Welcome to our blog, the digital brainyard to fine tune "Digital Master," innovate leadership, and reimagine the future of IT.

The magic “I” of CIO sparks many imaginations: Chief information officer, chief infrastructure officer , Chief Integration Officer, chief International officer, Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Influence Office etc. The future of CIO is entrepreneur driven, situation oriented, value-added,she or he will take many paradoxical roles: both as business strategist and technology visionary,talent master and effective communicator,savvy business enabler and relentless cost cutter, and transform the business into "Digital Master"!

The future of CIO is digital strategist, global thought leader, and talent master: leading IT to enlighten the customers; enable business success via influence.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Agile “Simplicity Principle” - How to Dig it Through

One of the reasons to see improved productivity in Agile is because of the simplicity principle.

“Agile principle -Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done” is essential for Agile project success. Simplicity is also a general principle to run the digital business today. Contextually, how do you define and apply it to run project and business more successfully?

Simplicity enforces agile values: In general, it’s a call to scrutinize your working practices to ensure they are contributing towards agile values such as early and continuous delivery, responsiveness to change, a close and frequent collaboration between business people and developers. By prioritizing your ability to change course, this scrutiny will plainly favor the stripping down and reduction of overheads. The most important part of the context is that the work you are "not doing" is the work that hinders the agility, your ability to respond to changes. So unit tests aren't thrown out with the bathwater because they are a key practice in maintaining agility. On the other hand, it challenges a practice such as 'literate coding' because that would introduce a level of redundancy to the code which makes it more costly to change the code.

Simplicity emerges synergistically from the reduction. But it is not in itself a goal. Indeed, "Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility" can drive the team towards complex, but efficient, low overhead practices, rather than just simplicity. Avoiding waste is better than eliminating waste. Eliminating waste is about eliminating something which is not used and saving effort on maintaining it. Avoiding waste is more about not building, nonvalue-adding features. There are always constraints, so simplicity implies to build as little as possible (as little output as possible, to maximize the amount of work not done) and maximize outcome (benefit for users/customers).

Simplify, Integrate, then automate. So it is important to put simplification and integration (bigger picture up front planning) ahead of working software. Another definition could be to make sure the system you build is not so complex from an architectural deployment and testing perspective that you end up repeating the same tasks (fixing the build, manual testing tasks, etc.) over and over. This is tightly coupled with the principle "Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility." You need the feedback loops anyway; if they are working well you can afford to trim things very fine because you know you will detect when you cut them too fine, and be able to correct the shortfall. Many people want to adopt Agile because they think it will help them deliver software faster because of process improvement. But in reality, one of the reasons to see improved productivity is because of the simplicity principle.

Generally speaking, simplicity is the design principle of looking for what is common for maximum, reuse. Simplicity is the building blocks. Complexity is the content put in the building blocks and the outcomes from interactions with the building blocks. Most of the times, simplicity can improve flexibility, and flexibility is often contrasted with "adaptability" -- the ability easily and quickly change or adapt according to circumstances without necessarily anticipating them or adding anything explicitly for that circumstance. As Einstein wisely put: make things as simple as possible, not simpler.     

Digital Master Tuning #80: Does UX Fit in Strategy Team or Creativity Team

UX works best if it is part of the company's culture as a whole.

Being customer-centricity becomes the mantra for the forward-thinking digital organization to out beat competitors. But how do you equip with the set of new digital minds to incorporate UX at both strategic and design level to present great business value, improve the bottom line and build company brand cohesively? Does UX more fit in strategy team or creativity team?

UX is all about putting practice led thinking into strategy. Think about how important is contextual research and prototyping in helping you think strategically. Putting yourselves inside the silos will disassemble your approach, weakening your effectiveness, both at the strategic and creative levels. UX is related to strategy and it should be integrated into business decisions to truly deliver value. The best practices can be deployed to persuade stakeholders and executives to incorporate UX inputs at an earlier stage. So despite how UX team is structured in real life, the best practice is to have it connected to a strategy or business unit. It can directly belong to that unit or at least have a dotted line there.

UX works best if it is part of the company's culture as a whole. UX is a disruptive force in business culture and is at odds with traditional models of organization that break projects into stages in a production pipeline. It should be a more cross-disciplinary team that work to develop a product or service over its lifespan. In that model, UX would play an equally important role throughout the life of the project. If it must be one or the other, then UX is part of the strategy team. That way the strategy and findings during discovery phases can be applied to not only the creative but possibly other customer touch points in the business. Delivering great experiences starts with research and strategic insights, with the findings and ideas flowing through conception, design, development, production and quality assurance.

