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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaping Digital Leadership at Leap Day

Leaping digital leadership to the next level of maturity is a journey which takes advanced mindsets and progressive actions.

The substance of leadership never changes, it’s all about future and change, innovation and progression. Either past, today or future, there's no magic formula for leadership effectiveness, because every era has its own opportunities and risks. It is the leap day today, but what're the emergent digital leadership trend, and how to leap digital leadership to achieve the next level of leadership maturity in the leap year and beyond?

Synthesizing leadership: Digital is about hyperconnectivity and interdependence, synthesis is understanding a thing by examining it as a whole. It is to understand how the “part” interconnected with the”whole.” From a leadership perspective, this is always a good start when working to break down the silo mentality, go beyond crunching numbers, harness cross-functional communication, build cross-functional collaboration, understand where each is coming from and have some trust from them, with the ultimate business goal to ensure business a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. Via synthesizing leadership, interconnections, and interdependencies are distinguished, wise choices and decisions are made via the full cycle of analytics and synthesis. Solutions are also made from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear or analytical thinking only. It is both detailed and holistic pictures. Synthesizing leaders master at contextual intelligence, not only digest only one word or sentence, but pondering the full conversation or article to capture the tunes and implication; not just understand things on the surface, but capture the insight underneath.

Cognitive leadership: Many leadership pundits advocate diversified or inclusive leadership, at the deeper level, it’s to promote leaders with the cognitive difference. “Cognition" is a word that dates back to the 15th century when it meant "thinking and awareness." The traditional concept of diversity can not fill out the gaps caused by cognitive difference necessarily, the culture intelligence, and the strengths of the problem-solving capabilities people bring to the team. Minding the cognitive gaps can benefit with any organization to make a sound judgment, and generate innovative solutions, to improve your company’s agility and maturity. In order to build a high-effective leadership team, foresightful organizations should always look for complementary mindsets, capabilities, and skills that they don't have so that they can build a winning team and complement each other. Empathy is one of the most important attributes of being a great cognitive leader -have the ability think as if you were in the other party's position. In such a global climate, those businesses that are unwilling to GENUINELY embrace “thinking differently,” are unable to know how to tap their diverse resources, and be inclusive and recognize merit and ideas, no matter where they come from, will not be able to survive, leave alone thrive. Anyone can find themselves leading effectively if they find themselves in the right place, surrounded by the right people, at the right time and they recognize this and seize the opportunity.

Creative leadership: Creativity has emerged as one of the top leadership qualities and most wanted skills for digital professionals. Creative leaders are the one who are capable of predicting future trends, manage the presence and delegate the past. In each context, a creative leader is always conscious of the changes needed to connect the past with the future, prospecting and communicating tangible such as resources and intangible such as cultural changes needs and identifying the proper vision for each cycle in the life of a corporation. Creative leaders are futuristic and forward thinking. Realizing that what has worked in the past isn't today's best solution and having the vision to see what it has now become. Creative leadership is more global than local, global leadership is shifting toward grooming historic digital leadership skills embodying effective communication in networks of global conversations that inspires creativity in diverse domains of expertise. Be courageous to take risks. Creative leadership is the unique combination of leadership mindset, behaviors that develop and achieves high-quality results over a sustained period of time and risk tolerance.

Leaping digital leadership is a journey. Transformation is the change, but on a grand level, from transactional to transformational; from mechanical to organic; from local to global; from sympathetic to empathetic; to always 'keep learning' is a must. A leader needs to know what resources are available and how best to utilize these resources. But this doesn't change leadership substances and principles - they are timeless.

Running IT as the Digital “Whole Brain” of the Organization

Only functioning as a whole brain, IT can strike the right balance between stability and agility, creativity and standardization; innovation and risk intelligence.

Organizations large or small on the journey to digital transformation, IT plays a critical role as a "digital brain" of the organization to process information, drive changes and build a high-effective and high-intelligent digital organization. Because IT is the steward to manage business information, it is like the business’s nervous system to ensure the right information getting to the right people at the right time to make the right decisions. IT also helps the business to optimize processes, cost and capture the business insight for growth opportunities. But is digital IT more like the LEFT brain, RIGHT brain or the WHOLE brain of the organization?

