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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

How to Manage Intangible in Business

Leadership, culture, innovation, customer centricity, and brand, are all the key intangible elements in driving tangible business growth.

The life cycle of organizations is going to be shorter. This probably means that organizations are going to have to get not only the “hard numbers” right, but more importantly, how to manage the intangible elements in business from the beginning, and for the long-term business prosperity. So with organizations turning over, new organizations and new blood will be on-going - the longer an organization is in existence, it might grow a self-fulfilling prophecy about why they are successful and quite possibly the intangible elements perhaps does not come into the equation, but that perhaps the very reason which causes the mighty fail. So how to “harden” the soft and how to manage intangible in the business right for growing into Digital Master?

Leadership: Leadership is methodical, but there is some magic in there. Leadership is intangible, but the quality of leadership can be measured at a certain level. Because effective leadership is methodical, it takes hard work and endurance, the tangible influence, and calculated effort, though it appears magical to the observing eye. Learning and practicing leadership is a methodical process that can be managed, measured and improved, not only via individual leader’ performance but measuring the effectiveness, learning agility and maturity of collective leadership which directly impacts corporate performance.  

Innovation: Quality of ideas is measured by how well your ideas satisfy customer’s desires and how much of the idea space your ideas cover. Some organizations introduce Personal Innovation-index (PÏ). In relation to this index, the PÏ will indicate, top-down, the contributed economic value of each employee (executive/management, professional/expert) in relation to their innovative initiatives and personal activities, commitment, influences, impact, and contributions. Innovation performance could also be measured in terms of its ability to convert the ideas that enter the ‘Innovation Pipeline’ into the desired output, propositions, process improvement, etc.

Culture: Culture is difficult to measure because it’s multi-dimensional assessment, however,  there are tools and techniques which can help assess its impact:
1)     Statement of values. - You create a bespoke unique proposition for each of your talents that drive engagement, productivity, and retention, the measurement will provide the proven link between all four of these unique personal employee value proposition= engagement = productivity = retention.
2)     Employee feedback. Holding Line management responsible for improving concern areas in the Employee Feedback.
3)     The degree of Process Transparency. What information is communicated and how frequently?
4)     Degree of Empowerment: How much delegation is permitted. What is the decision-making freedom at various levels of Hierarchy?
5)     Participation in Strategy and Innovation by Employees. Some organizations actively encourage everybody to comment, give inputs into these two areas in a secure fashion.

Customer-Centricity: The linkages between customer-centric capability and sustained business performance aren't understood by enough executives. If senior management doesn't believe there is an acceptable return on investment, the race never starts in earnest. However, what you measure depends on a few things - the time at which you are capturing feedback in the customer lifecycle, the trigger/basis you use for feedback and your goal. While NPS is an important measure, it is only a piece but not the entire whole and what it gives you is a great place to start. and it is better used as a lagging indicator of the overall customer relationship across time.

Brand: Customer experience and brand experience can mutually enforce with each other. A business brand can attempt to shape each and every potential Customer Experience (touch point/pain point/joy point) with its brand personality such that the firm provides customers with Brand Experiences that are unique to the brand, and on the other side, the delightful customer experience can enforce its business brand as well. The brand measurement shall also reflect the linkage between customer experience and brand experience, the unique business competency, and overall corporate maturity.  

So many companies and "managers" focus on the tangibles, but they lack the in-depth understanding of the intangible things; just getting them to consider the list of intangibles would be a breakthrough. In fact, leadership, culture, innovation, customer centricity and brand, all are the key intangible elements, or some call the “soft factors,” which can be “hardened” at the certain level, as better drivers of solid business results.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:

Is Self-Assessment a Digital Way for Managing Talent Performance?

The self-assessment of performance is not for boosting ego, but for inspiring authenticity; growth mind, engagement, trust, and innovation.

Many organizations still have an old-fashioned view that the employee's self-assessment is irrelevant to the overall review and only serves to create conflict when there are discrepancies in perception. However, digital makes business more transparent & less hierarchical, inspires authenticity and growth mind, is self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-improvement scenario becoming the “healthy” digital cycle for talent growth and management?

