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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Monthly Book Tuning & The End of Month Debate: Is Silo the “Trick or Treat” in your Organization? Oct. 2018

Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s minds and set barriers to organizational strategy management.


The "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 the 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 leadership gap and take a stepwise approach to make a leap of digital transformation.

          Break Down Silos to Create Digital Synergy


The Excellence of Silo: Is It the Building Block or the Roadblock to Achieve Digital Excellence Silo is perhaps one of the most paradoxical symptoms in running the business in the industrial era. There are different definitions of the silo, by nature, it’s about isolation. The segmenting or sectioning of work by knowledge, skills, or type, etc, it is a necessary component of complex work or large workplaces. However, silo often causes miscommunication and reduces a sense of belonging and connection to the organization's larger mission. As we are stepping into the hyperconnected digital new normal, business leaders need to ask themselves and others: Is the excellence silo the building block or the roadblock to achieving holistic digital excellence?

The Gaps Caused by Silo-Thinking  Silo thinking builds the wall in people’s minds and set barriers to organizational strategy management. Great organizations are supposed to maximize the individual and the group potential. Only through effective digital leadership, dynamic business processes, and the latest digital social collaboration technologies and tools, the silo can be crossed over and bridged through, the business can be running at full speed, and human society can move forward in harmony.

Anti-Digital Mindset Symptom: Silo-Thinking Silo is a universal problem facing businesses, especially large mature organizations or our society today. And most people don't realize how much pain it is causing or the cost to the organization. Now businesses are moving into the hyper-connected, accelerated digital continuum, how to break down silo thinking, and embrace holistic thinking, systems thinking and strategic thinking in building a high-performing organization?

Why does Silo Happen and How to Bridge It There are different definitions of the silo, by its nature, it’s about isolation. The segmenting or sectioning of work by skill, knowledge, type, etc, is a necessary component of complex work or large workplaces. But silo mentality is fundamentally about keeping the mind static and keeping the people separate rather than keeping work separate.

Three Practices to Overcome Corporate Silo Mentality? We have transitioned from an industrial to knowledge, innovation, and hyperconnectivity economy - with this shift has come to a change in organizational forms away from the traditional rigid hierarchies managed through command and control to more fluid and responsive network forms. Yet many business managers still apply old silo management mindsets to new ways of organizing and this legacy of the old economy limits many 'networked' organizations. Are silos a mere product of organizational design? Or is their nature tied to a deeper level: the humankind's nature? Despite the mountain of evidence pointing the detrimental effects of these silos, they still seem to be quite common in organizations. The question is: why? In today's volatile economy, nothing impedes progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of bureaucratic amorphous mass designed to preserve the status quo. How does one eliminate bureaucracy? What would be some ideas to assist in breaking down silos in an organization where they are present?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about #5100th 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.

The World-Class Board: How to Create Top Leadership Niche

 The leadership challenge to build a world-class corporate board is about how to fill blindspots, bridge insight gaps and make a leap of digitalization.

Compared to the business world decades ago, information is growing exponentially, the speed of change is increasing significantly, and digital disruptions are happening frequently. The matter of fact is that the changes sweeping the world are hugely disruptive, and from top-down, there is nowhere to hide. Digital boards are the guiding roles, like the steering wheel of their company, leading the business toward the uncharted water and blurred territories. It is a “paradigm shift” to develop the world-class leadership and drive the organization up to the next level of business maturity.

The world-class board insight: Many say we still live in the world with abundant information, but scarce insight. Creating the digital paradigm means how to shift from style to refocus on substance; from classic cookie cutting management approach to differentiation and customization; from taking polarized viewpoint to making multidimensional discernment. The leadership challenge to build a world-class corporate board is about how to fill blindspots, bridge insight gaps and make a leap of digitalization. The global organizational leadership is shifting toward grooming historic digital leadership skills embodying effective communication in networks of global conversations that inspire creativity in diverse domains of expertise. The world-class insight is based on the update global view that looks at problems or issues in such a way that a solution emerges through a collaboratively interdisciplinary and multicultural approach involving global psychological capital, intellectual capital, and social capital. Ideally, the world-class insight captured either from the BoDs or other top leadership teams are like the guiding light to instruct people at the different level of organizations to gain an in-depth understanding of people or things for making sound judgments and effective decisions. It takes world-class leaders who can connect global dots, inspire and nurture the evolution of businesses, walk the talk when it comes to innovation as well as fosters the global digital orchestration. The board directors need to educate themselves by hearing different views about the organization, its environment & digital ecosystem, strategic alternatives and clarify the business vision in order to move the business forward steadfastly.

The world-class board composition:
The variety of surveys about corporate executive board leadership showed that more than half of organizations were experiencing a leadership shortage, especially at the senior leadership level. The world-class board of directors with leadership traits such as self-awareness, critical/independent thinking, creativity, influence, inquisitiveness, optimism, ethics, global perspective, and cultural intelligence, etc, are in demand to deepen board directorship effectiveness and maturity. The world-class leadership competencies at the board level also include such as self-regulation, social judgment skills, abstract thinking, empathy, motivation to work in a global environment, cognitive skills, acceptance of complexity and its contradictions, the tolerance of ambiguity, cultural flexibility, learning agility, handling complexity, communicating creatively, and working across cultures. While there are many components of leadership, one of the most important ones for grooming the world-class leadership is the ability to adapt, model and influence positive change. We live in a world where change is the norm and if we don't embrace it, accept it, roll with it or make it happen, we're not going to be successful. Board directors should have the business vision to seek out the potential and capabilities they’ll need for the future development. The well-blended insight and foresight can drive competitive value and global growth. Besides being brilliant and master the functional expertise, they must be influential communicators and strategic thinkers and know how to collaborate with stakeholders of all stripes, be able to facilitate and orchestrate the multitude of difference, values, cultures and gain a profound understanding of the global business ecosystem.


