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, October 31, 2017

The Monthly “Thinkingaire” Book Tuning: Practice Critical Thinking to Deal with “VUCA” Digital New Normal Oct. 2017

As humans, we can not Not think!


With the increasing speed of change in the hyperconnected 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industrial mindsets with “status quo” types of thinking, authoritarian attitude, and bureaucratic decision-make, are outdated, turn to be a "dragger" of the business innovation and a laggard of the digital paradigm shift.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, how to leverage critical thinking to bridge perception gaps and deal with "VUCA" digital new normal.

Practice Critical Thinking to Deal with “VUCA” Digital New Normal

Critical Thinking Gaps? Critical Thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. There are very few real critical thinkers because it is a complex type of thinking with the multitude of thought process, at the deeper level, critical thinking has creativity embedded in it. The critical Thinking technique can be taught, but Critical Thinking skills can only be developed via practicing independent thinking, insightful observation, and conscious and even superconscious reasoning. There are critical thinking gaps existing which cause leadership blind spots and poor decision making, how to identify and fill them to improve the leadership maturity and digital professionalism


Applying Critical Thinking in Three Management Disciplines: Critical thinking is to apply the objective analysis for either making judgments or decisions. More specifically, in which circumstances, does critical thinking is in demand? Does tasks or activities require problem-solving or decision making that has important or high-value outcomes? If so, then Critical Thinking should be applied. Does the task or activity require influencing of other people's thinking, behavior, or decisions? If so, then apply Critical Thinking. What is the risk associated with the situation? The greater the risks are the greater need to apply critical thinking, it really takes critical thinking to identify situations that involve risk.


Three Critical Thinking Principles to Make Sound Judgments? Critical thinking is one of the most important skills to learn for career and life. Critical thinking is more critical than ever because the business and the world become over-complex, uncertain and ambiguous. Many think there are the critical thinking deficiency and insight scarcity in today’s society. What is the root causes? Is it caused by education gap? Does critical thinking get encouraged or rewarded at school or workplace, or the opposite happens? What could be the better way to groom real critical thinkers? And how to set the principles to inspire the true critical thinking.


Critical Thinking & Critical Thinker Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.


The Uncritical Thinking Patterns Critical thinking means “making clear, reasoned judgments. While in the process of critical thinking, your thoughts should be reasoned and well thought out or judged.” (Wikipedia). So what’re the anti-critical or uncritical thinking patterns? And how to manipulate our thinking in a more constructively critical way?


The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.1 million page views with about 4200+ 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 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.




Innovation as a Problems-Solving Discipline

Innovation is not for its own sake, but for problem-solving.


Running a business is fundamentally a problem definng and problem-solving continuum. It becomes about addressing the correct need and perhaps the problem becomes how to identify the need at the right level. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution. The reality is that, once people get into a routine at work, they typically get stuck at the “We always do things like that” mentality, and they do not like to hear about how things could be done differently to solve problems creatively. Innovation is change, it is never for its own sake. In essence, innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity for solving problems in business or real life. But how do you get motivated to be innovative at daily basis via solving real-world problems large or small, in a creative way?


The systematic innovation is based on the in-depth understanding of business issues: The purpose of innovation management is not to promote innovation but to manage innovation in a structural way. The ability to innovate is ultimately dictated by the depth of understanding of the problem/issue to be resolved. Innovation process could be very loose on purpose, but what is rigorous and systematic is the processes of analysis & synthesis of the original business problem, product/service issues, opportunity, management dilemma, etc. It’s an important step to identify, understand, and evaluate the opportunities in which important problems need to be solved or critical jobs need to be done for satisfying important customer needs, and then map those goals into specific processes for innovation implementation. Most companies fail at innovation execution because they have no clear processes, nor understand the linkage required to work horizontally across departments, or a holistic approach to managing innovation for solving business problems effectively.


Apply creativity in a recursive way for problem-solving: For those who are trying to solve problems, they may find problems evolving as they try different solutions. Thus, it is important to applying creativity in a recursive way to creative processes for both problem identification and problem-solving. First, deepen their understanding of the issues via relentless experimentation and continuous discovery. Study the choices and select the best possible implementable alternative. Problem-solving ineffectiveness is caused by static mindset, even circumstances already change a long time ago. Or people dive into “HOW,” to fix the problem scenario before clarifying the clear “WHY” and “WHAT” matter about the real issue. An innovative problem-solver doesn’t do different things, they do things differently. The problems become more complicated in this ever-complex world. Sometimes lack of creativity becomes the problem after many people refused to deal with it for various reasons, and ignored it until it becomes a problem and later, the bigger problem, and the harder problem.


