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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Refresh CIO Leadership to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Refreshing IT leadership is to keep the digital tempo for creating the business synergy and accelerating digital transformation.

The CIO role is considered a newer top executive role compared to other business executive positions. At the static industrial age, IT was perceived as a cost center, and CIOs were labeled as the technical geek and tactical manager, and the majority of IT organizations get stuck in the lower level of maturity.  However, due to the exponential growth of information and increasing speed of changes, technologies are often the disruptive force behind digital technologies. IT plays a more significant role in leading businesses forward at the front. So, how to refresh CIO leadership to accelerate digital transformation?

Every CIO is unique: Overall speaking, CIO is the leadership role, how CIOs provide the appropriate leadership and how they convey to leverage IT for the business value depends on CIOs' vision and leadership strength and style. Digital CIOs, are born to change, how they overcome these digital transformation challenges depend on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute, with a sense of humor. Every CIO is different and whatever the management team needs or wants at the time out of the CIO will also be different, and by the type of business needs will be different as well. Clearly, the role of IT and that of the CIO is going through significant changes, and the CIO role needs to be continually reimagined, refreshed, and reinvented. The point is: How is the CIO embedded in the organization and what can he/she do to improve his/her standing as part of the senior management team? Which qualities, business acumen, technical know-how, as well as leadership skills are required, and which are true differentiators? How does a CIO build a team that contributes to business success and elevate digital transformation? From the leadership perspective, every CIO is unique, CIOs need to present their leadership authenticity, enhance their unique leadership strength, practice the digital management philosophy they believe in, and tailor their own leadership/management style to make a digital fit.

CIOs need to have the capacity to learn, relearn, and adapt: No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed. IT is in the middle of a sea change, it is important to realize that there are basic principles and rules that make it work. But the self-centered "our jobs are hard" line only isolates IT more. Hence, the CIO needs to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. The ability to keep things up is the key. Digital is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. Experience is a wonderful thing in that it helps you put things in context. But the willingness to try something new, to test, to learn what you knew again, with new perspectives, to listen and remain balanced, can make IT work in an optimal way. The increasing speed of changes forces IT leaders to get really creative on 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 technologies and inefficient/outdated business processes. Regardless of background, to refresh CIO leadership, a great CIO should have learning agility and be a good communicator, understand both sides of the business and bridge the gaps effectively.
Digital CIOs have “multi-faceted personas,” to practice the situational leadership accordingly: Digital CIOs need to be the business strategist, digital visionary; customer advocate, talent master; process overseer and governance champion, and most importantly, they are the innovative leader to drive the business’s digital transformation. Sometimes organizations go stale and need a so-called "shot in the arm" of someone who thinks differently. To refresh CIO leadership, forward-looking organizations often take the “fresh blood” scenario where a CIO is brought in from outside the vertical industry to reinvigorate an IT organization. So, the outlier CIO can bring the fresh viewpoint via “out of the box” thinking and reinvent IT radically, as more innovation is powered by IT. Digital CIOs also need to be able to communicate skillfully to avoid the “lost in translation” syndrome. To refresh IT leadership, CIOs should be able to look ahead and the relevance of certain trends in its industry may indicate. In addition, a CIO must find the connection with the business in order to deliver the tailored business solution, not just IT projects. The technology trend moves very quickly, IT needs to take quick action to changes.

Refreshing IT leadership is to keep the digital tempo for creating the business synergy and accelerating digital transformation. CIOs must set the principles, guidelines, and rules to run a digital IT. Make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of date beliefs or the natural human emotions. Make sure that the external customers who purchase products or services have a great experience relating to any IT systems that impact them. Make sure IT is no longer just a commodity service provider, but a business differentiator.

The Monthly “Thinkingaire” Book Tuning: Avoid Those Anti-Digital Mindset Pitfalls Jan. 2017

Leadership is the state of the mind.