The world-class leadership practice to harness innovative impulse: To make a leap of digital transformation, forward-looking businesses leverage innovativeness as a basis for achieving the kind of transformative change that propels global growth. It requires that the top leadership team such as board to be creative as well because creativity is about thinking beyond the conventional wisdom - where you have left the confines of other people's thoughts, in order to lead forward with a clear vision and the world-class insight. Markets change and shift, and for each company attempting to deal with these changes, there is a different path to follow. Not every innovative company uses every best practice. Not every authority agrees on every best practice. The best innovation practice has a certain value to product profitable innovation, but the next practice continues to emerge for innovating the management discipline. Digital innovation is simply too important to delegate to the management without the board oversight by setting the principles and standard to achieve innovation management excellence with agility and flexibility. Senior leaders at the board level must be open-minded for asking open questions to encourage creativity, monitoring innovation performance or exploring new possibilities to solve tough business problems. The board should also develop their next world-class innovation leadership by leveraging the hybrid leadership style such as “pushing & pulling,” “listening & telling,” “asking & answering,” etc, focus on understanding, convincing, persuasion, and collaboration at the global scope.

The digital board is diversified, cognitive, proactive, and instrumental, Building a world-class board is simply not the overnight phenomenon. Because leadership in itself is a constant learning process that requires the leader to apply the growth mindset, leverage the right tools, shape insight, listen carefully, learn continually, discover fresh viewpoint all the time, identify tradeoffs and negotiate them with all stakeholders to collaborate skillfully with digital fluency, global empathy, and interdisciplinary understanding.

Three Insight of Digital Innovation

Innovation is what leads to differentiation. There are many ways to differentiate and, therefore, there are many ways to pursue innovation.

The digital era upon us is the age of innovation. The unprecedented digital convenience brought by the abundance of information and powerful technologies changes the way we think, live, and work. From a business management perspective, innovation - the practical application of creativity is essentially about problem-solving at various levels, and to solve a problem implies a wish to make something, or everything better. Innovation is the managed process which can be classified scientifically and managed dynamically. Here are three insights into digital innovation.



Innovation, in general, is surely a cross-science and art discipline: Innovation is not serendipity, but a systematic process to transform novel ideas and achieve their business values. Digital innovation has a broader spectrum and enriched context. At an enterprise level, digital innovation management requires cross-functional collaboration and interdisciplinary knowledge sharing. It covers information management, knowledge, technology transfer, design, entrepreneurship and it is closely related to several other disciplines such as the economy, psychology, sociology, and law, not speaking about disciplines that are related to technologies implemented by the particular innovation. With “VUCA” digital new normal, the bulk of information, methodologies, and approaches involved as well as the complexity of processes encountered speaks in favor of the scientific approach and engineering practices for innovation management. If creativity is more art than science. Theoretical treatment of the innovation discipline may give rise to a science -in a sense innovation would be a "cross-science” discipline. To bridge the innovation skill gaps, it involves training for each group in areas where they are weak - teaching engineers how to build the financial case for a new product. Shared goals should also be reinforced by shared KPIs so that each culture is incentivized to think beyond their silo. For example, when coming up with new innovations, engineers should not only be responsible for technical performance but also should have the business acumen for ensuring that their ideas can be made and that they will be profitable for the company.

People-centric innovation is the digital theme: In practice, people-centric innovation means that you have to involve customers and different stakeholders, listen to their feedback, involve them in both idea generation and process implementation. To put simply, people should be the center of innovation management and they are the major focus for innovation process and accomplishment. One of the key determinants of whether an organization can move to the digital new normal is how well it can delight customers and the digital maturity of its people. Innovation happens at the intersection point of people and technology. Thus, the innovation capability of the business is built through the alignment of people, process, and technology. Digital organizations are flatter and information-driven; with an “every individual as a stakeholder” culture, people are encouraged to think differently and do things differently. Thus, people-centricity should be another critical component in the digital innovation playbook. It is about how to engage and empower customers for innovating; people over tools, to gain insight and empathy, to take different propositions and approaches to a problem or a new interpretation, empowering and enabling over control, with the goal to build a high-innovative and high mature digital organization.


Innovations succeed when failure is seen as a learning step to great success: Innovation comes with a risk of failure, usually not well tolerated in a market governed by risk-allergic mindset. The more dramatic and powerful the innovation is, the greater the risk would be. Innovation and risk often go hand-in-hand. At the age of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience, failure is very much an intrinsic part of innovating. Innovation fails because there are too many disconnects that occur between the birth of an innovative concept and the process of turning it into a reality. It’s understandable for fears of failure - especially failures come dressed in many disguises. But it is important to identify gaps and avoid pitfalls on the way. Innovations fail because folks fear innovation. Innovations succeed when failure is seen as a learning step to great success. Innovation is costly most of the time. The point is how to avoid the repetitive mistakes and focus on lessons learned from failures. A well-developed innovation framework with the periodic review will help businesses sustain innovation progress and minimize risks of idea flops. To improve innovation success rate, it is a balancing act to have enough failure and a risk-tolerant environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cost-effectively, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive.

Innovation is what leads to differentiation. There are many ways to differentiate and, therefore, there are many ways to pursue innovation. The nature of how the "implementation of the idea has to follow a logical path for the solution,” provides a great opportunity for managing digital innovation. Innovation is a necessity and interdisciplinary management practice to lift their organization to the next level of business maturity.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Monthly Summary: “Hyperconnectivity” as the Key Word of the Digital Age Oct. 2018

Digital organizations become always on and interdependent, they are the switches in the expanded business ecosystem.

Digitalization is a journey of a thousand miles to make a seamless shift from functioning to firm to delight, and reach the higher maturity of the business to get digital ready. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or interrelational interactions brings the new cycle of the business growth, information flow, innovation, and maturity Here is a set of featured blogs to explore “HYPERCONNECTIVITY” -  the “keywords” of the 21st century to brainstorming the future of business.

 “Hyperconnectivity” as the Key Word of the Digital Age


Hyperconnectivity as the “Nature” of Digital Businesses Connectivity is the “nature” of today’s organization, and hyperconnectivity is the symbol of the digital maturity. Hyperconnectivity is one of the most critical characteristics of the digital business. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or interrelational interactions brings the new cycle of business growth, information flow, innovation, and maturity.

