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, February 28, 2017

The Monthly “Decision Master” Book Tuning: Digital Decision-Making Styles. Feb. 2017

There are all sorts of decision-making styles depend on the decision maker's cognitive ability, knowledge, insight, or personality.
Decision Masters refer to the digital leaders or professionals who can leverage multidimensional thought processes, information and intuition, take a step-wise scenario for making effective decisions consistently. Decision Masters also refer to the businesses or organizations that follow a set of well-defined principles, leverage fine-tuned decision processes, efficient information management system, decision frameworks, tools, and metrics to enable people across the organization making effective decisions collaboratively.

Digital Decision-Making Styles

Decision-Making in Digital Way? One significant effect of digitization is increased velocity, complexity, unpredictability, and a need for a faster response to changes in business and industry based on effective and efficient decision making. How is that possible? What’s the digital way to make the right decision? And how to avoid the pitfalls to make bad decisions?

What's Your Decision-Making Style? Decision making is both the art and science, it takes both analytics and intuition; philosophy and methodology, substance and style. In order to make the best decisions, it is better having a mix of decision-making styles in the room. Can you spot the different types? Do you aim for a balanced representation of styles?

Participative Decision-Making? Decision-making is both art and science. Having all the facts to make the best decision is a utopia we would all like. But in practice, each person has their own cognitive strength, knowledge limitation, background, or experience. So besides independent thinking and structural decision-making scenario, we should always collect feedback and involve the right people for getting complementary insight in making better decisions. Technically, it is about leveraging the participative decision-making style for improving decision-making effectiveness and maturity?

The Hybrid Decision-Making Style The digital leaders and professionals spend the significant amount of time in making decisions. However, ineffective decision-making becomes one of the biggest root causes to fail businesses due to "VUCA" characteristics of the digital normality. The poor decision-making can cause the business dysfunction, employee disengagement, or customer dissatisfaction; the short time loss or the long term pain in the organization. The point is that there is no one size fits all formula for all decision making, there are all sorts of decision-making styles depend on the decision maker's cognitive ability, knowledge, insight, or personality. With the increasing pace of change and overwhelming information, can the hybrid style help to improve decision-making maturity?

Proactive Decision-Making: Digital leaders and professionals spend a significant amount of time at all levels of decision-making -strategic decisions, operational decisions or tactical decisions on the daily basis. Statistically, business decision effectiveness (especially large strategic decisions) is low, poor decision making is often caused by ineffective processes, lack of knowledge or resources, cognitive gaps, unconscious bias, or procrastination, etc. We live in the digital era with "VUCA" characteristics, decision-making is more science than art. So how to take a proactive and step-wise approach for decision-making, in order improving decision effectiveness and maturity.

The blog is a dynamic book flowing with your thought; growing through your dedication; sharing your knowledge; conveying your wisdom, and making influence through touching the hearts and connecting the minds across the globe. The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.7 million page views with about #3500 blog posting. Among 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. 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.

The Cognitive Gap Cause and Effect

In short, cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight.

Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge through thought, experience, and senses. The "mind" represents our consciousness and awareness. It is the software that promotes and regulates each function and each action of our body, from the reproduction and reconstruction of our cells to the food process and distribution, to our voluntary and involuntary movements, and to all our behaviors, etc. However, the brain activities function for survival instincts are still primitive, what are the further aspect of human sophistication in regards to vision, communication, and innovation for problem-solving or overcoming challenges? And what are further problems caused by cognitive gaps and how to bridge them effectively?

Cognitive gaps further enlarge problem-solving gaps: It is a simplification to call cognition thinking, which means people acquire knowledge through thinking and sensing. The mind is something more personal. It is a label that individuals create for that collective sensation or awareness that is on their own. People are different, not because we look different, but because we think differently. The cognitive gap is one of the serious problems for both problem-solving and innovation. Because cognitive gaps will cause the blind spots for either defining the real problem or solving it. And if you don’t have a sound solution to each newly created problem, you’ll have very little chances to succeed in solving the main problem, because all are connected. And if you can’t connect the dots, you also cannot switch on creativity and inspire innovation. If you only fix the symptom, not the root cause, then it perhaps causes more problems later. And that is why our world today contains, in reality, more problems creators than true problems solvers because trying to solve a problem, by nature will create others. To overcome the common challenges and advance the human race, we have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, see around the corner and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge, to get to the heart of the matter via bridging cognitive gaps and enforcing multidimensional thinking. Thus, it is important to building heterogeneous teams with the cognitive difference and complementary skills/capabilities/background/experience, to broaden the vision, and deepen understanding.