It really depends on how UX is framed within your organization. For some, UX is closer to commerce and strategy in the process, in others it is closer to creative and design. It's all about board-level buy-in. Where can your UX activities gain most support and ultimately revenues? This means that UX professionals, either need to exist and practice within those multiple business areas, or be centralized (internally or externally), and able to interface with those areas on an equal footing. UX needs to live and be free to work with any group at any time. Either put in creative group or strategy team, it needs to work very collaboratively cross-functional border. But based on UX best practice, it'd be great UX has its own organization, has a clear way to measure its business impact, and consequently can better serve the business by integrating the superb experience into the core business model.

UX is an integral part of the success of a business, especially for business models centered around influencing customer behavior. One of the major problems that businesses are facing right now is this outdated need to put everything in its proper silo. Almost no one, in any field, in any capacity can be as productive, innovative and effective as possible if they are limited by definitions of what their particular slot is which inevitably leads to definitions of what they are supposed to think about or not think about and so forth. In today's business world, that kind of limitation can be fatal.

It is important to remember that UX is practiced in many different guises and that fitness for the function is ultimately important. To incorporate UX inside an organization successfully, you have to work on different levels, management has to understand the value to become supportive, the project teams need to understand, to be able to work effectively together, cross-functional collaboration is the key for UX to bring value for their organizations.

The Digital Theme of Board Room: An Engaging Board

A heterogeneous board with cognitive difference outperforms organizations with homogeneous boards.

The corporate board is one of the most important governance bodies in modern organizations to oversight strategy, manage and accept the custodial responsibility of managing shareholders’ benefit. There is a lot that can and should be expanded upon regarding board selection and strategy. In a world with so many over-complex problems, directors are required to exercise influence over volatility, manage uncertainty, simplify complexity and resolve ambiguity in the 21st-century digital environment. So what’re the principles and practices to build an engaged board?

An engaged board has complementary expertise with a cognitive difference: The board is appointed to practicing governance discipline. In achieving this role, the board needs to be talented enough to vet strategy, work together as a group to speak in one voice, and delegate and monitor operational issues they decide not to manage. An engaged board is composed of the specialized generalist type of BoDs to complement each other’s expertise but work as a team. The greatest success is achieved on the engaging boards that added directors with a cognitive difference, diversified experience, and T-shape expertise. Shareholders need to have a way to measure the board's performance, which currently is virtually impossible to do for most shareholders. Over time, changes are made and more specialized generalist type directors are added to improve learning agility, to fill the blind spot, to mind the cognitive gap and to complement each other’s capability and skills. It is the difference in thinking and perspectives that diversified BoDs bring to group decisions; as well as how members of a somewhat homogeneous group modify their decision-making processes in the presence of an "outsider," that causes organizations with boards of more diversified BoDs to outperform organizations with homogeneous boards.

The increased sensitivity to liability in most cases leads to a truly engaged board. There is no one size fits all for building a highly engaging Board. What works for the boards in one industry might have serious negative implications for another. Although anecdotal, that increased sensitivity to perceived or actual liability does have some effect on how board members conducted themselves. In most cases, it is positive and led to a truly engaged and well-informed board. In a few cases, it led to paralysis on specific board motions, unnecessary legal and research fees and possibly missed opportunities. The role of the board is simply to see to it that the management of the company operates to accomplish its mission without jeopardizing the interest of employees, customers, other stakeholders and most of all the shareholders. Sometimes, the perception of a problem could occur even where none exists. That's why it's important to have complete and detailed minutes of board and committee meetings and make sure they are reviewed completely and corrected as needed. There's nothing worse than having an important discussion resulting in a significant decision and not having it properly or accurately memorialized. That opens the door for liability even though everything was done properly. It's also clear that good governance does not ensure success and success should not be the standard. The board spends time being involved with the development and monitoring of the organization's strategic plan. At a reasonably fundamental level, and at the risk of diverting the discussion, rules set boundaries and terms of engagement.

The central piece of any institution's enduring capacity and sustainable value creation is its purpose. Without purpose, companies’ Boards or management are living in hope with the moving parts operating in completely different directions and no control over their destiny. With purpose comes strong value systems, common beliefs, and shared objectives. Purpose creates a well aligned and central axis that strings together a firm's vision, business structure and execution excellence which goes on to create long-term value and define its brand. The primacy of any institution should not be a top focus on outcomes alone, but the process through which one ensures successful outcomes. And a measure of these outcomes needs to be seen through the lens of purpose. When designed around purpose, businesses create an enduring presence. This can only happen when Boards establish ground rules of governance and accountability - and this comes through the firm's purpose. Everything else is fleeting and will fail litmus tests repeatedly.