Innovation becomes simply “creating value by solving simple or complex problems” timely:  Pace and timing are absolutely critical for innovation and problem-solving. Too slow or too fast are as much a problem as backing the wrong disruptive technology or fresh ideas. Timing matters. Many organizations get the timing wrong are surprised when many years later another company gets the timing right for the same disruption, the original company underachieved. When innovation outside your organization outraces innovation inside your organization, it causes more problems for the business to catch up. Timing matters to catch the right opportunity for business growth or prevent the potential business risk before it becomes too severe. It is TIME to address factors influencing business velocity, performance, profitability and customer preference. Timing does not mean to rush up, potentially, longer time frames allow the creation of more long-term problem-solving alternatives from which to choose, using both rational and instinctive knowledge.


Businesses today face fiery competition and rapid digital shift either technologically or economically. Looking uphill can help to identify the real problems that matter, and on a scale that can make a difference. Besides macro, large-scale problems, at the intermediate or micro level, for either organization or individual, there are many crucial problems need to be solved and quite a lot of challenges should be overcome. Innovation is not for its own sake, but for problem-solving.





CIOs as Chief Insight Officer: How to Reach the High Level of IT Maturity

CIOs need to capture the full picture, the holistic business insight, rather than IT picture only.

If traditional IT organizations act more like a service provider and builder, and then digital IT acts more as a business solutionary and an orchestrator, to conduct an information-mature, customer-centric digital organization. To lead effectively, CIOs need to deal with constant ambiguity and digital disruptions, as they continue to be put on the front line, they need to ensure their organization is ready for changes, space and time are made to scope, plan, and execute. Due to change nature of technology and fast growth of information, CIOs naturally gravitate to a leadership role when things are unknown, things will change, technology is involved, or a tough business problem has to be solved. They must act as “Chief Insight Officer,” to bring the unique insight to the big table, and keep improving IT maturity to get digital ready.


Digital CIOs understand business needs and shorten IT delivery cycle: The best way to bridge the IT-business gap and achieve trustful partnership is to learn each other via empathetic listening and intellectual inquisitiveness. The CIO needs to understand the needs of the different business units, but business needs/vision should be spelled out by their functional leaders. Be careful, you do not want to come across as having a solution looking for a problem. CIOs need to know and relate to what the business value and how they quantify that value first before you can add value to it. So let them tell you their stories, their pains, and expectations. From IT management perspective, application development can add value to any organization if it understands the various business lines needs and wants; it can also provide cross-line synergies by understanding the interfaces between lines, understands the organization’s internal directors/goals, the future of the industry, and strategic vision of the company. CIOs can either buy or build, to expedite IT delivery cycle, IT leaders need to leverage the available products/services from vendors, also build the stuff which is critical to enable the business, but not commercially available or create significant barriers either in cost or capability. Any effort that allows a CIO to deliver value to his/her customers faster than the competition or helps IT to build the differentiated capability to drive business growth is worth unrelenting focus.


Digital CIOs can provide a holistic business insight via effective information management: Keep in mind, the CIO is a business executive first, an IT manager for the second. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” means that they can manage information well, abstract real-time business insight and bring unique value to catalyze business growth. If there is a conflict inherent in serving both individual business units and the enterprise as a whole, as the rationalization in many cases serves the enterprise at the cost of specific units. Thus, CIOs need to capture the full picture, the holistic business insight, rather than IT picture only. CIOs can provide valuable insight in the form of money saved, revenue from new unexplored business idea etc. CIOs can build business competency as many businesses will plateau without IT, so there is a co-dependency that should be recognized in a mature, with a respectful manner that facilitates strategic goals and objectives of the enterprise. It’s a team effort!


