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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The New Book “Digital Fit: Manifest Future of Business with Multidimensional Fit” Chapter 2 Introduction: Organizational Structure Fit

Digital transformation represents the next stage of business maturity which will improve how the enterprise works and interacts with its ecosystem, with people at the center of its focus. From an organizational structure perspective, what is it comprised of, and what is the future of the organizational structure? In fact, tuning the organizational design and structure to achieve the high level of autonomy is the symbol of the digital maturity.

The digital dimension of organizational structure is enjoying a powerful tailwind: In traditional organizational structure, the business processes and structure are formal and even overly rigid, it is perhaps OK in the considerably static industry age. However, with increasing speed of change, the organization evolution needs business catalysts for change. Otherwise, well-established enterprises are at risk of being defeated by smaller, nimbler competitors. It is for their own benefit to collaborate and build “horizontal” interdependence to achieve better time to market for business products and services, deploy knowledge from one subsidiary to another, or gain competitive advantage with speed. Thanks for the emergent digital technologies, many organizations today adopt the hybrid organizational structure that creatively blends structured and unstructured processes to run with bi-modal speed, for both “keeping the lights on,” and speed up digital transformation. The future of the digital organization is complex enough to act intelligently and nimble enough to adapt to the change promptly. The new organic, self-organizing system approach to organizational structure could become a reality, and that will be a true evolution of digital transformation.

High level of autonomy is the symbol of the digital organization: With rapid changes and continuous disruptions, a self-adaptive capability or functionality is generally a requirement within digital business systems. A key element in a self-adaptive organism is people. Consider nature and culture as to self-organized but interlaced environments, and humans are vehicles of the natural and cultural solution. A self-disciplined and autonomous team is often composed of many self-motivated people who can adapt to personal drive and focus on performing well in new and changing context. Discipline means following digital principles and develop some guidelines and policies, take a structural approach to manage the business in an autonomous way.  High level of autonomy is the symbol of the digital maturity. Running a self-autonomous organization is to improve business efficiency, effectiveness, and maturity, so hey can stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation.

An organizational structure carries inherent capabilities as to what can be achieved within its frame: It’s no surprise that in many organizations, the official structure and unofficial structure co-exist The point is that whether the official structure and unofficial structure co-exist antagonistically or harmoniously. So, the issue is that, given the opportunity, establish a formal and enabling organizational structure in line with your desired direction and organizational ambition. It is also important to identify the unofficial structures and take them along on the journey of innovation and change. Ideally, the unofficial structure that has emerged over time is the formal structure you should have. Also, establishing some of the more advanced models will certainly require top management awareness, involvement, dedication. The right mixed structure is one that allows the right mentality and culture to bloom. Within a well-aligned structure, that dedication and effort may be spent on innovation efforts rather than overcoming organizational hurdles and pushing against structural boundaries. Companies that strive for innovation must experiment and learn to organize for both breakthrough innovation and continuous improvement and build innovation capability cohesively.

Organizations need to have an in-depth understanding of gains and pains of organizational development: Organizational development is part of the digital strategy, and digital strategy equals to business strategy with digital new normal. Very few organizations understand all the gains they could enjoy from organizational structure tuning. Gains in profitability, new learning, growth and market domination. Gains in culture change, in innovation rate and employee retention for the second level of gains. Organizational development needs to manage the conflict between classic styles and digital styles of management. Limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment where the free flow of ideas and their prompt implementation is a key element of success. The bottom line is how well the organizational structure is being influenced by factors such as: Does the chain of communication flow easily or does it stop at one level? Can the right people get the right information to make right decisions timely? Does management endorse open source knowledge and mindset? Does innovation take the top down or bottom up, inside-out or outside-in approach? Flatter structure will help to speed up the organizational response to changing markets.

Tuning organizational structure - either managerial hierarchy or information flow structure is an easy part. Digital transformation is a natural process and rather effortless to maintain. The transformation has to go a step further and involves internalization of the conceptual model so that the newly required behaviors don’t require the same kind of effort and vigilance. It won’t happen overnight, it takes planning, experimenting and scaling up with a new culture, business model, and organizational structure.