The boardroom culture is engendered by board leaders. It’s all about leadership from the top which sets the tone and governs boardroom behavior. More often, an engaged board will work more harmonized as a team to achieve governance effectiveness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Capabilities of Digital IT

IT is the digital brain of modern organizations.

Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the reality... IT is no longer that island or back-office as a silo specialist function, businesses need IT as a strong partner who is passionate about exploiting information enabled by technologies to work at the heart of the enterprise. IT needs to transform itself from a service provider to business solutionary, from a cost center to an innovation engine, from process driven to capability oriented. What are the most needed digital capabilities IT can provide, and how to build them?

Operation Capability: Keeping the light on is still fundamental for any IT organization to gain a good reputation. IT operational capability can be built through IT-business alignment: the arrangement and enablement. Those organizations that have a more mature alignment outperform their competitors and tend to be more responsive to these changes. Alignment goes beyond conformity and order taking, it needs to include a close partnership with interpersonal communication, value analytics, and governance. IT with strong operational capability helps the business achieve efficiency and reliability.

Innovation Capability: More often technology is the innovation disruptor and the information is the lifeblood of the organization. Either disrupt or being disrupted. IT is at an inflection point to lead organizational level digital transformation because it is in the unique position to oversight business processes and processes underpin business capabilities. IT is the key element of business innovation, either for catching customer delight or achieving business optimization. IT innovation capabilities directly impact how it helps the business gain competitive advantage and capture upcoming trend to compete for the future.

Project Portfolio Management Capabilities: The balanced IT application portfolio can deliver lots of value for the business in many ways. It is apart from the basic automation, availability of information and reports. This is the digital arena, IT applications, and its dynamics is totally different. The right IT applications blended with current digital trends can deliver the significant benefits to the business, such as customer satisfaction, business optimization, and change adaptability, etc. Portfolio management is also essential to successful corporate governance and as such, a comprehensive fusing of a firm's strategic capabilities.

Analytics Capability: Digital IT is all about how to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to help them make the right decision. IT is the steward of business data & information. Data by itself is meaningless until it’s interpreted and analyzed. Technology enables large data sets to be captured and presented for analysis, but the value hidden in data is only revealed through intelligent reasoning. Information is raw material when you manipulate the raw material in meaningful ways, which give you business insight to interpret and utilize, then you have established a value. IT plays the critical role in information lifecycle management to transform raw data - information - insight/intelligence - wisdom. As the tech matures and the technology becomes better understood by most of the enterprise, Data Analytics will get better and become more valuable, and it will become a digital business capability IT can build on.

Change Capability: IT is always at the center of change. Change may be mechanical, but the transformation is radical. "Change" can be a somewhat mechanical implementation of new or different ways to doing something while the transformation is more likely to be a sweeping approach to altering a culture, or parts of it, possibly even to parts of its value system, to embrace such as change and help it become self-perpetuating. That said, it is referring to a modification and internalization of new values, behaviors, and culture. When the need for significant change is identified, it's generally naive to think it will succeed without transformation as well. IT can help weave all these important business elements such as process and digital technology & tools into the building blocks of change capability, as organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes will quickly be out-competed, and IT also plays a pivotal role in leading a digital transformation in their organizations.

To put simply, IT is the "digital brain" of the modern organization. Compared to traditional service- driven IT, capability-based digital IT is more value oriented, laser focus on business goals, and improve IT maturity from efficiency to effectiveness to agility; from functioning to firmness to delight.

Strategy-Execution as an Iterative Continuum

Digital strategy and execution are no longer linear steps, but an iterative continuum.

Making a good strategy is difficult, Executing a strategy is, even more, challenge. There is still a very large disconnect between having an idea, creating a solid strategy, and implementation of strategy at many organizations. All are vastly different things. Although someone may have great ideas, there isn't a strategy behind it; or although strategy looks “beautiful,” there’s no solid action to achieve it. With the changing nature of digital dynamic, strategy and execution are no longer linear steps, but an iterative continuum.

Setting a strategy without a thought about the execution can really get you into trouble. Handing off a strategy without suggested execution is risky even to a senior person. If they haven't been part of all the background conversations, they won't have the context to pull from when point-of-no-return decisions need to be made. One of the challenges in executing the strategy well stems from a lack of understanding or ownership of the strategic principles. Too many organizations separate thinking and doing. Throwing a product of thinking "over the wall" to be done happens far too often. If a strategy can be thought of as a bunch of hypotheses about how one might execute to achieve the desired outcome, then, execution is the testing of those hypotheses in the real world as one attempts to implement or execute the strategies. The learning from the testing of those hypotheses allows one to tweak, or even pivot on the strategy in order to better meet the real-world execution.

