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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ring in the Year of 2016: Is Integrated Leadership the DIgital Trend?

The digital leadership is more integrated, innovative, influential, and insightful!

There are only minutes away from the New Year - businesses and the world are moving deeper and deeper into the digital world of VUCA -Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, while company boundaries are blurred and the world is so hyper-connected, who leads whom? The inspiring way to characterize the types of leadership needs to dig deeper, hunt for the character, look inside charisma, verify the authenticity, as well as pursuit the purpose: How can leaders make a positive influence? How can they harness the creativity and passion of the workforce in pursuit of competitive advantage & unique difference in the global stage? Is integrated leadership the digital trend? What are the most important ingredients in great leadership?


Collaboration: Integrated leadership isn't one person at the top with prestige and value higher than the subordinates/followers underneath. Integrated leadership isn't looking only at work and the challenges we may encounter currently or locally; rather, integrated leadership includes all the relationship dynamics we have going on the surroundings to include the future perspectives and global community. We're all in this world together. It's basically some form of collaborative leadership, meaning to listen to those around you to help make decisions that (ideally) impact all positively. When collaborating, not dictating, it is with the intention that you respect and value each person as a human being and want to listen to their perspective/input breaking down barriers and working together towards common goals and for the greater good for all.


Wisdom: Knowledge tends to be linear, but wisdom is often multidimensional. Integrated leadership leverages the collective wisdom. The wise mind is not full, but free; not about cleverness, but about humbleness; not about system or boxes, but about out-of-box; not about informativeness, but about openness, not about dictation, but about direction. It is a leader's role to foster a culture of open-mindedness, to the best of their ability, and that may take time and effort, but the long-term results can be very rewarding. Cross-cultural / intercultural integration is about inclusiveness and bringing new thoughts & ways of doing things, and wisdom into an organization


Adaptability: It is characteristic makes someone better at almost anything in an ever changing environment. This doesn't mean changing things for fun or impulse but assessing an environment and adjusting to it (person, thing, event, etc.). Integrated leadership is more about adaptation to change, and flexibility to think alternatives. Adaptive leaders inspire cross-disciplined thinking, iterative communication, and cross-functional collaboration, cultivate and embrace the cognitive diversity that underpins adaptive organizations. They are more insightful to be capable of pulling past, present, and future together to pursue wisdom.



Digital leadership becomes more open and omnipresent in the digital era because the hierarchy of an organization is flatter due to the latest digital disruption, the digital leadership is more integrated, innovative, influential, and insightful! "Leadership is the art of getting someone else do something you need to be done, and they want to do it!" (Eisenhower).

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Clarity of “Being Agile”

Agile isn't a process, it's a culture and a point of view.

Business agility is an ultimate goal the organizations pursue to reach their maturity. Indeed, we want to see teams and organizations being agile rather than doing agile. However, every business is different, every situation is different, and every organization is at the different stage of agile transformation, you have to fit the solution to the problem. So is the hybrid of traditional management and agile a business reality? Or is Agile the end state? What’re the clarity of “Being Agile”?


Agile isn't a process, it's a culture and a point of view. Most importantly, Agile is not a process. The Agile community should view the cross-pollination of at least parts of its philosophy into traditional project management as a win.Waterfall is a reductionist management methodology designed to maximize efficiency and ensure complicated projects can be produced to schedule and budget. Agile focuses on customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. Agile is a CULTURE, not a process. End-state thinking comes from confusing agile with some process or another. it's a culture within which those processes can flourish. There can be an end state to learning a specific process, but self-improvement is a significant part of the underlying culture. That culture says if something doesn't work, you fix it, and no practices (agile or otherwise) works perfectly all the time. There's always room for improvement, so the process is constantly evolving. Agile from a culture standpoint is often most uncomfortable for management because it exposes things that were previously ignored and demands that issues are addressed so that they can be fixed for the future.


Agile is not just a set of practices, but a leadership philosophy and management approach: Actually any approach to projects requires both leadership and management. The difference is that traditional approaches focus on management for doing things right. And Agile methods are about the team self-managing and business effectiveness. In that context, leadership is a key enabler. What 'agile' does is to divide the work that is traditionally done by managers because there is far less need to have one person making all these decisions. The responsibilities get distributed in ways that better suit the agile mindset. Without good leadership (provided by a variety of people) agile teams will fail. Agile frameworks and methodologies are intended for complex systems and problems in which reductionist systems fail because of the nature of complex, innovative, knowledge-based work. It values effectiveness in delivering value over efficiency in delivering schedule & budget. The simple agile assessment questionnaires include: 1) Are your employees / team members enjoy working? 2). Is your project financials healthy? 3). Does your customer smile after every delivery?...etc.


