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

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

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Popular Innovation Quotes Collection II of “Digital Master” Book Series

“Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (19+ books) is 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.

Innovation is optimal change, and it cannot be successful without grounding change management.

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

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

Innovators are pioneers, great problem-solvers; and creators of a better context.

Fundamentally, innovation is to solve old or emergent problems creatively.

The business’s potential depends on how it unleashes its information potential and talent potential.

Information brings about business ideas; business ideas generate lots of information.

The role of IT today for many organizations is a business solutionary for information, automation, and innovation.

It takes innovative leadership to re-imagine IT and it takes a structural approach to reinventing IT for the digital age.

The value of information management is never for its own sake, but to provide insight and leap innovation.

Creativity is a passion for some who are inquisitive and want to explore new possibilities.

Creativity is a function of imagination, interdisciplinary knowledge, collaboration, and evaluation.

The collective sensation is one’s perspective, experience, memory, imagination, and perception.

Learn to visualize for inspiring creativity, and make imagination rolling into reality.

While the individual contributions provide the “building block” of creativity; it is the collective consensus on what to do with them that is exciting.

Setting Digital Principles to Guide Through Digital Transformation

The digital credos are the top principles to guide through changes and digital transformation in the organization.

Credo is a Latin word that means "a set of fundamental beliefs or a guiding principle." For a company, a credo is a set of well-defined principles based on its management philosophy. Principles are general rules and guidelines, intended to be enduring and seldom amended. Philosophy is the history of ideas and an ongoing inquiry into the nature of things based on abstract reasoning rather than empirical method. Digital means flow; digital organizations have to adapt to the continuous changes and business dynamic to get digital ready. The challenge is to prioritize what you know about and keep an eye open for signs of things you don't know about. Therefore, it is important to develop your own company tailored credos to inspire change mentality, motivate positive attitude and good behaviors, and to generate winning concepts for digital transformation on a consistent basis.

Setting digital credos to guide through change and business transformation: Change is costly. Digital transformation is full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity.  The very characteristics of digital new normals are nonlinearity, adaptability, unrepeatability, unpredictability, and denial of control. The digital credos are the top principles to guide through changes and digital transformation in the organization. They are not just the static rules or rigid processes to stifle innovation. Instead, they are the philosophy behind the methodologies, and they are the mindsets behind behaviors and actions. First, it is important for gaining the knowledge necessary to understand and manage complex systems. Secondly, the most challenging one is to understand how the people factor affects the system, and then managing the complex system and the people of the complex system. Digital transformation does flatten the organizational hierarchy and blurs geographical, functional, organizational, and even industrial borders, it could mean less restrictive rules or silo setting, but it also means that the guiding digital credos become more crucial to be defined as core decision criteria and behavior guidelines. It is less about controls, more about the "big why" clarity and management consistency.

Digital credo is a set of well-defined principles based on the business management philosophy: Philosophy is a Greek portmanteau of the love of wisdom. Philosophy is the mother of all sciences even presently philosophy seems to be the completely different discipline from science. Enterprise principles provide a basis for decision-making throughout an enterprise and inform how the organization sets about fulfilling its mission. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way the business is conducted, so adopting a new digital technology only is not sufficient. You have to transform the company’s underlying functions, build robust business capabilities, also establish a clear set of digital credos to cultivate a digital culture, in order to run a high-effective and high-mature digital business. Digital transformation is the journey for solving problems caused by "conflict," "out of balance," or “lack of logic,” digital credos help people in the organization better understand digital transformation and compass them through the curves and bumps in the journey of changes.