Cognitive gaps cause innovation gaps: When we explore the mental process of acquiring new knowledge through thought, experience, and senses, the cognition involves exploring varieties of meanings/thoughts and abandoning old and establishing new relations. The cognitive gap disconnects many things which are supposed to be interconnected, it becomes the barrier for connecting the dots to stimulate creativity, or capture the insight. Hence, the heterogeneous team with cognitive differences is more innovative than the homogeneous group setting, as good ideas are multidimensional, they take root in unsuspected places and they evolve with time and by unexpected connections. From talent management perspective, to bridge cognitive gaps, as well as innovation gaps, the management needs to pay more attention to those shining spots: Who can bring unique viewpoint, who can explore an alternative way to solve old or emergent problems, who can take extra miles to delight customers; who has the courage to provide constructive feedback with good intentions; who is just unconventionally different and who is positive influencers for building a culture of innovation? People also need permission to push ideas around an organization without the fear of failure and once people see things being implemented and making a difference, the confidence increases and they will become even more innovative.

The cognitive gap also causes leadership effectiveness gap: Leadership is more about future but starts at today. People also have different experience and personality, therefore, they may have the different way to do things or provide feedback, as a leader, to bridge leadership effectiveness gap, you need to not just listen to what’s being said, more importantly, what’s not being said. One of the significant tasks for leaders and managers is to make either strategic or operational decision. Decision effectiveness is often compromised by group thinking (group polarization means that a group of people can make a more extreme decision than an individual.) which is often caused by the homogeneous team setting with cognitive gaps. Digital leadership is crucial to encourage “Thinking Differently.” It is important to be able to be objective and gain a different view in order to develop and have a better understanding of certain topics or problems that may occur. Understanding cognitive intelligence also helps improve leadership and management effectiveness. One of the most influencing aspects of people's psychology is how they perceive the world around and how they relate to it. This is a function of things like cognitive intelligence, and the collective psychology shapes the culture of organization, how people think and do things in the organization, by understanding the proving psychological concept and practicing them, businesses can instill the positive psychology to their workforce, close the gaps created by outdated mentality, build the culture of learning and innovation, and ultimately achieve high performance result for the long term.

In short, cognition is a perception, sensation, and insight. Cognition reorganizes parts of one’s belief system, and thoughts navigate within one’s present belief system as it is. There is no magic “thinking sauce” to make one’s mind profound, or leadership effective, it has to keep learning agile for updating knowledge and close cognitive gaps via brainstorming and innovating.  

IT Management Quality Check in Digital Transformation

The quality check of IT management is to ensure IT is the enabler and even a game-changer of the digital transformation.

Quality is defined by a number of factors such as innovation, effectiveness, flexibility, or maturity, etc., and to effectively lead an organization into good practices to focus on quality attributes takes work and a level of credibility within the organization. IT plays a significant role in digital transformation, as more often than not, technology is a major digital disruptor today, the purpose of digital transformation is to embed digital technology into key business processes, to improve business capability and competency to compete for the future. Hence, CIOs should do the periodic IT management quality check to ensure its effectiveness, efficiency, and maturity.

Assess innovation performance: Quality management should be focused not only on product and service quality but also the means to achieve it, it often has the indication of innovation. Organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation, largely due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature, with a broader spectrum. Innovation needs to lay out different structures, thinking and solutions to allow this to develop into its potential where organizations are combining all necessary and available components in imaginative and advantageous ways. Innovation ecosystem or the methodological environment should cover the whole innovation process, from processes in managing ideas or idea handling systems to idea implementation and promotion. Hence, innovation management assessment and measurement is both art and science. In many companies, a pervasive obsession for purely quantitative measurement and numerical success indicators sweeps aside much of the softer, more qualitative information that is crucial in understanding the health and well-being of the firm's innovation efforts. The perception will also come from the usage you're doing with metrics. It won’t be just a matter of explicit communicating the intention behind metrics, but a matter of guiding the team via understanding the purpose of doing that and engaging on that, to improve innovation success rate. Always keep in mind, the goal of innovation assessment and measurement is to build innovation capacity and improve innovation management effectiveness and capability.

Assess digital fitness of IT organization: Quality check includes to make an objective assessment of IT effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, flexibility, resilience, etc, or the overall digital fitness of IT organization. Digital is fluid, IT digital fitness is based on strategy competency and execution effectiveness, keep information flow to avoid data overloading, process redundancy, or overall business complication. Keeping digital fit means you need to make consolidation, integration, modernization, automation, innovation, and optimization and manage digital transformation in a systematic way. The emergent technology trends are where the opportunity located for real competitive advantage from investments in digital into the future. Either information or technology is the means to the end, not the end. If you don't know how to use it properly you won't get good results. It is also important to develop a balanced IT capability portfolio to improve operational excellence, changeability, innovation, architectural flexibility, service scalability, etc, to run a high-quality IT with the digital fit.