Digital CIOs make IT more transparent and advocate IT organization as the business partner: Traditional IT was run as an isolated support function and being perceived as a cost center. To improve IT maturity. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” need to practice critical thinking and creative thinking, convey a clear message to have the business buy-in, invite the business to learn IT and provide feedback for IT improvement. The best CIOs are good salespeople who see opportunities to save money, become more customer experience oriented, or come up with definitive competitive advantages, and with a business mindset. CIOs as the “Chief Insight Officer” with effective IT promotion skill know how to explain technical concepts to technical people and non-technical people, without “lost in translation.” They also have the expertise to understand the value and benefit of an IT initiative and how that will positively change an organization or business process. IT needs to communicate the new perspective effectively in order for the organization as a whole to improve business maturity and move forward on the journey of digital transformation with a steadfast pace.


The most wanted vision is insight. Thus, CIOs have to foresee, anticipate business needs for information and then prepare and gear up the information systems to not only make pertinent information readily to top business decision makers but also preempt the need and present the value accordingly. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” have an in-depth understanding of the business, they can manage business information effectively and run a real-time, smart business effortlessly.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Monthly Insight of “Digital Balance” Oct. 2017

It is more critical than ever to maintain the right level of digital balance. In fact, striking the right digital balance is a never-ending business life cycle.

Organizational excellence is achieved via delivering qualified products or services and continuously improving business performance. Quality is defined by a number of factors such as efficiency, effectiveness, flexibility, innovation, or maturity, as a degree of quality is in everything people do and experience.  

       The Multiple Aspects of Digital Balance

  • How to Manage Digital Balance Cycles Effectively? Digital transformation is inevitable, it means the increasing pace of change and fierce competition. Organizations must keep the lights on and also make strategic movements all the time. Like running up to the string, keeping digital balance is critical in reaching digital aptitude. But how to manage following digital balance cycles effectively?


  • Achieve Digital Equilibrium via Delicate Balance? Digitalization means hyper-connectivity, over-complexity, and interdependence; it blurs the geographical borders, functional borders, organizational borders, industry vertical borders and knowledge domain border. Many come to believe that boundaries are not tangible places of resistance but are only self-imposed limitations we place on ourselves to hide our own fear to move forward. The black and white boundaries continue to diminish in the 21st century due to the occurrence of increased economic integration, digital dynamic characterized by the movement of information, people, and businesses. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to maintain the right level of digital balance. In fact, striking the right digital balance is a never-ending business life cycle.  
  • Three Aspects of Digital Balance: Nature and human societies are a ‘complex adaptive system’ inhabiting interacting agents that adapt to each other and their environment. It is a nonlinear, dynamic and open system in a thermodynamic sense. Unlike closed equilibrium system, it hence spontaneously self-organizes; generates patterns, structures, and complexity; and above all, creates novelty over time. Either from nature or business perspectives, how to strike the great balance of such a complex and dynamic system, though?.
  • Digital Balance: How to Strike it Just Right We are experiencing the dynamics of the most significant business transformation since the industrial revolution. The majority of us will work in an organization that is somewhere between old and new; at both industrial speed and digital speed; in the physical building and remote environment; or will remain to be a mixture of old and new. It is the biggest management challenge to be a change agent, where we respond to the current state of the organization and we try to take it from there to a next level. Just like running up to the string, the point is how to strike the right digital balance?

  • The “Push & Pull” Forces of Digital Transformation? Digital is fluid, digital is also complex. It becomes complex if things do interact, particularly in the case of "nonlinear" interaction, interdependent relationships, and hyper-connected business association. You can't separate things properly, and often you cannot predict the actual effect of interaction straightforwardly. Therefore, running a high-performance digital business is no longer a single dimensional effort to applying the cool technologies or focus on short-term profitability only, but a multidimensional pursuit to embed digital into core business processes and build differentiated business capability. It is about how to leverage the “push & pull” business forces to adapt to changes and orchestrate a full-fledged digital transformation.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2+million page views with about #4200+ 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 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.

How to Inject Creativity in Digital Transformation

It takes strategy, discipline, and daily practices to flex your “creativity muscle.”

Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. Organizations shouldn’t just respond to them in a reactive way. They have to be proactive, informative and innovative. To make the journey more fun and engaging, it needs to inject the right dose of creativity. And test for how 'creative' or accepting of 'creativity a company is by asking insightful questions.





