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, December 13, 2017

The Monthly CIO Debates Collection: The Digital IT Action Point Dec. 2017

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

Due to the changing nature of technology, IT leadership role also continues to involve & shift the focus, to move up the maturity level. More and more CIOs are requested to take more responsibility and many CIOs present the breadth of leadership competency. The proactive IT debates help IT leaders to brainstorm innovative and better ways to do things and improve management capabilities. Here are the monthly CIO debates collections.

The Digital IT Action Point

Change Management at the Cross Road: When to Make a Big Jump, When to Take Small Steps Due to the “VUCA” new normal of the digital age, either at the individual or organizational level, “Changeability” becomes an important measure to assess a person or a business’s potential, agility, and maturity. Unfortunately, change is not as easy as it sounds, more than two-thirds of business change initiatives fail to reach the expectation. Change Management in many organizations seems to be at the crossroad- Should you take an audacious approach of accelerating digital transformation, or take small steps for making incremental changes? What are the bottlenecks for changes, and how to avoid pitfalls in making a big leap?

How Should CIO respond to endless internal customer demand for IT solutions? Modern IT needs to both take care of internal customers by meeting their needs, and to delight end customer by optimizing digital touch points; it has to both map out the strategic projects, but also to keep the light on. How should CIOs prioritize the limited time and resources to ascend IT maturity, and how should CIOs respond to endless internal customer demand for IT solutions?

Which IT Best Practices Do You Take at the Time of Uncertainty IT is a huge investment and costly in most of the organizations, whether it is "planning" or "performance"; "process" or "people" issues - the CIOs shouldn't have been “overwhelmed” by the complexity of IT and uncertainty of business dynamic, besides setting up practical IT Principles to follow, what are those IT practices can be shared?

How can IT Enable Business Growth? More and more IT organizations are transforming from back-end internal support function into front office revenue generators, during the journey, CIO must know how to answer the question such as: How do we get revenues now? How will we do in the future? How should IT help the company win business? And how can IT contribute to customer acquisition and retention.

Should and How can IT Get more Engaged in Revenue Generating Initiatives?
Historically, IT has been perceived as a back office and a cost center, a technology controller, not an enabler. Now, with the accelerating speed of change and the consumerization of IT, IT organization has to improve its maturity, from being a reactive helpdesk to a proactive business partner; from a cost center to a value creator; and, more importantly, it needs to become an innovation engine and the driver of business growth. But more specifically, how can IT get more engaged in revenue generating initiatives?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.2 million page views with 4300+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. blog posting. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes 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 Bridge-Like BoDs

A bridge-like digital board has the advantage of mixing the emergent next practices and the best practices, pulling enough resources and pushing the business's progress.

A high mature digital board is like a brighter light tower to guiding the business toward the right direction and take all these significant responsibilities “thoughtfully.” The forward-thinking digital board is also like an amazing bridge to connect the industrial age and the digital era, make good policies and develop the next practices for ensuring the business digital ready.

Bridge yin and yang to achieve digital balance: The Board's role, in large part, is to make good decisions on overseeing the business strategy and enhancing the value creation for the organization. Boards need to perform and conform at the same time. They also need to strike the right balance between setting rules and advocating innovation. Yin and yang balance is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, it also reflects the world we live in economically, socially, politically, and environmentally. A balanced board can monitor performance and practice governance effectively. Because conformance without performance adds very little to the business value. Performance without conformance is not genuine as well. The board can also provide the level of guidance to advocate, steer, and sustain innovation.

Bridge leadership and directorship to advocate forwardship: The digital future is about connectivity, intelligence, sustainability, true understanding, and collaboration. At the industrial age, the leadership is about command and control to practice reductionistic linear classic management philosophy. People in leadership positions assume they have all the answers because the business is considered static and there’s scarcity of information. With an abundance of information and increasing pace of changes, technology trend will keep emerging and last. The corporate boards as the directorship role and one of the most important leadership pillarsares crucial in bridging today’s uncertainty into tomorrow’s conscious progress and advancement and bridging today’s control-driven management style into tomorrow’s trust-based and self-management practices. The challenges that organizations face in making a seamless digital transformation take time to deal with because it needs to well facilitate people, resources, and technology, etc. Thus, the board is critical to orchestrating an impressive digital symphony.

Bridge management disciplines and governance practices to improve the business maturity: The important characteristics of digitalization are over-complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Digital boards help the business management identify and close strategy blind spots, pinpoint decision fatigue, monitor strategy implementation and performance results, amend wherever necessary to match changing marketplace conditions. Governance and Risk Management do indeed overlap and are both important to achieving the To-Be state. While the board is the custodian for both. Governance is like the steer-wheel to ensure organizations running in the right direction and head to the destination. The boards play crucial roles in bridging the multitude of management disciplines and governance practices, having the oversight of the business assessment, gauging conditions and choices; oversight of management practices, creating interdependencies that powerfully affect the rate at which the situation can be improved, matching priorities and resources; oversight of accountability, scoring activity and net results.