One page strategy can highlight a few ideas with short sentences. The strategy needs to be "shareware," not "shelfware." It sets the direction for tactics and operations to aim at and support. The current situation, proposed strategy, and the process to identify tactics and operations should fit on one page and be used to shape decisions moving forward. In reality, a strategy is a preferred method, a modus operandi, chosen based on an intimate knowledge of context and goal. This method often can be described on a page. Strategy and execution are composite; one is useless without the other. The challenge is that the environment changes so fast nowadays that your strategy must be very flexible. Therefore, you need to have a strategy before execution, but it must be an agile strategy - easy to share, and concise to follow. Making this change requires a more fundamental and effective approach. It starts with creating a working environment that requires the change to take place.

Strategy and execution need to go hand in hand. Knowing where you're headed is critical to supporting all the micro-decisions along the way. The key objectives and opportunities to "pivot" can become lost in task planning and execution. It takes an integrated team to guide and monitor the execution with the individual representation of the ideas and knowledge of the mechanics collaborating to deliver a meaningful result. A sound strategy and plan of execution are both important. However, addressing both without also addressing the culture of the organization is risky at best. "culture eats strategy for lunch."

Both strategy and execution are the two equally important facets of the same coin, and in order to reap the success in the business, a clear and agile strategy is needed with proper execution through the iterative steps, to make strategy execution as a dynamic continuum.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #79 Hiring Mindset - Will it Be a Next or Best Practice for Talent Managers?

Talent managers today should have the "wise" eyes to peek through talent at Deep Mind level.

From industry survey, more than 90% of hiring managers say they prefer the candidate who has the 'superior mind set'." Unfortunately, only very few walk the talk. Although, they made the better choice, they could not really act on it; otherwise, they won't be stereotyping or be too strict on following the conventional recruiting technique. Many hiring managers aren't comfortable with evaluating “mind-set,” or just lack the skills to evaluate it properly, and instead they rely on the answers the candidate gives to the more concrete skills inquiries. So more specifically, what’re the mindsets, and how can talent managers evaluate them objectively and wisely?

Mindset vs. Capability vs. Skills: Mind-set is the ideology of the individual and what they live by; how they think, approach and solve the problems; the capability is the ability of the individual to do the job above and beyond what is expected of him or her. The skills are the proficiency in doing the work based on the training and experience. Good recruiters, HR professionals and talent managers should have the abilities to look beyond the pretty resume, with the "wise" eyes to peek through talent at Deep Mind level. Because more often than not, many of today's complex business problems or tough mankind challenges need to be fixed at MIND level as well. Sometimes a candidate does not fit the detailed requirements of a position on the surface, but they have the growth mind and those recombinant capabilities and soft skills, which indicates they will excel given the opportunity, with the potential to not only do the work well, but also become an “outliner” -being creative to make a difference. And more often, a great talent well blends the superior mindset, the transformative capabilities and solid skills to fit in the continuously change environment.

Digital footprints provides the important clue about “who the candidate are”: Many talent managers argue that the definition of "superior mindset" is probably not a single construct, and is simply too vague and ambiguous and not measurable in any meaningful (valid, reliable) sense. That is why it is not broadly adopted as the practices for selection, promotion, development, etc. Others argue, one can observe behavior, but cannot observe "superior mindset." So the company would probably need to demonstrate that their method of selection based on their evaluation of 'mind-set' was related to the job, valid and reliable. As the best and next practice, social media provides the window to capture an insight into the "mind-set" of candidates. Check out their linkedin profile; twitters; blogs; and chat-room discussions. This will give you an excellent look into who they are beyond the resume. If you are the talent visionary with the wise eyes of discovering talent potential, you will be confident to hunt for candidates with the right "mind-set." Leadership is both nature and nurtured, and creativity is also both nature and nurtured. You can teach people skills, but you can't teach them how to think. If a few static credentials provide snapshot for talent managers to understand candidates' past; then their digital footprint presents more vivid and the updated picture about their character, the mind power and the continuous delivery of what they are doing.