The Aura of Digital Hyperconnectivity Digitization amplifies the progressive business effect into the modern society, unleash the great potential and demonstrate the beautiful aura of hyperconnectivity. Digital blurs geographical, functional, organizational, and even industrial borders nowadays, it is all about hyperconnectivity. Digital organizations become always on, interdependent, and they are like the switches in the expanded business ecosystem, to keep information flow,...

Three Aspects of Digital Hyperconnectivity Being able to foster a workplace that thrives on collaboration, social interaction and forward thinking is imperative for building business competency. Hyper-connectivity is the most critical digital characteristics. Either business or the world is transforming from siloed functions, the sum of pieces into a connected whole. When things connect in this way, any entity wishing to negotiate a successful journey has to understand what the implications.

Enforcing Organizational Hyper connectivity by Strengthening the Weakest Links Digital transformation is not a stand-alone initiative, but a continuous journey to adapt to the digital new normal of the dynamic business world. A business ecosystem, just like the natural ecosystem, is hyperconnected and interdependent. You have to scale up and dig underneath for exploring a full-fledged digitalization. To effectively respond to the digital dynamics, it is evolutionary to shift from inside-out traditional linear management discipline.

Three “HYPER” Characteristics of Digital Organizations: The digital shift means change. It represents the next stage of business maturity which will improve how the enterprise works and interacts with its ecosystem, with the customer at the center of its focus, and innovation as its major theme. Digital organizations become always on and interdependent, they are the switches in the expanded business ecosystem, to keep information flow, knowledge flow, and therefore the business world flow. Here are three “Hyper” characteristics of the digital organization.

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 2.8 million page views with about #5100 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 Popular Change Quotes of “Digital Master” Series 2018

“Change is the voyage which needs to continually discover its own landscape, avoid potential pitfalls and enjoy unique scenes of digitalization.”
"Digital Master” is the series of guidebooks (26+ 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 about change and change management.






“The digital era upon us is about changes with increasing velocity and speed.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO


“The reason Change Management is challenging because it’s like trying to drive with your foot on the break and the accelerator at the same time.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO


“Due to fierce competitions and rapid changes, making a continuous improvement is critical for surviving and thriving of digital businesses today.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO


“Change Management has a very wide scope and is a relatively new area of expertise.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO

“Change is the voyage which needs to continually discover its own landscape, avoid potential pitfalls and enjoy unique scenes of digitalization.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO

“Organizations of the future are increasingly exhibiting digital characteristics in various shades and intensity.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO

“The digital organization is a living thing with the ability to continually change as the world changes and evolves with an intersecting and interacting business ecosystem seamlessly.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO


“Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO


“Innovation is the most wanted change and a prerequisite for doing sustainable business these days.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO

“Create and nurture an environment in the organization where curiosity is encouraged, humility is appreciated, creative thinking is recognized, and the calculated risk is tolerant.”

― Pearl Zhu, The Change Agent CIO

​Three Aspects of Running Digital IT

The role of digital IT is to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape the future of business by linking all important business aspects and key ingredients. 

With the exponential growth of information and increasing paces of changes, organizations rely more and more on technology; the IT department has more and more to overcome. The digital connectivity and IT consumerization bring both challenges and opportunities for IT to maximize its full potential and shift from a support center to a trusted business partner. Here are three aspects of running digital IT.

Progressing inch by inch toward predefined goals, but also making the timely adjustment with change on the way:
Compared to the considerably static industrial age, the digital environment is complex, uncertain, unpredictable and unrepetitive, digital business management today is an iterative planning and implementation continuum. How well IT organization can adapt to the dynamic environment directly affects the future of the business. It requires IT leaders taking a hard look at what’s going on inside the organization including strength and weakness checkup; taking a deep look at the underlying business functions and processes, as well as taking a wider look around at what’s going on outside the organization including opportunity and risk analysis. On one side, IT management needs to get the utility aspect of IT solidified, make the progress inch by inch toward predefined goals; on the other hand, they should make continuous self-check to ensure their organization has the right skills and costs are in line with the business’s long-term planning; build differentiated business competency to make a digital leap. One of the primary impediments to strategic alignment is a dissonance between upper and middle management and a similar dissonance between middle management and the bottom line. Digital businesses and their people learn through their interactions with the environment, they act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. Thus, the forward-looking CIOs must be able to develop and optimize the IT operational function within itself and scale the best practice to the company scope. Because IT is not just the business of IT department, it must break down the functional silos and create synergy by harmonizing business relationships, integrating business processes, and optimizing organizational structures and functions. IT leaders should also prepare the scenarios for failure in the future to help everyone be clear about the potential pitfalls - and improve IT responsiveness and maturity.

Leveraging resources for critical strategic undertakings: IT investment is costly and IT resource is limited. Thus, resource allocation is critical to IT management prioritization and run high-performance IT to create differentiated business 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, and IT is the business inside the business. Therefore, it is important to put the framework in place to map the strategic objectives into measurement, leverage resources for critical strategic undertakings, and then determine what technology investments will accelerate the changes you want to see in your key performance indicators. The process is adaptively rational, it has to strike the balance of ‘keeping the order,’ and sparking the innovation. To improve IT effectiveness, responsiveness, performance, innovation, and maturity, successful capacity planning, and resource management are critical to ensuring that IT resource is available before they are needed. IT capacity planning process must obtain accurate information on business growth needs. The resource allocation scenario needs to be transparent, helps IT management take advantage of resource effectively, optimize cost, and improve IT capacity to ensure IT is on the right track as the business strategy enabler. IT leaders should proactively participate business strategy planning in advance, make the strenuous effort on achieving T management effectiveness and operational excellence.

Refocus on portfolio management and build unique business competency: Running digital IT goes beyond “keeping the lights on.” IT is business, the challenge for organizations is to manage its portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic synergies and organizational interdependence. The balanced IT application portfolio can deliver lots of value for the business in many ways, such as customer satisfaction, business optimization, and change adaptability, etc. Thus, IT portfolio rationalization is an activity more critical than ever because economic cycles are getting shorter, and decision cycles are getting shorter as well. IT effectiveness directly impact the organizational performance and maturity. To maximizing IT value and unleashing the full digital potential, it is important to build a balanced IT portfolio for developing the differentiated capabilities, enabling business growth and improving IT and overall organizational performance. Portfolio management is about doing right things by focusing on the decision-making process around which programs and projects should be executed based on their alignment with the goals and objectives of the organization, and therefore, getting increasingly further attention with digital new normal. The role of digital IT is to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape the future of business by linking all important business aspects such as goals, objectives, actions, etc, together for enforcing the digital competency. These are then mixed with other ingredients to create products and processes which generate differentiated business competency for strategy implementation and their business’s long-term growth.