Be rational as the “left side of the brain”: “Keep the light on” with efficiency is still fundamental for IT to be a business enabler. IT needs to take logical steps from making alignment with the business to engaging and integrating with the business. Most dictionaries divide alignment into two categories; arrangement and alliance. Those organizations that have a more mature alignment maturity 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. The alignment also shouldn't mean the rigid business processes to stifle innovation, it means more about business working as a whole to improve communication, harness partnership, demonstrate value and engage employees. Whatever term you prefer, it is a persistent and pervasive problem that demands an ongoing process to ensure that IT and business strategies adapt effectively and efficiently together. The rational side of IT also works on improving process efficiency and optimizing operational cost. From a finance perspective: Do CIOs have the budget? Most of the budget is allocated to cost/value proven tech and projects. Senior IT leaders weigh the risk/reward/ ongoing maintenance (labor) equation all the time whether conscious or not. Budget cut, priority changes, resource reallocation, technology diversion, etc - will force CIOs to be more rational and logical as a “right-brainers,” but it doesn’t mean CIOs should be reactive and mechanical to only act as an order taker.

Be creative as the “right side of the brain”: Digital is the age of options and innovation, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. So it forces IT leaders to get really creative about how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next while, at the same time, being so tactically pinned down by existing legacy infrastructure and inefficient/outdated business processes. While nowadays, technology is more often the business disruptors regardless of sectors, and IT needs to become an innovation engine to catalyze business growth. IT will get opportunities to transform from mere enabler to an accelerator of the business. Boldness needs to become part of the digital CIO’s personality profile.  The role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and information channels. The CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities. DRIVING is not a passive activity, but a proactive effort. Though it may not be so fair to only have the CIO shift the mindset, from board room to front desk, digital thinking means new learning attitude, from the business side, it means to show the constructive dissatisfaction, understand the risks and potential bear traps; for CIOs, from "No" to "Yes," it takes positive thinking as well as enterprise-wide supporting. CIO should proactively understand the business and customers first to avoid changing for technology’s sake, IT leaders are often at the right position to have an oversight of business processes and set the right policy for their business’s technology and information usage, identify the critical business issues by working closely with business partners from a long-term perspective, and leverage technology to manage innovation across the enterprise boundary. IT can drive all sort of innovations, proactively pushing ideas on how to leverage technology to drive revenue growth, increase business productivity, flexibility, and agility.

Digital IT needs to be the “Whole Brain” of the business. Because IT is shifting from a controller to an enabler to an accelerator of the business for top-line value, growth, and profitability. Only functioning as a whole brain, IT can strike the right balance between stability and agility, creativity and standardization; innovation and risk intelligence, with the ultimate goal to run a highly intelligent and high mature digital organization.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Monthly Strategy Highlight: IT Strategy as an Integral Part of Business Strategy Feb.2016

The strategy is the light to guide you ahead, not the hand to walk you through.

The strategy is the focal point of the “Future of CIO,” and the pillar of organizational existence, its design, structure, functions, vision, and mission. A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge. It brings up new functions, roles, and responsibilities, collaboration, demand for intuition and emergence, complementarities, philosophy, neutron sciences, and trans-disciplinary businesses. But these are not new per se. The frameworks of thoughts, consciousness and maturity assessments apply to strategy, then, now and in the future. Here is the monthly strategy highlight of the “Future of CIO” blog

IT Strategy as an Integral Part of Business Strategy  Feb. 2016
  • IT Strategy as an Integral Part of Business Strategy: The biggest challenge now is the increasing rate of change, and this isn't going to change! The objective of IT strategy is not just to be aligned with business strategy, but it is an integral part of business strategy. IT strategies, services, and solutions, absolutely need to be able to respond in an agile way and change themselves! In detail, how to craft a good strategy, and how to execute it effectively?

  • CIO as Strategist: What’s in your Strategic Planning? The whole purpose of the strategy of any kind is to envision the future success, then figure out how to execute to that end. IT strategy should always be an integral component of corporate strategy. What would be a good content for IT strategic plan? Should CIOs simply develop IT plans to support existing business strategy or should they, in addition, be working in the business to identify areas where IT can make a positive contribution to the bottom line and top line growth?