It becomes more important of including a self-evaluation component as part of employee performance management because digital is the age of choices: A self-assessment/evaluation gives the employee the opportunity to self-reflect “who am I,” and organizing their thoughts related to the various performance indicators. Self-assessment focuses the mind and ensures that everyone has their say and have buy-in to the process. They are very important as it provides a person's perceived value through their own lens. In addition, it will provide a benchmark against actual measured performance. The larger the gap the more development required. It is highly important that any employee and person self-reflects and be able not only to describe what s/he is able to do but also to reflect in a constructive manner how anything could be done in a different way even if a process has been successful. This generates in a person new ideas and is a way how a person can keep him/herself up to the standards required.

Self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-improvement scenario is a digital theme for talent management. This starts with the individual determining what goals s/he wants to achieve then; planning a way to get there; determining the milestones/measurements that signal whether it is going in the right direction and, if not, is flagging a warning that maybe the plan needs to be re-thought; the results documented objectively with qualitative/quantitative measurements. The manager's role is to ensure the plans are in line with corporate direction, the individual has thought out the plans thoroughly, provided any necessary support (including necessary training), and reviewed results on a regular basis to ensure the individual is getting where s/he wants to go.

Performance communication in the digital era needs to be the “two-way street.” It is seen to be a one-way street where the manager has to "tell" the employee how bad or well they have done, which leads into some defensive mode being triggered and escalating into a serious relationship breakdown. The review has to come from both sides and it is important to find out where the employee is and how they feel their performance is going. That in itself can open up useful discussions between the employee and line manager. Including self-evaluation based on the pre-agreed performance and behavioral standards allows both parties to reflect and collect facts about the status quo and a conversation departing from this is unlikely to become a problem.

Self-evaluations are a key way and motivator to get the individual being reviewed into the formalized process. Certainly, the reviewer should have consistent performance discussions throughout the review period; any (not micro-) manager will gain insight as to what the individual has contributed and deems important through a self-evaluation process. Providing straightforward self-evaluation tools on core competencies with benchmarking, simple questionnaires, and access to peer feedback in an easy to use, the employee-centric app is key to make it efficient and useful. Throughout the performance cycle, feedback and counseling should be a continuous process. Self-evaluation helps individuals in taking ownership, responsibility, and keeps focused. This also ensures the alignment and cascading of organizational goals to individual goals…

A good performance review is a dialogue: And even then ideally the manager should do only 20-30% of the talking between the employee and the manager; gives the employee the opportunity to share their thoughts on how they have contributed to the company and look at their future contributions.! A self-assessment by the employee encourages employees to share with their manager in advance of the performance review meeting (on a voluntary basis), as the shared insight can be highly useful. However, employees do need support and education in how to get the most from the performance management process, to avoid biases, especially in how to regularly acquire and use feedback appropriately, create 'evidence' for the performance review, and have an attitude of ownership rather than being a passive 'victim' of the process.

The purpose of such self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-improvement performance cycle is not just about encouraging individualism, more about inspiring authenticity; growth mind, engagement, trust, and innovation (the better or new way to do things). It is pursuing the digital way to run a purpose-driven organization by well-aligning employees’ career goals & purpose with companies’ vision & mission, and harnessing the culture of transparency, learning agility, and innovation.

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Convey Strategy via Effective Communication

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." - Plato

Crafting a good strategy is difficult, and executing strategy is challenging, the linchpin between strategy and execution is the effective communication to convey the messages across the organization, how can you do it right?

The open dialogue of big “WHY”: When communicating a strategy or organizational changes to a team, it is important to explain the "why" behind your communication. All too often, discussions are held at a senior level where the reasons behind a strategy are talked over extensively, but those reasons are not explained to the wider audience. This can lead to teams not understanding a strategy, or not buying into it.

Avoid the “Lost in Translation” Symptom: Strategy communication has to be customized from general management background to technical background employees. The mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialism. Ultimately a strategy has to end up expressed in people's job descriptions and workloads. Engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, etc. The highly effective business leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguist” who can master at different business dialects and convey the right message to tailor different audiences.

The simplest answer is "often." Communication, communication, and communication. Ideally, in language and settings that they understand and embrace, which in turn means spending enough time with staff to understand their language and the forms of communication that make sense to them. It is important to provide both a high-level vision of the organization's strategy, then bring it down to specific goals and objectives that are relevant to individual staff members and workgroups.

Effective communication with immersed management team: Successful implementation of the strategy is to organize a 'total immersion communication and dialogue program' for the senior and middle-level management group to establish a thorough buy-in of the organizational strategy, and the role each one and each department has to play for its implementation. Repeat the same module to other employees through the executives who have understood and can explain comprehensively to the other members of the organization. This needs to be done before rolling out the strategy for implementation.