Running a Real Time Digital Organization

Digital means the fast pace of changes, overwhelming growth of information, and fierce competition. In the digital dynamic where innovation threatens to tear down legacy systems and practices just as it generates new opportunities, it's natural to fear the unknown, question the unproven, be skeptical of the latest digital trends, and be hesitant to take action. Still, the key differentiator between the digital leaders and laggards is the speed to change and maturity level of response to the dynamic business environment. The high mature digital organizations are highly conscious about what’s happening in their environment, with the ability to adapt to change timely, grasp opportunities, and prevent risks effectively. Here are three aspects to run a real-time digital organization.

Practice real-time information/knowledge management: Information is the blood of the digital organization, information management capability directly impacts the business effectiveness, performance, and maturity of the organization. Information Management is a structural process of aligning the usage of information through the management discipline (what data you have, in what format and the location and method it is held), ASSURANCE (accessibility, reliability, etc.) and EXPLOITATION (collaboratively enabled and fully support the business objectives )So, running a real-time digital organization starts with providing real-time information management solutions to conquer dynamic digital management challenge. It means that IT can provide seamless information accessibility and availability, transparency and visibility, and ensure the right people getting the right information to make the right decision at the right time. Digital information management cycle evolves managing data, information, knowledge, insight life cycle smoothly. Knowledge is the power, real-time Knowledge Management involves the use of technologies and processes of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge timely, with the aim of optimizing the value that is generated. It is a multidisciplinary approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of its knowledge.

Run a high-responsive, real-time digital organization: With “VUCA” digital new normal, to survive the fierce competition and thrive with the long-term business advantage involve more planning, adjustment, and speed. Digital transformation is not just about leveraging the latest technologies or design a fancy web portal only. Digitization has triggered a transformation across each of the business areas such as strategic planning, operation, innovation, change management, talent management, and customer relationship management, etc, resulting in benefits as well as transformational challenges. Running a real-time digital organization means high-responsiveness with speed. A high-responsive digital organization should lead the way to lift one foot and shift the organizational structure more into participative models that better support the quantum leap in speed we are experiencing. The speed of digital transformation is dependent on how fast the business can ride ahead of the change curves. The power of information is to empower the business with real-time insight across the organization in ways never possible before. With these business insights, organizations acquire the ability to reshape products, services, and customer engagement, with the help of digital technologies.

Real-time collaboration: Thanks for the emergent digital technologies, the era of face-to-face, hierarchical management, and top-down communication, something that is reassuring for many traditional managers, is beginning to change. Cross-functional and real-time collaboration become the new normal. Collaboration, today, is less about mere information and document sharing and more about brainstorming and leveraging collective intelligence. The increasingly virtual and dispersed nature of organizations and the growing workforce of employees receptive to the emergent technologies are two factors redefining collaboration practices both within the enterprise and with external stakeholders. Real-time collaboration is now all about real-time sharing, transparency, active listening, two-way trust in the wisdom of the team, giving proper credit where it is due and constant experimentation. Real-time collaboration as an important perspective of  Change Management, is empowered by digital tools and relying on a winning combination of face-to-face and virtual platforms. It involves the creation of an interactive multi-channel communication and sharing processes to generate awareness about new digital reality and accelerate the speed of changes.

Timing is always important, change is inevitable. But the challenge of managing change and adoption is tough, and those firms that can accomplish this feat will have the ability to tackle other challenges, put an emphasis on speed, strategic responsiveness, and structural flexibility, to run a real-time, high performance and always-on digital business.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Monthly “100 Creativity Ingredients” Book Tuning: Creativity Credos Sep., 2017

All humans are born with raw creativity ability. Creativity has many dimensions, with multi-faceted truth and myth, manifold knowledge and multidimensional insight. Creativity is wings of our mind and tempo of our heartbeat. Creativity is a constructive disruption, not so bad addiction, and a sensational phenomenon. The purpose of “100 Creativity Ingredients - Everyone’s Playbook to Unlock Creativity “is to classify, scrutinize, articulate, and share insight about one hundred special creativity ingredients, to paint the picture with them, to add colors on them, to embed the music into them, and to make the story via them, in order to unleash our collective creativity potential.       