Digital businesses are becoming complex and uncertain, to survive and thrive, IT plays a linchpin to integrate all important business elements to a set of business competencies such as robustness, flexibility, innovation, speed, comprehensiveness, responsiveness, agility, improvement, sensitivity, optimization, resilience, etc, with the goals to accelerate business performance and drive the long-term business prosperity.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Monthly “Digital Maturity” Book Tuning: The Emotion Behind Digitalization Oct. 2018

You cannot make a true digital paradigm shift without an in-depth understanding of the digital interconnectivity and embracing the multitude of digital maturity.

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. The digitalization flattens the organizational hierarchy and blurs the functional, organizational and geographical borders in the business ecosystem. It is like the gigantic puzzle with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the real meaning and unleash its full potential. You cannot make a true digital paradigm shift without an in-depth understanding of the digital interconnectivity and embracing the multitude of digital maturity.


The Emotion Behind Digitalization


The Emotion Life Cycle Behind Digital Management
Human history is an evolutionary journey to keep advancing economically, technologically, and sociologically. Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way business is conducted so that simply adopting the new digital technology may be insufficient. The multidimensional digital effects provide impressive advantages in term of the business speed, the abundance of information, and the quality of the digital workforce. Digitalization is the radical change, change is never for its own sake, there is the emotional impact associated with it, from solving conflicts, soothing the pain, to the fulfillment.

What’s the Emotion Behind Innovation? Historically, innovation would seem to have emerged with an instinct for survival. Basic tools for hunting and gathering. So there's a connection, with emotional equivalents, with surviving each day. Greater leaps are found with agriculturally based societies; whereas, nomadic groups seem to have remained static, having adapted through trading. Environment either encourages or discourages innovation, the ease or difficulties inherent in surviving: too easy? Too difficult? What elements did past civilizations possess that added to innovation? And how can innovation continue to drive the progress of the human race? Now we are moving forward from an industrial age to the digital era, what’s your vision, emotion, and inspiration to connect the innovation dots?

The Psychological Insight of Change Management?
Change is inevitable, people are the very reason to change and the center of change. People are often the weakest link in any change management effort as well. There is the strategic understanding of change management, technique know-how of change management, and here is the psychological insight about change management.

The Philosophy, Psychology, and Technology behind Digital Transformation? Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity, Transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a differentiated capability to accomplish a defined goal. It is important to leverage multidisciplinary knowledge as well as taking a structural approach to make radical changes in the underlying processes and functions. Here are philosophy, psychology, and technology behind the digital transformation.


A Psychologist’s Mind: How to Shape Digital Workforce with Positive Psychology? Some say Western Management is based on psychology, and Eastern Management stems from philosophy. The psychology is the condensed version of mindset; whereas the philosophy is the abstract fact of the human society. In today’s always connected, increasingly decentralized workplace, how to shape the digital workforce with positive psychology, though?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about #5100th blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The “Digital Master book series includes 25 books to share insight from the multidimensional digital lens and perceive the multi-faceted impact the digital era upon us is making to the businesses and society. 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.

The Upside of Ignorance

Prioritization management is both art and science. The art is to know when to pay attention and when to ignore. 

With overwhelming growth of information and continuous digital disruptions, today’s companies are so easy to get distracted, very often say yes to all the initiatives, sometimes get burn out and overloaded with short-term business concerns, cause ineffectiveness for the long run. Besides paying enough attention to the critical issues, today’s digital leaders and professionals should also learn how to “ignore” in order to focus on the most important things, for achieving the long-term goals and prosperity.

Ignore trivial details: Today’s digital leaders and professionals need to avoid the trap of micromanagement and they do not want to lose the sight of the big picture or decelerate the speed of changes. A micromanager will overemphasize the 'how' over the 'what' and ‘why,’ and will be laser focused on minutiae to the detriment of the overall outcome. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation. It means the managers put too tight control on their employees or team or insignificant details, more worried about some routines, not laser focus on the top priority. it perhaps causes more damage than benefit. Thus, ignoring trivial details is important for leaders to stay focus on top prioritized issues without getting distracted or inundated with overloaded information. A diagnostic view helps the business management to zoom into the significant details for fixing the problems really matter, and making continuous improvement.

Ignore conventional wisdom: Often at the society with traditional culture, it usually considers conventional to be wise, and unconventional to be unwise. But in the digital society with abundant information, open culture, conventional wisdom has a negative connotation about sticking to the outdated concepts or knowledge, old traditions, cultures, or the old ways to do things. People’s perceptions reflect their thinking capacity. You can only know what you know, but there are more dimensions which you don’t know. Outdated perception is like time glue that keeps you still. Thus, to keep thinking fresh and lead forward, sometimes you need to ignore the conventional wisdom, break down silo thinking, challenge “we always do things like that” mentality, having the willingness to let go of past learning. Digital leaders and professionals today should learn how to see things differently and do things alternatively. Keep learning and adapt thinking out of the box, make plans, but be dynamic to make an adjustment, and lead innovatively.


Ignore the negative (destructive) criticism: The leaders can actively learn to better improve self through requested criticism. There are constructive criticisms and negative (destructive) criticisms. Criticism comes from a well-wisher with good intention is often"constructive," you need to seriously "consider" it, become more self-aware and fuel professional progress and personal growth. However, negative criticism from a wong person via unprofessional manners such as backbiting or rumor-mongering, are often destructive, you need to “ignore” it, and concentrate on things matter to you, sow the positivity seeds, and build the professional competency. Treat the feedback as information and perception, but you have the choice what story you put into it. Remember the old saying: Not everything shining is the gem, and applying wisdom to handle them in a positive and intelligent way.