A bridge-like digital board has the advantage of mixing the emergent next practices and the best practices, pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, prepare and launch change, innovation, and mastering digital fluency in steering business transformation and amplifying leadership influence.

The CIOs as Chief Insight Officer: How Can IT Win the Mind of the Business

Running digital IT needs to work cross boxes instead of within the box, to win the minds and touch the minds.

Forward-looking IT leaders work hard to reinvent IT as the change agent and the innovation hub of the company to win the mind of the business and the heart of customers. CIOs must have self-awareness and keep checking IT performance and maturity via asking the following questions: How should IT help the company win business? How can IT break down “We always do things like that” mentality, and take initiatives to invent the future? How to bridge IT-business gap and run IT as a trustful business partner? How to mind talent gap for rejuvenating IT to get digital ready? And how can IT contribute to customer acquisition and retention?

IT can help to nail down and fix the business’s pain points before they know themselves: IT needs to engage with the business units to find out what the pain points are and to identify opportunities for developing new services or improving/optimizing current ones. First, ask leaders and managers about the vision and business problems they are trying to solve. The business perhaps only points out the symptoms, IT is in the unique position to truly dive into the processes underneath for diagnosing the root cause of the problems. There needs to be a comprehensive audit of the business, to ferret out the problem areas, not just symptoms, but the real issues. Effective IT management means understanding every island of business operation and every important workflow process. It is through this comprehensive business understanding that a CIO would be able to identify true cost savings, pinpoint real problems, implement workflow optimizations, and identify additional revenue opportunities. There should also have strong interactions between operations leaders and IT leaders and their teams with feedback mechanisms and willingness to find solutions that can support both the business need and build any ROI required to justify the business case. Doing so demands quality time spent with sales/marketing, operations, finance leaders and even end customers, to keep integrating, engaging, optimizing, and accelerating IT to reach the high level of business maturity.

IT can empower people with the right information and help the business make better judgments at the decision points: The essence of Information Management is to ensure right people getting the right information with the right format at the right time to make the right decisions. The digital CIO has to foresee, anticipate business needs for information and then prepare, refine, and gear up the information systems to not only make pertinent information to business decision makers but also preempt the need and present the multidimensional business value accordingly. Digital CIOs need to focus on the information aspect of the role in the context of the business. One of the biggest challenges for CIOs is keeping up and stepping up, recognizing the responsibility for ensuring that the business is better informed than competitors and more nimble at building dynamic business capabilities to embrace the disruptive opportunities that are constantly emerging. To win the minds and gain the hearts, IT leaders also should enforce communication and peer relationship with other CXOs, bring unique business insight, so that IT can meet the business’s need on time, eliminate delayed or missed business opportunities and solutions.

IT can digitize the touch points of the customer experiences: Digital is the age of people. IT has both internal customers and end customers. IT needs to empower internal customers with efficient tools to improve productivity and staff engagement. New technology tools and business models allow a company to capture end customer information on a continual basis, collect valuable information about customers in real time and get that to the right teams inside your company, to digitize every touch point of the customer experiences. Customer-centric organizations deploy a range of technologies that focus purely on improving the customer's experience and perception of business services, showing the customer that you are making the significant investment on delivering the products or services meeting their need. The hard technology and fluid information can create soft touch to both gain the heart and win the mind, to make people feel better about themselves. As the old saying goes,"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

The command and control style of IT is no longer fit for the digital new normal with fierce competitions and consumerized technologies. A CIO can't just sit back and apply yesterday’s techniques to today's problems. IT should be highly available and efficient internally that It can take minimum time to market. Running digital IT needs to work cross boxes instead of within the box, to win the minds and touch the minds. The key is engagement with the business and do more with innovation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Monthly “Performance Master’ Book Tuning: The Multiple Aspects of Performance Indicators Dec. 2017

Corporate Performance Management is a management control from strategy till shop floor. "If you can't measure, you can't manage," legendary management guru Peter Drucker once asserted. Managing performance means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure it happens. It takes multifaceted approaches from multidimensional perspectives to unlock digital performance and catalyze change.


The Multiple Aspects of Performance Indicators

Three Challenging Aspects of Performance Indicators You can only manage what you measure, Performance measures and management is not a simple task though, approximately there’re more than ten thousand KPIs around today, a bit overwhelming, let's not forget that there is a "K" in KPI for a reason: Why do you select the certain set of performance measures? What’re the most challenging aspects of working with KPIs? How to leverage the right set of performance indicators in measuring whether the organization is functioning well or dysfunctional? Which management metrics shall you apply to measure organizational overall health and maturity? Who and what tools are being applied to measure if an organization is healthy or sick? Proactive or reactive? Intelligent or dumb? Customer-centric or operational driven? And what are those challenging aspects of performance measurement

How to Set Performance Indicators to Measure Return on Digital Transformation? Change is inevitable, and the speed of change is increasing. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves, but it is the thorny journey with many bumps and curves on the way. How do you measure return on digital transformation in order to make the timely adjustment and improve its success rate? A well-defined set of measurement for digital transformation should contain a good mix of outcome measures or the long-term strategic value along with performance drivers to track the progress in the short term (operational measures).