Consistency is key. Mind set cannot be observed during one or two meeting, but it can be visualized in the digital "canvas" Was the hiring manager able to establish that the superior mind set does indeed exist? and does this mind set include 'quick learning' or continuous growth. What’s in the candidates' mind, what’s their interest, what type of knowledge do they share, are they delivering the consistent messages? Yes, with today's latest technology, you only need to check one's blog, or other social participation in discussions or forums to confirm mindset - What’re their inspiration and aspiration, and how do they convey the message in the consistent way. More often than not, the digital footprint becomes more important or equal important as the “physical” footprint. People are still the most invaluable asset in any organization today, and leveraging digital talent management pipeline becomes strategic imperative for any forward-looking organization today.

The advances of mindset is the innovation engine of any human progress; it’s true that is also the digital extension of the classic talent debate: Shall you hire character or skill? But now, the latest digital technologies can make either character or mindset more tangible and visible, and even measurable, the talent professionals just have to change their own mindset first, initiate the best or next practice in order to manage talent in digital way, to put the right people in the right position at the right time.

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

Three Aspects of Change Management

Change Management is not a one-time project, but an ongoing business capability.

Change is everywhere and it happens every moment in the workplace, but unfortunately people rarely recognize that; people go in and out; sales rise and drop, new technology continues emerging and out of date, competition becomes fierce, and opportunities are arising and fading away rapidly, Change Management has become an important discipline often going hand-in-hand with strategy management and project management, what’s it all about, and how to practice it effectively?

Change Management has a very wide scope and is a relatively new area of expertise: There seem to be areas of expertise around personal change, organizational change, project change, IT/technical change and some others. Good practice of organization/people change should be a full lifecycle approach, not a tag on at the end. In the past a change manager was often an "axeman," it was his job to force through changes decided autocratically against the wishes of the people employed to actually do the job. The job entails talent management, negotiating with unions and rewriting job descriptions. The term 'Change Management" also is often being overworked and wasted. Lots of people think of change as being only suitable during the rollout whereas. Change experts know it concerns the entire project from gap analysis through monitoring the change. It is not surprising that there are conflicting definitions as the change management is different in every organization. The way change is done is also rapidly changing.

The change management focuses on coordination and facilitation, not bullying and forcing: Change Management is usually involved in negotiating a way around all the roadblocks which people erect against the change. That includes managers fighting for dominance and who judge their status by the number of people in their department. It includes people frightened of change who brought in safety, etc. There are two types of changes that organizations have to brace with, those driven by technological upgrade needs, and those necessitated by internal or external performance audits. Change management is about planning and then managing a journey from present to a future destination for achieving improved organizational efficiency and increased market share or competitive cutting edge etc. It could be in the domain of organizational restructuring, process re-engineering, and behavioral reorientation or technology upgrades.

Change Management is a cross-functional management practice following the logical steps: It takes organizational scope collaboration including HR and every other issue they could think of. And it includes liaising with IT, facilities HR to make the change possible, each with their own empire building and change agenda. Change Management follows the logical steps: (1) Process is the first building block. Process cut across the silos and the empire building to focus on the customer journey, expose the bottlenecks, the wasted resource, and the latency. It also makes people realize the effects of their performance on the overall task. (2) Collaboration is the second. IMPOSE=OPPOSE. By involving people from the beginning, you have many heads designing a better system. They work out manpower, roles etc., in a non-combative manner. And, once they agree it is correct, they make it happen, without roadblocks. (3) The software is the third. Meetings are combative, time-consuming; by collaborating using a social tool which allows 2nd thoughts to overwhelm knee-jerk, prevents power groups and allows peer-to-peer, not just feedback, a real consensus emerges.

In summary: Business Change Management is managing everything that is necessary to get people to adopt new ways of working such as Stakeholder Management, Communications, Process or organizational change, training, business Readiness etc, and then there is Technical Change Management which includes changes to an environments, configuration management, software releases, etc. And Change Management is not a one-time project, but an ongoing business capability.

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Anti-Digital Mind: A Binary Mind

When technology has long ago shifted from analog mode to digital mode, it's the time for the mind shift as well.

The digital world is nonlinear and ambiguous, also multi-dimensional and colorful. However, many leaders and business professionals still keep the old silo thinking habits at the industrial age, for many of them, people are either good or bad, friend or enemy; things are either right or wrong; win or lose; the state is either blue or red, and the world is either black or white; there are no shades in between. Either you call it “extreme thinking,” “binary thinking,” or “bipolar thinking,” such mind is too rigid in the outlook; too judgmental in managing relationship; too static to sense the change; too silo to think the big picture, and too linear to fit in the non-linear digital world. More specifically, what’re the root causes of such mindset, is it changeable?