Evaluate talent quality of the IT organization: The quality of people is the foundation to provide quality products and services and build a qualified digital IT organization. High-quality leaders or employees are always in demand. In reality, people are always the weakest link in organizations in either strategy management or change management. Quality leaders and employees demonstrate both intellectual understanding and emotional maturity; the good attitude and great aptitude. Quality leaders have the clear vision to lead forward, a unique set of capabilities to lead effectively and soft skills to communicate and motivate the team. Quality employees are the ones who can work independently, have excellent problem-solving skills, well disciplined, have a "customer focus," and bring positivity and wisdom to the workplace. The quality check of the IT teams is to evaluate both individual and team performance on how effective they can improve the quality of products/service, their skill/capability/potential, as well as their learning agility to bring IT to the next level of maturity. Build up a positive emotional climate, foster positive relationships, communicate relentlessly, be there at the crossroad of the transformation to make sure information and interaction flow in every direction, build up trust by bonding people around clear and benevolent intentions.

The quality check of IT management is to ensure IT is the enabler and even a game-changer of the digital transformation. IT is weaving all important business elements (people, process, and technology) together to achieve the business performance and improve the overall business quality and maturity.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The CIO as “Chief Inquisitive Officer” Monthly Debates Collection: Feb. 2017

Debating is not for stimulating conflicts, but for brainstorming better ways to do things.

Due to the changing nature of technology, IT leadership role also continues to involve & 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 for Feb. 2017

  • CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As on Bridging IT-Business Chasm? 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 the business these days due to the 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 business bypassing IT oversight to order SAAS service on their own, causes serious governance issue and communication gaps.

  • CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As on Bridging IT-Business Chasm Historically, IT has been perceived as a back office and a cost center, a technology controller, not an enabler. Now, with the accelerating speed of change and the consumerization of IT, IT organization has to improve its maturity, from being a reactive helpdesk to a proactive business partner; from a cost center to a value creator; and, more importantly, it needs to become an innovation engine and the driver of business growth. But more specifically, how can IT get more engaged in revenue generating initiatives?

  • CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As (XI) to Run IT as the Business Rain Maker? Even though IT permeates to almost every corner of the business, many traditional IT organizations are still perceived as an invisible back office maintenance function, without sufficient knowledge about the business model of the organization. Although technology is often the disruptive force behind changes and digital transformation, most IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, running as a reactive service provider. CIOs as business strategists: How to pursue the art of possible - make a shift from a mechanical IT to innovative IT? From reactive IT to accelerating IT? And from transactional IT to transformational IT?  

  • CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As (IX) for IT Talent Innovation 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? How do you define “Digital Fit”?

  • CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer: A set of Q&As (IX) for Dealing with IT Management Dilemmas? IT plays a more important role in the digital transformation of the organization. It is the superglue to connect both the hard elements of the business such as processes, platforms, technologies and soft elements of the organization such as information, knowledge, culture and integrate them into a set of business capabilities, which underpin the business strategy. However, there is the perception gap between IT looks at itself and the business perceives IT. IT is often seen itself as a business enabler and change agent, but business often thinks that IT is slower to change and even be one of the “weakest links” for the business transformation. So why is IT not getting enough respect despite all good work and huge efforts were undertaken? Where does it link to improve IT brand? To deal with such a "He said, she said" dilemma: What are the different perspectives from each party, how to integrate them into a holistic IT view and reinvent the tarnished IT reputation?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.7 million page views with 3500+ 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.

Accelerate Digital Transformation via Reducing Unnecessary Pains

It is the time to accelerate digital transformation via reducing unnecessary pains and lubricating the process to keep change going smoothly.

As many organizations are at an inflection point in digital transformation, that transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. The goal of the digital paradigm shift should look beyond immediate symptom fixing, the focus should include the mind shift and actions designed to solve real problems, sustain performance improvement and anchor change as a new opportunity. Some say, no pains, no gains; but to be fair, it is also important to reduce unnecessary pains and speed up to ride above the change curves. Because there are so many obstacles need to overcome, and numerous pitfalls on the way; it is so important to keep the end in mind, and laser focusing on the most critical things, continue tuning the business to get digital ready.