Welcome strategy debate for challenging your strategy: To give teams a sense of ownership, invite them to challenge your strategy. Not only does this hand the strategy to the team, but can also give good ideas to improve it and can show you who should be sitting on your the meeting to devise next months/years strategy!

Encourage creative communication; instead of just descriptive communication, to convey strategy more vividly. Organizational communication is mostly conducted as old-fashioned “lecturing” (message – media – audience) as opposed to “participant-centered learning and understanding” (Socratic Method). Of course, the latter is more costly and time-consuming, but much more effective. However, most senior leaders prefer to rush their communication, “don´t waste time and money, and start executing." But what is more, inefficient than a whole organization that attempts to execute a poorly understood strategy? It's crucial to be more creative and be interactive for strategic communication.

In summary, the strategic communication needs to be more engaging than top-down; “multi-linguistic’ than single language-speaking; more creative than descriptive, more profound than louder, not only pay attention to what has been said but pay more attention to what’s not being said, to bridge the gap between strategy and execution, functional silo and holistic corporate view; reality and vision statement.

How to Handle Unknown in Agile

"Unknown unknown" is inherent in today’s business dynamic, if it weren't, what you are doing would not be agile.
There are known known, known unknown, unknown unknown, either running an Agile project or managing a business as a whole, the philosophy is the same: to implement business strategy and goals by managing risk effectively. Tactically, it is important to understand what it is that you don’t yet understand. In Agile practice, have you tried to quantify your uncertainty or unknowns? If so how did you do it?

Put some focus on quantifying the unknowns in a story. Uncertainty is an obvious driver in how long it takes to complete a story. Finding a good way to identify uncertainty and quantify it to the team is more of a challenge. One way is to estimate in story points and round up... The larger a task is, the more unknowns there will be and the more likely your estimates are short. To get around with the uncertainty because of not understanding the requirements well, you are attempting “User Story Mapping” with lot of pictures and diagrams. The story mapping is very important for creating a shared understanding among the team members to reduce this uncertainty. Where the rubber hits the road is with story pointing. More often, you will find yourselves to be horribly inaccurate when pointing stories with an unknown amount of uncertainty.

Up-front Analysis: Such analytics helps out a lot of what you started off not knowing. It was dependent on up-front requirements. It was expensive, though at the time you didn't know how cheap the overall cost of the alternative was. And no matter how much analysis you did up-front, there were still things that you didn't discover until later; still new requirements uncovered, and what was probably worse, about a quarter of the stuff you gathered requirements for, expended effort analyzing, and if they are not carefully designed and built, rarely if ever got used. Diagnose the cause of the uncertainty to see whether it is because of not understanding the requirements well or because of the unknowns around the technical implementation. For the unknowns around the technical implementation, you can perform small spikes to evaluate different approaches. Unknowns are also reduced by an engaged team in planning: The more people on your team participating, the more things they will spot or call out.

Each degree of freedom is an unknown: The more you build in, the bigger the scope which is beyond estimability, so the only sensible strategy is to not permit more than a few per story before breaking up the story or digging into spikes prior to implementation. Well-sliced stories limit the degrees of freedom, either you'll be up for known unknowns or you purposefully hit on an "unknown unknown". In the first cases, you can minimize the information gap through exploratory design techniques; certain "known unknowns" can be addressed through a simple spike story. Things like, How does this new interface work? or which of these two methods works better? In the second case, you must spike to turn the unknown unknown into a set of known unknowns, which you can then handle adequately. In the "unknown unknowns" where a user story simply explodes. In these cases, late story decomposition is practical, also identify a value slice that the team can reasonably complete and call that a story. The remaining work can be deferred as a spike and a separate user story.

The focus of quantifying the unknown should be focused on communication and collaboration. There is always a risk of delving in "HOW" when you try to slice it too thin or user story mapping or name any other technique to reduce the risk of unknown. There is also a problem of quantifying an estimate of a story with story points where in it becomes the single parameter driving your whole planning conversation. On that thought quantifying the unknown also will just add to the whole problem. The more "loose ends" the team permits within a story, the higher the risk of encountering an unknown Unknown somewhere down the road. Hence, if you only tend to quantify the uncertainty, guesstimates and story points to get a dummy feeling of being in control. These numbers and the discussions around the numbers, gets the team off track. If the focus is kept on collaborating, learning fast, communicating and course correcting, the team becomes much more productive.