The most basic principle is that every system is a construct of the mind: The digital business today is not just working within the industry, but also permeating cross-ecosystem which is dynamic, continuous and interactive. The digital ecosystem is complex, it becomes complex if things do interact, particularly in the case of "non-linear" interaction, you can't separate things properly or you cannot predict the actual effect of interaction straightforwardly. Every system is like three sides of a con, this side, that side and the integrative relationship between them.  Imagine the complexity that comes in due to these characteristics such as less structure, rules and regulations, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, lack of linearity and increased flux working and impacting together. There are unknown interactions and very high inner dynamics in complexity. Overcoming complication and managing complexity become one of the biggest challenges in business today. Be following the digital principles, the business lifecycle could be viewed as resulting in emergent means of reorganizing, refocusing, rebalancing resources, and redirecting people to understand the whole, in terms of its inner processes, its interactions with external systems, its components, the specific interaction among them, etc. Digital credos are abstract guidelines, the reality is a choice, people have the flexibility to choose what reality they prescribe to: Isolation vs. togetherness, stagnation vs. growth, convention vs. innovation, etc, and interdisciplinary management approach is taken for transforming the business into a high mature digital powerhouse.

Digital transformation is worth its weight not just because of its high cost, but because of its high impact on the business’s long-term prosperity. It's important to set the company tailored digital credos, leverage holistic and systems thinking to understand the variety of business relationship and manage the business in a more structural way for sustaining digital business advantage and growth.

Five Critical Components in IT Innovation Management Playbook

There are quite a lot of components in IT innovation management playbook, and importantly IT has to walk to talk.

Technology is pervasive and the information is abundant, business initiatives and digital transformation today nearly always involve some form of technology implementation or information processing. IT plays a significant role in managing information-knowledge-insight cycle and fostering innovation by leveraging disruptive technologies and enriched information flow. One of the most appropriate tiles for CIOs is “Chief Innovation Officer,” who play a critical role in orchestrating innovation symphony. Here are five critical components in IT innovation management playbook.

Intrapreneurship: Organizations no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented change, uncertainty, and accelerated business dynamic. IT becomes the business in the business to do more with innovation and lead changes in many forward-thinking organizations. Intrapreneurship is an important component in digital innovation playbook because good intrapreneur-leaders can first explain the big why behind business initiatives clearly, and then they articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture. And the heart of entrepreneurship is about changes. Intrapreneurship is about discovering the new path for digital transformation and balancing innovation with other organizational priorities. Intrapreneur IT leaders are not only self-motivated, but also motivate teams to cultivate change capabilities, encourage IT staff to think out-of-the-box, and bring back new designs that they might not even recognize using the current context. But, when they examine them in the new context they may be a key element for building the new paradigms and contexts to improve IT competency. Intrapreneur IT leaders also have a better attitude to tolerate risks and show resilient to recover. Intrapreneurship is a unique combination of “being innovative” and high mature leadership behaviors that develop and achieve high quality and meaningful results over a sustained period of time.  

People-centricity: Digital is the age of people and options. Thus, people-centricity should be another critical component in IT innovation playbook. Because traditional IT organizations are often inside-out, operation driven, being perceived as an isolated function and cost center only. To change the game, the biggest IT challenge is to understand the business and customers’ expectations. IT shouldn’t act as a controller only, and limit the business’s creativity. In fact, IT plays a crucial role in expanding the creative side of the business, and unlock the creativity of people. Engaging and empower both internal users and end customers are critical to unleashing the full digital potential of the business. IT now makes impacts on almost every aspect of the business, the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT has to do more with people-centric innovation to propel the business growth and profitability.

Partnership: IT is no longer that island, or corner and those who still want to stick in that corner or live in its comfort zone! Therefore, the partnership is a critical component in the IT innovation management playbook. IT not only needs to build a cohesive relationship with the business but also develop the varying business partnerships within its digital ecosystem for harnessing innovation. IT leaders should make an objective assessment of those relationships: Who are your strategic partners, who are your reliable supporters, and who will be your detractors? Who will work with you to overcome the changes, and who may try to kick you when you are down? And how do you overcome the objections or barriers that will inevitably raise? The intimate business-IT partnership is the ultimate status for IT to deliver better fit, right-on, cost-effective and innovative solutions. Businesses are looking for “absorptive capacity,” and innovation agility from their IT organization. And IT should also look for innovative capacity from their vendors to deliver flexible, innovative and high-quality customer-tailored solutions as well. The healthy IT partnership is to foster collaboration with innovative vendors or technology startups.