  • Is IT Strategy Equal to Digital Strategy? The biggest challenge now is the increasing rate of change, and this isn't going to change! The current strategy making methodologies are out of date mainly because digitalization is driving unpredictability, demanding a more rapid strategy methodology that quickly can adjust to new market conditions. So how relevant is the Digital Strategy for the organizations today? And is IT strategy equal to digital strategy?

  • CIO as Strategist: Is One Page Strategy Practical: For many organizations, the business strategy documents are “shelf-ware,” not shareware. Albert Einstein’s simplicity principle: Keep things as simple as possible but not simpler; should also be applied to strategy making, but is one-page strategy practical or too empty?

  • How to Weave IT into Corporate Strategy? Most companies have no effective strategy. That is mostly because organizations lack focus and clarity on what they do. Rare business is ready to cognize itself and achieve self-consciousness (develop a strategy), and perhaps its leaders are also a lack of self-reflection upon who they really are. Thus,  this is not because of business - this is because of human nature. In order to reach higher business maturity, how to craft a good corporate strategy and how to weave IT into a business strategy to deliver high performing result?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.3 million page views with 2500+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

Five Frictions to Stifle Business Agility

Being agile needs to have a totally different mindset and multidimensional perspective.

 Many organizations are doing agile, and very few organizations are being agile. Agile is the mindset, the philosophy, and the methodology to not only manage software but to run today’s businesses. The point is how do you make radical management transformation from a traditional setting to agile; what types of frictions do you experience with Agile? And how can you overcome the barriers, build TRUST to improving the overall business agility?

Lack of agile transformation leadership: The key difference is a transformation from "command and control" to "digital leadership” -trustful, innovative, holistic, empathetic, and solution-driven. Being agile is the mindset, which is shaped by the top leadership. In the workplace, trust means trusted to deliver. To begin establishing trust especially with a newly adopted methodology going through a shift in how work is approached. And building two-way, both top-down and bottom-up trust relation is crucial to succeeding. Agile approaches require evolution within organizations, especially in regard to governance. Managers will need to relinquish control. If you were an Agilist, you know that the primary success factors will not be related to agile. Leadership effectiveness, team maturity, and team member competency are all-important than the specific process/approach. It must be determined if the current leadership and team have the competency for the proposed effort/project and someone with technical aptitude must accept responsibility for that evaluation. Then, being agile becomes a reachable journey even with some challenges on the way.

Stifled business culture: Consider the culture and how it needs to change organization-wide. People are more influenced by their environment than environments by people. Being agile is a transformation that needs something of a quite bigger and most likely organization level culture shift. Remember Deming's advice: 95% of individual problems can be boiled down to systemic issues. So, if you're going to pilot a cultural shift, and you want to use it to change the culture from something mechanistic to something more organic, the last thing you should do is to treat people like replaceable parts. The key to agile is not to just implement agile practices, but to actually BE agile. Implementing agile with people who still subscribe to old practices will not likely lead to success. If the team is dysfunctional, you need to see why the trust is not there and address that. Sometimes managers have unrealistic expectations and on rare occasions the team is wrong. It is important to help EVERYONE makes the transition to adopting an agile mindset. When the team and management are all on the same page, you are more likely to succeed.

Narrow perception about Agile: Agile is often narrowly viewed as 'something for technology,' rather than as something to the business. Agility won't fix what being call "technical problems." It is a way to organize work. You still have to be good at doing the work. It takes more engineering and management discipline, not less. If problems happen, why not take some time to look into the root cause of the technical problems and late deliveries. If doing Agile is more about managing a software project which is still a business initiative to achieve the corporate goals, and then being Agile is to follow a set of agile principles to run a business with customer-centricity, and business agility is the upper-level characteristic of organization maturity.