                         Creativity Credos

Five Creativity Credos? Either working in the science like STEM or art like painting, writing or acting, the content of creativity is different, but contextually, it’s all about connecting the dots to create something fresh or figure out the better way to do things. To put simply, regardless of which discipline you take, art or science, creativity is about having the novel ideas or a new way to do things. Creative people are both nature and nurtured. The environment is like a catalyzer, which can inspire imagination and trigger creativity by stimulating one’s brain to connect the dots and synchronizing one’s mind and heart to concentrate and transcend for novel ideas to emerge.

Five Innovation Credos The importance of innovation has increased as digital businesses today have the pressure to get more and better innovation. Innovation is to connect the dots, synthesizing that goes in one mind, and teamwork through collective insight. High-innovative organizations can fine-tune innovation management as a differentiated business capability and master innovation in a structural way. Here are five innovation credos to improve digital innovation success rate and build a highly-innovative digital organization.

The Creativity Credos Creativity is an innate ability to generate novel ideas. If in the past the creativity was considered as a rare phenomenon and mysterious, it is now thought that, although with different gradation, is the heritage of all individuals, even some present more creative traits than others. It is the ability that can be developed. Therefore, it is important to create conditions so that the creative potential can manifest.

Three Principles in Building a Creative Digital Workplace? Digital is the age of people, and digital work environment needs to embrace the abundance of information and the culture of innovation, put people at the center of business, and to both engage employees and delight customers. How can digital leaders set principles to encourage creativity, build creative digital workplaces and open the new chapter of digital innovations?

The “PEARL” Principles to Spark Creativity? Creativity is the high level of thinking and innovation is the light businesses are pursuing, We all just fumble around from the dark to pursue creativity and chase new ideas. Is there such a magic formula to double or triple of your innovative ability, what’s your principle to follow for living with creativity?

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2 million page views with about 3900+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify your voice, deepen your digital footprints, and match your way for human progression.

The New Book “Digital Fit - Manifest Future of Business with Multidimensional Fit” Chapter 1 Introduction: The Characteristics of Digital Fit

Like people, every organization has its own personality and digital fit characteristics.

Digital organizations are increasingly exhibiting digital characteristics in various shades and intensity. They are hyperconnected and over-complex, with well-mixed physical workplace and virtual team setting. Like people, every organization has its own personality and digital fit characteristics, how do you define organizational fit, in order to build innovative and high-performing teams and transform the whole organization into the digital master?

The autonomy of the digital organization: Digital is all about the exponential growth of information and rapid speed of changes. Therefore, today’s digital organizations need to be self-adaptive to the dynamic business environment. Because the business responsiveness and changeability based on self-adaptation are the capabilities to adapt to changes and make conscious business choices seamlessly. And self-adaptation is a phenomenon strictly linked to see learning and knowledge increases if shared and consumed. The new digital paradigm shift is that the organizations are becoming more responsive, holistic, vibrant, self-driving, innovative, and above all enhances and nurtures the living organization. Self-organizing is about empowerment and trust. It’s about building a work atmosphere to encourage creativity, autonomy, and mastery. The high degree of the team’s self-management capability reflects its maturity to be disciplined enough to do the work well in a dynamic and highly innovative environment. In fact, autonomy becomes one of the most critical characteristics for digital organizations to thrive as well as the symbol of achieving high-level digital maturity.

Organizational plasticity as the digital trait: The neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire, connect, and adapt; the business plasticity is the organization’s capability to change, adapt and innovate with speed. Organizational adaptation is the ability to be highly responsive to the fast-changing business environment. From the economic and organizational point of view, the business with high organizational plasticity can keep a clear focus on the end results. Changing, adapting to or mitigation is a practical way for the existing change plan to bring about the goals of tomorrow. Self-adaptation is faster if made with the full involvement of people in organizational change with the consciousness to change. Organizational plasticity is an important digital trait to keep the business competitive and improve its maturity. There is no single path that will raise the plasticity of a company or business functions or individuals. The key is not to choose one path over the other but to tailor your own path, practice more for accelerating change and digital transformation.