Agile is more about a direction, a journey: To move from Waterfall to Agile is not an act of 1 day. It is a journey. And as long as the journey is coming to a place where we can call the organization actually Agile, Waterfall and Agile do co-exist. Some organizations stop moving and remain in the hybrid state and some just turn back to go on the previous state of the waterfall and few actually reach the destination of the Agile world. So, hybrid organizations are the reality. There are fundamental differences in philosophy that mean trying to hybridize Agile and Waterfall will not be optimal from the management perspective. However, many (but probably not all) practices can be used in both. The best way is to choose the next/best practices and make changes so it will fit your need.


Agile is neither just a “waterfall-agile” hybrid reality nor an end state, it’s the set of principles and guidelines, the leadership philosophy, the management approach and engineering discipline. It is important to cultivate agile culture,  build a quality roadmap to speed up, develop the next practices, but not to be too rigid, and improve overall business agility.

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Digital Master Holiday Intense Tuning Ch VI: Three Characteristics of Digital Innovation

The essence of innovation is made of trying new combinations of known things.

Generally speaking, innovation is to transform novel ideas and achieve its business value. Why is innovation more important in the digital era whereas information is abundant and technology is more advanced? Because innovation is the core activity of human evolution to changing the environment to reach high performance. And at the business scope, innovation is also expanding its scope and flexing its muscles, goes beyond creating the new things, it has enriched context, such as business model innovation, process innovation, management innovation, communication innovation, culture innovation etc. And innovation management is both art and science. Here are the characteristics of digital Innovation.

Variety: The essence of innovation is made of trying new combinations of known things. It's the essence of evolution. Each human being is a potential innovation by definition as you won't find two humans that are exactly the same. We are all new combinations of the known. Focusing on digital variety will force you to confront new ideas. Organically, organizations do not embrace change nor do they embrace new ideas or new people. In fact, the lack of variety of PoVs makes organizations non-optimal. Focusing on diversity will force you to confront new ideas, new materials and possibly embrace a new concept that you may have never imagined. IT helps one look at thing from a multiplicity; fundamentally allow us to glimpse how interesting to be a human; as an individual, or as a social entity; professionally, it broadens our vision to see the possibility with a variety of perspectives. Once the superior ideas of a truly diverse work culture have surfaced, a unanimous decision is necessary to bring the project forward. So digital variety and workforce diversity are no long wallflowers for decoration, but a switch to turn on the creativity light bulb.

Collaboration: Digital hyper-connectivity can foster innovation through broader scope collaboration. In other words, it's important to digitally connect key resources/assets in their vicinity/context to the resource-rich innovation hubs/clusters across the business ecosystem. In doing so, you can create the collegiality and "shared context for learning." Cross-functional or even cross-industrial collaboration would also add that nonlinear thinking and tangential thinking provide more opportunity for innovation than linear thinking. That, in turn, should lead to "inspirations" that will further fuel more collaboration in innovative projects and enterprises nascent to their communities/environments. In addition, innovation must be a multi-disciplinary effort. The innovation collaboration teams embraced multiple disciplines, and understand how systems work, and this yielded competitive advantage. Furthermore, at the digital age, the crowd-sourcing or brainstorming is happening in real time with people and plays spontaneous networks of human and business operational concerns, to co-create ideas and overcome significant challenges.

Complexity: The blurring border of the digital organization and its business ecosystem make the world hyper-connected, but also over-complex. Organizations today can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation. It is largely due to the fact that innovation in the digital dynamic has become increasingly complex in nature. Innovation needs to lay out different mindsets, structures, processes, capabilities to unleash its potential. The complexity can be good or bad for you depending on your strategy. Complexity Management is the methodology to minimize value-destroying complexity and efficiently control value-adding complexity in a cross-functional approach. Usually, innovation either through need seeker or technology driver is the key factors to weave such complexity in order. Therefore, the certain level of complexity is a foundation to spark the next level of innovation; and one of the very goals for innovation is to simplify the old way to do things, or to manage the complexity in an optimal manner.

Innovation is a systematic way of applying creativity in the real life and business, in general, innovation is a discipline. And an innovation ecosystem should fully cover a wide enough directions. Innovation Management does require not just interdisciplinary understanding to connect the dots and see what’s possible, but also, technical expertise to create the disruption, focus on unleashing business potential and growth prosperity.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CIO’s Digital Agenda XXV: Customer-Centricity is a Digital Theme

How to become a customer-centric business is in every forward-thinking organization’s agenda.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.2 million page views with about 2300+ 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.