Problem-solving: Digital IT needs to be the innovative business problem-solver. Business is no longer interested in IT if it only provides commodity service because the business managers today can even order those on-demand technology services on their own without notifying IT, it will increase business risks and make IT irrelevant. Thus, problem-solving should be a crucial component in IT innovation management playbook. But be careful, you don’t want to come across as having a solution looking for a problem, running IT as an innovative solutionary means that IT proactively work closely with the business to both frame the problems and solve them effectively. Businesses need IT as a strong partner who is passionate about exploiting information enabled by technologies to work at the heart of the enterprise for solving both old and emergent issues. IT is the custodian of information solutions and data assets that can be applied in new and different ways to generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table.

Culture: Digital innovation is not just about “HARD” products or services, it should also include the “SOFT” innovation. In fact, culture innovation is one of the most crucial components in the innovation management playbook. Innovative culture is the collective mindset, risk-taking attitude, doing things differently mentality, asking hard questions, failing and being able to fail again without repercussions. In practice, innovation in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment. Because, innovation will happen when people are given free space to be creative without rigid structures, bureaucratic management or risk avoidance attitude to hold them back. In the business environment, being innovative is a state of mind. You have to live it and breathe it every day, otherwise, you would feel stuck. It has to become your business routine, corporate culture to renew creativity energy. The failures should not be rewarded, but they should be understood and not penalized. The culture of innovation starts with a culture of participation because employee engagement in the innovation process increases participation. It is important to educate IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner.

There are quite a lot of components in IT innovation management playbook, and importantly IT has to walk to talk, be open to diverse opinions and feedback, be humble to listen to customers, be confident to take the path perhaps no one ever takes before, and be resilient to failure forward. Because an innovative IT is an integral part of the innovative organization and differentiated competency of the business.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Monthly “Digital Gaps” Book Tuning: How to Bridge Innovation Gaps Sep. 2017

Innovation gap differentiation helps delineate the problems and opportunities for innovation.

“Digital Gaps -Bridging Multiple Gaps to Run Cohesive Business” is a guidebook to help digital leaders and professionals today identify, analyze, and mind multiple gaps with multidisciplinary insight and holistic understanding. Today’s digital organization simply just can’t stand still., bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where you are and want to become is a welcomed challenge, it is important to bridge innovation gaps and take a stepwise approach to make a leap of digital transformation.

Innovation Gaps: How to Fill Them? There are many forms of innovation - technology, application, product, design, business model, process, communication, or customer experience, etc; there’re also many ‘flavors’ of innovations, systematic innovation, customer-centric innovation, open innovation, design-driven innovation, or management innovation., etc, but fundamentally,  what are the innovation gaps, the gap differentiation helps delineate the problems and opportunities for innovation, and through identifying such gaps, business can manage innovation portfolio more effectively.
 Closing Creativity Gaps in Problem-Solving The business world becomes overcomplex and hyperconnected, problem-solving also turns to be increasingly challenging. Many think the lack of in-depth problem-solvers is a significant problem for the world. Problem-solving is not just about fixing the things, it is also important to remove the potential obstacles on the way or prevent the risks from the serious problems happening. Problem-solving is a mindset with curiosity, self-inclusiveness, creativity, and progression. Creativity is about connecting the dots. Unless there is a problem there is no creativity. But how to close creativity gaps in problem-solving.
How to Bridge the Innovation Execution Gap Although innovation is at every forward-looking organization’s agenda, there are at least two gaps existing in innovation management: idea gap and execution gap. More often than not, companies seem to continue to have more ideas than execution expertise. If you have an idea, you gain only if you have the right methodology to implement the idea. However, there’re gaps between innovation strategy and innovation execution, how to mind it?
Three Causes of Innovation Blue? Innovation is the light every organization is chasing, however, the majority of organizations still use innovation as a buzzword or treat innovation as a serendipity. They might put a lot of effort or make a big investment on it, but statistically, innovation management has very low percentage of success rate. Many organizations even experience innovation blue and suffer from innovation pitfalls. So what are the root causes of innovation fatigue or creativity brain drain, and how to improve innovation management effectiveness?
Innovation Gaps and Pitfalls? Innovation is the light every forward-looking organization is pursuing. However, for most businesses, innovation is still serendipitous, not so many people like innovation, because innovation stands for risk, and that associated with trouble, and innovation management has an overall very low success rate. It is crucial to examine the causes of failure in innovation, the gaps and pitfalls on the way. The objective is to raise awareness of what’s needed to improve the probability of success and make the innovation journey more delightful.
The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2 million page views with about #4100th 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 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 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.