With the increasing speed of change in the hyper-connected digital ecosystem, some industrial mindsets with “status quo” types of thinking, authoritarian attitude, and bureaucratic decision-make, are outdated, turn to be a "dragger" of the business innovation and a laggard of the digital paradigm shift. More specifically, what are those anti-digital mindsets, and how to shift them to digital thinking styles?

Avoid Those Anti-Digital Mindset Pitfalls

The Cause and Effect of Silo Thinking Silo is perhaps one of the most paradoxical symptoms in running business at the industrial era, on one side, most of the organizations are still operating in the functional base to improve efficiency; on the other side, the digital nature of hyperconnectivity and interdependence makes it inevitable to break down the silo, because more often than not, the silo thinking becomes the root cause of ineffective leadership; the silo teams fragment the strategy, stagnate execution, motivate the unhealthy internal competition and cause more problems than benefits. More specifically, what’s the cause and effect of silos and silo thinking?

Command-Control Management Thinking? We are in the age of abundance of knowledge. Knowledge work is more purpose-driven and self-management, therefore, collaboration, openness, sharing, and integrity are fundamental for a joyful and productive teamwork. This is radically different from command-and-control (C&C) style of management. It’s more about inspiring and enabling than controlling. Metaphorically, C&C style might scare the sheep, but can't tame the tiger. So for the command-control management thinking, why is it out of date, and when could it be still effective?

A Procrastination Mind Decision making is both art and science, especially for business leaders, making either strategic or tactical decision effectively is one of the most critical responsibilities facing them every day. So do you have a decisive mind or an anti-digital mind -the procrastination, “the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention”(dictionary.com)

A Complacency Mind The world is constantly changing and digital is all about flow. But complacency is at the heart of resistance to change. Where does complacency come from, and how to fix such an anti-digital mindset?

Half-Brain Thinking? According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is "left-brained" is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. In psychology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain function. So does one side of the brain really control specific functions? Are people either left-brained or right-brained? With the dawn of the digital era, can such “half-brainers” adapt to the hyperconnectivity and overcomplexity of digital normal?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.7 million page views with about 3500+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. 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; 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 your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

The New Book “Decision Master” Conclusion: Five Pillars in Achieving Decision Excellence

Decision masters are people; neither data nor process.

Decision-making is both science and art. Decision making is the art only when decision makers understand the science. Decision power is mind power. From the scientific perspective, decision-making is not an event, but a capability underpinned by a series of interrelated processes or steps. And there are five pillars in achieving decision-making maturity.  

Perception: A selection among multiple available choices is a decision. The knowledge constraint and perception bias are paramount issues during the decision process. Human knowledge is imperfect about multiple choices and related outcomes as well. Hence, it’s important to understand the contrarian viewpoints and leverage collective insight, and practice mind power to guide through what to select from available choices, how to accommodate constraints, identify blind spots, and avoid distractions, and where to show firmness and flexibility.

Principles: Decision maturity is to ensure the right decisions have been made by the right people at the right time. From the business management perspective, decision principles provide a basis for decision-making throughout an enterprise and inform how the organization sets about fulfilling its vision and goals. Decision principles allow many people at different organizational levels to individually make their own decisions to run in the same direction and meet the same objectives in a consistent and rapid manner.

Process: Decision-making is not a one-time event, but an iterative process and a dynamic business capability. At today’s “VUCA” digital environment, the importance of the process becomes critical as decisions become more complex and involve diverse stakeholders. You need a sound process to frame the decision, leverage the right set of information, weigh options appropriately with the right people and actually make an effective decision.

People: Decision masters are people; neither data nor process. Decision-making assessment starts with the decision-maker evaluation. Very few decision master can make highly effective decisions all the time. In reality, many poor decisions are made by very intelligent people. It is the responsibility of each individual to examine themselves and their decision-making scenario to make sure they are open to true understanding for achieving decision maturity.

