistakes are made which leads to malaise and confusion within DevOps whereby QoS, SLA's and performance are impeded and a lot of finger-pointing. Hence, continue to tune the IT organization by questioning: What has your infrastructure changed to accommodate development? When they wanted a test instance did you fight it? How are you supporting their benchmarking? Do you help them assess the risk of a release? Do you review your capacity restraints with them? Have you asked them what functionality they plan over the next year? Have you looked at your SLAs and created a business justification.

Organizations create "DevOps frameworks" that are so complex to use; and the projects that use them lose productivity - instead of gaining productivity, and after trying it on several other projects, the organization abandons the framework. Very smart people create these frameworks - but the only people who can use the frameworks are their creators and no one else. And these frameworks are often completely undocumented, in the spirit of "test-driven development"

DevOps is occasionally used as an excuse for undisciplined behavior, so does AGILE. The logic steps need to be taken, especially for the large-scale DevOps project, so the project goal needs to be well defined, and responsibility shall be well assigned:
(1). Having DevOps consultants to oversee the transformation.
(2). Business analysts to translate corporate goals down to Development and Operations Teams.
(3). Integrated testing analytics, so testing takes place in real-world scenarios
(4). Change managers to work day-to-day with integrating the various global teams involved in all aspects of application development, deployment, and on-going operations
(5). HR to coordinate talent management with IT management and staff
(6) PMO to oversee and integrate all the moving parts, and to ensure timeline and quality.
(7) metrics to manage quality in the S.M.A.R.T way and the worst type of negligence is not measuring quality because the "process" doesn't like it.

The DevOp culture can’t be built overnight, like all kinds of Change Management effort, there are friction and low success rate. Still, it enforces Agile methodology and practices, it provides a significant opportunity to run IT in a more holistic and integrated way, hence to improve IT effectiveness and maturity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is agile an engineering practice or management discipline

Doing Agile is perhaps the engineering practices, but being Agile is management philosophy. 

 Agile is designed for customers. Customers are the focus, and everything in Agile is designed to support delivering more value to the customer sooner than later; increased ability to realize a competitive advantage, be earlier to market - all of which translate to success for the business. It’s a win for everyone.

Agile isn't primarily about engineering. It is about making organizations more waste-repellent. Many companies have incorporated Agile practices into broader based business (non-development) practices, from strategic planning to customer services. Hence, it is too narrow-minded if you think "Agile is an engineering solution to an engineering problem, designed for developers, not managers."  There is no conflict between true Agile and sound management practices. Well done Agile gives all stakeholders the data needed to predict when the scope for a project will be completed.

Besides managers seeking to be enlightened, the agility can be productivity multipliers by eliminating impediments: It's very important to understand the fundamentals of core agile principles which are not only in the spirit of Agile, but in a sense serve as a mature cornerstone of its implementations, they should also understand the fundamentals of creation of value, constraints, etc. Whether you have Agile teams or not, you still need to have management discipline and, if you prefer, leadership.

There is commonality between agile principle and leadership principle with three “I” focus: Interaction, Incrementalism, and Improvement. The principles of agile can be used by individuals and non-engineering groups as well. Agile helps management immensely through the power of collaboration, transparency, and feedback. Your mileage may vary depending on your degree of trust and discipline throughout your organization.

Agile is an effective way to break big business problems down into deliverable chunks to deliver value to the business at regular intervals. The role of the business product owner is critical in that you have a constant touch point on whether you are delivering what they want so that you can course correct as early as possible. It also inherently leads to better transparency to leadership enabling managers/leaders to apply levers to teams that are running behind or running into roadblocks.

Agile is a management philosophy. Agile is about considering and measuring human imperfection and the non-deterministic factors of a category of endeavors of which software is part of. Agile practice can help anyone or any group focus their attention effectively and take right action towards a vision in manageable segments where risk, uncertainty, unknowns and fast moving markets are involved.

Doing Agile is perhaps more as an engineering practice; but being agile is the ultimate goal organizations have to pursue, and business leaders/managers need to apply Agile principles and scale up agile practices from strategic making, to execution; from budget planning to customer success, it is a management philosophy to run a business and a methodology for problem-solving.  

Leverage "SMART" framework to Set Goals Smartly

Every measure selected should be part of a link of cause-and-effect relationships, and ultimately affect the growth and long-term perspectives of the organization.

S.M.A.R.T  (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) goals play an important role in the modern management discipline, what’s the pros and cons of setting & measuring S.M.A.R.T goals, and how to manage it effectively?

The bigger issue is that a good strategy adds no value unless it is effectively executed. The strategy stems from longer-term goals and results in annual objectives aligned with the strategy. Annual objectives start with the executives choosing a few key initiatives, understanding their interdependency, and driving them down the line. The SMART framework is helpful, but be cautious about setting goals which are really valid. First, measure the right things; then measure them right.

In order to set smart goals, all the people involved in implementing them need to be involved. How do you expect people to implement the SMART goals they do not know or they have not participated in formulating or setting? Setting and implementing SMART goals is a hands-on affair, it is not a textbook theory! If some are lacking skills and knowledge, then that calls for coaching, mentoring and training. People are still the key factors in measuring S.M.A.R.T goal in a smart way.

S.M.A.R.T goals are more as a guide based on meeting the five criteria-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. S.M.A.R.T goals work better as a post evaluation tool. Goals are the key to driving accountability, but what makes them effective is how they are implemented. The foundation is the management process. Coming up with 1-3 major aims/goals that everyone understands and agrees upon is key. Once you accomplish that step, it is useful to say "okay, our goal/goals are_______, now how can we make that more specific, how can we measure results, are these results attainable etc." having a goal that has purpose should always have first priority, followed by refining that said goal with methods like S.M.A.R.T goals.

Setting and achieving the S.M.A.R.T goals is the critical step in strategy execution, but do not think it as management mechanism only, ensure having a goal that has the business purpose first, then measure it in a smart way. Every measure selected should be part of a link of cause-and-effect relationships, and ultimately affect the growth and long-term perspectives of the organization.