Nonlinearity as the characteristic of digital ecosystem: Digital is fluid, digital is also complex. It becomes complex if things do interact, particularly in the case of “nonlinear” interaction. You can’t separate things properly or you cannot predict the actual effect of interactions straightforwardly. The problem with setting all of your boundaries in a linear way or black and white is that others don’t and it can lead to limited learning and tunnel vision. It just turns out that, the business world and human society get more and more complex. In fact, nonlinearity is one of the most significant characteristics of the digital business ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to applying of nonlinear thinking for complex problem-solving. Nonlinear thinking is a type of circular thinking or out-of-the-box thinking, to dig deeper, it is an emerging type of systems thinking to understand the interconnectivity of things. From linear to nonlinear thinking could be evolutionary. Bridging the gaps between linear and nonlinear thinking can significantly help to improve business effectiveness and maturity.

There are many emergent digital characteristics of modern organizations. Consider digital organization as the self-organized but interlaced environments, and humans are vehicles of natural and cultural solutions. Doing digital is about taking a few initiatives or actions, and being digital is the fundamental shift from the mindset to behavior.

Digital CIOs’ Three Role Shifts

Information and Technology are permeating to every corner of the business, IT is no doubt becoming more critical in either making or breaking a business. IT transformation means rationalizing current IT department and planning to partner with the business to provide tailored services and solutions in new ways. Here are three role shifts of digital CIOs.

The focus of the CIO’s role has changed from product-oriented to customer-oriented: Traditional IT was run via inside-out, products/service oriented lens, focuses on IT and business alignment, keeps the lights on, and follows mantra “do more with less.” Digital IT goes steps further, moves toward IT-customers alignment and IT-business integration and engagement. Digital is the age of people, customers (both end customers and internal customers) should be the center of IT. It is not necessarily a “customer vs. product” centricity issue, but how to step up from products/services enabling to customer-centricity. Customers should always be involved, it is not a question of whether the customer is right or not, it is more of whether you are truly and proactively listening to their needs and gaining a deep understanding of the motivational construct of the customer through empathy, and figure out what they will likely want next. The digital mantra of IT is to “Do more with innovation.” Engaging and empowering your end user is vital. Customers should be the center of innovation management and they are the major focus for innovation process and accomplishment. From IT leadership perspective, CIOs need to be more people-centric, and run IT as a software company, as they manage applications as products/services, with incentives on how much revenue they generate, on customer satisfaction and retention.

The focus of the CIO role should shift from “T” oriented to “I” driven: Traditional IT organization was run with monolithic technologies, being perceived as a support function, focused on heavy weighted hardware to keep the lights on. Most of the time, those CIOs limited themselves to execute some business initiatives and running the IT-based systems, but leave the information usage and conceptualizing the future state of systems mostly to business leaders. Those IT organizations miss the "I" in the "CIO"'s title and tend to de-facto replace it with a "T" for technology. Nowadays, with emergent lightweight digital technologies and on-demand IT service/application delivery model, the evolutionary path of running digital IT is to become “I” driven, to evolve  from data to information to knowledge to intelligence, and ensure the right people getting the right information at the right time to make the right decisions. Digital IT needs to become the “digital brain” and the innovation hub of the business. Because “I” is the lifeblood of digital business and IT needs to focus on providing innovative customer solutions via capturing business insight and foresight. CIOs have a unique position and opportunity to lead with information in the corporate ecosystem. Potential information value all depends on how the information will be used again in the future and this is often exceptionally uncertain. IT as the information master of the business plays an important role in running a smart digital business. Information does not live alone but permeates to everywhere in the businesses, thus, the value of information is not isolated. IT should first work to identify how information is associated with the valued tangibles of businesses; applying worthwhile Information Management maturity evaluation to reveal the inherent value.