A binary mind takes two-dimensional lenses to see the multi-facet world: The extreme or binary thinking of only embracing the opposite sides and take the two-dimensional lenses to perceive the multi-facet world can limit your view to observe the world more objectively; distort the picture of reality, restrict the scope of your thought process, and cloud your mind to make good judgement either in decision making or problem solving. The leaders or business professionals with binary thinking are resistant to listen to the diverse viewpoint; have no intention to understand the other side of the coin; push the people to take the side, many times, they become the part of problems which they try to solve. In order to adapt to the new digital way, they need to increase their cognitive agility and cultivate empathy by exploring alternative viewpoints and cross-disciplinary interpretations.  
Linear thinking is another root cause to the binary thinking: Linear thinking is viewed by many as being simply the opposite of closed loop thinking (thinking in a straight line rather than circularly). In the real, physical world, most relationships are non-linear. People vastly underestimate the complexity and non-linearity of the human cognition processes they rely on in all business systems. So it is important to encourage them to understand how “extreme thinking” can build the wall at the peoples’ heart, damage relationship building, and make it hard for them to adapt to the hybrid “coopetitive” (competition+cooperation) digital environment.

Superficiality will also cause such anti-digital "extreme thinking" pattern: More often, the binary thinking just focuses on the symptoms, and lack of systems thinking and independent thinking capability, only catches the conventional understanding of content, not the contextual insight beneath the surface; the quantity over quality; the close-mindedness, the stereotypical thinking or pre-conceived ideas about how things should happen. The reality is that there is known known, there is known unknown, and there is unknown unknown. The enemy of being an independent thinker is an inclination to think something and say something else, or follow other's opinion without digesting through and digging deeper. It takes courage and integrity to say “I do not know,” especially when you leverage unknown factors in making significant decisions which may affect many peoples’ life. Superficiality is the very reason to make the world disconnect. To avoid thinking extremely, you have to practice multi-dimensional thinking processes such as critical thinking, creative thinking, systems thinking, analytic thinking, synthetic thinking, holistic thinking and more.

Group level binary thinking is caused by the homogeneous team setting: From industry study, group polarization means that a group of people can make a more extreme decision than an individual. You'd think that a group would tend to democratize the diversified viewpoint and to moderate individual points of view. In fact, the opposite often occurs: In a phenomenon known as group polarization (the group of people more often “think the same,”), deliberation can intensify people’s attitudes, leading to more extreme decisions.

When technology has long ago shifted from analog mode to digital mode, it's the time for the mind shift as well. People with binary thinking process need to train them with systems thinking (to see how the parts connected with the whole), independent thinking (to leverage different resources for information collection, and more importantly how to abstract knowledge into insight and wisdom) and multi-dimensional thinking (do not judge something with binary standard such as good or bad, right or wrong or black and white; practice empathetic thinking and in-depth analytic thinking, etc.). The world embraces the full spectrum of colors, so does our thinking.

Data or Process, Which is More Critical in Decision Making?

Data without process has no meaning; process without data gives no meaning.

Decision making is a daily challenge for most business leaders because organizations become over-complex, hyper-connected, uncertain and ambiguous. What is more important to effecting good decisions within your organization? A sound process? Or the "best" (reliable and relevant) data? What’s your best scenario to make effective decisions?

Data quality is important. If you mine, cleanse and improve the data to produce information, combine that information and visualize it in different ways, then you gain organizational knowledge and from that knowledge, you can make excellent tactical decisions. Knowledge is firmly rooted in context. A database is simply a database and is context agnostic. Data patterns can be viewed over time in the form structured and unstructured data, however, this does not give you knowledge of what is going on only some insights of possible weak signals. These insights need to be vetted before being implemented, and this is where the process of prioritization and selection becomes so critical. The Data -> Information -> Knowledge process should then be cognizant of the right ways to work (Process). Thus, the Data>Information>Knowledge tactics route will encompass all (most) of what you need.

A sound process to frame decision is critical: Part of the problem is in the framing. You need a sound process to frame the decision, spec out your options, weigh them appropriately with the right people, and actually make a decision. The importance of the process becomes critical as decisions become more complex and involve more diverse stakeholders. If you hang around the word data, It’s the process. From an organizational and business optimization point of view - Process is the sequenced series of tasks. What do tasks need to be performed? Next, look at in which sequence these tasks should be performed to generate optimal value. Within the tasks associated with the element of the business decisions, data are fluid in the sense that it is constantly added to or subtracted to dependent on the task.
-Identification of tasks.
-Understanding the tasks and how they should be sequenced.
-How to leverage data associated with tasks optimally to make effective decisions.

