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, July 20, 2017

The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 7/21/2017

Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking, brainstorming, innovating and sharing.
The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 2 million page views with 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. Here is the weekly insight about digital leadership, IT Management, and Talent Management.

  The Weekly Insight of the “Future of CIO” 7/21/2017
  • The Organizational Autonomy and Digital Transformation Digital disruptions are inevitable, and digital transformation is unstoppable. Organizations shouldn’t just respond to them in a reactive way. The new paradigm that is emerging is a digital organization that is more responsive, holistic, vibrant, self-driving, innovative, and above all enhances and supports the living organization. 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.

  • The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries The contemporary boards play the directorial role in driving changes, overseeing the business strategy, and monitoring business performance. They are also the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation. They should continue to ask insightful questions about IT to get digital ready.

  • The Monthly “Performance Master” Book Tuning: Five “WHAT”s in Performance Management July 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. He was right. Managing performance means understanding results, setting metrics, fixing plans, and making decisions to ensure it happens. It takes multi-faceted approaches from multidimensional perspectives. Here are five “WHAT”s of Performance Management.

  • Three Aspects to Enforce IT Innovation: Innovation, as an individual process or collective processes, is about figuring out the better way to do things; it helps us adapt, improve, grow and integrate. From the business perspective, innovation is the mechanism through which you grow and evolve something to something great with higher value-add or ever breakthrough or something new or better based on a combination or modification of previous attributes or approaches. Businesses, especially the well-established large corporations and within that environment, innovations can range from small to game changers. As more often than not, information technology is the disruptive force behind digital innovations, and thus, forward-thinking IT organizations strive to become the innovation hub of the business. Here are three aspects of enforcing IT innovation and building it into the business competency.  

  • The Monthly “Unpuzzling Innovation” Book Tuning: Take a Structural Approach to Manage Innovation July 2017  Digital is the age of innovation. And innovation is what leads to differentiation. There are many ways to differentiate and, therefore, there are many ways to pursue innovation. Talking of innovation is not new nowadays, everybody, every organization now is talking about innovation. It's been at or near the top of the business or economics agenda for a long time. However, there’re a lot of confusions about innovation and there is no magic sauce to guarantee its success. Back to basic, what is innovation, the more you look into this topic, the more difficult to give a definition of innovation, as it is such a broad topic? One of the good definitions of innovation is: "to transform the novel ideas into commercial success.” In essence, innovation is, "intentional novelty bringing sustainable benefit."

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.

TWO Million Page View of the “Future of CIO” Thoughts and Quotes: Read Deeply and Think Profoundly

Read deeply and think profoundly.

The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached TWO Million page views with 3900+ blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation, and engaging. The purpose of producing such a prolific professional blog is to envision the future of leadership, share business and technological insight, brainstorm innovative ideas across wide management disciplines, attract growth mindsets, encourage deep reading and profound thinking, and welcome constructive criticism.

Being a digital professional today is defined by growth mindset, creativity, and learning agility: Being a digital leader or professional today means having been exposed to, and continuing to want to be exposed to the abundance of information, then distilling this information, keep updating knowledge and capturing the insight to get digital ready. To put simply, they have the growth mindset with learning agility. Creativity also becomes one of the most crucial qualities to be the digital professional today. Creative people judge the world for themselves and they are skeptical of but open with outside opinions. The problem is never to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Creative people define and create their own convention that they live by in comparison to everyone else who just accept or inherit their convention to live by. Reading deeply and thinking profoundly are, therefore, important to keep creativity flow.

Cultivate independent thinking as a “must have” digital mindset: Independent thinking is extremely important in the digital era in which information only clicks away, but the true insight has inundated with out of dated knowledge. An independent mind is not isolated from the resource, on the opposite, a great independent thinker leverages all sort of information, read deeply, think profoundly. Thus, an independent thinker with high intelligence can observe more completely and think more profoundly, be unbiased and objective. Independent thinking means you do not follow others opinion blindly, but analyze and synthesize all sources of input and information to form your own opinion. Being a critical and independent thinker is about challenging the status quo etc, appreciate the “diversity of thoughts,” and push the world forward.