When we jump into the digital future of “VUCA” new normal – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, there are no other choices but being courageous and innovative to explore the new reality. Prioritization is both art and science. The art is to know when to pay attention and when to ignore. Prioritization starts with the right mindset to focus on the most critical challenge the business needs to overcome, to survive and thrive from the whirlwind of daily busyness.

The Contemporary CIO’s Digital Innovation Agenda

The fast-paced change forces IT leaders to be proactive and get really creative in how they orchestrate and implement changes.

Digital is the age of innovation. Innovation, in general, is surely a management discipline. IT shouldn’t act as a controller only, limit the business’s creativity. To keep relevant, IT has to shift its reputation from a cost center to the innovation hub of the organization. In fact, IT plays a crucial role in expanding the creative side of the business, and scale the innovation effect of the organization. The contemporary CIO's responsibilities are to understand the business's collaboration needs and innovation demand today and into the future, in order to build an IT-led digital innovation agenda which covers innovation management, knowledge, technology transfer, entrepreneurship, people-centricity, and it is closely related to several other disciplines as well.

Develop digital IT as an innovation hub: Technology is often the disruptive force behind innovation and information is the gold mine all forward-looking organizations dig into. Thus, IT plays a crucial role in creating a disciplined and managed space for developing and testing new models, products, and business approaches, but also shield innovation teams from the organization’s dominant logic and established standard operating procedures, to strike the right balance of innovation and process. CIOs play the bridge role of integrating the art and science of digital innovation. Being able to become innovative or close is being able to think, and create new things based on the business or the customer’s needs. CIOs need to be creative enough to think out-of-the-box for embracing great ideas; and logical enough to plan, engineer and follow through. IT has a great opportunity here to catalyze innovation and lead digital transformation of the business.

Build IT as the backbone of a learning organization: Knowledge is the foundation of innovation. IT needs to become a learning organization which can also build learning capability for the entire company. CIOs need ask themselves and others: Does IT drive team building and organizational learning? Do you want to be in a constant learning mode? With fast-growing information and shortened knowledge life cycle, the important responsibility of managing information and knowledge is about how to work in harmony for amplifying collective skills and abilities. Organizations are at a crossroads where the segregation or silo of business units are at a need to reach across the aisles and respectively work with each other, learn from each other, co-develop innovation, and work toward the common goals to achieve the high-performance business results. IT is the backbone for building a learning organization, running an innovative IT organization is about setting a cultural adjustment and understanding within the organization that innovation is embraced and expected, including the acceptance of failure along the path to innovation and ensure the culture supports innovative efforts, recognizes and encourages innovators to think different and take bold actions.

Leverage IT to foster a creative environment and fine-tune the organization’s “personality”: Creativity in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment. You have to live it and breathe it every day, otherwise, you would feel stuck. Organizations, just like individuals, have different personalities. Is your company a “thinking deep” introvert or the go-doer extrovert? Do you have a listening or telling organization? Is your team-setting homogeneous or heterogeneous? Inclusive or exclusive? Etc. Because IT oversees business processes and manages the information life cycle, so it directly impacts how the business “think and do things” there. IT has the very power to influence an organization’s “personality,” and unleash the digital potential of the business. There is no innovation without inclusiveness. Because creativity is a combination of divergent and convergent thinking. It’s best to bring a group of people together with cognitive differences such as different backgrounds, capabilities, strengths etc., in order to spark creativity. To harness innovation, it’s important for a creative team having people who do not have the same viewpoint of varying issues so that they can complement with each other’s viewpoint, broaden the points of interest and try new things to extend the thinking box and increasing the odds of sparkling creativity. The business leaders such as CIOs must work with the right mindset to create an inclusive organization with every dip in the business lifecycle to foster a creative environment and improve innovation effectiveness.

Take outside-in lens to run a people-centric organization: Innovation often happens at the intersection of people and technology. Thus, customers become an important link in the innovation process. IT has two sets of customers - the internal business customers as well as the end customers of the companies. Building a customer-centric business is in every forward-thinking organization’s top executive agenda. The new technology tools and business models allow a company to capture customer information on a continual basis. IT needs to be closer to the end customers and do more with innovation. To become truly people-centric and highly innovative, 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 fail forward. Retention of customers/reduction in the churn with better management of services provided to the customers will be an indirect way of increasing and maintaining the revenue. Innovation is change; from Change Management perspective, CIOs need to be like the anthropologist and psychologist, who can diagnose the problems from the mindset level, understand the variety of thoughts behind the changes, and build a people-centric change organization.



Practice IT intrapreneurship and run IT as a software startup: Today IT is the wing of every successful business. IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for management in their efforts to spark creativity, substantiate competitive position, affect the market landscape, and drive new revenue growth. The key here is to run IT with the software startup mentality and gradually institutionalize and communicate innovation throughout the organization. Practicing IT intrapreneurship means to harness changes, cultivate innovative cultures, and learn to generate more novel ideas in diverse teams. Practicing intrapreneurship in the large organization also doesn't mean getting rid of all rules. Instead, a high-innovative business has more discipline, not less. As the matter of fact, it’s important to set digital principles and develop an effective framework to manage innovation in a structural way. To run an innovative IT organization, the most difficult challenge is not just about launching successful teams, but about maintaining their motivation and focus, cultivating the positive attitude and building a culture of risk tolerance and doing more with innovation.

Digital is the age of innovation, digital innovation has expanded spectrum and broader perspective. It is the age of options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things. Any leadership role, especially a CIO, needs to be better-rounded than to have a title of "logical" or "creative." They should be good at both and dedicated to developing a comprehensive innovation agenda. The fast-paced change forces IT leaders to be proactive and get really creative in how they orchestrate and implement changes, cultivate a set of digital habits, practice, practice, and practice more for running a high-innovative digital IT organization.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Monthly “Digital Master” Book Tuning: Taking the Logical Steps to Go Digital Oct. 2018

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, being outside-in and customer-centric is the new mantra for forward-looking and high mature digital organizations today. Digital Master refers to those high-performing, highly innovative and high-mature (less than 15%) digital organizations; they have both clear digital vision and well-crafted digital strategy; they are courageous to be in the vanguard of digital transformation with a quantum lead. Digital leaders must realize that you cannot wait until there is an immediate pressing task, continuous adaptability is necessary in an ever-changing world, in order to run a future-driven digital organization.