Focus on tools and processes, rather than people: Tools and processes are definitely going to be added on, in being agile, but they are not mandated to become agile. Agile is about people, not tools and processes, being agile means respectful to each other, open to others’ views, being a good listener, being collaborative. In practice: on one hand, organizations focusing on artifacts, metrics, ceremonies without ever understanding the why from the inside, will not get far. On the other hand, evangelists of agile who lose touch with business, do agile for its own sake, will also fail to achieve the business expectation. Agile is an open mindset, where you are open to fail and learn from mistakes, start by offering training to the management. They need to see what is asked of them to provide the right environment for an Agile way of working.

Lack of trust relationship between management and team members: Often the rationale for agile transformation is not well understood or articulated. People do not come to work with the intention to do a bad job, to make life difficult for coworkers. Agile provides the guidelines to empower people to work more creatively and proactively, to make iterative communication, cross-functional collaboration, and continuous improvement and delivery. People should ride on the excitement that agile has generated in the management team and suggest that in the spirit of agile, would they at least be willing to try an experiment and then reflect and adapt based on the outcome, and make the journey more adventurous and advance. To overcome mistrust, you need to see why the trust is not there and address that. Sometimes managers have unrealistic expectations and on rare occasions the team is wrong, if you can figure out the root cause of the actual problem, it’s easy to communicate with actual data points. The only way to gain trust, particularly in a difficult environment is through successful delivery, you have to prove it.

Doing Agile is just a first step; being agile needs to have a totally different mindset and multidimensional perspective. Move out of your regular communication patterns since you should work closely together with people in all positions: step out of your comfort zone since agile encourages creativity and improvement; and connect the dot between agile and many other success factors of the business, such as flexibility, trust, accountability, quality, innovation, prioritization, and maturity, etc.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection Feb. 2016

The healthy debating is for brainstorming fresh ideas and leveraging multiple PoVs.

Due to the changing nature of technology, IT leadership role also continues to involve and shift the focus, to move up the maturity level. More and more CIOs are requested to take more responsibility and many CIOs present the breadth of leadership competency. The proactive IT debates help IT leaders to brainstorm innovative and better ways to do things, and improve management capabilities. Here are the monthly CIO debates collections on Feb. 2016.

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection Feb. 2016

  • Is IT an Enabler or an Obstacle to Getting Things Done in Organizations? In many organizations, IT has been perceived as a controller, a cost center, or even an obstacle to getting things done in the business. What’s the reality of your IT organization? How do you get the non-IT stakeholders to recognize and support the notion that IT and business are not separate or independent departments? How do you get all stakeholders (IT and non-IT) to encourage the notion that IT and business need to work together to be successful? How do you get non-IT stakeholders to focus on collaboration, transparency, respect, and providing clear leadership?

  • Why is IT so Reluctant to Look at itself? With the rate of change is accelerated, it’s very important for contemporary organizations to continually do “self-reflection’ upon the business effectiveness, process efficiency, strength and risks, culture and brand etc. IT is a critical component of the business, commonly IT self-evaluation ability is a reflection on overall business culture within the whole organization. Some say IT is so reluctant to look at itself, is it true?

  • Is Business & IT Gap ‘Artificial’? The “gap” between business and IT is always a hot debate, and the conclusion is also controversial. Some say, the gap is definitely shrinking, as IT is gradually becoming engrained into every aspect of business these days due to internet, technology developments etc. The clear cut divide that used to be there between IT and business in the olden days is vanishing fast; the opposite opinion is that indeed the gap is deepened because the “shadow IT”-the business bypassing IT oversight to order SAAS service on their own, causes serious governance issue and communication gaps.

  • Can The Cloud Cut Your Business Costs?More and more CIOs are crafting their cloud strategy, but before pushing their ‘cloud envelope’ further, understanding the clear business goals is first things first to watch over the cloud, and well-planning is half way to success.

  • How to Promote IT Effectively? It is no secret that IT can often only be noticed when things are broken, the CIO and his/her team should be the leading persons driving that message of IT value throughout the enterprise. They are, after all, the face of the IT organization. The key challenge is to demonstrate what you provide can help the client achieve some critical purpose of theirs.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.3 million page views with 2500+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

Digital Innovation Premium

Digital means flow, there is more flow of creative ideas, the better opportunities to reap the benefit from innovation management.