Being mindful and develop the cognitive ability for making sound judgments: What you read (watch) and how you think becomes one of the most significant parts of “being who you are,” as a digital professional. The truth is that each of us is a 'complex blend of contrasts - positive and negative; intuitive and logical' with imperfect judgment. We all want to believe that our judgment is perfect, yet none of us can claim to be a perfect character. With all these imperfection, it is true that we must become more resourceful, knowledgeable, innovative, use our judgment in everything we do - including making better decisions, understanding things or people, discovering the alternative solutions to problems., etc.  A wise mind has something to do with sound judgment:

The “Future of CIO” blog inspires learning, thinking, and innovating:

  • Learning is the way to keep your mind flowing, and hence your life flowing.
  • A mind is not profound by itself, just like a tree without a root.
  • The brain is the hardware, and the mind is the software, with the totality always in action, hardware plus software.
  • Insight is vision through the ‘mind’s eyes.
  • Hybrid Thinking is a set of interdisciplinary and integrative thinking processes we will need to solve many of today’s complex problems.
  • Critical Thinking has the potential to be a deeply creative process.
  • Almost all of the humankind’s problems are rooted in mindset, and the majority of them are caused by extreme thinking or polarized thinking.
  • Open the mind to be on a path to a better version of yourself.
  • You have to be able to look objectively at the problem, deflating the emotional part of it.

Read deeply and think profoundly. The more you know, the more you feel humble because what you know, compared to what you don’t know is just a tip of the iceberg. Humility is a vital virtue. Knowledge is a commodity, but deep thinking, problem-solving, grit and perseverance define all of us innovating in the 21st century.

Strengthen the Weakest Links to Get IT Digital Ready

Digitalization is driving unpredictability, demanding a more rapid deployment that quickly can adapt to the changes and adjust to the dynamic business conditions, it requires IT to run as a business, becomes the revenue growth maker and the game changer for the business’s digital transformation. IT has to strengthen its weakest links, build a set of cohesive capabilities, do more with innovation, improve its organizational maturity to get digital ready.

Strengthen the digital strategy execution link:  IT continues to grow in importance to organizations, both operationally and as a competitive advantage. And IT plays a strategic role in the digital transformation of the business.  IT Strategy is the most significant component of the corporate digital strategy. It is how to leverage the resources and assets of the IT departments to create the optimal business competency such as generating new revenue stream or accelerating business speed. The problem is that CIOs, as other management roles as well, for quite a long time not doing strategic management which includes “envisioning,” "selling," CIOs, as well as other executives, should spend more time on strategy management while now most of the time is spent on exception management to keep the lights on. Too often transformational change is acted on the basis of improving one part of an organization at the expense of other parts of the organization. Thus, CIOs should gain a holistic understanding about the entire company because the digital strategy  is not bound by one functional area (such as IT), but rather included the whole organization with a vision to compete for the future and become the digital leader in their vertical sector, with a mission to increase customer experience and engagement - and hence increased market shares and revenue. The main reason is that up to this point in time most leaders have been silo managers and don't really have the business skills or personality traits to lead transformation and change.  Hence, it is important to understand that responsibility, objectives and needed resources to be successful. With the right leaders are in place at the right time in a business life cycle or condition to bridge the weak link, the digital transformation should happen naturally and seamlessly.

Strengthen IT - business link: Traditional IT organizations are often run as the isolated function and struggle with IT-business alignment. But to achieve high-responsiveness and improve its changeability and flexibility, IT and the business need to integrate and act as one in a flowing process and a cohesive whole via integration, collaboration, engagement, optimization, or convergence. Terms such as link, fuse, affiliation, coalition, harmony, fit, match, meld, etc. are also frequently used synonymously to describe the holistic digital business profile. This is especially important in today’s world where the “VUCA” business environment, organizations, and technology are continuing to experience dramatic change at an accelerated pace, driving the role of IT to become increasingly more complex and challenging. IT must become the change organization in their company.  There are changes in two shapes in IT digital transformation: One is about internal IT where IT transforms itself to become faster, flexible,  and more effective; and the second is where IT helps to transform or change the entire business in line with new strategic imperatives. With the accelerating digital speed, everything is always moving forward promptly, IT should become the trustful business partner, not just take orders, but spend sufficient time on understanding the business issues enough to push back on what they asked for and explain how alternatives can provide more value. IT and business link often gets disconnected because most business executives have no idea how complicated corporate technology is, they don’t have to understand how complex IT system is. While most CIOs don't know how to sell the value of what their teams deliver. Ineffective communication happens when a CIO has one way of thinking and other business executives think in a different way. To strengthen the weakest link, IT leaders should become the great communicator to envision how IT can create the business advantage and demonstrate data based performance results via the business lens.