       Taking the Logical Steps to Go Digital


Five Steps to Achieve Digital BreakthroughToday’s organization is an organic living thing thriving at the expanded business ecosystem. Digitalization disrupts not only the functional and business boundary but also industry and geographical territories. Digital management is responsible for designing, enabling, energizing, and enforcing a collaborative, innovative, intelligent, inspiring and inclusive working environment. With increasing pace of changes and frequent disruptions, making incremental improvement only is perhaps not fast enough. Here is the five-step scenario to make a leap for achieving the digital breakthrough.

Going Digital Systematically? Going digital is a no brainer. If so, then why are so many companies still hesitated to go radical digital? Why are there so many companies not taking advantage of customer-facing opportunities to digitize interactions with digital technologies? Even during the journey, shall you continuous check: Are you doing the right things? Are you doing them the right way? Are you doing them well? Are you achieving the desired outcomes? Are you transforming to be ready for the future? Are you shaping the good digital strategy about the future and positioning appropriately for your place within it? Do you have enough resource to implement the digital strategy? Are the assumptions and risks understood and manageable?

Take a Fast Track of Going Digital? Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way the business is conducted. The organizations that have hit the heights of success in the digital world aren’t those that have determinedly followed the old models and ways of thinking or industry best practices; it’s those that have forged a new path and develop their own next practices to move forward. To take a fast track of going digital, it’s necessary for companies to perform an organizational change impact assessment to understand the current state factors, and then, determine what the impacts, risks, and challenges of any proposed change are. The bigger the change initiative is, the more important to take these into account early rather than late in order to lead change steadfastly.

The Five Dimensional Hybrid Models for Going Digital? The digital paradigm has many dimensions. Digital organizations today have the hybrid reality with both physical buildings and virtual platform, the old way and the new way of doing things. It implies the “always on” and hyper-connected business nature, exhibiting digital characteristics in various shades, extensiveness, and intensity. Therefore, the digital management needs to adopt a hybrid model and take the holistic discipline with mixed management styles for managing everything that is necessary to get digital ready.

The Bumpy Road to Going Digital? Digital era is volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous, the shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies and leadership roles, the digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. It is important to bridge the multitude of gaps for speeding up changes, unlocking performance, and building a delightful workplace in order to run a high performance and high mature digital organization. However, many organizations are still confused digital with general technology adoption. It's a significant shift from doing digital to going digital and being digital. In practice, doing digital perhaps means that the business takes a few initiatives for adopting some new gadgets, but going digital is an overarching management discipline which includes breaking down silos, tuning underlying processes & functions, managing both tangible and intangible business elements, evolving emerging trends and dynamic ecosystem. There are numerous barriers and pitfalls on the way, and for most organizations, it will be the bumpy road from doing digital to going digital.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.8 million page views with about 5100+ 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.

The Bottom-Up Innovation

Openness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, respect, are all important perspectives for enforcing bottom-up innovation.

As business competitions get more cut-throat in the hyper-connected and always-on working environment. This puts stress on the workforce that is not conducive to more creative and experimental thinking and working. Digital innovation is the right mix of art and science. The science of innovation is to take a structural approach with the logical steps. The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel. As now innovation more often happens at the intersection of people and technology, business and customers.  In fact, innovative solutions often come from the floor and not the ceiling. You need to allow a 'bottom-up' approach to make every employee the powerhouse of innovation and develop innovation as the differentiative business competency.

Break down the “conformity only” culture: In many overly rigid hierarchical working environment, the workplace is just too conforming to get others thinking differently; or too rigid to encourage different voice. The bottom line employees get used to taking the orders from their managers and “command and control” management style enforces the conformity culture. That is the opposite way of inspiring creativity. Being creative means you need to get used to stepping outside the old box into unfamiliar territory, you discover and explore the new path to do things. Innovators find more viewing spots than the rest. Innovation becomes possible only if people can keep their curiosity to ask the open-ended “Why, Why Not, What If” questions. Impatient with the status quo and believing there is always a better way to do things is a strong signal of having a creative workforce. In the real world, many breakthrough innovative ideas come from the bottom up. Thus, organizations should inspire creative thinking, independent thinking, dynamic thinking, encourage curiosity and growth mindset. Help people feel more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk-taking. Foster integrity, trust, and transparency to build a creative working environment. Either individually or as the team, learn how to do the 'basics' well, such as listening, asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, as well as dealing with conflict or even constructively advocating a point of view or building trusted relationships. A culture of innovation isn't built in a day; you can’t impose the desired culture to the organization. It’s important to recognize your innovators - lookout for curious people with a broad knowledge based, interdisciplinary understanding, bold vision and hands-on attitude. They are your change agents to rejuvenate culture and transform the bottom up employees to the innovation powerhouse.

Enforce inter-and intra- functional collaboration: Most good ideas emerge from interactions, not single individual spots in place. The powerful digital technologies including social collaboration and learning tools & platform, provide a loose structure for employees to connect, collaborate and generate bottoms up ideas, issues, and solutions; enable content creation, distribution, and consuming, co-creation and transformation of personal and group communication into content, generate ideas, enable social behaviors to take place online, endow these interactions with scale, speed and disruptive economics of the internet. Innovation is trans-disciplinary. The multidisciplinary knowledge helps the business professionals not only work in the box but also across the multiple boxes, in order to approach problems creatively and collectively. Thus, enforcing inter and intra-functional collaboration are important to generate ideas as well as open up those ideas for collaboration and bring valuable inputs to help new idea development. It also helps to achieve the maximum visibility of ideators & contributors and showcase success stories to help keep up the motivation level, starting new conversations that galvanize inspiration and gain traction on a powerful theme of innovation renewal and growth. The highly innovative organizations digitally connect key assets or context to the resource-rich innovation hubs and cluster across enterprise ecosystems to foster bottom-up innovation and amplify innovation effect.