The focus of the CIO role should shift from operation oriented to strategic focus: Many traditional IT leaders act as tactical managers to improve the business bottom line efficiency. However, with increasing speed of changes and fierce competition, it is not sufficient to leverage IT to build the business competency and unleash the full potential of the business. Thus, the focus of the CIO role has to shift from operation oriented to strategic focus. A strategic CIO is changing the dynamics of the business enterprise by leveraging technologies for strategic advantage. IT as the tools while the second type of CIO is thinking IT as the business, and how to leverage IT to gain an advantage over competitors. In this way, the CIO will create a blue ocean for his/her organization which will provide a competitive advantage.Information is power and it depends whether that power is used for the good purpose of the organization or political point scoring. Strategic CIOs have a role to play in balancing, not just leveling the internal playing field, enforce cross-functional communications and collaborations. In a high mature company that embraces technology and value information, and then a highly strategic and innovative CIO will fit in.

Due to the disruptive nature of technology and overwhelming growth of information, the role of CIO also has to be reinvented for adapting to changes and harness innovation. The CIO is a leadership role, in its best form, leadership is about creating a powerful future that is compelling in the present, that utilizes the best talents, capabilities, and resources of their people and organization to produce meaningful and valuable results. This is more than a positional approach, and having a CIO title will never be enough to make this real. IT leaders must stretch out, make the necessary role shift to get digital ready.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Three “Q” Words in Innovators

We just need to intentionally cultivate creativity as a habit, and keep practicing them as a differentiated capability.

Creativity is a multidimensional thought process, higher level thinking capability, and often multidisciplinary association. Creativity has many “ingredients.” It is the flow, with a full-color spectrum. Innovators are the rare one, but innovators are within us. Here are three “Q” words in innovators.

Questioning: Innovation evolves observation, questioning, networking, and experimenting. The great innovators have a tendency to make great inquiries. Because innovation is about thinking differently, acting differently, delivering differently, adding value differently from the status quo. The creative cognition involves exploring varieties of meanings/thoughts, abandoning old connections, and establishing new relations. Because the good questions are open and thought-provoking, bring multifaceted perspective and encourage collective wisdom. The great question is like a piece of art, beautiful and insightful, connect the dots to spark imagination and enable dots-connection. People also have different experience and personality, therefore, they may have the different ways to develop creativity or provide feedback. Since curiosity is a natural aspect of learning, people who can ask great questions present both confidence and humility to explore unknown and be open for varying answers. Asking questions tells us that we are still curious, still willing to learn, with the beginner's mindset, which is one of the characteristics of innovators.

Quality: Nowadays quality and creativity are interconnected. Because quality without creativity is a commodity, and creativity without quality cannot create high-end commercial value. In fact, creativity is high-quality thinking, and innovation is how to transform creative ideas to achieve their commercial value via providing quality products or services. As a degree of quality is in everything people do and experience. People are always the weakest link in organizations. Quality ideas are often created by quality people who are self-motivated to think, learn, innovate or invent. Quality employees today are the people who can think and work independently, develop their creativity, and have excellent problem-solving skills. This can be the basic quality of the products/services, attracting new customers, etc. People quality often decides the quality of the other part of the business. High-quality leaders or employees have a winning mixture composed of character, creative intelligence, and competence in a humble frame of self-esteem which makes aware of his/her quality without needing to show them. From innovation management perspective, without human interactions, quality is not possible. It’s about putting profound knowledge, effective processes, and efficient tools actually used into actions and delivered it, and the most important thing is that you need to define quality as innovation management and quality as innovative leadership.

Quietness: If command and control often burst via extraversion, and then creativity usually flourishes in solitude. Creativity happens in both unconscious and conscious level, and it sparks by implicit rather than explicit underbelly of knowledge. The quietness of mind shuts off the background noise. With quietness, you can think deeper, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deeper within yourself, you can focus, you can keep your mind flow frictionlessly or connect the dots seamlessly. Creativity is often inspirational from within, but brainstorming and participations matter as well, you need to be motivated to convey ideas and transform thoughts to be achievable. The quietness of mind comes from self-discipline that ensures thoughts train to have wider gaps to perceive such unique signals to trigger creativity, and also have a strong capacity to catch and store such signals before they leave us, for shaping novel ideas and express them with clarity.