IT- End Customer Link: IT has two sets of customers. IT does provide services to internal staff but ultimately, the beneficiary of IT services is the end customers. So, at the end of the day, everything that IT organization does, is for the end customers. Many thinking, IT should make a management shift from IT-business alignment to IT-end customer alignment.  Everyone in IT organization owns the end user's experience. This is an ownership mindset any customer-centric CIOs need to instill within IT organization. In practice, the digital mantra is to live as "customers." When IT can help the business process the data and capture the customer insight about what the customer actually want, that is when you can really develop an experience that fits them and their needs or desires. Because these customer inquiries are not just support related, but can foster new and better ways the business applications can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. Strengthening IT and end customer link is challenging because IT management has to make a radical shift from inside-out operation driven to outside-in customer focus. IT needs to well integrate multiple management disciplines such as strategy management, change management, performance management, innovation management and talent management into a holistic digital management approach with customers as the center of practice.

Companies across industry sectors rely more and more on technologies and claim they are in the information management business. IT organization has more and more to overcome to running at digital speed via strengthening the weakest links and improving the business performance. The team of transformational leaders including CIOs, should utilize the multitudes of functions for organizational changes -vision, culture, systems, operations, performance, etc, and run a high mature digital ready business.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Three Levels of Change Curves

If you make change part of your routine, then change becomes easier to deal with.

Either at the individual or organizational level, change is a differentiated capability to thrive in the digital era. Change is not always going smoothly, there are bumps and curves on the way. The change curve is a model of the states that people who are to change will go through, the curve is applicable to everyone even those who planned and conceived the vision. 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. The real problem seems to understand the curve and how it relates to change because going through the downs of the change curve has a negative impact on productivity. Here are three levels of change curves, as well as how to ride above them to improve the effectiveness of Change Management.

Individual level: The smooth change happens through the efforts of people who care and are willing to leap into a new dimension of possibilities. There are both psychological curves and knowledge/methodological curves for changes. Emotions are very important as change is a personal thing.  Studies in neuroscience show that people do not resist change; they resist what they consider a threat to their current state with emotions such as, fears,  apathy & indifference, loss of control, personal vulnerability. Knowing the psychological process is just a necessary element that a change leader must master. Each person has their own change curve and as a change agent, you learn that you have to use the line managers to sponsor and reinforce the change. The process you go through MUST be empathetic and as such will be subtly different for each one. If you try to force them to a one size fits all (formulaic approach), even you change the behavior, but change cannot sustain because the mindset hasn’t been changed yet. Imagination, knowledge building and lessons-learned are also important for well preparing the change journey. At Individual level, human beings are not only 'reasonable' but they have imagination: All happens through imagination and change is living, there cannot be any change without imagination.

Group/Function level: Change is unavoidable. There is often no shortcut for change. It should be made incrementally. From business change management perspective, the roadblocks to change include, but not limited to lack of direction, internal politics, current culture/blame, not aligned systems/processes, too much hierarchy or centralization, functional silo, comfort with gained existing stage, wrong groupthink (past success will come to future success). Silos are inevitable in every structured organization, bounded groups or insular tribes are evidence of silos, and silos are reservoirs for homogeneous thinking, limiting the organization's creativity and innovation. From change leadership lens, it is the responsibility of the leaders to initiate his or her team to break the silos to realize the common goals or strategy which are far more important than the personal and departmental goals. By sharing the same vision, trusting that adjacent and support departments are all capable of completing their portion of the goal, and being able to coordinate and communicate effectively across departments, you can attempt to increase the performance of those members within each silo for the overall goal. Once a breakdown of trust or communication occurs, you begin to see each silo become more decentralized and self-focused. When leaders of an organization place an emphasis on building a culture of cross-functional collaboration, the opportunity for silos to work against the alignment of all departments towards the goals and objectives of the organization is diminished. In practice, deliver a change management training to a large group of people, increases the group's ability to get through the denial and resistance phases easier. Take the time to communicate the expected outcome with consideration of the "right" way allows the team to have room to make success progressive and change sustainable.