Process without data gives no meaning: Processes are governed by data. That does not mean processes should be "super glued" to data. In IT, there’s a tendency to do exactly that. Mainly for engineering methodology and project driven (requirements-driven design) reasons. The result is more often than not duplications of functions and processes. This is resource demanding, time-consuming and costly. If processes are given precedence over data, it can get a much higher degree of reusability and drive down unit cost. The decision at hand and the criteria prescribed should drive the data, with the understanding that scenario analysis may require more iterations of data. With an effective process, if you mine, cleanse and improve the data to produce information, then combine that information and visualize it in different ways, then you gain organizational knowledge and from that knowledge, you can make excellent tactical decisions.
Data without process has no meaning: Lots of data tends to overwhelm our cognitive decision-making processes. In Big Data and cognitive analytics, maybe data enrichment and correlation are on the surf of more data-driven than process driven. But in this case, the process is system flows, and PROCESS (Tasks) is key to identify the purpose of the analytics. Essentially, a process is a collection of tasks assigned to specific roles, designed to convert specific inputs into specific outputs to answer specific questions. More complex processes, such as larger scale prioritization of R&D, capital budgets, strategic options, etc tend to cut across organizational functional boundaries and engross different stakeholders. As to judgment, virtually nothing is certain in business, so judgment must be based on the best information available.

Obviously, both are important, data is the means to the end, not the end. It is critical to frame the right question via sound process and manage data quality also via an effective process. Making an effective decision is all about to have the right person to leverage the right information, following the right process, to make the right decisions at the right time.

Digital Master Tuning #78: What is Cultural Fit

More often, you need the "Misfit Mind" to Innovate Culture; and you need Cultural Fit for Harmonization.

Culture is invisible, but it's one of the most critical factors in business success. If you ignore it, "culture will eat strategy for lunch." From talent management perspective, how one would define the culture prior to determining if someone is a fit for that culture. Is that definition based on a rigorous scientific study of exactly what their culture is, so they know what attributes fit and what don't, or what attributes would compliment? Is the definition coming from the organization based on what they 'think' their culture is, or maybe even what they want their culture to be, not necessarily what it is. Is it coming from their external perception (based on marketing or other elements) of the teams who locate the potential hire? Are people more worried about NOT hiring the person they should hire; or HIRING a person that they shouldn't hire; For the organizations that want to rejuvenate the culture, shall they hire “culture-fit” or a "misfit"?

What is the culture - Culture is the collective mind, attitude and behavior? How does the employer prove what the culture actually is? Some places will have their culture embodied in workplace posters, policies, intranets etc. Others won't. If you can't prove what your culture is, then you are leaving the way open to infer that "culture" is just a shorthand way for perpetuating whatever demographic imbalances already exist within the workforce. Culture fit DOES matter, but it's hard to explain it, it is more about looking for candidates who exhibit certain behaviors, the term cultural fit can mean different things to different people. We have to be careful in how we use the term. We also have to be aware of our own biases. There are different kind of fit: mind fit, job fit, organizational fit, vertical fit, etc., Philosophically, “too fit” is not always a good thing, it perhaps means that you build the homogeneous team and cause the cognitive blind spots; or have people stay in their comfort zone too long, and create friction to changes. Hence, organizations need to hire the change agent with the “misfit” mind, but positive attitude to innovate their culture when necessary.   

Culture needs to be well defined. Unless the culture is clearly defined, and it can be demonstrated how those cultural components drive positive business results, then you should not be hiring for cultural fit. Further, once that is established, it must be shown that the selection process used to evaluate "cultural fit" is objective and systematic. Cultural fit is an integral part of an individual's acclimatization process with the organizational cultural fit (or the absence of it). It has a significant impact on performance. In some cases, a candidate is being accepted or rejected purely on the basis of cultural fit - for while the cultural fit is an important factor, it can't be the only parameter of selection. The organizations need to improve organizational culture maturity from functional to high-performing. We are all creatures of our cultural conditioning and we all have a bias based on our cultural values (many of which are unconscious). On a more micro-scale, it's fair to acknowledge that there are different cultures in different companies. "Cultural fit" seems to imply that such circumstances would either secure a content committed employee or an employee who would ensure some measure of high performance for the team, division, and company: the creation of a high performing, motivated, committed and engaging employee. Of course, that will also depend on whether the culture is currently functional, high performing, productive and resilient, or the dysfunctional culture which needs to change.

In face of today’s digital dynamic, culture fit for digital transformation is strategic imperative, because you need employees who have the growth mind to continue improving with the positive attitude, who can quickly learn and adapt to the changes with agility, who have the self-discipline to work effectively and efficiently at remote locations, and who can think differently to spark business innovation. More often, you need the "Misfit Mind" to innovate culture; and you need cultural fit for harmonization.