Creativity is an innate ability to generate novel ideas. If you consider being creative as a way of thinking, of imagining, of expression, of perceiving things, of inventing, of inspiring, etc, then it happens every day, multiple times a day. We just need to intentionally cultivate creativity as a habit, and keep practicing them as a differentiated capability. The organization and our society will become more naturally digital fit with an abundance of creativity and fluency of innovation.

CIOs as “Chief Influence Officer”: How to Influence the Business Influencers Effectively

Prepare, listen, question, and participate. IT plays a critical role in taking the organization to the next level of maturity.

IT is the business, every business across the industrial sectors is in the information management business now, and IT plays a crucial role in digital transformation. But the reality is, IT is still perceived as a support function to keep the lights on only. Why is IT not part of the inner circle? Could it be that IT is seen as a cost and not a strategic investment? Could it also because that CIOs haven’t done enough to advocate IT as the change agent? CIOs need to become more visible and accountable as “Chief Influence Officers,” learn how to influence the business influencers effectively.  

How can IT motivate their non-IT executives to want to get engaged and stay engaged? The potential of IT is often underutilized and underappreciated by the business or customers because of a communication breakdown. As such, one of the most important titles for CIOs is “Chief Influence Officer,” to make leadership influence at the scope of the entire business or even the industry. CIOs must be the strategic leader as their peer executive officers, speak business language, not technical jargons; and conversely, others need to listen to what they have to say. A little translation on both sides would go a long way. CIOs should understand the whole business models, customers, and the markets the business operates in, understand the competitive landscape, have a medium/long term investment and performance horizon in mind. Most importantly, to motivate non-IT executives to get engaged in the conversations, CIOs need to talk about commercial outcomes, not technical throughput, be seen to be leveraging current assets before seeking latest techie toys. Often times the business crowd wrongly equate IT solutions with concerns of expensive technical difficulties and the IT crowd builds more out of its own know-how than the need of the business customers. Thus, CIOs need to assume the role of business advisor, technical translator, and digital orchestrator, and encourage others to do the same.

What are the things that should be done to be able to establish and maintain effective formal and informal conversations with business influencers? CIOs should master audience tailored business conversations, because different stakeholders of the business have different concerns about IT for meeting their needs. A CIO that can communicate effectively with all levels of the organization via different styles, formal or informal way, has a solid grasp of the business goals and objectives and can interpret them into an IT strategy as well as mapping into IT management practice without “lost in translation.” In order to motivate non-IT executives, formal and informal meetings with individual stakeholders should focus on the stakeholder's needs and IT current and future initiatives that address those needs.  IT can no longer act as a business controller, IT entrepreneurialism becomes a new fixture for management in their efforts to substantiate their competitive position, effect market landscape, and drive new revenue growth. So, CIOs must take the time and effort to sway stakeholders and of course selves towards IT being a true business goal enabling asset, not just a "supporting" function. CIOs not only should have a seat on the table, more importantly, they need to have a voice, and play a significant role in co-creating business strategy, both through formal or informal communication, and tailor different audience.

Can you ask open and insightful questions for appreciating fresh viewpoints and enforce cross-functional communication? Great communications evolve all sorts of techniques. Either at C-Table or the boardroom, or have a touchy-feely chat with end customers, the most powerful tool of a senior leader is the capacity to ask good questions. Because great open questions attract different perspectives, encourage critical thinking and deepen the understanding of business issues. Appreciates that the value of alternative perspectives and insights which say nothing of not trusting - simply looking from a different stance, and asking different questions. In this regards, CIOs as “Chief Inquisitive Officer” enforces their role as “Chief Influence Officer.” IT leaders and staff are not only just “know-how” people to provide technical solutions to customers, but also the facilitators who can collect customers’ feedback and initiate open conversations to figure out better ways to delight customers and benefit businesses.

Until CIOs think, talk, and act commercially rather than technically, they will remain strangers in a strange land. Prepare, listen, question, and participate. IT plays a critical role in taking the organization to the next level of maturity.  CIOs should build a very collaborative relationship with all peer CxOs because IT is a value-added solutionary to the entire company.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Three Practices to Build Creative Workplaces and Workforces

The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices: culture, method, and people.