CIOs as "Chief Improvement Officer": How to Set IT Performance Metrics to Lead Continuous Improvement? IT performance management is about how the IT organization manages performance such as strategic planning, program portfolio, metrics, and day-to-day operation structurally. A measurement system is a necessary foundation for continuous improvement. IT metrics need to evolve into something that matters to the business audience, at the same time that "business sentiment" needs to get put into something more tangible. So, what are guidelines to set IT performance metrics for leading continuous improvement?

Leading Indicator vs. Lagging Indicator? As Drucker well pointed out: “You can only manage what you're measured.” Benchmarking and measuring are both science and art. There are many practical metrics and KPIs, but not every metric is created equal. The concept of leading and lagging indicators, as applied to the Balanced Scorecard, relies on an understanding of the cause-effect relationships between KPIs in the different perspectives. But what’re the differences between leading indicators vs. lagging indicators?

What are the Goals to Choose the Right KPIs Choosing the right KPIs is crucial. The challenge is that people have their own take on KPIs. KPIs must be aligned with the corporate goals and objectives - but should also be directly relevant to the activities that businesses are attempting to manage (process execution). If you only select KPIs based on outcomes without managing the processes that contribute to 'good and bad performance', you will continue to be out of control. However, it is equally dangerous when you focus on 'process execution' without understanding if the process is delivering the desired 'outcomes'. Perhaps the greatest challenges are not about 'data management' - but 'relationship management' within the organizations.

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 million page views with about #4300 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.

Pattern Thinking and Problem Solving

Pattern thinking enables to capture deep insight into complex problems systematically.

The pattern has a few meanings, it’s usually about repeating artistic or decorative design such as asthma paisley pattern; or a natural or accidental arrangement or sequence; a plan, diagram, or model to be followed in making things. When patterns work together to solve problems in a particular area, these patterns are called a pattern language. People learn a set of languages and then apply several synergistically to produce a solution.

Pattern thinking is the type of problem-solving thinking: Patterns are defined as "solutions of problems in a context" with a body of "descriptions of forces."If you look at patterns, you will find that they are containers for describing relationships because that is what gives them their sense. Patterns are good in practice and definitely intellectually stimulating. Pattern thinking is the type of problem-solving thinking. Pattern thinking enables to capture deep insight into complex problems systematically. Each pattern is useful to address some specific problem. What could be in stronger relationship to us than something that solves a problem to us? Sometimes tie the patterns together so you can navigate among them for figuring out better solutions to complex problems.

A pattern language can generate different solutions: A pattern language is "about" the relationships between patterns - particularly the way you can navigate from pattern to pattern to learn about a problem space and to apply different solutions in combination. The pattern language tells you how one pattern "leads to" another, in the same way, that one clause in a natural language might lead to another. But the person who reads and understands the pattern language still needs to decide how to apply that language to describe a set of problems and solutions. For a given solution is the combination of the inner forces acting on the system with the pattern language applied to solve that particular combination of forces.

Pattern thinking is the synthetic thought processes evolving multiple thinking: Pattern Thinking is a hybrid thinking to combine design thinking, system thinking, architect thinking and visual thinking for solving complex problems or capturing deep insight. Patterns play a role in science, math, art, and virtually every action or activity we engage in. Pattern thinking is also a type of creative thinking, to be creative, you need to continue discovering new patterns. It requires you to keep your eyes open and keep your mind off the box in order to break down the conventional box and actively seek out new ideas wherever you can discover them. It will take practice, practice, and practice when promoting thinking about the systemization of the effects of patterns when patterns are operationalized as systems. That creates a very close relationship between systems thinking and pattern thinking. Tie Pattern Thinking and Systems Thinking together is the powerful thought process to solve problems in both structural and creative ways.

Pattern Thinking is important for designing or problem-solving. The focus is on what patterns do, a higher order focus than on what patterns are. Patterns evoke and gestate higher-order patterns while clarifying fundamentals and debunking the serendipity of complexity.

CIOs as “Chief Intrapreneur Officers” with Ownership Mentality

Intrapreneur CIO leaders with ownership mentality can articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture and apply technology in new ways to stay ahead of competition and industry. 

With abundant information and emergent digital technologies, IT is a key component to shape the digital mindset of the business and to re-imagine “what is possible” to unleashing business potentials. To bridge the gap between IT and business and the industrial age and the digital era, an entrepreneur's mindset with ownership mentality is important for CIOs to run IT as a business in the business, to manage both opportunities and risks accordingly, and to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next.