Organizational level: It would be helpful to know that any change within an organization is a process always involving trust and relationships; not a one-and-done chore. At the organizational level, creativity is incredibly useful, both in terms of making an impact with change management communications and tactics. Change curves exist because these days it is pretty tough to get attention as there is so much going on, change can no longer just a one-time initiative or spontaneous effort, it should be the ongoing business capability with both hard core elements and the soft touches such as communication. However, building trust often gets overlooked and therefore minimized as insignificant; without trust, there is no respect; and without trust and respect in an organization, change efforts become like a rocking chair stays in motion but gets nowhere. When change management is just a set of best practices without creativity embedded in it, the staff becomes like nails and the leadership like the hammer forcing staff into submission of change.  If there is a high level of trust within the upper rankings of management, this will be conveyed through their actions and directions to those within their own work unit. Having leaders of respective functions to interact in a structured setting on a consist basis goes a long way towards eliminating the silo mentality. If all of the upper-level management is engaged and focused on the same institutional goal and plan, they will be able to move forward in the same direction.  All departments have to have the stake in it. Their buy-ins should be gained up front to mitigate resistance.

In today's work environment, it takes a lot of energy to break old habits and outdated thought processes, but change is happening at a more rapid pace. If you make change part of your routine, then change becomes easier to deal with. Change Management is a journey, not just a one-time project, riding ahead of the change curve takes both strategy and methodology.A changeable organization is to creating organizations where change is the norm and happens the whole time thereby delivering faster and increasing market share.

IT Enlightenment

IT enlightenment comes when CIOs are no longer just tactical IT managers, but strategic business executives, and trustful business partners.  

Traditional IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, often overloaded and understaffed, being perceived as a change laggard in their companies, to keep the lights on reluctantly. But the reality is that nowadays businesses move into the digital future, technology is the fastest growing arena, CIOs need to rise above the status quo and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go, to run a premium IT organization with  “enlightenment.”

IT "enlightenment" comes when IT allows the business to do new things: Traditional IT organizations play the role as a controller, provide the commoditized services for keeping the business wheel spinning. When IT is only the mechanism for realizing a vision described by other C-level executives, it becomes a commodity. Now digitalization implies rapid changes and fierce competitions, innovation is no longer “nice to have,” but “must have” core capability for the business to surviving and thriving. CIOs are uniquely qualified to do this because their constant exposure to information and the fact that they are usually the most "connected" of all management group makes them a lightning rod for new ideas and innovation. The challenge is finding an outlet within your organization to channel that lightning once it strikes. IT has to transform from a “controller” to an “enabler,” to a “catalyzer,” leading through “pulling” than ‘pushing.’  To put simply, IT must be engaged enough with the business to actively participate in value realization, not just the tool to supports the business. The CIO should be executing business strategy through IT, rather than executing IT strategy that supports the business. And leading CIOs have to move further, reaching out external customers, focus on connecting their companies to markets, helping them understand their clients' evolving needs, and enabling their organizations to grow the business and improve profitability. Information permeates today's enterprises, CIOs have to reinvent their organizations from “reluctant IT” to “enlightened IT.” IT leadership holds the keys to making the company more efficient, effective, and innovative, implements processes and procedures that drive the company to the next level of digital maturity.

IT "enlightenment" comes when IT digitizes the touch point of customer experience: Digital revolution means that channels to customers. IT has both internal and end customers. The internal users who count on IT to equip them with the effective technology tools to improve productivity and work satisfaction; and the end customers who shop the business’s products or service and continue to compare their customer experience with competitors. IT plays a crucial role in optimizing and digitizing every touch point of customer experiences and improving overall customer satisfaction. The digital mantra is to live as “customers,” when practicing IT management. Innovation is not always equal to the latest gadget, it’s about people, culture, partnership, manner, to build a customer-centric organization. The business users would need a delightful experience because if the user is bored or confused with the applications, the revenue or productivity will decrease. And the end customers’ delightful experience will make a significant impact on improving customer retention, new customer acquisition, as well as the business’s brand and reputation. A valid strategic objective and strategy mapping allow you to first understand your customers and what they value, and then identify how to best characterize that value through IT management,

IT enlightenment comes when IT and business can work as the strategic partners for co-creating the better future of their organizations: With today’s business uncertainty and digital dynamic, a CIO can't just sit back and apply yesterday’s logic or techniques to today's problems. The key is engagement with the business continually and make cross-functional collaboration seamlessly. Digital thinking means new learning attitude. From the business side, it means to show the constructive dissatisfaction, understand the risks and potential bear traps. IT is at the unique position to oversee the business with technical understanding, thus, there are times when IT will be the only party in the room with in-depth views of the business and technique know-how about the underlying functions and processes. So, IT needs to apply such knowledge and experience to identify and promote new processes and platforms that can give business leverage in its domain and sector. This is the dimension in which IT is really almost given 'gifts' every day. The trick isn't identifying new things, but culling through the hundreds of new things, and finding those that can be used to the continuous business betterment and improve organization maturity.