"Unknown unknown" is inherent in today’s business dynamic, if it weren't, what you are doing would not be agile. That doesn't mean you can't learn from the unexpected things that did arise; you may get an ever-improving list of things to keep an eye out for next time. There’s no easier way to quantify the degree of unknown, businesses just have to experiment, learn, practice, practice and practice.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is Innovation the Combination of Divergent Thinking and Convergent Thinking

Innovation is like a breathing cycle: inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, diverge, converge, diverge, converge.

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. It is often used in conjunction with its cognitive opposite, convergent thinking, which follows a particular set of logical steps to arrive at one solution, which in some cases is a ‘correct’ solution. By contrast, divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that many ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. After the process of divergent thinking has been completed, ideas and information are organized and structured using convergent thinking. (Wikipedia)

"It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does. “-Senge’s Fifth Discipline. Sometimes Innovation is like a breathing cycle: inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, diverge, converge, diverge, converge. Truly creative people use the gap between vision and current reality to generate energy for change. So in order to innovate, it is necessary to follow a process where divergent and convergent thinking is always present and where you can use different tools. The future vision is one of them, a very powerful one.

Innovation is a combination of divergent and convergent thinking. At first, the team needs to go divergent to explore the space (during ethnography/contextual inquiry). It’s best to bring a group of people together with the cognitive difference such as different backgrounds, capabilities, strengths, etc. together in order to obtain such way of divergent thinking. Then during synthesis, while the team is analyzing the "problems," it will better go more convergent to really hone in on the "why." Once you figure out what the true problems are and ready to ideate that needs to be divergent thinking. So it’s easier to tame a big idea then to make a small one look more fancy that it actually is. Finally, when down-selecting ideas and eventually prototyping that would be more convergent thinking. Innovation. So, to a certain degree, the process to transform a novel idea to the business value, is a combination of divergent and convergent thinking, the systematic and synthetic processes.

There is a third and perhaps more effective way to debunk the puzzle of innovation serendipity - generative thinking - that starts with the articulation of a desirable future experience scenario for creative talents, and then allows that to act as a form of attraction or 'pull' as an actualizing potential, spike to both the divergent and convergent ideas and insights that are very likely to follow. The more synergizing co-resonance there is within the designing team, for example, then the more likely that those sudden 'A'Ha!' moments and decisions could flow from this created ”differential”  between “what now” and “could be.”

So divergent thinking is sort of free thinking to keep your mind flow, to explore and question; then convergent thinking will do the reasoning, synthesizing and sum up. Innovation is serendipitous but manageable; mysterious, but solvable; from divergent to convergent thinking, creativity can emerge from chaos to the order and innovation becomes the light organizations can reach out.

A Proactive Digital IT

Running a proactive IT not only means to well align business and IT but more about IT-business engagement.

In today's digital business environment, information is the lifeblood, and technology touches every phase of the business, the CIO must be totally involved and participate in every decision of upper management and be proactive so there are no surprises when decisions are made. Statistically, the firms that have the CIO sitting with the board or management committee are getting things done faster and become cost-effective in the long run. Ensuring a high-performing, high-reliable and high-proactive IT is the key success factor in organizational digital transformation. Proposing new technologies would be the final touch. A good relationship between Business and IT becomes visible by clearly defining tasks, authorities, and responsibilities. What are the real challenges of a CIO to build a high-performing IT? Or to worth brainstorming, how to run a proactive digital IT?

IT leaders need to be acutely in tune with the business: Due to the changing nature of technology, the CIO role is a challenging perch to sit on. Whilst they need to ensure their IT department keeps the lights on, continually improves, provide the IT enablement to allow the business to grow, the CIO also needs to be acutely in tune with the business. There is as much an onus on the business to understand IT, to be aware of the technical considerations required to deliver the business outcomes, to help plan the budgets, predict the financial and resource requirements, understand the constraints and work hand in hand providing support as one organization. IT leaders have to reach out horizontally to their business peers. Business-engaged CIO is an accepted leader to run a proactive IT and keeps navigating during rough sea. The CIO needs to be engaged, and at the most senior levels to help influence and shape the business of the future. Whenever you see "CIOs" who are purely focused on cost savings or implementing IT project only as technical challenges, and they are remote from the true business forums, they might still run IT in the industrial mode with silo thinking, without leapfrogging into the digital speed to run IT as an integral part of business. Because digital IT is designed for changes, understanding and communicating the business strategy is a beautiful thing. Without business strategy execution, there is no future and no need for IT. However, the CIO must be cognizant of the internal and external structure designed to provide safe passage to IT-enabled business solutions. These two aspects need to be merged. A CIO needs to have a powerful toolbox encompassing strong business acumen, soft skills such as communication and listening, technical experience and solid managerial leadership.