Good intrapreneur CIOs with ownership mentality will ask big “WHY” clearly, to articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture: Every process, every expenditure of time, money, or energy, and every assignment of resources should directly relate back to the "Why,” with a clear strategy-execution mapping. Intrapreneurship is about balancing innovation with other organizational priorities, it presents a possibly even greater challenge and reward. Once people agree with the WHY, they can develop their own level or means of participating. CIOs with ownership mentality have better self-awareness, they are not afraid to know the “actual state” of IT, and break down the old habits to get a holistic understanding of the business and run IT as the business in the business.“Why" should not only precede "How," but should be reaffirmed at each step in the "How.” The common “WHY” questions CIOs need ask include: Why is IT still perceived as a cost center? Why doesn’t the business invite IT leaders to engage in strategic conversations? Why is IT not getting enough respect despite all good work and dedicate effort were undertaken? Why is IT always overloaded and understaffed? Etc. Digital blurs the geographical, functional, organizational, and even industrial borders nowadays. Traditional hierarchical lines will phase out and a collective of business partners will emerge working collaboratively to set digital strategy and achieve organizational goals collaboratively. When CIOs are equipped with the ownership mentality, they can run IT boldly and provide the leadership style to inject enthusiasm, which is infectious and spurs the concept forward.

Good intrapreneur-leaders present accountability which is a type of cognitive fitness to show the ownership mentality: Lack of accountability is often one of the biggest obstacles to getting things done, or cause change inertia. Digital organizations are flatter, with an “every individual as a stakeholder” culture, to close the accountability gap through improving cross-functional collaboration, open door listening, transparency, and empathy. Accountability needs to be well embedded in the organizational culture, to encourage responsible communication, decision-making, and action. True accountability focuses on learning to do things differently, rather than punishment. Technology by itself doesn't 'do' anything, applying technical capabilities to market opportunities is where the magic happens. Shared accountability or collective accountability involves shared ownership, empathetic communication, and mutual sharing in successes. Digital transformation is all about shaping highly performing and highly innovative organizations. The better the CIO assigns accountability and empowers the individuals and teams, the better are the chances it will be at the least, accepted. A hyperconnected organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear and accountable tasks.

Good intrapreneur-leaders with ownership mentality are systematic and good at calculating the risk: The good intrapreneur leaders have the right dose of risk appetite and rational risk management skill as well. If risk appetite implies some ability to actually measure risk level, and then risk attitude is to determine the company’s attitude and strength to deal with risks appear. Many entrepreneurs taste risk as bitter experience and show resilient to recover. Intrapreneur-leaders have a balanced viewpoint to perceive success and failure more objectively, such mental toughness will help the organization to be more resilient, and nurture the culture of risk-tolerance. It’s business leaders’ responsibility to establish an environment with a high-risk tolerance, where people can grow and develop, be curious and creative without fear. Good intrapreneur-leaders with ownership mentality can strike the right balance between increasing productivity and encouraging innovation; between setting the rules and let “out-of-box” thinking flow; between risk management and risk tolerance; between the new way to do things and the best practice, between stability and change, creativity and process.

Intrapreneur CIO leaders with ownership mentality are curious enough to ask big why questions, they are accountable to run IT as the business. They also have just right risk appetite to grab opportunities and be able to manage risks effectively. They can help to build the culture of learning and creativity, inject passions to lead changes and commercialize the value of new ideas to drive the business growth. They can apply technology in new and innovative ways to stay ahead of competition and industry. They are on the right track for achieving the “art of possible” to reinvent IT for the digital age.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Monthly Insight of “Digital Maturity” How to Improve Digital Business Maturity Dec. 2017

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. At the heart of digital, it is people and how to build a customer-centric organization. But how to take a structural approach to digital transformation?


How to Improve Digital Business Maturity

Enforcing Three Fundamental Business Factors for Improving Business Maturity Forward-looking organizations are reaching the inflection point from doing digital to being digital, from being digitally disrupted to be a digital disruptor. Digital Maturity matters, because digital transformation discipline is not just about some stand-alone initiatives, it requires a vision for 'WHY' and a solid strategy for "WHAT" and "HOW" you want to transform radically. Companies are gradually opening up to the next practice to enforce digital ways and build up digital competency with a set of unique capabilities. More specifically, how to enforce these fundamental elements of the business: People, process, and technology, in order to expedite change and improve business maturity.
Building Digital Competency to Improve Business Maturity? Organizational maturity is assessed based on the overall business effectiveness, efficiency, operational excellence. agility, innovation, intelligence, resilience, and people-centricity. Many organizations are on the journey of digital transformation which represents the next stage of business maturity and will improve how the enterprise works and interacts with its digital ecosystem, with people at the center of its focus. But more specifically, what are further aspects of building digital competency and logical steps for improving business maturity?

Digital Master Chapter IX: Digital Maturity Digital makes a profound impact from specific function to business as a whole, the purpose of such radical digitalization is to make a significant difference in the overall levels of customer delight and achieve high performing business result. High mature digital organizations have the high-level digital capability not only to build digital innovations but also to drive enterprise-wide transformation. They have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation, and they benefit from their actions. These high performing digital masters achieve significantly higher financial performance than their less digitally mature competitors and read this chapter to discover their key success factors.

  • How to Build a High-Mature Organization? An organization or company may be in business for many years but has not matured its management practices or lack of well-defined sets of business principles. Most of the organizations stick to the lower level of maturity mode (reactive, inside-out, and operational driven), how can they move up the maturity level to become truly proactive and outside-in, more culture intelligent and people-centric?