Practice: Like many other professional capabilities, it takes practice to improve your decision ability. If the decision-making scenario is well designed and well executed, you have the highest probability of getting the best outcome in the state of knowledge accessible at the time of decision making. Always attempt to identify areas in which measurable improvement can be realized via practicing, providing demonstrable progress is essential for improving decision maturity.

The decision-making is needed when there is uncertainty. Emotions and intuition matter; by following the well-defined set of principles, fine-tuned processes and the logical scenario of decision-making, it is more science than art.

Decision Master Book Summary
Decision Master Amazon Order Link
Decision Master B&N Order Link
Decision Master iBook Order Link

Decision Master Introduction
Decision Master Chapter 1 Decision Intelligence
Decision Master Chapter 2 Decision Principles
Decision Master Chapter 3 Digital Decision Styles
Decision Master Chapter 4 Decision Pitfalls
Decision Master Chapter 5 Decision Maturity 
Decision Master Conclusion Five Pillars in Achieving Decision Excellence
Decision Master Quotes Collection 1
Decision Master Quotes Collection 2

Monday, January 30, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As (X) Dealing with IT Innovation Paradox

Modern CIOs face many challenges, it is not sufficient to only keep the lights on. Regardless of which industry or the nature of organization you are in, being a digital leader will need to master the art of creating unique, differentiating value from piles of commoditized technologies and take advantage of the emergent digital trend as well; digital CIOs also have multiple personas, “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Insight Officer,” “Chief Improvement Officer,” “Chief Information Officer,” and here, we discuss CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer,” with a set of Q&As to lead digital transformation.

Startup or Bellwether: Who are the Better innovators? Innovation is the light every business is pursuing, however, for most companies, innovation is more as serendipity, rather than a systematic business capability which can be built upon; in particular, startup business or industry bellwether, who are the better innovators?

Do you think IT is well Positioned to be the Innovation Nerve Center of the Organization? The traditional role of CIOs is to manage information, IT systems, and cost, now with information is permeating into every corner of business and digital technologies are more often the cause of innovation disruption, IT has itself transformed to creating a new competitive advantage, new products, and new services. But many of today’s C-suites are unaware of what is technologically possible now or in the future, so do you think IT is well positioned to be the innovation nerve center yet??

IT Paradox: Should Creativity and Process go Hand in Hand? Today, organizations have to compete on a global scale and creativity is not only valuable from a products/service standpoint, but can also add efficiency or effectiveness to IT operations, improving business-IT communication, innovate business culture, and provide for outside-the-box problem-solving capability as well.

How to Build Innovation Strength in your Organization? Digital innovation has a broader spectrum with hybrid nature, it is the incremental improvement- radical innovation continuum. It has broader scope beyond just a new product or service, radical innovation brings something that was not existing before. Incremental Innovation is more about taking something someone created and adding to it, changing it, adapting it; or to leverage the latest technology for business improvement. A fine tuned innovation is not a serendipity, how to build innovation strength in your organization?

Are innovation management and change management the same? Innovation is value creation in a different way or to a different element of the business; there are both disruptive innovation and incremental innovation as well. So is innovation just another word for change; or does innovation management align with change management? Change and innovation share a common DNA, which is 'change' nature. But they are still different; each one has different motivators and must be managed differently. Innovation is a collection of thoughts, ideas, or efforts used to bring about or manage change to a desirable outcome. Not all change management is innovative however, innovation only exists to bring about change. Innovations do not need to be new however they should at the very least implement an existing method, idea, or resource in a new way, thereby making it innovative to the particular challenge at hand.

The digital CIOs need to reimagine IT as the business growth engine and lead changes via inquiries. They need to keep asking open-ended questions such as, "Why? Why not? What If?" They have to focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation, and create unique business value because IT is the significant element of any differentiated business capability and the defining factor for competitive advantage.

The New Book “Decision Master” Introduction Chapter 5 Decision Maturity

Decision wisdom is multidimensional, and decision-making takes a multidisciplinary approach.