Many say digital is the age of innovation. With the increasing speed of changes and hyper-fierce competitions, at present days, innovation is the “Must Have” element of the business strategy if the organization wants to stay competitive on the market. Digital organizations are complex adaptive living systems, which are comprised, in part, of people who are also complex adaptive living systems, all such systems function, grow and prosper by continually learning, innovating, adapting and evolving. Creativity has just become indispensable, and innovation turns out to be a competitive necessity. From a business management perspective, how to build a highly competitive organization with digital innovation premium?

Create an open work environment with the culture of agility: Digitalization stipulates companies work together in a hyper-connected and continuously converging environment that provides structural analysis and a certain extent of serendipity. Digital means flow, there is more flow of creative ideas, the better opportunities to reap the benefit from innovation management. Digital organizations also follow the agile principles to focus on three “I”s -Interaction, Improvement, and Innovation. Agile is a fantastic way of working to involve everyone in the process of creation and delivery. Innovations simply benefit from being developed in and subsequently commercialized in a more open ecosystem, it makes the pie of creative ideas grow bigger. Organizations need to be getting used to these forms of working and commercializing value in the digital era with the new characteristics of hyperconnectivity and convergence. The evolution of innovation only exists in the more open environments that create insights, take advantage of all sources of creativity in a more open way and leap innovation management to the next level.

Develop the tailored best and next practice to stimulate and scale innovation: Innovation is a management process, not just a serendipitous magic. More and more firms are learning and implementing best practices in innovation, Originally, all best practices were industry specific and evidence-based, meaning they were based on data. And practice is always a combination of both people and processes- how they are used to doing things in the organization. Not every innovative company uses every best practice. Not every authority agrees on every best practice. Perhaps it is a better approach to strive for using good practice - good for a certain organization and for the specific situation and challenges that are faced and that actually requires different priorities as compared to others. Some "next practices" continue to emerge - after all, the people who use today's best practices are innovators. Still, there is a recognizable core of approaches and activities that produce profitable innovation. Hence, the forward-thinking organization needs to both learn from other innovative leaders across industrial sectors, as well as develop the tailored best practices to fit for its own circumstances.

Build an "ambidextrous organization," which can manage innovation portfolio including both radical innovation and incremental innovation:  An "ambidextrous organization”  is an organization that can handle innovation streams for different purposes and with different time frames. From innovation management perspective, obviously, there are organizations that are better at "ambidexterity" and those that are worse, but to say that corporations can't do disruptive innovation while executing is perhaps a bit exaggeration. What does it mean of achieving "innovative ambidexterity"? The ambidextrous businesses may separate a disruptive idea-generation from implementing and sustaining innovation. Innovation explorers develop unconventional and disruptive solutions, then, when ideas were fully developed and a prototype built, other people – innovation builders or operation gurus - took over and worked on serial production and sustaining innovation to make products or services more reliable, easier to make, and cheaper.  All those processes in combination favorably affected the outcome= true ambidexterity.

For cracking serendipity code to achieve digital innovation premium, the key to success of innovation effort in an organization is to have the right people in place to manage the process, using experience, insight and judgment to rigorously make the needed decisions, cultivate the culture of agility, well integrate innovation strategy into business strategy, and manage the innovation portfolio in a systematic way.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Talent Management Monthly Brief: See Through Talent from Different Angles IV Feb. 2016

People are always the most invaluable asset in businesses. “Hiring the right person for the right position at the right time,” is the mantra of many forward-thinking organizations. The question is how would you define the right people? How do you define wrong, average, mediocre, good, great or extraordinary person? Or put simply, for what should they be right? Traditional Performance Management focusing on measuring what an employee does (mainly being told to do) in a quantitative way is not sufficient to identify high performance or high potential, should we see through talent from different angles?

See Through Talent from Different Angles

  • Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Advancement The advancement of an organization depends on how advanced its people are. But how can you assess people’s advancement? Is it only based on the advanced degree they got, an advanced title they hold? Or is it because they can play the latest gadgets or wear the fashionable outfits? What are the right questions to lead thought-provoking understanding about the advancement of an individual, or an overall society?