People are always the most important business asset and investment, but also one of the weakest links in organizations. The important perspective of digital transformation is to put people at the center of the business, and to both engage employees and delight customers. One of the key determinants of whether an organization can move to new digital structures is the development level of the people, build a creative workplace and innovative workforce.   

Provide intellectual challenge and help people make continuous progress: At traditional organizations with command and control management style, employee engagement is very low, people fear to step out of the comfort zone and adapt to changes, even worst, creativity is discouraged and mediocrity gets the reward. They are simply not motivated (get the stick, not carrot) to be either change agents or innovators. To build a highly innovative organization, business executives must be innovative leaders who have growth mindset themselves and have the wisdom to recognize their talented employees. When organizational leaders value the contributions of each individual, understand and encourage the career aspirations of each person in the team, the likelihood of information sharing increases, the individual’s personal goal is aligned with the strategic business goal, the business potential can be unlocked and the long-term performance can be accelerated. People have to be given the opportunity to be creative, they have to become empowered. Surely empowerment doesn’t mean to make people cozy or just softening their words. In fact, today’s digital workforces are knowledge workers with technology savvy, it is important to provide the intellectual challenge, to stimulate multidimensional thinking, encourage creative problem-solving, tolerate calculated risks, and discourage negative emotions or unhealthy competitions. In an ideal digital working environment, self-motivated leaders, teams, and employees have the passion for challenging themselves, advancing their thinking ability, making things happen, catalyzing changes, discover the innovative way to do things, streamline business transformation scenario, build on organizational knowledge and respond to rapidl changing conditions effortlessly.

Help people feel more comfortable with chaos, uncertainty, and ambiguity: Due to the fast pace of changes, digital workplace today needs to become dynamic and informative, help people feel more comfortable about the “VUCA” digital new normal. The digital workplace will be shaped by changes that take place in the way people relate to themselves and to their experience of their environment and others around them. Make sure the work environment encourages creativity and collaborative thinking, help employees at all levels within an organization, from top leaders to front-line employees, understand and develop their creative capacity to solve problems and exploit opportunities in new and innovative ways. Try to digitally connect key resources and assets in the context of the idea reaching innovation hubs and clusters across the digital ecosystem. In doing so, you can create the shared context for learning, co-creating, and cross-pollination for new ideas. To continuously innovate within organizations, individuals and groups need to connect and communicate more openly, easily and effectively. From there, they need to work together efficiently on implementing ideas to deliver value.

Create a safe environment for learning from failure: No one likes failure, but failure is the nature of the innovation. Thus, it is important to create a safe environment for learning from failures. As the cost of inability to bring it a new idea to a successful conclusion is extremely high, even if the reasons are the culture of the organization itself - the least effective culture at fostering a digital workplace is traditional command and control environments. Most organizations are not forgiving to failures. Thus, to build a creative workplace, it’s important in findings into common cultural characteristics associated with technology adoption and use. Creative culture is usually outward-looking rather than insular, people are more willing to accept a degree of risks and experimentation, etc. Employees should be encouraged to think out of the box, take reasonable risks, go beyond their defined roles and demonstrate their intellectual capabilities to bring positive changes. If the company does not understand the failure, then there will be no innovation. Without building a culture with risk-tolerance, not only innovations wane in the process, the people championing it are suffocated and are rendered, unable to try again, so the rest do "learn" from it and never dare to try. Hence, it is important to set a tone from the top that being innovative is the digital fit mindset, and failure is OK if only you can learn something from it, avoid repetitive mistakes and become more creative.

The creative workplace is based on a triangle with three vertices: culture, method, and people. And a creative person can also be developed based on a triangle with three vertices: altitude, attitude, aptitude. Because creativity is both nature and nurtured. To build a creative working environment,  the democratic processes will overtake hierarchical control, and that culture will become a more fundamental organizational asset. They need to emphasize participation, relationships, communication, and realize that they will need to renew themselves periodically to cope effectively with change and have a fluid structure that encourages idea brainstorming and implementation.

Build a Comprehensive Digital Framework with Principles, Processes, and Practices to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a long journey, and the path for digital transformation can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive.