IT enlightenment comes when CIOs are no longer just tactical IT managers, but strategic business executives, and trustful business partners.  CIOs have to advocate their organization, and IT value has to be driven, indicated and understood at all levels of the organization. The CIO’s ability to build fundamental business competency is now greater than ever. This is accomplished through establishing strong interdependent relationships with executive peers, achieve operational excellence, and improve customer satisfaction in order to move up the organizational maturity.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Monthly “Dot Connections: Connect Wider Dots of Innovation July, 2017

Digital is the age of creativity and innovation, and creativity is all about connecting the dots.

The effects of an increasingly digitalized world are now reaching into every corner of businesses and every aspect of organizations. Digital is the age of creativity and innovation, creativity is the most wanted trait for digital leaders and professionals today, and innovation is the light every organization is pursuing. Creativity is all about connecting the dots. Which dots shall you connect to improve digital professional quality and accelerate digital transformation?
Connect Wider Dots of Innovation

Innovation vs. Rules Innovation is to transform novel ideas and achieve its business value. Innovation is doing something better than it currently is. Hence, it requires a sound and competent understanding of what is currently being done. Innovation is not serendipity, it's a mindset, a process, and the strategic business capability nowadays. From innovation management perspective, should innovators break rules, or does innovation need rules, and how to improve manage innovation effortlessly and improve its success rate?
Intuition vs. Creativity?  The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri which is usually translated as to look inside or to contemplate. According to the online dictionary, it is "the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning."Creativity is a person’s innate ability to create novel ideas. Creativity is as much defined by the problem as by the capacity of the individual to connect things to resolve that problem in new and sometimes unexpected ways. What are the further correlations between creativity and intuition?.
Artistic Creativity vs. Organizational Creativity?  At the individual level, the whole creative process can be frustrating because it's so nonlinear. Do you feel an inner urge to be creative? Do you like solving problems in novel ways? Perhaps you like investigating possibilities. Were you born wired for creativity or are you learning creativity as part of a quest to become a well-rounded person? At the organizational level, from innovation management perspective, is there any best scenario to manage innovation? Can a single model of the process of creativity be a one-size-fits-all solution? What would be the characteristics of an effective model for the domain within which you work?
Innovation vs. Invention? Innovation comes from the Latin, "Innovare" - 'to change or alter things that already exist'. The invention, on the other hand, has its roots in the Latin word "Novare," 'to make new / create.' The difference between innovation and creativity is implementation. One of the good definitions of innovation is: "to transform the novel ideas into commercially successful products & achieving business values."
Serendipity vs. Innovation? Serendipity has been voted as one of the most popular words in the English language. It is also one of the hardest to translate. Conversationally, it is used as tantamount to luck, providence or chance. What’s the correlation between serendipity and innovation, are all innovations serendipitous, or serendipity puzzle can be debunked through thinking innovatively?.
The “Future of CIO” Blog has reached 1.9 million page views with about #3900th blog posting in 59+ different categories of leadership, management, strategy, digitalization, change/talent, etc. The content richness is not for its own sake, but to convey the vision and share the wisdom. Blogging is not about writing, but about thinking and innovating the new ideas; it’s not just about WHAT to say, but about WHY to say, and HOW to say it. It reflects the color and shade of your thought patterns, and it indicates the peaks and curves of your thinking waves. Unlike pure entertainment, quality and professional content takes time for digesting, contemplation and engaging, and therefore, it takes the time to attract the "hungry minds" and the "deep souls." It’s the journey to amplify diverse voices and deepen digital footprints, and it's the way to harness your innovative spirit.

The Commercial Side of IT

The commercial side of IT helps IT organization lift its maturity as the strategic business partner, and transform IT from a cost center to a profit maker.

When IT only focuses on the technological side of operational management, it has often been perceived as a cost center and support function. To reinvent IT as the growth engine of the business, the digital CIO today needs to be "commercial" and has business acumen and know how to promote IT effectively, so the business partners understand the wholeness of how IT makes contributions across organizational boundaries.