  • Three Questions to Assess an Employee’s “Balance” Digital is all about the balance: the balance of the physical and the virtual world; the balance of innovation and standardization; the balance of unconventional insight and accumulated human wisdom. From talent management perspective, should you also assess the “balance” capability of an employee? Surely we don’t expect all employees have gymnast's balance skills, so what does digital balance mean for today’s digital professionals? And what are thought-provoking questions to evaluate their “balance” ability?

  • Three Questions to Assess an Employee’s Authenticity: Most of the employees at pyramidal organizations in the industrial age are like cogs in the huge mechanical business wheel, keep working, but lack the big picture about the strategic goals of their organizations as well as lack the imagination about their own potential. Now the new digital paradigm that is emerging is one of a living organization, one that is organic, alive, energetic, fluid, connected and holistic. Every staff is also like a living “cell,” can continue to discover and grow, creative and influential. So an important perspective for either talent managers or employees themselves is to ask tough questions and discover authenticity and purpose of the work, to unleash the collective human potential and business potential as well.

  • How to Assess a Person’s Intelligence: "Intelligence" is from Latin word “intellego” -Inter-lego: Bind together, read between the lines, or connect the dots. Intelligence has been defined in many different ways such as in terms of one's capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, creativity and problem solving. Intelligence is indeed multidimensional, so how to assess a person’s “intelligence”?

  • Three Questions to Evaluate a Person’s Perception? Perception is the way you understand someone or something. It is as we see, observe and experience as defined by our mental "band-pass filters." Our mind notices and recognizes some things, but may not do the same for some other things. Our perception is what makes up our worldview, and how do we articulate and convey from what we “see” or understand. Perception is one's interpretation of the reality. So it is very subjective and varies from person to person. How to evaluate a person’s perception, though?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.3+million page views with about #2500+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom, to inspire critical thinking and spur healthy debates. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

See through talent from different angles Nov. 2015

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s “Decisiveness”

Decision power is knowledge-based, wisdom-driven, and character-oriented.

At today’s digital dynamic with increased velocity, complexity, unpredictability, there is a need for a faster response to changes in the business and industry based on effective and efficient decision making which is one of the most important tasks for both digital leaders and digital professionals at either strategic, operational, or tactical level. How is that possible? What’s the digital way to make the right decision? And how to assess a person’s “decisiveness”?

Do you have a decisive mindset with data enrichment and information empowerment? The decision-maker must have enough knowledge to make their decisions rich in information and significantly different from the available data. Decisions are based on information and generate information. The amount of data required for a decision, and the amount of information generated by a decision, can both be measured in bits & bytes. Thus, a decisive mindset is data enriched and information empowered. Just implementing an analytics tool is not going to result in improved decision making for an organization. The technology should be seen as an enabler and should form part of an analytics strategy, but not be its whole. Sometimes even an extremely analytical mind can be distorted by self-interest, emotional attachments, or misleading memories. Improved decision making will only come when insights from the analytics system are directly matched to improved decisions and better outcomes.

What’s your decision-making styles: Decision making in itself is a complex and simple process based on the probable effect of the decision on the outcome of the organizational goal. The decision-making style should be based on the situation: Are you a “timer” who can make an on-time, quick decisions? Or are you a “diplomat” who can collect different point of views and leverage them to make effective decisions? Etc. One of the prerequisites for decision making is to recognize your own frame of reference prior to making any decision. If you do not recognize the lens through which you make sense of the world around, you are unknowingly captive to your own predispositions. Achieving such awareness through serious self-reflection, frees you from the habituated 'scripts,' and allows you to see new possible options before decisions are made. Hence, collecting necessary information is an important step in making an objective decision. Decision power is a mind-power; it guides what to select from available choices, how to accommodate constraints, how to avoid distractions, and where to show firmness and flexibility. Decision power is knowledge-based, wisdom-driven, and character-oriented.