How does learning occur for enforcing innovation? Digital innovation is the transdisciplinary approach which involves applied science (engineering), art (design), cognition (psychology), social norm (culture) and group behavior (Sociology). It evolves a lot of learning and interdisciplinary understanding. Transdisciplinary knowledge and understanding are critical to stimulating more innovation of the disruptive type. Learning is a process and everyone has an enormous capacity to learn. The challenge is to move from the individual to system level. Learning occurs through the experience of failing, and don’t waste the valuable lessons from it. Learning becomes knowledge builder and we can define learning through the information it absorbs and the capability it builds. If you take knowledge from one context and bring it over into a new context you have knowledge or technology transfer innovation. Digital learning is also multidimensional, dynamic, interactive, informal and integrated. It is important to cultivate the learning culture that has awareness and understanding the importance of learning in order to build a high-innovative and high-mature digital organization.


How is the success of innovation defined? Innovation often has a lot to do with external circumstances, often people tend to focus on internal circumstances. But just because innovation is greatly influenced by external circumstances doesn't mean the innovation system of the organization is or should be unstructured. Thus, assessing innovation capability of any organization requires a systematic approach. And innovation success needs to be defined with the tangible value it brings to the business and the level of impact it could make. To manage innovation in a structural way, you need to frame the creative processes and leverage limited resources to keep focus, set time limits, apply varying thinking techniques for managing innovation portfolios in a more productive and sustainable way. The robust processes and tools that enable an entity to generate winning concepts on the consistent basis, is the prerequisite for sustaining advantage and growth. Compared to nimble startups, many well-established organizations are struggling with innovation, due to the legacy technologies or processes, silo thinking, change inertia, or rigid hierarchy. Thus, those organizations need to both assess change (innovation is the most desired change) readiness and define innovation success, for making a leap of the organization to the next level of business growth and maturity.


And how is innovation failure defined? Success and failure are only steps away. The is particularly true for managing innovation. Innovation has a very high failure rate, and failure is part of innovation. Innovation comes with a risk of failure, usually not well tolerated in risk avoidance mind, protecting the interests of short-term benefit. Innovation is about discovering an alternative way to solve either old or emergent problem. Innovation failure is usually defined as not meeting customer’s expectation, fear to take calculated risks for leading radical innovation. Or take too much risk to mighty fall. Most companies fail at innovation in the journey of digital transformation, also because they have no clear process, nor understand the linkage required to work horizontally across departments, or lack of a holistic approach to managing innovation. The overly rigid processes or too ‘pushy’ goals will also stifle innovation. Failure is often viewed as falling backward instead of leaning forward. When someone fails, try asking them what they learned instead of focusing on what didn't work or chastising them for overlooking something or making a mistake. Managing failure well is an important and integral part of innovation management.


It takes strategy, discipline, and daily practices to flex your “creativity muscle.” Innovation has to become your business routine, corporate culture to renew creativity energy, and it needs to inject creativity into digital transformation for making the journey adventurous and take the path less traveled.


CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer: Running Non-Stop IT to Make a Leap of Digital Transformation

The goal to run a nonstop and real-time digital IT organization is to create synergy and achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. IT organizations play a critical role is such a paradigm shift and comes a long way from being a pure technical specialist to being a critical strategic partner for achieving business growth and transformation. Business needs IT to deliver services/ solutions that drive business productivity and effectiveness, and IT needs to achieve premium via doing right things and doing them in right ways. Digital organizations are always on and hyperconnected, how to run a non-stop IT to make a leap of digital transformation.


Never Stop learning and communicating: To keep IT relevant, IT leaders must become “Chief Influence Officer,” to keep communicating with the business about IT value proposition, to make leadership influence at the scope of the entire business or even industry. CIOs must do more than just manage “the Bits & Bytes,” they have to run IT as the business solutionary to solve both old and emergent business problems, also become the change agent for driving business transformation more proactively. IT leaders and staff should never stop learning and overcome  “We always do things like that” mentality. CIOs must be the strategic leader as their peer executive officers, speak business language, not technical jargons, they should never stop communicating with business peers, customers and partners both through formal or informal communication and tailor different audience. They need to make sound judgments about people and business relationship, such as Who are your supporters and who will be your detractors? How do you overcome the objections or roadblocks that will inevitably arise on the journey of change? Who is your trustworthy partner working with you to overcome the challenge, and who will try to kick you when you're down? CIOs as one of the most sophisticated executive roles in contemporary business should be open-minded to never stop learning new knowledge, fresh perspective and intuitive ideas, but also be wiser to have an in-depth understanding of people and business circumstances for leading change confidently.