IT needs to be a proactive business problem solver: One point perhaps too often overlooked is that the CIO needs to be a part of a senior team - the business executive and the strategist, the change agent and talent master; for the role to be effective and as such the specific skills and areas of engagement will inevitably vary across organizations as these individuals fill the gaps left by other colleagues. In some cases, there will be a strong technology need that they fulfill; in more mature IT organizations, the development of business strategy should focus on radical digital transformation; in others at the lower level of maturity, there are perhaps more of a back-office support challenge they have to overcome first. In all cases, the common element of a proactive IT is business engagement - whatever & wherever the business needs are, IT needs to proactively solve the problems with setting priority right. Ensuring a high-performing, high-reliable and high-proactive IT is the key success factor in organizational digital transformation. Proposing new technologies would be the final touch. A good relationship between Business and IT becomes visible by clearly defining tasks, authorities, and responsibilities. What are the real challenges of a CIO to build a high-performing IT?
- The main part of the IT budget is sunk in the existing IT-systems for keeping the light on.
- Regular system updates are challenging the existing IT continuously.
- New systems are difficult to implant into existing processes and system flows.
- New technologies arise so fast that it is hard to catch-up with speed.
- GRC Management is more crucial in today's digital dynamic.

The best and next IT practices: IT-Business proactive interaction, communication, and cross-functional collaboration are the strategic imperative. The proactive IT leaders and sponsors attended business reviews with the various business stakeholders in attendance and equally invited those business stakeholders to their IT forums. These sponsors lead discussions with the business to share IT innovation, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats present within IT, they listen to the business to understand the issues, put into action plans to help, review the business plans and strategy and work within IT to drive the value and outcomes to meet the business objectives. Where these types of interactions are sustained, year on year, openly reviewed and improved, such interactions force a close collaboration and better understanding of each other's worlds and IT is able to influence and contribute to corporate strategy.

Hence, running a proactive IT not only means to well align business and IT but also about IT-business engagement, not only about providing IT service to the business users; but also about how to solve the key business problems to benefit end customers as well; not only about IT taking the order from the business; but also about CIOs as rule co-makers, to have a seat in the strategic meeting and make substantial contribution to strategy making and governance practices.

How to Make the Strategy Work under Uncertainty

The challenge is in finding the appropriate balance between stability and adaptability.

VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) is digital new normal, as complexity and uncertainty increasing, the connection between any single individual organization’s strategy, and their tactical plans and actions can become diluted and disconnected. How to craft a good strategy, and make strategy executable under such uncertainty and unpredictability in order to transform the business into the Digital Master?

Strategy formulation is a combination of planned and emergent thinking. You formulate a strategy and then encounter the real world of implementation, which provides you feedback that allows you to continuously adjust the strategy on the move. Just like a sculptor in the process of shaping a piece of artwork, he or she has a strategy in mind at the outset of the process; but as his/her hands interact with the material the strategy is constantly adjusted until the final artwork is presented. The greater that conditions of uncertainty prevail, the more likely it is that the final strategy will be a product of emergent thinking rather than the original formulation. You concentrate on the objectives of your organization and make sure that the roles and functions are stated perfectly. You can develop a strategic plan based on the improvement of the real situation by analyzing the mandate and extract policies that enable you to make the vision and missions, then to make the smart objectives, policies, and programs that solve your developments problems.

The challenge is in finding the appropriate balance between stability and adaptability. It's tough to make changes, particularly in large organizations with vested resources and cultures supporting "the way things have always been done." An organization needs to have a “healthy” feedback loop so that signals from the operating environment can be interpreted as objectively as possible. When actual results vary significantly from plans, a common mistake that large organizations make is to devote the resources necessary to correct actions in order to get back on the original track. Significant variation from the planned result may, in fact, be a signal that the original plan is flawed; that a major shift in the environment has occurred, which necessitates rethinking the plan. To continue to invest resource to get back on a course that is obsolete could be extremely expensive. This is tough to recognize in an organization whose management has invested not only resources but their own self-identity in pursuing the original plan.