Three Aspects to Measure Organizational Maturity: Organizations today are over-complex and hyper-competitive, management continues to keep the business running, but the lack of insight on how well their organization is doing for the long term. Is it functioning well or dysfunctional? Which management metrics shall you apply to measure organizational overall health and maturity? Who and what tools are being applied to measure if an organization is healthy or sick? Proactive or reactive? Intelligent or dumb? Customer-centric or operational driven?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2+million page views with about #4300+ 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.

CIOs as “Chief Information Officer” The Philosophical Understanding of Information vs. Knowledge Management

Mismanaged information or siloed/ outdated knowledge is what leads to a decrease in true understanding. 

The aim of modern Information Management has often been described as getting the right information to the right person in the right format at the right time in order to make right decisions. Digital Knowledge Management is the management system that enables knowledge flow, connect ideas but also people, and crucially management; coach them and many others in organizing their personal knowledge mastery and collectively engaging with others and making decisions. Here are three philosophical understanding of information vs. knowledge.

Information is machine product; knowledge is the product of human mind: Information is situated between data and knowledge. At today’s digital dynamic, information is abundant and even explosive. If processed well, information can unleash the business’s full potential and maximize its multi-dimensional values. The value of information is qualitative, measurable, and defined uniquely by each organization. Information needs to be available for consumption. Information is used to educate, inform and provide decision making for people who use it. Raw information from machine needs to be processed into knowledge assimilated by people to make right decisions or improve productivity. Knowledge is the product of human mind, the power of knowledge can be released only when it is used to create value. From the information-knowledge management perspective, the problems most organizations have are (a) They do not understand what raw material (data or information) they have to play, with poor or lack of information management skills. (b) They do not apply worthwhile Information Management maturity evaluation to reveal the inherent information value. (c) They do not have an integrated approach to manage information and knowledge holistically. (d) They haven’t reached the next level of learning stage for creating the new knowledge or transforming knowledge to insight for creating invaluable business soft asset . You need to not only assimilate the existing knowledge, more importantly, you have to create the new knowledge, more frequently to replace the out of dated knowledge and manage information-knowledge-insight life cycle effectively.

Information can't be always knowledge; knowledge doesn’t always inform you with true understanding: Information drives awareness, which can include all of these characteristics such as, uncertainty, surprise, difficulty, and entropy, although it can also trigger a sense of confidence, confirmation, validation, and verification. Therefore, information only can make you confusing sometimes, and information has to be processes into updated knowledge. Knowledge lifecycle is significantly shortened nowadays. Thus, knowledge doesn’t always inform you with true understanding. Everything exists in a constant state of change and knowledge of an evolving thing must evolve with the thing. Understanding is key to all doors. To say that you understand a thing is to state you know it in its totality. Knowledge is personal as well. One person’s knowledge is the other one’s information only; that means what information is for one person, it is knowledge for another. People filter the information that comes their way so that they can build their own knowledge foundation on topics that interest them. So, the knowledge you select becomes "part" of you, and shapes the lenses you perceive the world.

While information is the ingredient of knowledge; but in order to interpret information, you need knowledge: There is no hard asset that you can buy today that will guarantee the success of your organization. Data, information, knowledge, and insight are the different stages of information lifecycle that organizations need to manage more effectively and improve its business capability and maturity. Information and knowledge are the most invaluable assets to every organization and its integrity, availability, and confidentiality can be crucial to how the organization functions or maintains its competency. While information is the ingredient of knowledge, knowledge needs to be used to interpret information or to develop new knowledge. Knowledge informs us as to what choices are available. Thus, they need to be managed coherently. Perhaps in many organizations, there seems to be the "expectation" that if you have a great business in one place and it's working ok, and then knowledge, ideas, solutions, and advice will easily transfer and that piece of the jigsaw will fit snugly into somewhere else. In reality, it is not simply in today’s silo-based organizations. In practice, knowledge needs to be managed more systematically, Knowledge Management is a lot about diplomacy, engaging and persuading people to take part so it can be delicate and it takes a long-term negotiation and cross-functional collaboration to keep information flow, knowledge flow, and therefore the business flow, to achieve digital fluency.

Mismanaged information or siloed/ outdated knowledge is what leads to a decrease in true understanding. As companies around the world transform themselves into the digital business that is based on ‎information, their ability to explore intangible assets such as information and knowledge has become far more decisive to build competitive business advantages and make a seamless digital paradigm shift.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Three Change Dilemmas

When people are empowered, intrinsically motivated, creative to take initiative and self-confident, they can become the real change agents and problem-solvers.

The digital business dynamic allows the organization to morph into the business conditions and organizational capacities change to allow a better fit. Change is inevitable, and the pace of change is increasing. But change is never for its own sake, one of the good reasons for the change is to solve business problems both large and small, hard and soft. Change is neither an isolated nor a random initiative, it is an ongoing business capability. Change is complex as well, here are three change dilemmas.