Never stop improving and innovating: Besides being “Chief Influence Officer,” modern CIOs are also “Chief Innovation Officer,” and “Chief Improvement Officer.” They should make an objective assessment of IT maturity, as well as the overall business maturity: Where is the organization on the technology or process adoption curve? Is the organization a pioneer, mature adapter, or laggard? The digital IT practice is to live as the “customer," should collect business customers’ feedback. To keep relevant, IT should never stop improving and innovating. To keep improving IT performance and exceed business expectations, CIOs need to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. IT should never stop trimming the cost and remove the weeds to keep digital fit. IT also has to take a proactive and holistic approach to handling the investigation of innovative business solutions. IT oversees business processes across the enterprise, and thus, has better opportunity to connect wider dots for triggering innovation. Sometimes, when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions. IT should never stop tuning the underlying functions and processes of the business to manage a successful transformation journey.


Never stop managing IT risks: The continuous digital disruptions and overwhelming growth of information bring both opportunities and risks. IT should keep the eyes open for growth opportunities, also never stop managing risks. Being a change agent is not an easy role, and with any strategic initiative, there can be a high risk of failure. Speaking of IT risk, almost all departments were somehow involved, more or less. CIOs must understand the fundamentals of the business environment and engage key decision makers and stakeholders on their terms for managing risks systematically. Many factors influence a CIO's choice about where to position his/her information resources along with business continuum, such as the organization’s risk appetite, regulatory environment, size, stage in the lifecycle, market environment, and current conditions. Explore “WHY” & “WHAT,” besides “HOW.” IT leaders need to develop a comprehensive framework to manage GRC effectively, foster a risk management process to ensure key stakeholders having input into planning, allocation, and commitment of resources.


The goal to run a nonstop and real-time digital IT organization is to create synergy and achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization. From IT leadership perspective, lead, don't just manage! Management is about execution while leadership is about change, specifically influencing others to change. Leading through influence is critical for CIOs to run IT as a nonstop change agent.



Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Monthly Digital CIO Spotlight: The CIO’s Digital Profiles Oct. 2017

Modern CIOs have many personas and face great challenges.


Modern CIOs have many personas and face great challenges. It is not sufficient to only keep the light 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. What are the digital CIO’s most appropriate titles and personas for leading changes and drive digital transformation effortlessly? Here is the monthly spotlight of the CIO.      
                      
    The CIO’s Digital Profiles


  • How to Practice Creative Leadership to Make a Digital Leap? Forward-thinking IT organizations reinvent themselves from the support function to the innovation engine of their company. Thus, one of the most appropriate titles of digital CIOs is “Chief Innovation Officer.” CIOs have to practice creative leadership, inspire innovation, advocate changes, embrace “diversity of thoughts,” encourage new ways to do things and ultimately make a leap of digital transformation.
  • An Insightful CIO with “Digital Awareness”? Leading organizations embark on the “Digital Era” of computing and managing, to reach the next level of operational excellence and business maturity. Digital transformation is a journey, the increasing pace of technological advances and exponential growth of information have clearly impacted the nature and scope of opportunity that the business could ever experience and risks the business exposes to. Thus, an insightful CIO should practice self-awareness leadership, gain the multitude of “digital awareness” as well, to be able to look ahead and identify the certain trends in their industry, apply IT to improve business growth and prepare different strategic scenarios to get digital ready.
  • CIOs as Chief Investment Officer: Three Aspects to Unleash IT Enabled Digital Potential? All ambitious businesses strive to unlock their business potential. Performance keeps the business lights on, the potential could enable the organization to reach the next level of business growth cycle and maturity. Nowadays, technology is the disruptive force behind digital transformation and information is the gold mine all forward-thinking businesses are digging in, and companies across the industrial sectors claim they are in the information management business. CIOs as “Chief Investment Officer”: How to unleash IT-enabled digital potential?


  • CIOs as “Digital Master” How to Define, Refine, and Scale IT Digital Transformation: Due to fast-paced changes and exponential growth of information. IT becomes more critical in leading business innovation and transformation. IT has to reinvent itself to exemplify proficiency in planning, designing, innovating, and building the new business model, as well as refining or scaling IT digital transformation. At today’s information-driven business dynamic, there’s no shortage of problems to tackle, it’s all about to be able to get all the way around the task, to see it from all interests. CIOs need to be bold and innovative, define and refine IT to get digital ready.


  • CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: "Continual improvement" as the Digital IT mantra? CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer” is one of the proper titles IT leaders need to play, and "Continual improvement" is the IT mantra in the digital era; there is never an "enough" to optimize IT operations and do more with innovation. Continuous improvement is by tweaks of things in the old fashion way to bring efficiency. But, even a very small improvement leveraging a new way of doing things, bringing an outside view, shifting the paradigm, to get digital ready.


The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.9 million page views with about #3900th 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.

Synthesizing Problem-Solving

Keep sharpening problem-solving skills, always dig under the surface, and build a good reputation as an insightful problem-framer or real problem-solver.

Fundamentally, every job is to deal with problems big or small both from long-term perspectives or on the daily basis. Fixing the wrong cause of a problem is wasting time and energy. There are many thought processes behind problem identification and there are many step-wise approaches to solve problems seamlessly. There is analytical problem-solving - break down the larger problems into small pieces and solve them separately. There is synthesizing problems solving which focuses on understanding the interconnectivity of problems & solutions via a holistic lens. The terms analysis and synthesis come from classical Greek and mean literally "to loosen up" and "to put together" respectively.  Here are three aspects of synthetic problem-solving:


The synthesizing problem-solving is more future-oriented, perceives “what could be”: While analytics describes “what is.” Analytical problem-solving is the breaking down of a complex system into pieces that are small enough to be understood, in such a way that you can reassemble them, as you broke them down to gain a deeper understanding of "what is," you solve them pieces by pieces. However, every solution could bring some side effect for other pieces of problems if you only think about them individually with the current state. Therefore, Synthesizing problem becomes important, especially in today’s “VUCA” digital business environment. Synthesis is the process of assembling those individual pieces in a different way to give you a sense of “what can be,” and based on that select “what should be.”  The analysis is largely about partitioning, the synthesis process should be pulling the analysis process, just as the analysis process is feeding the synthesis process. Synthesizing problem-solving is more future driven, understand the problem as well as potential solutions from the future lens, to mix perception, knowledge, and imagination toward more comprehensive ways to frame problems and alternative ways to solve them. From a leadership perspective, it's about practicing strategic thinking and synthesis skill, envisioning the larger picture is a critical aspect to understand the best next moves and solve both existing problems or emergent problems effortlessly.   


Synthesis is more on the lines of problem-solving by taking a longer-term approach: Problem-solving is about seeing a problem and actually finding a solution to that problem, not just the band-aid approach to fixing the symptom. Sometimes, even you intend to solve problems but perhaps cause more serious problems later on. Thus, synthesis is a natural digital thinking for hyperconnectivity, to put things together to imagine “the art of possible,” and make the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole. Synthesizing problem-solving looks at the context in which it has happened, and then expanding into being a larger picture to solve larger problems, making it part of a whole wider world. From the leadership perspective, when lack of synthesizing lens, many think they are problem-solvers, in fact, they do solve certain pieces of problems. However, when understanding the larger problem via synthesizing lens, sometimes, they are actually creating the problem in other situations and even cause larger problems for the longer term. Thus, today’s digital leaders should self-aware of their role in problems and show professional maturity to understand their intention, capability, and capacity for the problems they intend to solve. Otherwise, they perhaps have good intention to solve the problem, but they unfortunately become the large part of the problem if lack of the profound insight, right problem-solving mentality, and skills.


The synthesizing mind tends to look at the complex problem as a whole, not just the sum of pieces: It is about leveraging systems thinking in problem framing and solving. Running a business is a journey to solve large or small problems on the daily basis. System lens helps to see a larger system with interactive pieces and “conflict” goals. Rather than considering a single goal, you need to consider a larger system with multiple and conflicting goals. Reality will not be still. And it cannot be taken apart! A simple variable can be both cause and effect. For solving complex problems, leveraging Systems Thinking for problem framing helps to take on a broad open perspective and solve them via “putting them together” seamlessly without creating too many new problems. It takes hyperconnected understanding and highly integral approach. From leadership and management perspective, digital leaders and professionals today should have a learning attitude to think about alternative solutions and focus on effective problem-solving, not finger-pointing. Build transparent problem-solving processes help to dig through the root cause of failures, and have a better controlling system for preventing or diagnosing problems as well.