Brainstorm to stimulate Digital Mining

Brainstorming to stimulate digital mining is an important step to leverage information and collective wisdom to envision the future of business.

Many say digital opens the new chapter of innovation because digital technologies and social platforms provide unprecedented opportunities and convenience for people to brainstorm and collaborate. Brainstorming is a creativity technique by which a group of people can come up with multiple solutions to solve the problem creatively. Brainstorming can be made much more powerful with knowledge. There are "Stimulus Mining" areas that can help to fill the minds with information and then- individuals can start to explore from a much stronger point of view and create fresh ideas. Here are three “Stimulus Mining Areas” in brainstorm worth to dig through for accelerating digital innovation:

Future mining: As the saying is going, future is already here, just hasn’t been fully distributed yet. Future mining is always interesting and important: What will happen to your customer, your business, and your industry in the future? Future mining is to shape a clear vision. Vision is a future state of being, because vision makes you feel passionate about what is going to happen - the opportunities, and take the precaution of the risks. Future mining allows you to see possibilities before others, but they also need to tackle great challenges with grand consequences over long time spans. A visionary mind has the ability to think the past, perceive what is now and foresee the future. Through brainstorming to stimulate future mining, a group of futuristic mindsets can come up with a clarified vision on the strategy and direction of their business. Digital leaders today need to focus outward on the horizon for future opportunities and pitfalls. Those visionaries are the people who can step out of a conventional box or linear patterns, so they can see things further, mine future openly, and share their vision generously. Future mining helps the organization align the business reality into digital strategy, develop a purpose and future perspective, bring together people in a common and committed effort, and move people in the right direction despite many obstacles.

Insight mining: With overwhelming growth of information, knowledge is the invaluable commodity, but can be outdated soon. It’s important to keep learning, deepen understanding, and mine insight relentlessly. Learning something to gain knowledge often starts with the content study; to deepen understanding, you should capture contextual knowledge as well. Insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. Insight mining is important for either solving business problems or delighting customers. Insight is being able to identify the root cause of a problem or the core issues of a situation which leads to understanding and resolution. Digital is the age of customers. Total Customer Delight is an index of total participation in the growth of the enterprise, directly or indirectly. It defines the degree of value ownership of customers in the enterprise. Customer insight mining helps the business understand their customers better, and ensure that the goal of “adding value to the company by adding value to the customer” is achieved.

Information and Technology Mining: What technology would we need? What is the trend for those types of technology? And now all forward-thinking organizations claim they are in the information management business. Information Management plays a crucial role in differentiating digital masters from digital laggards. The purpose of Information Management is to process raw data, abstract information from it, and then gain knowledge, and capture insight/foresight from the abundance of information. It is all about transforming information into business insight and intelligence which can instruct organizations to adapt to changes. Thus, information-based insight mining is crucial to bring both insight and foresight of the business. The digital insight is a sort of contextual understanding. Contextual intelligence is a higher-level of digital fluency.  The choice of what would deliver value requires an understanding of the business and create the relevant context to make a more lasting solution - without it, you are working without any boundaries, or basis for understanding what you are doing.

The digital ecosystem is complex and volatile, for complex problem solving, understanding context is often the first and the important step in enforcing understanding. Brainstorming to stimulate digital mining is an important step to leverage information and collective wisdom to envision the future of business, make strategic planning, take a structural approach and run a modern digital organization.