Making a decision is one of the most significant tasks for leaders, managers and digital professionals today. There are many variables in complex decision making, there are tradeoffs you have to leverage, and there is no magic formula to follow. So, what are some effective decision-making mentalities, which tools should you apply, and what processes are necessary to improve decision maturity and achieve decision-making excellence?

Decision power is a mind-power: 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 the information and generate information. Thus, a decisive mindset is information enriched and knowledge empowered. There are two types of confidence in a decisive mind for making effective decisions. Confidence in relation to statistical estimates is a quantification of the uncertainty remaining following measurement. Confidence in gut feeling is a psychological sense of certainty in the face of unquantified uncertainty. Hence, 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.

Apply creativity in decision-making: The very purpose of decision-making is to solve problems large or small. There is as much creative thinking that goes into problem identification as solution discovering. Brainstorming helps problem identification to avoid “worrying about the wrong thing” symptom. Framing the right question more often needs to step back, or get out of the box, in order to look at the problem from the different angle or understand the issues holistically via multi-disciplinary lenses. Always encourage critical and creative thinking at every level of your company. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution. It is also important to applying creativity in a recursive way to the creative process for both problem identification and problem-solving, also learning from others’ failures, and break down the large problem into the small problems, in order to solve them in an iterative creative way.

The good decision making should consider both effectiveness and efficiency: Effectiveness is about doing the right things. Efficiency is about doing things right. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is important to an understanding of decision maturity. There is too often a tendency to take a one-size-fits-all approach to decision making; it includes a linear and static decision-making scenario which commits to a singular path. Decision-making today needs to take a systematic approach, consider and compare the advantages and disadvantages of all options, and select the best option, and avoid vagueness or indecisiveness.

Decision-making is both art and science. Decision wisdom is multidimensional, and decision-making takes a multidisciplinary approach, frame the right questions before answering them. There is no one size fits all magical formula for decision-making. But it is the process which can be managed effectively, and it is the capability that can be developed ultimately.

Decision Master Book Summary
Decision Master Amazon Order Link
Decision Master B&N Order Link
Decision Master iBook Order Link

Decision Master Introduction
Decision Master Chapter 1 Decision Intelligence
Decision Master Chapter 2 Decision Principles
Decision Master Chapter 3 Digital Decision Styles
Decision Master Chapter 4 Decision Pitfalls
Decision Master Chapter 5 Decision Maturity 
Decision Master Conclusion Five Pillars in Achieving Decision Excellence

Measuring Up for Running a High-Thriver IT

It is not the measurement that is important; it is what you do with the data obtained from the measurement.

IT plays a significant role in building business competency and driving digital transformation. IT needs to continually assess its own capabilities and evaluate overall performance via multidimensional lenses. There are many great things about metrics. Metrics are part of transparent visual management allowing pulling. But how to measure up for running a thriver IT?

A measurement system is a necessary foundation for continuous improvement: Metrics can help you get some objective perspectives on what you are trying to manage, but they need to be crafted and interpreted well. All stakeholders may not be in a position to visit the team or talk to team members, so the right metrics can be helpful is to track progress in an improvement initiative. Another reason to use metrics is to help stakeholders understand what is going on. Without measurements, it can be hard to tell whether attempted improvements make the situation better or worse. If your team or organization doesn't have a preferably simple way of figuring out whether over a short span of time your work is better than in the previous period and created more/enough value for the end-users, how will you reason about where to invest in improving? The right metric is requested in the right context but without any explanation of why it is requested, without concern for whether the gathering is onerous, or without concern for whether there is a better or easier way to gather metric that achieves the same goal, the measurement can easily go wrong.