The more you think of changes, the more confused you become: Change is complex, linear thinking or mathematical logic only often cannot always drive change success. Because change is either an iterative continuum or a quantum leap. It first requires clear thinking which includes both rational thinking (compare and contrast, define the frame of reference, etc.) and creative thinking (a result of holding the contrasting factors in the mind until something new appears). Clear thinking includes hard-wired to constantly seek solutions to problems, and keep the end in mind to ensure change reaching the business expectation. The opposite of clear thinking is either thinking too little or too much (overthinking). Thinking too little about change scenario might lead nowhere or get lost at the certain point, but overthinking causes anxiety and mental confusion as well. Sometimes, energy usually gets focused on problem-solving, and realization becomes a rush where thoughtfulness about people and processes is a casualty of time. The important thing is to be able to think profoundly via capturing business insight and gaining the true understanding of change. The deep thinking occurs when you look for internal understanding in order to find a way to contribute. It is important to think both hard and smart, fast and slow, holistic and nonlinear, master different thought processes skillfully to lead change with clarity.

The more you change, the more stay the same: Change is not the straight line, there are change curves and bumps on the way. The real problem seems to understand the curve and how it relates to change. The curve is ready to be the steps one goes through during change when in actuality they are the steps that come before change can take place. Otherwise, it comes to the dilemma “The more you change, the most stay the same.” Functional silo, comfort zone with gained existing stage, wrong groupthink (past success will come to future success), all contribute to creating change curves. In terms of cultural change, a lot of people resist as it takes them outside their comfort zone which generally gives a negative feeling, such as fear, apathy. indifference, loss of control, or personal vulnerability. To ride change curves, the goal of change and improvement should look beyond immediate problem resolution. The focus should include actions designed to sustain performance improvement and anchor change as a new opportunity. All stages of changes must be handled with attention and proficiency to ensure the business success. "Begin with an end in mind” should present in any process designed to successfully produce positive changes. Determining what the future needs to look like, and what the transformation must look like is the next step.

The harder you solve the problem, the more problems you create: Often times, people have a tendency to try to fix a symptom which results from the actual cause of the problem. A solution is nothing if the problem is not perceived. Therefore, creating the awareness of the problem is the first step to making a solution being understood and accepted, realizing “We can't stay the same,” the realization only comes when the problem is perceived. Fixing issues with speed is not equal to the quick fix or the band-aid approach. Trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety. Until the underlying problem is addressed, the symptom or result will continue to return. Due to the complexity of contemporary organizations today, many business problems are also complicated or even seems “illogical” at the first sight. Thus, a better solution that crosses all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to find the root cause via asking big WHYs or taking systematic approaches to discover the real cause, address it, and fix problems radically.

When people are empowered, intrinsically motivated, creative to take initiative and self-confident, they can become the real change agents and problem-solvers, to overcome these change dilemmas. Working hard is really about working smarter, with the right mindset and attitude to make positive things happening and deal with the business complexity effortlessly.

CIOs as “Chief Inclusiveness Officer”: How to surge forward in Creating Success Stories?

Being inclusive is a state of mind, and the prerequisite to build a highly innovative organization.

Contemporary CIOs have to wear different hats and play multiple roles in practicing situational leadership. Innovation is the light all forward-looking organizations are pursuing, but people are still the weakest link for transforming IT from a support center to an innovation hub of the business. Thus, in order to become the “Chief Innovation Officer,” CIOs need to become the “Chief Inclusiveness Officer” first, for cultivating the culture of creativity, spotting innovators, creating success stories, and unleashing collective potential to get digital ready.

There is no innovation without inclusiveness:The focus of inclusiveness needs to focus on cognitive differences, skills, abilities and the wealth of ideas. 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., together in order to spark creativity. At individual level, being inclusive means how to broaden the points of interest and try new things to extend your thinking box. Collectively, being inclusive means how to build a fearless and collaborative working environment to spur creativity and scale innovation. Due to complexity and hyperconnectivity nature of digital, there is more collective creativities happening everywhere than many realize. However, in many traditional organizations, their diversity program is only based on the physical identity of people, and their inclusiveness only works at the very low levels of organization. The higher the hierarchy the more homogenous the workforce is. It could be the very reason that many talent/leadership development and innovation initiatives fail to achieve the expected result.

Embed inclusiveness into culture and the business lifecycle:The business leaders must work with the right mindset to create an inclusive organization with every dip in the business lifecycle. It is 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. Whether the group of people has an amplified creative ability depends on varying factors such as different intent (positive vs. negative), different talent trait (compliant vs. creative), different working styles (enforcement vs collaboration), or different outcomes (disharmony vs. harmony). Since the value of inclusiveness lies in the contributions of the individual to the organization. One of the aspects of creativity is the environment where individuals or groups need to generate creative results regularly and frequently. Generally speaking, an inclusive working environment can stimulate creativity, amplify innovation effect, and nurture innovation success.