How well can you deal with the paradox of decision making? The paradox of decision is that sometimes you have to sacrifice to save and sometimes you have to disable one thing to enable another. Decision-making is an ability that is learned or unlearned and can swing both ways (making decisions or avoiding) depending mostly on upbringing and cultural circumstances. Often the decision-making challenges include: When are the options too close to each other in similarity? Is the outcome of each option either unclear or undesirable, etc.  Human knowledge is imperfect about multiple choices and the related outcomes. The Knowledge constraint is a paramount issue during the decision process. But decisions are needed at every moment of life; it cannot be postponed till the availability of complete knowledge. The deficiency of knowledge can only be overcome through decision power which is the mind power.

In the world of uncertainty, the decisive mind can, by definition, not control the outcome, however, focus on making good decisions and the best chance for a good outcome is to make a good decision. The biggest challenge is knowing what you don't know, it is a reasonable moniker for decision making blind spots and biases. Hence, good judgment is a must for good decisions, data analysis and inferences from such data. A good decision needs to use both intuitive thinking and rational analysis. A good decision maker is information-empowered, analytics oriented, who can strike the right balance between confidence and humility, logic and creativity; thinking big & thinking small; thinking fast & thinking slow, and often good decision makers are the great problem solver as well.

Three Things Differentiate Digital Masters from Laggards

Digital Masters can stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a journey. Although digitalization is on every forward-looking organization’s agenda, they may take different levels of altitude, attitude, and aptitude to achieve it. There are three levels of digital maturity, the level one- digital laggards often take a skeptical attitude about the radical change, have very limited advanced digital capability, and pretty much still running with structured silos at the industrial speed. The level 2 -digital mediocrity takes a conservative mindset or attitude to move with digital speed. And the level 3 - digital masters (less than 15%) of overall businesses are digital forerunners who are courageous to be in the vanguard of digital transformation with a quantum lead, they also develop the set of advanced and unique digital capabilities and build a digital premium into the very foundation of the business. More specifically, what are important things differentiate digital masters from digital laggards?

Leadership difference: Digital leadership is the unique combination of leadership mindsets and behaviors that develop and achieves high quality and meaningful results over a sustained period of time. Digital leadership can be described as "adaptability meets agility.” At today’s “digital dynamic with VUCA” (Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) characteristics, Being thoughtful, mindful and multi-dimensional thinker is more crucial to improve leadership effectiveness. Digital leaders need to be more original, positive, progressive, courageous, conscious, creative and curious, and to adopt mindsets of not knowing, challenging convention, maximizing diversity and being willing to experiment, as a basis for then being able to think differently, independently, and globally. The next skill level up is mental agility, adaptive capacity, synthesizing creativity. Then you can add on influence, such as persuasive skills, motivational skills, political skills, decision-making skills, interpersonal skills, conflict management skills, and finally conceptual skills.

Strategy proficiency: VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is a 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. 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. Digital strategy needs to be more dynamic in order to capture the emergent opportunities - Admit those disruptive events may occur. Learn to stay alert and to observe with subtlety and learn fast. It’s about 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. To "be opportunistic" 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. 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. 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. Regardless how many distractions in the business ecosystem, Digital Masters concentrate on the strategic goals and objectives of their organizations and make sure that the roles and functions are stated perfectly.  

IT as an innovation and revenue growth engine: IT plays the critical role in the business's digital transformation, IT can drive the business but it should be in conjunction with the business. IT and the CIO can apply their knowledge of technology to propose products, services, offerings, new ways of doing things, etc. to the business, to run IT as a business that contributes to the revenue growth. The de facto best practices of managing IT project portfolio need to include such as, only manage business projects, not for technology's sake, prioritize the portfolio, and manage the full application lifecycle in a continuous delivery and improvement mode. For example, if App Dev can't keep up with the demand and pace of business change, then there are problems. But AppDev should not innovate simply to amuse itself as well; and it's wasteful of resources, money, effort in many companies. From AppDev to potential application retirement, with the right methodology (either Agile, DevOp., etc), talent and metrics, to catch up with the speed of business changes without sacrificing the quality.

Digital maturity matters, the small percentage of Digital Masters can stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation to adapt to the new world of the business: Faster, always “on,” high connected and super competitive. The philosophy and methodology that digital masters use can be selectively adopted by any company that has the digital leadership drive to do so. It requires strong leadership to drive changes, a vision for why and a dynamic planning on how you want to get there, from doing digital to being digital.