It is important to distinguish between conditions of 'known risk' vs. 'critical uncertainty.' When you are formulating strategies under conditions of known risk, you have sufficient information to establish probabilities of alternative outcomes and the expected impact of strategic alternatives. Hence, probability x size of expected impact = estimated value of the alternative. However, "critical uncertainties," is the unknowns below the tip of the iceberg with utmost relevance for the organization or entity you're planning for. So conditions of known risk are amenable to constructing alternative scenarios and evaluating them. It might be good to work with plans and assumptions and scenarios, as long as you keep in mind that these have been elaborated from past experiences and past knowledge. If it is really unpredictable, that means the future cannot be, in any way, deduced from the past. As such, it becomes far more about influencing others to choose to allow/enable the success of your strategic goals. Additionally, actions can become counterproductive over time, or cease to work as the character of the environment shifts and co-evolves. Strategies can be ineffective because they were once effective, and the other actors have evolved counter strategies.

To "be opportunistic: It could also be expressed as stay curious, especially for the unexpected; even the unwanted - in order to recognize the emergence of the completely new phenomenon. Admit those disruptive events may occur. Learn to stay alerted and to observe with subtlety and learn fast. The strategy is about overall direction, and the direction from the current market to the future market is anything but a straight line. Thus, there will be several short-term changes in direction that could slow the long-term direction but does not cause a 180-degree turn. In times of uncertainty and unpredictability, one must be opportunistic and agile within a general strategy and adapt one's plans to fit the emerging environment while staying the overall course. Further, a strategy is just as much about knowing what you will not do as it is about knowing what you will do. Stay within what you will do in the strategic forum, but change some priorities or weight of effort in the short term, be opportunistic about the emerging event, and you will reach your goal. So it is not about the plan; rather, it is about the planning process that you will go through continuously as you implement the strategy.

It’s about the agile strategy-execution cycle. It's not all about "making a strategy" as end-product, but about implementing it afterward. It is also about communicating about the quality of the strategy, saying openly what is known and what is not. So to not feed the illusion of knowing and controlling everything. Furthermore, the process of elaborating the strategy is as much, if not more important as the result of the strategy itself. The process should be participative in order to take advantage of collective intelligence. But also in order to build and share a common understanding of the situation and a common vision of what is to be attained. The participants should be the ones in charge of the later implementation of the strategy. The process should be set so to establish and enforce trust among participants, to train the participants to sustain together uncertainty and fear, to fail together, to learn together.

Flexibility in strategy execution: So, uncertainty simply requires more planning and more flexibility in implementing. When you are forced to formulate strategy under conditions of 'uncertainty,' you are operating in "white water" with little or no information on which to base your strategic decisions. In such cases, strategy formulation must be based on assumptions that your organization can change the operating environment - and not just adapt to it. Another manifestation of uncertainty is when you are negotiating a strategy with stakeholders who hold the opposite viewpoints. Making a strategy in times of uncertainty and unpredictability is an interesting way of putting things right, "plan, but be able to adapt quickly to current realities. Any planning process is based on a number of assumptions, and when any of your previous assumptions are proven wrong, then one must review the plan to ascertain if it is still valid. That is why a combination of planning and scenario development is best in these sorts of conditions. The scenarios give one an idea of what could happen; but more importantly, they expose signposts that show which future (or the combination of future scenarios) is unfolding.

The digital organizational structure involves networks than hierarchies. In chaotic and complex environments, appropriate strategic responses involve networks rather than hierarchies. The top-down strategic planning approach does not work well in a diverse, mobile, complex digital environment. Strategic plans are not sufficiently, agile Strategists must acknowledge that in a networked situation, a strategy is formulated and adjusted through the interaction of several decision nodes that are richly connected with each other through ongoing streams of information. Strategies emerge through network interaction. The astute strategist learns how to leverage the network by developing approaches for shepherding strategy implementation through a process of influence, capitalizing on temporary power coalitions and data-driven solutions. Feedback and adjustment become pervasive throughout the network - rather than one step in a structured planning and evaluation process. The study found that hierarchies can be accommodated in network approaches. For example, shifting decision rights down and across the levels of recursion closer to the populace and forming richly connected people-networks at each level with the environment is one necessity. This theoretically allows for rapid adjustment and self-organization but only if information distribution and feedback are sufficiently accurate to base decisions upon.