Being inclusive means that the organization should focus on learning new things and how to surge forward in creating success stories: Orienting people and making them aware of the inclusiveness of their organization or team, helps them understand the value of harnessing the unique competency and cognitive difference. It is about how to work in harmony for amplifying collective skills and abilities. Effective communication is also important, since different perspectives, and talent, lead to well-rounded ideas which have to be communicated effectively in order to come up with alternative business solutions. Effective communication also helps to build trust in a dynamic digital and global working environment. To produce a high-performing team, the forward-thinking digital organization needs cognitive differences, levels of capabilities, diverse experiences, the spectrum of skills, unique competencies, complementary perspectives and personalities to build the culture of innovation, create inspiring success stories, and unleash business potential ultimately.

Being inclusive is a state of mind, and the prerequisite to build a highly innovative organization. The most innovative business and advanced societies are diverse mixtures of peoples that can spark creativity and amplify innovation effect. Because we can learn a lot from different mindsets with varying thought processes, cultures and positions, so organizations as a whole can be competitive enough to keep surging further and build a dynamic business as the digital powerhouse.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Monthly Digital CIO Spotlight: CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer Dec. 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 next digital practices for leading changes and drive digital transformation effortlessly? Here is the monthly spotlight of the CIO as “Chief Improvement Officer.”
 CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer
  • CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy to IT management? Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist, who stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising different tiers of human needs, at the bottom is the basic "surviving" needs to the middle tier for" belonging" to the top tier of "self-actualization." In fact, it is an invaluable theory not only for understanding and managing people with empathy but also for providing the insight to the multitude of management discipline. Nowadays, organizations rely more and more on technologies, IT organizations have more and more to offer, it also has a lot of obstacles to overcome for achieving the high level of business maturity. So, CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to apply Maslow’s hierarchy in IT management
  • CIOs as “Chief Improvement Officer”: How to Run IT as the “Digital Energizer” of the Business?? Digital is about hyperconnectivity, change, fierce competition, and people-centricity. A digital business ecosystem is open, fluid, dynamic and energetic because the speed of change is exponentially increasing, and closer to reality is that 'change' is continuously happening in such a dynamic environment of a company. IT plays a crucial role in digital paradigm shift because IT can weave all important business factors into differentiated organizational competency, information is intangible and becomes the most precious business asset in digital businesses. Traditional IT organizations are often perceived as a cost center, money sucker, and change laggard, but modern digital IT organizations today can streamline digital flow, refine, energize, and innovate business to reach the high level of business maturity.

  • 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.

  • CIOs, Are you the Fiercest Critic to Yourself?: Due to the disruptive nature of technology and exponential growth of information, the role of CIO has to be reinvented for adapting to changes and re-energized for leading digital transformation. Digital CIOs are not just tactical IT managers, they are strategic business executives and inspirational digital visionaries. To lead effectively, the CIO should have both self-awareness and digital awareness: Knowing who you are and how you react and respond to different situations can help you discover the true self, present authenticity, understand leadership substance, stimulate creativity, and build differentiated professional competency. It takes cognitive understanding, courage, and practice. CIOs: Are you the fiercest critic to yourself?

  • CIOs as "Chief Improvement Officer" What are Digital CIOs' Skill Matrix? Due to the disruptive nature of technology and overwhelming growth of information, the role of CIO has to be reinvented for adapting to changes and re-energized for harnessing innovation. Digital CIOs need to develop a broad set of skills beyond technology and have the differentiated competency and recombinant professional capabilities and skills to lead the organization up to the next level of the business maturity. Here is the digital CIO’s skill matrix.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2.2 million page views with about #4300th 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.

How to Close Blind Spots

It is important to challenge, debate, learn the nature of each other through the aspect of dynamic and respectful dialogs to close blindspots and bridge cognitive gaps.

“Blind Spot” is not a new topic, everyone has some, but some with more, some with less. The root causes of blinds port are often the people’s mentality such as ego or bias, thought processes such as lack of “whole brain” thinking, or lack of knowledge or insight. The blind spots, either strategic one or operational one, are perhaps inevitable, the point is how business leaders or professionals learn to deal with them and close blindspots seamlessly.

Blind spots are caused by silo thinking and homogeneous team setting: Many organizations are still running at the industrial speed with bureaucratic culture and hierarchical decision-making scenario, the business is the sum of pieces than a holistic whole. Silo mentalities will create numerous blind spots in talent, resources, process, capacity, and capability. Functional silos compete for resources, rather than work collaboratively to optimize businesses. Therefore, it’s important to build high-performance teams with the heterogeneous group setting, complementary skills, and distinctive capabilities in order to fill blind spots, clear business vision, and spur creativity. The company's reputation and success today are founded on innovation and to a very large extent, innovation closes blind spots. The productivity is higher in an innovative organization, and an innovative organization has less blind spots because people do not fear to provide feedback. Creativity is encouraged, and cognitive difference expands the lenses to comprehend the business thoroughly and manage the business seamlessly.

Fast learning and self-control to close blindspots: Continue to see the importance of dealing with blind spots by learning how to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Can you provide calm inquiry clearing the blind spots to help find out what is really happening? Can you see the bigger picture and is not living the day-to-day activities only? Can you always dig through the root cause, not just know the symptom? Can you dispassionately analyze the situation to close blindspot smoothly? Your signal light behavior illustrates the value of maintaining self-control when you face hardships in business or your personal life. Can you ask right questions to spot blind spots? Do you provide calm inquiry clearing the blind spots to help find out what is really happening? Be humble, be patient and learn self-control to close blindspots.