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

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Digital Boundary a “Sharp Line” or a “Fluid Wave”?

Digital boundaries are not "sharp" lines; they are fluid to adapt to changes.

Digitalization means hyper-connectivity, over-complexity, and interdependence; it blurs the functional border, the organizational border, the industry vertical border and knowledge domain border, it blurs the border between professional life and personal life, the local and globe, the art and science, etc. So does digital still have a boundary, what does the digital boundary look like? A “Sharp Line” or a “Fluid Wave”? “Black & White” or the “Full Spectrum of Color” and with "Many Shades in between"?

Digital boundaries are not "sharp" lines; they are fluid to adapt to changes: The digital responsibilities overlap each other. Groups of people can and do often change from one "set" of responsibilities to another one ( they moved from one territory into another). The problem with setting all of your boundaries in black and white is that others don't and it can lead to limited learning and tunnel vision. A corporate example: A company sets up a decentralized organization using its own management requirements to set the boundaries. Those boundaries tend to become black and white and much like country borders. Unfortunately, their customers have not all agreed to organize their companies in accordance with those guidelines. Service to customers suffers because the boundaries are different. To accommodate this, you have to have at least two sets of boundaries, one for geographic responsibilities and one set to serve your customers. The point is that too restrict boundary setting will cause silo thinking, overly rigid business processes, and negative internal competition for limited resources, with ignorance of ultimate organizational goals as a whole. So digital boundaries are not sharp lines, they are fluid to adapt to changes.

The digital boundary is not for dividing, but for enforcing mutual understanding: Boundaries is indeed a very broad term that encompasses all sorts of things, strict or fluid; boundaries can be good, bad, or indifferent depending on the application. This is space for learning, an opportunity to examine our own thoughts, beliefs and actions, to experience what it is like to agree to disagree and still remain engaged, an opportunity to change our own perceptions, to recognize that we cannot change other people only ourselves, before making influence on societies, to recognize that we are responsible for promoting or dissolving our own thoughts, emotions, and actions. So we have to have the ability to ask the hard questions and engage in meaningful dialogue even if we do not agree with one another we can indeed agree to disagree yet, stay engaged with one another because the dialogue is important, yet, the harmony is priceless. We do not have to agree with one another in order to learn from and with one another. We need these types of relationships so that when we find ourselves blinded by negative emotions (hate, prejudice, anger, fear, or envy, etc,); we don't impulsively react in such a way that adds to more harm and suffering.

The digital boundary shall not be set by personal interest, but for solving the problem with effectiveness and efficiency. We are living in a complex world where inventions, developments, and conflicts are continuously changing and that makes it impossible to have complete knowledge and understanding of many issues. We all bring different perspectives and our boundaries might have changed based on the open conversations and taking the time to thoughtfully think about the specific issue of boundaries. Sometimes we define boundaries for ourselves based on what we feel we are skilled at or capable of. If we don't feel adequate for the task, we might dismiss ourselves from responsibility. Anywhere in the world, the systems and procedures apply and impose boundaries between those who teach and those who learn, those who lead and those who follow, those who have power and those who are powerless. Many come to believe that boundaries are not tangible places of resistance but are only self-imposed limitations we place on ourselves to hide our own fear to move forward.

There’s “emotion boundary” during the journey from decision making to strategy execution. At every point in the organization, people need to be the key element in decision making. However, in order to stick to the issues and get things done, the emotion has to be taken out. This, of course, is after an empathetic review to come to a decision reflecting the best outcome possible. Emotions play a huge role in the front of the decision process to reflect the humanity of the organization, and not so much in the execution, keeping things on point. Since organizations are about people and digitization means people-centricity, and the execution is about driving efficiency and higher performance result.

The black and white boundaries continue to diminish in the 21st century due to the occurrence of increased economic integration among nations, characterized by the movement of people cultures across national and international borders, and the advanced digital technologies such as social computing. Still, the digital boundary with fluidity is a necessity for responsibility taking, problem-solving and efficiency achieving. There is much in the world we do not know nor understand and because of that limitation, we need to choose to continue to learn, grow and empower people to learn and grow too. It would be easy to get hooked into anger, outrage, and revenge over all the inhumanities of humanity; but that would be repeating the same old habits of history. There comes a time when we each have to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions, thoughts, and beliefs. If we want inclusion, peace, harmony, love, respect, and acceptance, then, we cannot be exclusionary, biased, hateful, vengeful, retaliatory of "other people." That would not be leading by example. It is the time to change at the digital age of information abundance, design empathy, and people-centricity.