The customer-centric innovations often come from the floor and not the ceiling: It will be easier to develop an innovative product in order to satisfy a need or shortcoming; rather than manipulating the whole environment and market so that you can define what the customer should need. To enable customer-centric innovation, assign the best team members in your first line of contact to get truly understand what customers’ needs are. Customers should always be involved, it is not a question of whether the customer is right or not, it is more of whether you are truly and proactively listening to their needs and gaining a deep understanding of the motivational construct of customers through empathy, and figure out what they will likely want next. The managers and employees should figure out how to frame the open-ended questions to get the best feedback from customers - the great feedback you wouldn’t have thought about or some great things the customers wouldn’t have thought about before. The bottom-up employees are often innovation champions because they have a good understanding of customers and appreciation of business processes, aware of organizational structures, they have the first-hand knowledge about how to make things working better. Point out that customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways to do things, continually spark fresh ideas and stimulate bottom-up innovations.

Innovation Management is an interdisciplinary management discipline which needs to weave many key business factors into an innovation playbook and experiment all different approaches and practices systematically. Openness, transparency, collaboration, empowerment, respect, are all important perspectives for enforcing bottom-up innovation. Organizations need to invest in the cultivation of capacity for innovation. Like many of other important business initiatives, innovation has to be managed via well-aligning talent people, robust, but not rigid processes, and the latest technology tools and platforms. At the core of innovation management is a customized business simulation, which lets participants experience the comprehensive business problems and opportunities associated with creating ideas and executing innovation at the company for developing innovation as invaluable activitiies and a cohesive business competency.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Monthly Organizational Structure Tuning Running a “Boundaryless” Digital Organization Oct. 2018

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. Digital becomes the very fabric of high performing business, being outside-in and customer-centric is the new mantra for forward-looking and high mature digital organizations today. From an organizational structure perspective, how can you fine-tune the digital dimension of your organizational development?

Running a “Boundaryless” Digital Organization


Running a “Boundaryless” Digital Organization? Today’s digital businesses are nonlinear, volatile, interdependent, and uncertain. Digital blurs the geographical, functional, organizational, and even industrial borders nowadays. It means that organizations today need to be fast and flexible, have less boundary but better abilities for dots connections Tso that the business can adapt to changes effectively and innovate continually. Here are three aspects of running a “boundaryless” digital organization.

Three Critical Underpinning for Running a Digital Organization Organizations today are hyperconnected with their business ecosystem because today, the geographical, functional, business or even industrial borders are blurring. Digitalization is not just about the single dimensional technology upgrading, it has to expands to almost every dimension of the business. At the high maturity level, companies need to embed digital into the very fabric of the business and explore digital transformation in a structural way. Here are three critical underpinning for running a digital organization.

Tuning Organizational Structure from Hierarchy to Circular for Achieving Fluidity, Flexibility, and Fit? With increasing pace of changes, hyper-connectivity, and interdependence, organizations across vertical sectors are at the turning point, take the multidimensional approach to make the digital paradigm shift. From the organizational structure perspective, the overly rigid pyramidical organizational structure forms communication gaps, encourages silo mentality, creates the performance bottleneck, also decelerate business speed. Therefore, fine-tuning underlying business structure and processes is a critical step for improving digital business fluidity, flexibility, and overall digital fit.

Three Perspectives of Debureaucratization
The root of the word "bureaucracy" is: bureau(fr) = desk and kratos(gr) = rules/ power. The larger the organization and inputs, the larger the amount of 'rules' necessary for its function and to keep dependent variables and outputs delivery stable. However, too many rules will stifle innovation, outdated rules will stop the business from moving forward with accelerated speed. And the overly restricted hierarchy will cause silo, discourage cross-functional communication and collaboration. Hence, dismantling bureaucratization is inevitable because of the ever-increasing speed of changes and expanding interdependence. Here are three perspectives of debureaucratization.

Fine-Tune Organization Structure to Get Digital Ready Due to the “VUCA” nature of digitalization, the business complexity is unavoidable. Organizations that are skilled at managing complexity can gain advantages by pushing the boundaries of a more complicated business mix that provides opportunities to create inter-business value. From an organizational structure perspective, how to fine tune the digital dimensions of your organizational structure development to get digital ready?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2+million page views with about #5100+ 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.

Business Managers as Quality Champion

The business goal to run a real-time high-quality digital organization is to create synergy by harmonizing all functions to achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization.

Organizational excellence is achieved by delivering qualified products or services and continuously improving business performance. Quality Management is not one department’s work, as a degree of quality is in everything people do and experience. Quality is not just the specific task of one single business department or function as well, it is one of the business management disciplines which needs to be taken in a systematic way. Quality management is like change management, needs to be embedded in the corporate culture. Functional managers need to become quality champions for quality control and quality assurance, and they are the quality masters to run the high quality and high-performance digital business.

Transparency enforces quality: What is required for functional management quality check is to clarify the purpose and engage all the people involved working together as a team to excel in the delivery of quality products or services with accelerated speed. It is really important for teams as every member is always aware of how the whole process is going on, what results have already been achieved. Plus, it's always easier to decide who really deserves being rewarded afterward and that's the main incentive to improve quality. Transparency is also important at many levels to run a high-quality business, including frontline workers with each other, and their supervisors, managers and supervisors, directors and managers, directors and shareholders. The highly effective quality management is dependent upon a common vision, a common message, feedback loops, and trust. The transparency is to transform quality management into the system approach, not through command-control hierarchy only. You could supervise with control every move. It has to be implemented systematically and communicated democratically. Trust for transparent performance is only possible if the cultural grain, dictated formally or informally, by the leaders at the top support an open and trusting work environment to enforce quality and improve business results.

Motivation to inspire “quality is everyone’s business” and”continuous improvement” culture: A continuous improvement culture isn’t built in a day, it takes strategy and practices. Rewarding people for taking responsibility and recognizing their worth is key to improve quality for the long term. Most people like to receive the financial reward but also trusting them to take work forward without micromanagement liberates the spirit of the team, show respect for all parties. Goals that are measurable, quantifiable and objective (instead of subjective) help to improve the quality and performance management process as well. In order to become more transparent, the quality assessment process, as well as its linkage to rewards, should be simple and clear. business value achieved by quality management has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. This is accomplished by establishing strong interdependent relationships, the shared vision, optimized processes, frictionless business culture, and a set of business practices. It's much easier when continuous improvement is part of having a common and operational way to define and apply a language of work so that together you can improve things on your own and with others.