The readiness of IT for business initiatives: IT needs to understand how the organization works and then provides tailored business solutions that will increase the functionality and improve the business performance. 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, workflow optimizations, and additional revenue opportunities. IT should be highly available and efficient internally that It can take minimum time to market. IT also needs to engage with the business units to find out how the department is perceived, what the pain points are and to identify opportunities for developing new services or improving/ optimizing current ones, and increase the business’s responsiveness to changes. IT can not only contribute to the business growth,  CIOs can help businesses improve net profit, by reducing the cost of doing business and keeping cost down while at the same time maximizing its output so when the business revenue increase, IT cost remain the same, it will improve net. The digital CIO has to foresee, anticipate business needs for information and then prepare and gear up the information systems to not only make readily pertinent information to top business decision makers but also preempt the need and present the multidimensional business value accordingly.

Optimize IT operational manageability and stop the revenue leakage due to IT systems errors: Due to the disruptive nature of technologies and overwhelming growth of information, IT simply cannot stand still, it has to keep improving IT services and operational manageability. IT optimization is about leveraging technologies to lower costs, improve operations, and increase revenue. The low maturity of IT stems from the industrial cultural norm that accepts IT as a tactical function, but not as a strategic partner. Therefore, to run a highly effective digital IT as the business growth engine, IT has to switch its perspective from inside-out operation driven to outside-in business focus and customer-centric. It means to leverage more resources and talent to increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction. It has to bring both effectiveness and efficiency of the process which are obviously run on IT Systems. Many traditional IT organizations spend significant time, cost and resource to maintain the heavy out of date IT system and legacy applications. The overly rigid process is an outcome of applying rigid process approaches where they don't belong, and IT systems errors will cause the revenue leakage and damage the busienss's reputation. Thus, the biggest challenge 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.

Customer experience is being the main driver for IT differentiation and in the end business profitability: Customers are at the center of a digital organization. IT has two sets of customers, internal business customers as well as end business customers. Now information can provide customer insight and technology can improve every touch point in customer intimacy, it provides a significant opportunity for IT to influence customer experience directly. Besides internal customers, end customers should also be IT focal point, CIOs must go out and talk with customers to understand business and understand their tastes and current and future needs. Customer centricity is built upon rigorous business’s capabilities and processes, it is not just support-related but can foster new and better ways the application can perform and optimize every touch point of customer experience. Imagine collecting valuable information about customers in real time and getting that to the right teams inside your company. New technology tools and business models allow a company to capture customer information on a continual basis. Retention of customers/reduction in the churn with better management of services provided to the customers will be an indirect way of increasing and maintaining the revenue. Keep in mind, customer experience isn't about improving things for the customer at any cost. It's about having the real insight to make confident business decisions that result in unambiguous ROI.

Digital IT has many faces, the technological side is perhaps hidden inside as the business enabler; the customer side of IT should be intuitive, and the commercial side of IT helps IT organization lift its maturity as the strategic business partner, and transform IT from a cost center to a profit maker. 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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Five Problem-Solving Credos

We all develop reputations for being problem creators, problem definers or problem solvers.

Fundamentally, every work is to deal with problems big or small both from long term perspectives or on the daily basis. And the business or societal progress is made via a healthy cycle of problem framing and problem-solving continuum. We all develop reputations for being problem creators, problem definers or problem solvers. To close the problem-solving capability gap, it is important to keep sharpening your problem-solving skills, always dig under the surface, and build a good reputation as a real problem-framer or problem-solver. Here is a set of problem-solving credos.

There is an importance of introspection to assess the part you played in the problem: No one person or entity is always the source of problems, likewise, no one person will be the panacea to all problems. Thus, it is important to develop the willingness to take ownership, otherwise, it could lead to a defensive mindset and result in failing to identify the role in problem-solving. Complex problem-solving requires both multidimensional intelligence and emotional excellence. It is easy to observe how other people become emotionally charged and reactive to problems/challenges; it's even easier for ourselves to become ignited/emotionally charged and reactive towards problems/challenges. Understand when you’re upset or angry, you’re not effectively listening, which requires some emotional intelligence to be able to recognize when you’re in such a situation. Change starts from yourself. When you can put yourselves in a self-aware position of experiencing/ seeing/ hearing all sides of a problem/challenge, it actually helps you observe deeper and lead to more humility in seeing the reality in its true form. Listen to what others are saying and get others talking about what’s going on. Ask for others feedback on what they believe the problem to be but also be prepared to hear something you might not like or agree with. It is also critical to leverage lessons learned. Learn from the past problems and challenges along with encouraging others to learn from the problems that have happened, and believe that problems are the opportunity to show others you're a good problem-solver.