S.M.A.R.T goals are more as a guide based on meeting the five criteria-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely: Businesses need to avoid vanity metrics and really focus on key metrics that correlate to better business outcomes. Managing performance and improving IT reputation means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure the strategic goals are on the right track to get implemented, and communicated effectively at the different level of the business. The SMART framework is helpful, but be cautious about setting goals which are really valid. First, measure the right things; then measure them right. The strategy stems from long-term goals and results in annual objectives aligned with the strategy. Annual objectives start with the executives choosing a few key initiatives, understanding their interdependency, and driving them down the line. S.M.A.R.T goals work better as a post evaluation tool. Coming up with one to three major aims/goals that everyone understands and agrees upon is key.

Measuring up for running a thriver IT: The fact is many IT organizations are not even trying to address measuring their value to the business as they simply have not employed the methods to enable it, and looking only at cost, schedule, and quality, will not fully address value and only leads to conflicts in what value is as it does not address the portion of value that is not measured in these indexes. If you put the effort into taking the correct measurements, collecting the data obtained, analyzing it, evaluating it, determining what needs to be improved, determining what the actions are to improve it, assigning actions to perform the improvements, continue to measure the results and make adjustments in the improvement plan, the business will most definitely be improved. The perception comes not only from what you're doing with the metrics, but from whatever the team suspects you might be doing with them, including a lot of irrational (or rational) assumptions based on relationships, trust, and past experiences. Assuming an organization believes that metrics can lead to continuous improvement, it won’t be just a matter of explicit communicating the intention behind metrics, but a matter of coaching and leadership to guide the team to understand the purpose of doing that and engaging on that.

It is not the measurement that is important; it is what you do with the data obtained from the measurement. Always keep in mind, people matter, achieve progresses by measuring the key objectives for all your team members in a mix of team and individual objectives, and highlight examples of progress and performance you want to encourage.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Popular Quotes Collection IX of “Digital Master” Book Series

"Digital Master" book series intend to apply the holistic digital philosophy to envision digital transformation systematically.

“Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (15+ books) with five pillars to perceive the multifaceted impact digital is making to the business and our society, help forward-thinking organizations navigate through the digital journey in a systematic way, and avoid “rogue digital.” Here is the set of popular quotes for conveying the digital vision and sharing the unique insight about the digital transformation.

“IT has to continue to evolve the digital dynamic and reinvent itself as an innovative game changer.”

“IT is the key component in catalyzing digital innovation and building up differentiated business capabilities nowadays.”

“The challenge is having a harmonized vision about management philosophy, capability, structure, and maturity in a digital organization.

“Organizational democracy will begin to become a fundamental management practice to update the hierarchical command-control systems.”

“A hybrid of centralization and decentralization is counter-balance of delivering effective IT capabilities.”

“Pattern Thinking is a type of problem-solving thinking.”

“It takes a decade to grow a tree, and it takes more than one generation to shape the right mindset.”

“A high EQ mind maintains its composure whatever the situation, whether it is being glorified or vilified.”

“Only a positive mind can move the world forward.”

“Holistic wisdom is the hallmark of the holistic mindset.”

“Innovation is to connect the dots - synthesizing that goes in one mind, and teamwork through collective insight.”

“Creativity is the ability to create novel value, and innovation is how to transform ideas and achieve their business value.”

“Digital innovation is a dynamic storybook that has intricate chapters, with a serendipitous cover, which can be flipped over to the next level, but it is a book that never ends.”

“The innovation classification is not just based on the required investments, or on the potential market, but on its evolution abilities.”

“Innovation is a question of ambition, and imagination, not a question of investment only.”

“It takes courage, motivation, discipline, and persistence to get out of comfort zone.”
“Just like changing personality, culture change is possible but difficult.”
“If you make change part of your operation routine and your DNA, and then change becomes easier to deal with, and even become an ongoing core business capability.”
“To make change sustain, the important thing is “end-to-end” performance.”
“It takes critical thinking to frame the right problem and empathetic thinking to address the correct need.”
“Organizational maturity is not just about technical excellence or process efficiency, but also about business effectiveness, agility, innovation intelligence, and people-centricity.”
Pearl Zhu, Change Insight: Change as an Ongoing Capability to Fuel Digital Transformation