Digital is the age of customers. Thus, Customer Experience Management is key to the success of every forward-looking business. It is not just important, it is vital for growth, development and to make sure you stay in business, Both retaining a customer and winning a new customer are very important to every business’s surviving and thriving.


Customer-Centricity is a Digital Theme

  • A Customer-centric mind: How to become a customer-centric business is in every forward-thinking organization’s agenda, it requires not only management but each digital professional to shape such a customer-centric mind, think from the lenses of customers, outside-in, instead of inside-out, more specifically, what’s the thought processes evolve and how to shape a customer-centric mind?


  • A Customer-Centric Strategy:  In essence, the digital era is the age of customer; customer-centricity becomes the goal to right fit business’s purpose –to create more customers. However, since there are many elements to customer-centricity, the key to success is to focus on something that will "move the needle." For some companies, it's the customer experience; for others, it;s product excellence. And some can build loyalty through low cost/price., etc. So how should forward-looking organizations craft their customer-centric strategy?


  • How IT Change Management Aims at Improving Customer Experience? Digital is the age of the customer, being a customer-centric business is in every forward-thinking organization’s agenda. Corporate IT plays a significant role in digitizing every touch point of customer experience and sharpening key business capabilities. IT implementations are core to strategic changes today. However, many IT organizations fail to reach customers’ expectation fully. Did it achieve the original objective? Did the customer experience actually improve significantly? And, how sustainable is the change or would it break down? Has the entire organization embraced it well? What are the IT change management principles & implementation best practices?


  • Customer-Centric Innovation: One of the key characteristics of digital business is customer centricity. Thus, the customer is absolutely a vital part of the overall innovation process. Customer-centric innovation accomplishes far more than incremental product improvement, it can also build evolutionary business models, as well as path-breaking products and services that establish new categories, and even internal process improvements arise from customer-centric innovation.


  • Five Steps IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys Go Beyond Routine: Most of the CIOs think IT customer satisfaction surveys help them to listen to users, adjust IT roadmap & plan to accommodate changes customers’ need, and help evaluate IT performance; But some IT leaders argue such survey is just a routine, won’t help IT from out of touch, ivory tower service, the survey result may not be objective to capture the truth what IT need, and psychology behind survey may not be so positive to help IT improve performance. Is there value in regular IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys? What’s the best way to do it?

  • What are the best ways to demonstrate IT value? IT is at the cross road, some high-performing IT organizations have built solid value proposition, and moved up its maturity to become the game changer and business catalyst in their companies. However, the majority of IT organizations get stuck in the lower-level of maturity and struggle to prove their unique value, for helping the business gain competitive advantage.  So what are the best ways to demonstrate IT value, through analytics or metrics up front; through business cases or portfolios; through governance discipline; through agile practice or just through business-IT mutual understanding?

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 the 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.

“Digital Master” Holiday Intense Tuning Chap V: Three Debates about Business’s Digital Capabilities

Digital business capabilities are dynamic and complex in design, with recombinant nature.

Business capability, in general, is defined as the ability to perform or achieve certain actions or outcomes through a set of controllable and measurable faculties, features, functions, processes, or services. It is the ability of the business to consistently deliver an expected result. Organizational capabilities are delivered when various resources work together for a purpose to achieve an outcome. And the organization’s digital capabilities are business competency to execute its digital strategy and deliver value to its customers. Here are three debates brainstormed in the book of “Digital Master” to further clarify and deepen the understanding of business capabilities which underpin strategy execution.

(1) Is Business Capability equal to business process?

A: The business capability is at a high level than a business process, it is in the conceptual layer. It is the company’s ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address increasing changing environment, the ability the organization can perform a specific set of functional activities repetitively to achieve the consistent results. A capability is comprised of people, process, technology, and assets. And business processes are then a succession of activities that define and support business capabilities and business processes are enabled by technology and people within the framework of a capability.  Capabilities can be an enormous help in understanding and prioritizing the changes business and IT are attempting to create.

(2) How to Determine if a Capability is a Core Capability?

Top leadership/management in an organization defines a business strategy, in order to reach the business vision, a set of core capabilities are needed to meet and implement the strategy. So the core capabilities could be those that are identified as delivering the competitive products, services, and customer experiences than competitors. And an organization needs to ask whether they need the capability at the base level to keep the light on; at the competitive level to stay competitive in the business and at a differentiating level to be the key differentiator for its business.

(3) How to Map IT Capabilities to Business Capabilities?