Break down bureaucracy to reduce unnecessary pains: Due to the “VUCA” (Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) characteristics of the digital new normal, digital organization has to improve its responsiveness in adaptation to changes and accelerate its speed for grasping the business growth opportunities. It is the time to break down the organizational bureaucracy inherited from the traditional management discipline, and develop the holistic digital management practices to harness cross-functional communication and collaboration. It is also the time to break down silo thinking which creates blind spots, and often causes unnecessary complication to slow down information flow and stifle innovation; it is the time to rebuild the trust based on a clear leadership vision, in-depth business understanding, insightful communication and fresh digital management style. Because, often the roadblocks to change and business transformation include, but not limited to: Lack of direction, internal politics, current culture/blame, not aligned systems/processes, too much hierarchy or mistrust. At the emerging digital age with the nature of hyper-connectivity, non-linearity, and interdependence, overly rigid hierarchy becomes the very obstacle to stifle changes and drag down the business speed. It is the time to make things as simple as possible, not simpler, to inspire positive thinking, let talent grow, keep knowledge flow, and accelerate the business performance via making continuous deliveries.

Enforcing contextual understanding via multidimensional thinking, interdisciplinary knowledge, and structural management practice to reduce unnecessary pains: The business system is complex and the organization is contextual, without contextual understanding about people, process, and technology, the blind spots and gaps are inevitable. Hence, to manage a high-performing business as a whole, business managers need to have a contextual understanding about the interconnectivity of the business success factors underlying the surface and focus on building cohesive business capabilities. Knowledge is no doubt important but more than that is complete awareness of what is happening in the business, not just based on the visual part on the surface, but also know-how underneath, to both improve business effectiveness and efficiency, To improve effectiveness, it is important to frame the right problems to solve and solve them in the right way. Otherwise, many lagging organizations keep doing things to increase unnecessary pains or keep doing things in the old way and make their business get stuck in the lower level of maturity.  In fact, there are so many pitfalls on the way to fail the change - fear of unknown, unhealthy competition, comfort with the status quo, complacency, poor judgment, lack of big picture, or blind to a need or a path. Hence, it is the time to reduce the unnecessary pains, 'seeing' the context you are 'part' of, allows one to identify the leverage points of the system and then 'choose' the 'decisive' factors, in the attempt to achieve the set goals and make a smooth digital transformation.

It is the time to keep eyes open for the emergent digital trend, keep the mind flow via learning and equipped with a positive mentality to reduce unnecessary pains: Change is not for its sake, it is for advancement and progression, to keep the digital pulse. The negative reactions to the problems come from a state of distrust, disengagement, and dis-empowerment. People must first be open to seeing and understanding that their status quo is probably anything but positives. It is only then that there is any real potential to change anything, such as processes, business models, or technology, to open people's minds. The digital management focuses on cultivating the positive attitude with a problem-solving mindset. Just think of the time/energy/money wasted by focusing on keeping busy with the wrong causes and solving the wrong problems, etc. Hence, to embrace change requires a change of mindset at every level and an understanding that things cannot stay the same. This is the groundwork that has to be done at all levels prior to initiating major change. In today's work environment. It takes a lot of energy to break habits and outdated thought processes, but change is happening at a more rapid pace.

It is important to understand the psychology behind changes and lead change at the mentality level. It is the time to accelerate digital transformation via reducing unnecessary pains and lubricating the process to keep change going smoothly. It is also important for riding ahead of the change curve. And all these efforts take strategy and methodology. People are the weakest link, also the best reason for any changes, so make people as your CORE focal point for the digital transformation.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

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

“Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (13+ 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.

Though technology is often complex in nature, IT needs to be a business simplifier and optimizer to improve organizational agility.

The versatile IT can only be run by versatile IT leaders and talented IT professionals.

Running a “future-proof” IT organization is really about being strategic, capable, innovative, differentiated, accelerated, and learning agile.

A digital IT organization with highly cognitive connectivity is like the nerve system of the business to collect, process and update information.

A digital-ready IT organization is a threshold competency of the business.

Innovation is a discipline that, if understood fully, read more like a blueprint than science fiction.

Creativity is not a “thing,” it’s a process that happens as a proactive mental activity to a problem.

Creativity is fueled via a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

The foundation for innovation has to be grounded in the “vision” which is linked to “hope” and seeking justice or truth.

There is an emotional life cycle in an innovativeness process.

“The organizational fit is the good balance of the fitting attitude and misfit thinking.”  
Managing change is no longer a one-time project, but an ongoing business capability.
Perhaps the difficulty in measuring Change Management is that the very thing we are measuring is changing.
It’s probably better and more accessible to measure change readiness rather than change progress.
Organizational maturity is not just about technical excellence or process efficiency, but also about business effectiveness, agility, innovation intelligence, and people-centricity.
One of the good reasons for change is to keep the organization fit, and a fitting business has better changeability and higher agility as well.
Pearl Zhu, Change Insight: Change as an Ongoing Capability to Fuel Digital Transformation