Resource management and end-to-end quality monitoring: High-mature digital organizations can identify ways of realizing the end-to-end monitoring of key performance indicators, develop effective digital principles, processes, and the best/next practices for improving business quality. The re-framed business processes help to bridge silo, and the optimal sets of business capabilities to delight customers and improve quality. Organizations have limited resources, many businesses took a big bite of resource to keep the lights on, only left very little for doing business optimization, innovating, or digitalization. Thus, resource management becomes a bottleneck for running a high quality and a high-performance business. An effective resource allocation scenario helps to take advantage of resources, optimize cost, set priority, keep the process transparent, and manage a well-rounded digital portfolio effectively and efficiently. Quality management is not an isolated practice, or one group’s work only, it’s an interdisciplinary management discipline. To create synergy, optimize quality, unlock performance and unleash digital potential, businesses need to fine-tune their business structure and organizational system concentrated on the cultural system, moral system, social system, material system, functional system, and the holistic digital ecosystem, in achieving the next level of quality, performance, and business maturity.

The business goal to run a real-time high-quality digital organization is to create synergy by harmonizing all functions to achieve digital synchronization of the entire organization. It’s important to strike the right balance of collaboration and competition to create business synergy for making the digital paradigm shift. The functional business managers are gatekeepers of quality control and they are quality masters who understand what drives cost and what drives value. They have both vision and passion, capability and capacity to help their businesses enter into the new world of quality excellence.

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How to Creatively and Systematically Solve Problems Really Matter

The matter of fact is that the more complex the situation is, the more creative approaches and role gaming are needed to reach for insightful understanding and effective problem-solving.

Fundamentally, running a business is a change and problem-solving continuum. The world becomes overly complex and paradoxical. Business problems are like jigsaw puzzles, intricated and sometimes make you feel the lack of clues. The assumption that there is a single cause to a "problem" in a complex adaptive system such as today’s business is unhelpful. There are often multiple and inter-related dynamics behind complex problems and you need to be looking for patterns rather than isolating causes for solving them effectively. IT is the linchpin of the digital business. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” need ask themselves: Can you diagnose the real problem? Does every problem have solutions? How to identify problems really matter and solve them creatively and systematically?

Look uphill to identify the real problems matter: There are so many things going on these days, the blurred business borders, the exponential growth of information, inevitable changes with increasing pace, and disruptive technologies, etc. That means the more problems will emerge and businesses must overcome the challenges. Businesses have limited resources, time, and talent. Thus, looking uphill can help to identify the real problems that matter, and on a scale that can make a difference. Besides macro and large-scale problems, there are also the intermediate and micro levels of problems. Many problems do exist because they are either ill-defined or the concept cannot be adequately captured contextually. Some problems seem irrational as they are caused by people’s emotional reaction to a set of circumstances or events. This can appear to be illogical. Some problems are the symptoms; when you try to fix them, the real problems will keep coming back. Further, there’s the problem that the same word means different things to different people because they carry different emotional baggage or have cognitive differences to understand what the real problem is. Always remember that problems exist not in isolation, but as an interacting system of problems. In today’s hyperconnected and interdependent business world, solving problems really matter could also mean that there is the opportunity you can take care of a chain of problems, not just an individual problem. But if you spot the wrong problem, it perhaps means more damage than what you think of. For either organizations or individuals, how do you get motivated to be innovative at a daily basis by solving real-world problems large or small, in a creative and systematical way? It’s critical to look deeply into the future which can have a profound effect on where you go, what are roadblocks (those large problems) or potential pitfalls (the hidden issues which perhaps cause more problems later on), and how you get there? A better problem-diagnose scenario that crosses all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to discover the root cause by asking “WHYs,” or taking other system analysis to discover the real cause and address it.

The digital leaders need to be highly capable problem-solvers: Problem-solving is both art and science. It involves breaking down complex problems into smaller pieces, and then take logical steps to solve them in a structured way. High mature digital leaders have strong capabilities to solve critical business problems skillfully; Capability = Capacity + Ability. It’s not necessary or unrealistic to solve every problem on their own, but they should be responsible to ensure that the right people getting the right information at the right time for making good decisions and solving right business problems effectively. High mature organizations have a strong capacity to leverage resources, time, and human capital to solve business problems really matter in both effective and efficient ways. Digital professionals have to leverage both their intuition skills and analytics ability to solve problems. Besides logic, there is a role for intuition in problem-solving as well. Sometimes breakthrough ideas or creative solutions are rarely or never logical in foresight, but they will look logical in hindsight. Do not forget to get the measurement tools to evaluate problem-solving results and make continuous improvements. Keep in mind, learning and having great tools will give you a variety of ways to improve problem-solving competency.

Simplicity: The world becomes more dynamic, complex, and paradoxical, balance is a leverage for the problem-solving and in-depth understanding of economic and social systems. It doesn’t mean that every complex problem will have a complex solution. As Albert Einstein well put, that every solution to the problem should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. It means that a problem has an inherent and irreducible complexity; any attempt to simplify further than that will fail and any complexity added to it is harmful. The logical problem-solving scenario does conform to a sequence, a focus or a goal, a motivation to explore proposals, a willingness to imaginatively explore alternative solutions. You seek for inventions, new designs, creative problem-solving. You should also leverage systems thinking because the system view of the business world are balanced and objective and it is sensitive to the emergent factors; it keeps information and ideas flow and generates a variety of options to deal with complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty of the digital world. In practice, a good problem-solving framework helps to leverage a structured methodology, weight in varying decision factors, and apply efficient tools, which allow you to frame problems systematically and solve complex problems in a structural way.

Either for individuals, organizations, or society as a whole, the problem-solving capability is crucial to surviving and thriving. The problem-solving logic is just so simple - diagnose the real problem and solve it in the right way. However, the problem-solving thought process and practices will not be simple for many of today’s complex issues or vexing problems. The matter of fact is that the more complex the situation is, the more creative approaches and role gaming are needed to reach for insightful understanding and effective problem-solving.