Business capabilities are a hierarchical decomposition of “WHAT” the organization does, all the work is actually done by business processes which are the “HOW” part of the question; while, at the age of digital, all key business processes are enabled by enterprise IT capabilities and digital technologies. So IT capabilities to business capabilities mapping is trying to assess and define how interconnected the IT organization is to the business and trying to determine the ROI for their IT investment. The business-IT alignment includes mapping IT capabilities to either at strategic work or tactical level in identifying business IT alignment issues. Generally speaking, capabilities are the best for strategic work and processes are the best if you are working at a tactical level.

Digital business capabilities are dynamic and complex in design, with recombinant nature requiring cross-functional collaboration and agility to adapt to changes. But the right set of digital capabilities will directly decide the overall business’s competency, and how well it can execute digital strategy and deliver values to customers to build a long-term winning position.   


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Monday, December 28, 2015

CIO’s Digital Agenda XXIV: Sharpening a Strong Digital IT Brand

 To reimagine IT, IT branding needs to be part of IT transformation effort.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.2 million page views with about 2300+ 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.



IT is no longer just a maintenance center, IT brand identity should be supported by the message you create and distribute to your customers. So what are the best ways to demonstrate IT value and sharpen a strong digital IT brand?


How to Sharpen a Strong IT Brand

  • Tough Choice for IT: Change the Name or Reboot Mindset? With business across sectors moving from industry speed to digital speed, IT becomes so pervasive and critical, information is the lifeblood of the organization, and IT is the business’s “digital brain”; many companies started with marketing driven, then finance driven, consumer driven, lately become IT driven...Can IT really be a game changer to drive business growth? Should the name then reflect the IT contributions and have people aware of the criticality of its value?


  • What are logical steps to Brand IT Effectively: Most of IT organizations today are still being portrayed as the back-office cost center, to re-in-imagine IT, IT branding needs to be part of IT transformation effort, and IT branding strategy should be an integral part of IT strategy. Your brand identity will be the face you put on your IT organization and it flows from your brand strategy. IT brand identity should be supported by the message you create and distribute to your customers. After you have your IT brand strategy and your IT brand identity in place, your can actually market the IT brand inside the enterprise.


  • Three Reasons Why IT Doesn’t Get Respected? IT seems to be always at the paradoxical position, on one hand, technology is omnipresent, touch every corner of enterprise, on the other hand, many IT organizations earn very little respect from business peers, why, and how to turn around?


  • How to Promote IT Effectively? It is no secret that IT can often only be noticed when things are broken, the CIO and his/her team should be the leading persons driving that message of IT value throughout the enterprise. They are, after all, the face of the IT organization. The key challenge is to demonstrate what you provide can help the client achieve some critical purpose of theirs.


  • What are the best ways to demonstrate IT value? IT is at the cross road, some high-performing IT organizations have built solid value proposition, and moved up its maturity to become the game changer and business catalyst in their companies. However, the majority of IT organizations get stuck in the lower-level of maturity and struggle to prove their unique value, for helping the business gain competitive advantage. So what are the best ways to demonstrate IT value, through analytics or metrics up front; through business cases or portfolios; through governance discipline; through agile practice or just through business-IT mutual understanding?

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 the 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.

A Proactive Board

Modern “Boardship” is both art and science, the boardroom culture is engendered by board leaders.

Corporate Boards play a significant role in a couple of main functions such as strategy oversight (input, review, etc), governance practices (monitoring, risk management), advising (support to executives), and resource provision (opening their networks etc.). With the increasing speed of changes and frequent digital disruptions across vertical sectors, how to build a proactive digital Board to lead digital transformation?


A proactive board is more performance-driven: At the siloed industrial era, Boards spend too much time on compliance or operational issues at the expense of the future. There is no doubt that the board only fulfills its role to shareholders and the management team when it is focused on performance. Some suggestion Boards should spend 20% of their time on the past (compliance), 20% on the present (operational and tactical) and 60% on the future. Boards find it very difficult to implement, simply because it deals with a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. Many boards think that the role of the individual director is conformance, which has the result to stifle probing questions and the natural tensions that allow for good decision-making. The Board's role, in large part, is to make good decisions that enhance the value creation for the organization. They need to focus on their own performance as well as the performance of the management team; and, that performance is not limited to financial performance, but also to the firm's performance in creating value for employees and customers. It's not only about now, but also about the future and that means an open mindset to change with a proactive attitude.