We all play the role in problem creating or problem-solving. Being a quiet observer and become self-aware of how our own actions/thoughts/ feelings contributed to problems/challenges that we all face at our surrounding and around the world. With the advent of modern technology and multiple communication-learning channels, more people can build their professional capabilities with greater ease. Superior problem-solvers are in demand. Keep sharpening problem-solving skills, always dig under the surface, and build a good reputation as an insightful problem-framer or real problem-solver.


Three Aspects in Running Digital IT as Business

Running IT as business is about focusing on innovation, growth and tangible performance result.

Technology is pervasive, information is overwhelming. Digital Transformation or business initiatives today nearly always involve some forms of technology implementation and information processes. IT can no longer be operated as an isolated support function, the CIO has to proactively foresee, anticipate business needs for information and then prepare and gear up the information systems to not only make readily pertinent information to top business decision makers but also preempt the need and present the value accordingly. IT has to catalyze change, empower users and enable business growth. A good CIO needs to be "commercial" and has some sales/marketing expertise, a great CIO is both "Chief Influence Officer," and "Chief Innovation Officer." For the CIO to help the organization generate revenue, he/she needs to know the business inside out and outside in, and truly run IT as a business.

Make sure the executive team first understands how IT can unlock the business potential to drive future business growth: Companies are recognizing that IT is roughly coupled to the business strategy, and it is a very good sign about how the companies will deliver value. Traditional IT organizations only support business strategy, but running digital IT as a business means that IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy. It is important to put the framework in place to map the strategic objectives into measurement and then determine what technology investments will accelerate the changes you want to see in your key performance indicators. Most of the executive peers do not have a deep understanding of technology/process while effective CIOs have to know both the business and the technology side of things in order to bridge the gap and improve business-IT communication and collaboration. Innovation happens at the intersection of people and technology. Thus, CIOs should think as an intrapreneur and act as a startup manager, go out and talk with varying shareholders, business executives, customers, partners, to know their pains and gains and understand their tastes and current and future needs. IT can truly be operated as the business when IT spends more time, resource and talent on contributing to the business growth, and become the trustful partner of the business. At the age of complexity, uncertainty, change, and innovation, working with vendors/business partners who have innovation capacity and the good attitude can also open out ideas since they will be looking for business pain and solutions that IT/Technology can drive.

Compelling business cases describe the IT-driven business initiative’s benefits and costs flow: Running IT as the business also means that IT is there to solve business problems large and small, with clear business justification. It is important to measure and validate ROIs, to be as comprehensive as possible in monetizing costs flows, identify and trace through the matter by which IT impacts both the business bottom line and top line business growth. Generally, IT performance is assessed by how IT enables transaction handling, influencing decision-making, and enforcing coordination associated with business processes, as well as building business competency. By identifying and portraying the touch points visually, information and knowledge can be tapped in monetizing an IT-driven business initiative’s benefit flows.


Charge 'forward,' not 'back': Forward-thinking IT organizations not only need to think forward, but also “charge forward.” Usually, revenue improvement is harder to present, CIOs should work to prove the overall contribution, profitability improvements and value IT delivers to the business. Reinventing IT as an enabler of revenue growth creates more interesting conversations around the business. With IT service-on-demand model, they use equipment leasing instead of purchase to truly exemplify what has become known as the “utility” model. Not only do they charge for their services on a pay as you go basis, some IT organizations also apply the charge/show back or charge forward mechanism to their business users. The CIO's greatest challenge is to educate the business on the cost/benefit for each of their alternatives, and together they make the best-informed decisions they are capable of. IT should run a balanced “run, grow, and transform” portfolio that can deliver business solutions designed to maximize opportunities and competitive advantage for the organization. IT should also help the business improve net profit, by reducing the cost of doing business, leveraging right sourcing and sizing, maximizing output, etc., so when the business revenue increase, the operating cost remains the same, the business as a whole improves its profitability and achieve the high-performance result.


Running IT as business is about focusing on innovation, growth and tangible performance result. It starts with IT leader’s mentality as the business executive first, and then build IT competency to catalyze business growth, and capacity to achieve the tangible business result. Ultimately IT can reinvent its reputation from a cost center to a revenue generator and digital change agent.