"There should be a zero degree of uncertainty" is wishful thinking that does not help while facing a digital reality that is uncertain and unpredictable. It is more crucial to set directions, principles and value right, instead of a rigid process and fixed strategic axis. So strategy planning is more about changing minds, fostering collective intelligence, involving emergent thinking, and be flexible in strategy implementation.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Trustful Mind

TRUST is a collective mind - the corporate culture. You can't build and nourish trust without creating a conducive environment of trust.

The progressive business relationship and society are built on mutual trust and respect, not power and ownership. We do not own others and, therefore, should not believe we have power over them. Is trust more as a mindset or a behavior?

Trust starts with oneself, the mind, and grows outward to the people and the environment; just like change. But regular reflection is required to keep foundational truths fresh in our minds so that we are alert to the level of trust in our personal relationships and across our organization. It's trust that is the key determinant of any collaborative effort; and conversely, the lack of it that can accurately predict the demise of any collaborative effort. Creating and nurturing that trust is one of those precious things that takes chunks out of our diminishing currency of time in the world of work. To build and maintain trust requires respect, repeat, predictable behavior: dependability, and the fulfillment of promises. All these things take time.

Mutual trust is the linchpin without which leadership is hollow and ineffective. The more we understand its vitality and anatomy, the better will be our ability to lead in different situations. If there isn't anything more important in human relationships than trust then consideration of trust should be part of every decision. Will the decisions enhance trust (personal and organizational), erode it, or have no impact. We all know beyond any shadow of the doubt that mutual trust is paramount for our personal and organizational effectiveness. And each one of us has pretty good ideas about how to cultivate trust. Despite that knowledge and sincerity, mistrust continues to flourish in our personal and organizational lives.

To be able to trust you must also have the courage to learn when you fail, which we all do every now and then, take responsibility for the failure, learn from it and move forward. Blaming others instead of recognizing and taking responsibility for a failure in any affair one is involved in will ultimately destroy any existing trust. When a leader acknowledges and takes responsibility for his/her failures the followers dare to fail as well by knowing that if they take responsibility for the failures, the leaders will continue to support them in their work.

Trust is not straightforward, but multifaceted. There are many definitions of trust and what trust entails including vulnerability-based trust, role-based trust, reciprocity. Role-based trust happens when we each attribute different meanings to trust and assign trust because of a person’s role. Reciprocity is an important part of building trust and allows predictability and stability in the relationship. Reciprocity works because of shared goals, which create less stress on the relationship. Incorporating competition into a relationship erodes trust. Cooperation has been shown to create a win-win situation. Trust is something we invest in based on our experiences, whatever the context.

Leadership mindset and behavior have been found to be the most influential elements in building trust: Such as integrity, authenticity, self-awareness, empathy, high EQ; and communicating effectively also helps to build trust with your direct reports, stakeholders and colleagues. Why does building trust matter? Because otherwise, you will not have engaged or productive staff. The creation of the trust is not something that occurs overnight. Leadership is complex, composed of varied and multiple traits/skill sets/actions. Knowing which ones to use in what combination in each particular situation is what defines a leader, and it is the same with trust.

Mutual trust becomes much easier if one of the two or more parties give trust by respecting each other. It is very difficult for someone to trust you if they do not believe you respect them, and probably vice verse as well. Understand what people can and do contribute and acknowledge it as a starting point for respect. Then remember delegation is trust. Allowing people to try and fail is about giving trust. If you trust them and they fail, you simply sit down and address why the failure occurred in a safe environment because they don't fear to have to earn your trust.

“Trust but verify" is easy to live by, but ignoring the impact on that micromanagement of your team's decisions and outputs can create a negative impact on the bottom line whether it is easily visible or not. You can't build and nourish trust without creating a conducive environment of trust. The key to trust is to establish trustworthiness as a character trait. Trust is vital for the betterment of human existence and providing a competitive advantage for the business. As imperfect may be our civilization and our organizations, mutual trust definitely makes them better and better.

The true trust is multidimensional. It encompasses trusting self, trusting others, and earning the trust of others. All of these three dimensions are vital to building/nurture/repair mutual trust. Building trust is an ongoing and never-ending endeavor. What a challenge it is building trust, but how worthwhile, and how essential. Building/nurturing mutual trust is not an overnight phenomenon, but starting with a trustful mind with a constant commitment to consistent actions.