Digitalization is not just about adopting the latest technologies or cool gadget only, it has to expand into every dimension of the organization with a structural approach. The digital framework provides guidelines, checklist, standard, processes, do & don't practices, as well as tools and building blocks to define or develop business competencies and manage a holistic digital transformation. The digital frameworks add value as they are implementations of the patterns to avoid having to reinvent the wheel, it helps the organization embed digital culture into the very fabric of the business, explore digital in a structural way and laser focus on the most important things to get business digital ready.

Setting digital guidelines/principles: Digital transformation is inevitable. Change is the new norm and happens the whole time thereby delivering faster and increasing market share. The powerful digital technology and enterprise social platform does flatten the organizational hierarchy and blur the functional, organizational, and geographical borders in the business ecosystem. It could mean less restrictive rules or bureaucracy, break down silo thinking and keep information and knowledge flow seamlessly. Digital encourages autonomy and innovation. That means the guiding principle, in fact, become more crucial to be defined as core decision criteria and behavior guideline to practice multifaceted management discipline. Building a digital transformation platform with a set of well-defined guiding principles helps digital leaders and professionals provide greater clarification of vision/mission/strategy at a more detailed level, make change part of the business management routine. Because digital transformation cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished, it has to be woven into communication, process, and action of the digital organization. The matter of fact is that, setting guiding principles is not to manipulate (HOW), but to clarify (WHY); because a set of guiding principles helps management frame the right questions to ask for discovering the big WHY before jumping into HOW - to search for answers only. The principle of principle is that there needs to be a pragmatic way of applying whatever principles to the problem in a consistent manner, otherwise, it is a waste of effort to even state them.

Key process management: The intention of digital transformation is to break down silos, improve organizational responsiveness, and accelerate business performance. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or inter-relational interactions surpasses the silo-based organizational capacity to be able to do whatever it does with smaller scales. A well-defined digital framework enables developing cross-functional and interrelational management processes to help reduce business tensions, frictions, and conflicts that arise; enable managing interactional management processes to help communicate concepts and ideas with clarity and encourage two-way feedback flow seamlessly; also enable developing inter-relational interactions management processes for harnessing relationship building and cross-functional collaboration. For many businesses, especially well-established large organizations, it is necessary to keep stable processes to run the business as always. But it is also important to do more with innovation. Therefore, it is important to apply a hybrid approach and take tailored practices to fit different circumstances. The challenge for organizations is to leverage the digital framework, manage its process portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic business competency and organizational interdependence with the appropriate mix of enabling organizational elements. Through a comprehensive framework, the key business processes can be managed and optimized to achieve flexibility, adaptability, and maturity, to strike the right balance of “keeping the order,” and sparking innovation.

Dos and Don’ts digital practices: There are many “DOs” in digital transformation. Do more with innovation. Do more thinking before doing. DO walkthrough “look, listen, question, understand, plan, test and collaboration” stages for digital tuning. But there are also a lot of “DO NOT” warnings or tips, which are particularly important to avoid pitfalls & unnecessary failures or get rid of outdated best practices. For example, “Do Not” confuse digital transformation with technology only, though technology is one of the major drivers behind the digital transformation, the digital paradigm shift is not just about technology, it's about people, culture, partnership, processes, etc. Do Not ignore silo mentality. In today's volatile economy with exponential growth of information and abundance of knowledge, nothing impedes innovation and progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of the bureaucratic structure designed to preserve the status quo. To break down the silo mentality, top leaders who are someone above the silo are supposed to connect all the individual puzzle pieces together, to clear blind spots, integrate a multitude of viewpoints, to manage a holistic digital transformation. There is no “one size fits all” formula to manage digital transformation, therefore, every organization should develop and manage their own set of “Dos and Don’t” list via lessons learned for improving management effectiveness and get digital ready.

Digital transformation is a long journey, and the path for digital transformation can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive. Organizations have to develop a comprehensive framework, take a step-wise approach, continue assessing, fine-tune and adapt. Without those steps, it could either become a costly disaster or just the lip service without substantial action. The well-developed digital transformation framework laser focuses on the most important things and maintaining the digital balance. The challenge for organizations is to manage its portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic synergies and organizational interdependence to truly get digital ready.