Understand the bigger picture, and not just living the daily activities to close blindspots: Most teams operate with an incomplete and relatively small view of the world. Thus, too often in an effort to keep moving forward, they jump to the wrong conclusions. To close blindspots, you have to be humble to realize there are many things you know you don’t know and perhaps even more which you don't know what you don't know. Until that happens, you will continue in the lives of blindness. All these together add up to quite a bit, and should really make you desire insight and squash arrogance. As the person that can see the bigger picture and is not living the day-to-day activities, the team needs you to close blindspots! At today’s “VUCA” digital new normal, there isn't always a right or wrong choice in any situation and there are a lot of grays. This makes it very hard to choose a right or wrong from your choices. Thus, it is important to challenge, debate, learn the nature of each other through the aspect of dynamic and respectful dialogs to close blindspots and bridge cognitive gaps.

Whether that be the elimination of obstacles, closing the blind spots, or providing guidance, it is the attitude plus aptitude, be humble to learn; be hungry for the insight and be skillful to frame the right questions and answer them mindfully. That is the practice to clear the path and accelerate change and progress.

CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: Can you carry the Innovation Ecosystem on your Shoulder?

Innovation needs to lay out different thinking, structures, and solutions to develop in its potential.

One of the most critical roles of contemporary CIOs is “Chief Innovation Officer.” Innovation shouldn’t be a serendipity, but a management process. IT can help to weave an enriched innovation ecosystem which enables systematic innovation management, with critical components such as innovation leadership, culture, processes, tools, recognition systems measurements, and risk approach. Each component by itself may not cause a highly innovative environment, but collectively they can catalyze creativity and improve innovation success rate. An innovation ecosystem should fully cover a wide enough direction and embrace the full spectrum of innovation categories. Here are three questions CIOs need to keep asking themselves to ensure they can carry the innovation ecosystem on their shoulder.

WHAT does the organization innovate: To effectively respond to the digital dynamics, companies must begin thinking about ways to broaden their ecosystems and revenue streams while becoming more responsive and innovative. From IT-driven innovation management perspective, an open information platform enables companies to integrate critical components of a smart platform, which is open and powerful only because it allows information exchange and participants involvement, but also because it ensures that interdependencies and loyalties between partners are taken into account and build up a strong innovation engine. Such a powerful innovation platform can further evolve to weave a dynamic innovation ecosystem. Instead of being rigidly grouped around a specific function or business, ecosystems draw together mutually supportive companies from multiple industries that collectively seek to create differentiated ideas and capture value they could not reach alone. Therefore, innovation effort can be scaled up, to solve bigger and tougher problems, and innovation effect can be amplified to touch more people, businesses, industries, and societies. Innovation ecosystem or the methodological environment should cover the whole innovation process, from processes in managing ideas or idea handling systems to idea implementation and promotion. It is a set of means including methods that cover the process from the problem's choice till commercialization.

WHERE should the organization innovate: Due to the increasing pace of changes, innovation can happen anywhere across the organization and its ecosystem. When looking at businesses or organizations, the most powerful innovation navigation system involves tapping the organization's ecosystem for collective perspectives or insights of those who make up and know intimately their parts of the system. Innovation happens in which the business interacts with customers. Focusing on customers' needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit. People-centric innovation is in strong demand because digital is the age of choice. Innovation also happens at the intersection of business and IT. IT needs to proactively work with the business and partners upon the great new digital technologies which can change the business and fuel innovation engine to delight customers and engage employees. IT has a great opportunity here to catalyze innovation and lead business transformation. IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise to connect the innovation dots. Sometimes when one business area has a new product or service that can be used by another, IT leaders can scale up innovation practices and amplify innovation effect.

How to enable the systematic innovation management: Today’s information technology enables companies to leverage their various environments, or ecosystems, to chase innovation opportunities, take structural innovation approach, and accelerate innovation performance. Innovation needs to lay out different thinking, structures, and solutions to develop in its potential where organizations are combining all that is available to them in imaginative and advantageous ways. Due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature, often, organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation. It is important to be able to co-create in a digital ecosystem. A co-creation strategy treats customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active agents who have permission to combine the modular capabilities exposed in a platform to create new experiences or ideas and develop them into full fruity. Every organization needs to develop the tailored innovation practices via leveraging effective technologies, tools or methodologies and apply them wisely with the expertise to really add value or drive innovation. Thus, companies need to invest in IT necessary to advance businesses through either incremental or radical innovation.

The evolution of innovation only exists in the more open environments or the ecosystem that create insight, take advantage of all sources of creativity in a more open way and leap innovation management to the next level.The ultimate innovation isn't what you do; it's what you deliver for results, and how being innovative becomes the state of mind. CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer” should be able to carry innovation ecosystem on their shoulder, build a culture of innovation to encourage free thinking and experimenting, have the right dose of creative tension and healthy competition to spark creativity and expedite innovation.