A proactive board is more engaged in overseeing the dynamic digital strategy-execution continuum. The board has to have a good understanding of the organization's strategic direction and its strategic alternatives. This means looking into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities. while the Board needs to focus on landscapes, technologies, and uncertainties, the C-suites can translate that into competitiveness, products, and risks. The board needs to be engaged, and at the most senior levels to help influence and shape the business of the future. IT needs to proactively solve the problems with setting priority right. Ensuring a high-performing, high-effective, and high-proactive Board is the key success factor in organizational digital transformation.
It is important for boards to take a proactive approach that sets the tone for management innovation. Boards play a significant role in both innovation management and management innovation. It sets the right tone to build the culture of innovation, also reviews the innovation management progress, and benchmarks on the delegated goals. Innovation is an important component of business strategy. Management innovation means to accelerate innovation at the multitude of levels, to create the space for dialogue and debate about why it is important for their organization, developing a common understanding of it, creating the necessity and motivation for it. It also needs to align innovation strategy with key ingredients of management innovation, such as the development of an innovative culture or business eco-system, which requires grounding in values, culture, behaviors, systems and artifacts as well as collaboration with key stakeholders.

Modern “Boardship” is both art and science, the boardroom culture is engendered by board leaders. It’s all about leadership from the top which sets the tone and governs boardroom behavior. With the fast speed of changes and explosive information, the digital board needs to be more proactive, and business strategy, human capital, risk intelligence, culture changes are frequent topics at board room to adapt to accelerated changes facing in business today and practice digital leadership cohesively.

Digital Master Tuning #120: How to Overcome Three Digital Inertia

Change is the new normal, but it also becomes fundamentally difficult in most organizations due to the digital inertia.

We have moved into the deep, deep digital age when information is abundant and where creativity becomes a baseline competence. The race of information against the machine is ongoing, and the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened. Many organizations are also at a crossroad facing unprecedented change and uncertainty, the significant business transformations are needed to digitalization, globalization, and radical innovation management. However, statistically, more than two-thirds of Change Management effort fail to achieve the expected result, so what are the digital inertia you need to deal with, in order to manage a successful digital transformation journey frictionlessly and ultimately build a Digital Master?


Change Inertia: Change is the new normal, but it also becomes fundamentally difficult in most organizations due to the change friction or culture inertia, because it is treated as something distinct from running the business, evolving performance and increasing results over time. People often resist changing because they don't understand how it is relevant to them. The golden key is to acknowledge resistance and deal with it properly. There is nothing wrong with resistance. On the contrary, it is a good sign! By saying, "it is ok to feel resistance," the resistance will go down significantly because people feel that they are being heard/seen. Addressing the concerns doesn't necessarily mean altering, postponing or canceling the change, it often means explaining the rationale and may mean difficult decisions. Look at resistance as a source of energy and where there is energy there is still passion and potential. Much more dangerous is the disengaged workforce to continue doing things in the old way even the circumstances have changed significantly.


Innovation Inertia: The more dramatic and powerful the change is, the greater the risk would be. People tend to be "risk averse." Fear is one of the causes of innovation inertia. Creativity is inherently risky because it is new and different. Anyone or any company that fervently wants to be creative must be willing to face risks, and overcome the fear and inertia associated with such risks. With every "change," the risk is involved. If an individual is also plagued by self-doubt, then he or she would be even less likely to assert a creative idea public. In addition, it’s easier to think and act creatively in an environment that encourages risk and nurtures creativity. Therefore, from the innovation management perspective, you must allow room for failure, for tangents, for "being different." With creativity, "change" is made."


Strategy Execution Inertia: The top management in many companies spends the significant time in strategy making, however, the failure rate of strategy execution is still very high. One of the factors for strategies to fail at the implementation phase is its complexity. There’s ambiguity in such strategy. The expectation is not communicated clearly to all and is neither well understood by all stakeholders. Strategies should be simple that are understood by all. The digital ecosystem is volatile and uncertain, it becomes complex if things do interact - in particular in the case of "nonlinear" interaction and hyperconnectivity of digital ecosystem, you can't separate things properly or you cannot predict the actual effect of interaction straightforwardly. There are unknown interactions and very high inner dynamics in complexity. The complexity can be good or bad for businesses depending on your strategy and capability. Complexity Management is the methodology to minimize value-destroying complexity and efficiently control value-adding complexity in a cross-functional approach. And organizations must learn to navigate uncertainty and complexity via complexity mindset, innovate and adapt to increasingly changing digital realities. Strategy execution inertia can be overcome via clear communication, cross-functional collaboration, and the strong set of digital capabilities.


Organizations large or small are being experienced the dynamics of the most significant business transformation since the industrial revolution, and they are also at the different stage of such paradigm shift. One the biggest challenges is to overcome the digital inertia discussed above, cultivate a proactive attitude, build the full set of business capabilities to take the business from where you are to the next level of digital maturity.