Problem-solving is about seeing a problem and actually discovering a real solution to that problem, not just the band-aid approach to fixing the symptom: It's worthwhile considering why things are the way they are for, in doing so, you are challenging automatic assumptions that something needs 'fixing.' To 'just go ahead and fix it carries assumptions, particularly, assumptions about something wrong, limiting, or not working in some way that requires 'fixing. It depends on the problem, how and to what extent it is manifesting in a way that cries for fixing, from where it emanates the greater context. The better solution to many problems that across all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to find the root cause. Silo thinking is often one of the thought processes focusing on symptoms, not the root causes. Until the underlying problem is addressed, the symptom will continue to return. Further, trying to fix the wrong cause of a problem will waste time and resources, increase anxiety, and leave industries full of opportunists that see rewards by offering solutions that address symptoms. The other technique to diagnose the root cause of problems is through asking five WHYs or taking other systematic approaches. If you understand the origin of the situation, where you want it to go, and how to get there, you would understand the specific WHYs to dig through the root causes.

Understand the problem with context, and follow the logical scenario to diagnose it: Context aids us in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. You cannot understand a cell, a living thing, an organization, or a culture if you isolate it from its context. From a problem-solving perspective, 'seeing' the context you are 'part' of, allows you to identify the leverage points of the system and then 'choose' the key factors, in the attempt to diagnose the problem and solve it effectively. More specifically, the logical scenario to diagnose and solve the problems include:
(1) Identify the problem - what is exactly wrong, out of balance, unjust, etc., the exact description of the problem.
(2) Find the factors involved in the final "incorrect" outcome: See if you can measure or weigh each factor's contribution to the result, or the description of the unit of measure.
(3) Build a hypothetical equation that describes your "incorrect" outcome. See how changing any of these gets better or worsens that outcome.

Channeling creativity for solving tough problems: A problem is a difference between an expectation ( intention, vision) and the actual situation (current reality) coupled with a negative feeling. When you encounter a tough problem, you need to use a creative way. Thinking creatively about a problem requires being close to the problem, it requires context and intangible variables. Both creative and critical thinkers live out of the box, ask open questions to collect relevant information, and think alternative solutions to tough problems. In the business world, at least, you can't always wait for the "best" decision to emerge. You seek for inventions, new designs, creative problem-solving. It drives innovation. Creative problem-solving starts with creative communication, then, sets alternative choices, and then you have to make best decisions you can, based on connecting unusual dots, identify and prioritize alternative solutions, set sound processes to make a better choice, and have the gut to admit when a mid-course correction is in order. Creative problem-solving can only become new normal if you change people’s attitude - working together to figure out the better way for problem-solving. How to change thought models and attitudes? That is only a start to awareness of something new, broader perspective and a possibility of something new. How to make this necessary change in thinking into new ways of working together - and giving up the safe old silo, to pursue innovative solutions to problems.

Problem-prevention is critical for adapting to the “VUCA” characteristics of the digital new normal:  Either preventing problems or solving problems requires people who have excellent analytical skills. Risks are simply potential problems. Preventing problems requires people/processes/systems to analyze and predict the possibility of a problem, this is particularly important for today’s dynamic digital business. Preventing problems and enabling continuous improvement requires cultural changes, leadership support, and iterative processes for identifying, assessing, preventing, and resolving problems as well as reporting the successes. So why is it so difficult to prevent/resolve problems? Because in many organizations, there is a "shoot the messenger" reaction, the person who identifies problems/risks is viewed as disruptive, get discouraged or even penalized. These individuals eventually learn to keep their observations to themselves. In order to prevent/solve a problem, you have to get an agreement that a problem/risk exists. The life cycle of the proper problem-prediction, problem-framing, and problem-solving is there so that you can follow the logical problem-solving scenario, by setting good principles, guidelines, and procedures. Thus, open culture plays a significant role in building a proactive problem prevention capability as well as developing the logical problem-solving scenario.

It takes a systematic approach to solve complex problems. The transparent processes help to dig through the root cause of problems, and develop a logical scenario for problem-prevention, problem-diagnosing, and problem-solving, keep the learning attitude to improve, and empower your true problem-solvers and encourage creative problem-solving.