CIOs as "Chief Influence Officer": Three Views to Enforce CIO Leadership Influence

CIOs are in the unique position to oversee the business from different angles, and they can have the multitude of business views to lead changes and enforce leadership influence.

With overwhelming growth of information and fierce competition,  now we are approaching the inflection point in which businesses are facing accelerating changes and can be disrupted even overnight. The digital CIO is no longer the tedious management role to keep the lights only now, there are many critical leadership traits in digital CIO; there’re many roles they have to play for leading IT up to the next level of organizational maturity. Here are three views CIOs can provide to enforce leadership influence.

A pragmatic view on how to solve business problems: While it is assumed that the core of a CIO is to manage the IT organization and systems that support ongoing business operations. The role of the CIO continues to evolve rapidly in the midst of the information or digital transformation and the accelerating changes in technology. It is not sufficient for just running IT as a commodity service provider because businesses today can walk around IT so conveniently to purchase on-demand IT services from the third party with a competitive price. IT faces fierce competition and must strive to become a business solutionary and revenue maker.  IT needs to understand business problems, CIOs should provide pragmatic pieces of advice and recommendations to the business on how to leverage technology in problem-solving and innovation. The top CIOs today must have the unique business insight and high level of influence on business changes. They should practice expert power and empathetic leadership to become the trusted business partner. CIOs must not preoccupy themselves with operational platforms or process improvements only. Their point of view needs to expand to collaboration, innovation, and digital transformation, to be able to demonstrate in very tangible and persuasive ways that IT not only understands the business, does what customers request for, but also exceeds the customers' expectation to offer alternative or better solutions.

An unbiased view on making effective decisions: IT is at the unique position to oversee business functions and organizational structure, IT is taking charge of one of the most invaluable business assets - information, which can be processed and abstracted into business insight. Thus, CIOs have the privilege to take an unbiased view of multiple issues cross business and IT boundaries. CIOs also play a significant leadership role to convey the technological vision and interact with internal business executives or boards. Digital CIOs today should be business generalists with T-shape IT knowledge, speak both 'business' and 'technology' dialects fluently, translate from one to the other seamlessly without “lost in translation.” Because they often have to translate business requirements into the technological solution or communicate IT relevant issues to business executives or boards objectively. In order to bridge the gap between business talks and IT talks, IT leaders need to provide an unbiased opinion for the management to make effective decisions. IT leaders should be open and listen to their own staff for discussing critical issues, they also should listen to customers, business partners, or other stakeholders carefully, that can help to overcome your own bias or identify leadership blind spot. CIOs are top leadership role which often involves in policy setting, it is important to make a set of common principles, not to make dual or even triple standards in making a judgment. IT leaders are in the better position to see through the business and gain contextual understanding about business issues, diagnose the problems underneath the symptoms in order to solve them without too many side effect. Thus, their unbiased view can significantly help the business identify knowledge gaps and close them skillfully.

A balanced view on how to manage both IT transaction and IT transformation well: Having a “balanced IT” viewpoint means how to strike the balance via managing two separate, but coherent delivery modes: transactional mode to keep the lights on, and transformation mode to make a digital leap with accelerated speed. Thus, CIO leaders should have one view on how to take those fundamental management responsibilities to support business and serve internal customers efficiently, they must also have another unique view on how to capture the emergent business opportunities, predict risks, grow and transform the business effectively. A balanced viewpoint is crucial because driving changes at the “VUCA” digital new normal needs to leverage the pairs of seemly opposite forces, such as opportunity vs. risk, logic vs creativity, analysis vs. synthesis; centralized vs. decentralized control, stability vs. dynamic, etc.  Thus, today’s digital CIOs need to lead IT organization with a balanced mindset, viewpoint, activities, and speed so that every level of the organization has great working relationships with IT teams.

CIOs are in the unique position to oversee the business from different angles, and they can have the multitude of business views to lead changes and enforce leadership influence. Their viewpoint should be broad enough to understand issues with contextual intelligence, deep enough to discover patterns with technical know-how, fresh enough to evolve different stakeholders, and practical enough for solving business problems radically.