CIO’s Leadership Footprint

Sunday, April 29, 2012 | comments



Modern CIOs have one of the most paradoxical but significant executive roles, as information technology becomes so pervasive, they craft their organization’s architectural blueprint; they shape their business’s digital footprint; they are responsible for their enterprise’s information footprint, they shape the fresh cloud footprint, they also work hard to reduce data center’s carbon footprint. However, first things first, CIOs, don’t forget to build up your leadership footprint.



1. Influencer’s Footprint


Leadership is influence, influence comes from wisdom, wisdom is base on knowledge, but more than knowledge, and knowledge is gained from information & data, luckily, CIO is the official owner of business’s information system. However,  such an entitlement won’t guarantee CIO’s leadership effectiveness.

CIO’s leadership skill need be transferable and touchable, to bring up the fresh perspective into business, new industry, instill new culture, inspiring new thinking., transformational CIO and IT need craft influence landscape and leave footprint cross functional silo, and keep pondering on how to improve project success rate (average 70% failure rate statistically), how to significant improve 80/20 IT investment ratio, and leverage how much percentage of resources have created business value.

CIO’s footprint is more than the feet crunching in sand, it may also like the wind blowing in the trees, the waves curling on the beach, the firework blossoms in the sky, and the song of the mockingbird as the evening sun sets.

2. Improvement Footprint

We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. Eddington 

Modern technology proves human’s progress. At contemporary business, technology is enabler for business transformation, process optimization and talent empowerment.

CIO as a C level peer executive, the leadership footprint need cover all functional organizations & their inter-relationships and know how to orchestrate them effectively.

CIO’s leadership footprint is base on business acumen, and  a comprehensive understanding business in general, to perceive future vision and craft strategic planning, to master the SWOT analytics, GAP, IMPACT, Value Analysis., etc, not only grasp the growth opportunities, but also include competitive landscape, regulation, and governance.

CIO’s leadership footprint is rising on data shore or hidden in green valley, scatters on the mountain or flow with the cloud,  lead business’s continuous improvement with small step and large leap.

3. Innovation Footprint



Today’s forward-looking CIO also need be an innovator with both critical thinking and creative thinking capabilities,  as CIO is truly an influential leadership role which can make significant difference for business's win or wane, it might also means to create unique footprint to lead through business transformation.

The innovation leadership includes the movers and shakers with fair judgment; thought leaders who can bring up different point of view; the innovators with the hybrid mindset to blend three elements of triad: analytics mindset of business strategist, innovative mindset of entrepreneur; and communication mindset of coach

CIO ‘s innovation footprint can be traced at the rocky road in innovation management journey, with clear goals to delight customers and to engage employees via the effective process and right tools & platform, a radically different kind of management needs to be in place, a different way of coordinating work, a different set of values and a different way of communicating.

CIO’s leadership footprint need be left in customers’ mind, the employees’ heart, at the customer frontline or the big room in decision-making.   

Transformational CIO does not lead alone, CIO’s footprint need be interwoven with other leaders’,  the high-performance leadership team need compliment each other’s skills, styles and strengths, to deliver economic, social and people values at the same time and build solid global footprint.

Yes, there’re also footprints on the moon.


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Mirror, Mirror, What is Best Strategy

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A strategy is a set of choices following with a series of action designed to achieve a vision and compete for the future. There’re so many good strategy theories from ancient to contemporary, from eastern to western, today’s strategist may just wonder: what is best strategy?

 1. The Origin of Strategy

To trace its lexical root, a strategy derives from the Greek strategia, "office of general, command, generalship.”,  the Greek equivalent for the modern word “strategy” would have been “strategike episteme” or (general’s knowledge) “strategon sophia” (general’s wisdom). One of the most famous Latin works in the area of military strategy is written by Frontius and has the Greek title of Strategemata


Sun Tzu’s The  Art of War, written in 400 B.C. has received critical acclaim as the earliest and best work on military strategy, including those that have followed it centuries later.


 2. Magic “Five” in Famous Strategy Theories

  • Mission: Inspire people to share the same visions, ideas and expectations
  • Ground: to be able to master mountains, valleys, rivers, plains, etc. it’s about situation,  distant or immediate, difficult or easy, opportunities and risks
  • Climate: it’s nature, changes in climatic conditions
  • Command: Leadership, such as wisdom, humanity, credibility, courage, intelligence and firmness. 
  • Method: the discipline, the moral cause, reward, punishment, logistics and metrics.
Key Take away: Winning without Conflict: Sun Tzu's book teaches winning without conflict. “A great general finds a way to win without fighting a single battle, human wisdom is the best  weapon".

Von Clausewitz's book On War is a classic, he had career in the Prussian army, and served in a number of major campaigns, he was a thinker and philosopher who studied war to with in-depth knowledge that no one else had ever done before. He also believed that war was more like business. As he points out, both war and business involve the clash of interests. Here are his five principles.

  • Principle of Plan Well with Simplicity
  • Principle of Unity of Command
  • Principle of Historical Examples
  • Principle of using the superiority of numbers to good effect.
  • Principle of System Thinking: We are part of a wider system that controls us more than we could ever know.

As Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Mushshi was well known as a great warrior and strategist lived four hundred years ago, his books of Five Rings also make significant impact on shaping modern business strategy and the art of wisdom:
  • Ground: Knowing the smallest and biggest thing, the shallowest thing and deepest thing.
  • Water: With water as basis, the spirit becomes like water, water adopt the shape of its receptacle
  • Fire: The spirit of fire is fierce, weather the fire is small or big, you must appreciate the spirit can come big and small
  • Wind:  means old traditions, present-day traditions of strategy. It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others.
  • Void. means that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature.
 The Gaze in Strategy: Perception and Sight: In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.



Modern business strategist: Michael Porter’s Five Forces strategy, a SWOT analysis model on creating a strong position for product or service that allows it to garner outsized profits, makes significant influence on contemporary business society.
  • Marketing Entry: How easy is it for others to enter the market? 
  • Threat of product/service substitution
  • Bargaining power of buyers.
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Rivalry among current competitors.
 Porter’s latest social dimension in strategy: All profit is not equal. Profit involving shared value enables society to advance more rapidly and allows companies to grow faster.  

“In Blue Oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for both growth and profit.”  W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

  • Reconstruct market boundaries
  • Focus on the big picture, not the numbers
  • Reach beyond existing demand
  • Overcome key organizational hurdles
  • Build execution into strategy

The Fifth Discipline” series of book written by Peter Senge was published in 1990th, is all about learning. As applied in the “learning organization":
  • System Thinking: Break problems down and see things laterally and sequentially
  • Personal Mastery:  “Organizations learn only through individuals who learn,” says Peter Senge. As “approaching one’s life as a creative work"
  • Metal Model: We must seek divergent views before developing a convergent conclusion.
  • Shared Vision: “The strategy plan will not energize us, vision does"
  • Team Learning: People continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire in “Learning Organization”

3.  The Purpose of Strategy


All the strategy models discussed above are conceptualized leadership essentials, yes, it's a light to guide you up, not a hand to walk you through,. As someone famously said that strategy is about shaping the future, and the future is more about  progress and evolution.


  • Perspective: Chaos is a perception...if an opponent uses chaos in his strategy...it can be very effective and difficult to predict and counter, : In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things, as Miyamoto perceived. 

  • Position: All these great leaders: All strategy models articulate the need for accurate intelligence of  “terrain” or creating a strong position for product or service that allows it to garner outsized profits, makes significant influence in contemporary business society

  • Plan: Well planning is more than half way of success. As Clausewitz put,  plans should cover every aspect of conflict, weaving them into a single operation with an ultimate objective. 

4.  Why Strategy Fails & How to Make a Good One?
          
  • . Change is Accelerated: At today’s rapidly change business environment, one can't help wondering whether selecting and sustaining a strategy is not as relevant as gathering, assembling and understanding the information about the progress a business is making with a particular strategy.  Change is accelerated, modern business is heading off with a particular strategy in the face of growing information that suggests they should be revisiting the strategy.

  • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The book: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, by Richard P. Rumelt well articulated the most basic idea of strategy which is the application of strength against weakness. The good strategy need include actions.

 Three-Step Strategy Making:
1) Figuring out the nature of the business challenge
2) Designing a guiding policy that produces an advantage
3) Creating a set of coordinated actions to carry out that policy.

The world and global history that clearly show how to recognize the good, reject the bad, and make good strategy a living force in the organization


 5. Mirror, Mirror, What is Best Strategy

All these great leaders: Rumelt , Paton, Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and Porter have one thing in common. They all understood that over-reliance on any particular approach to strategy is dangerous. The modern theories of strategy systematically deal with issues connected with organizational structure and psychology, anthropology and sociology, and also with all internal and external elements of organizational environment. One size doesn’t fit all.

What is best strategy, the mirror answers:

The location makes the dwelling good.
Depth of understanding makes the mind good.
A kind heart makes the giving good.
Integrity makes the government good.
Accomplishments makes your labors good.
Proper timing makes a decision good
LAO TZU  "TAO TE CHING

Earth Day Pondering: Three Pillars of Sustainability

Sunday, April 22, 2012 | comments


This Sunday is Earth Day, with its mission: “to raise support for a more sustainable future as climate change continues to wreak havoc across the globe. As a sustainable society will only come about through the accumulated actions of billions of individuals. “

Essentially Earth Day reminds us of sustainability and perceive nature as something that sustains us and nurture us spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.

What is sustainability anyway? From wiki: Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time, a necessary precondition for the well-being of humans and other organisms. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.

1.  Environmental Responsibility

1)      From Compliance to Leadership

Compliance with government regulations is a key external driver and the legally required must-do task for business today. Engaging with sustainability to meet obligations in environmental responsibility will decide business decisions and options to meet regulations, then for efficiency and ultimately for market leadership.
  • Reducing energy use & waste & Emissions in operations
  • Managing corporate reputation for sustainability
  • Proactively responding to regulatory constraints or opportunities
  • Leveraging sustainability of existing products to reach new customers or markets
  • Improving employee retention and/or motivation related to sustainability activities
  • Mitigating operational risk related to climate change
  • Achieving higher prices or greater market share from sustainable products
  • Committing R&D resources to sustainable products, managing portfolio to capture trends in sustainability
2) From Practitioner to Advocate & Educator

When we look at the hyper rising costs of energy in recent years,  it is probably top three most expensive unmanaged cost for any Fortune 500 company, and especially become the biggest concern for many energy-dependent businesses, they need become advocates and educators for corporate-wide environmental sustainability initiatives, also transcribes a path that converts outside concerns into inside engagement, it becomes significatn component of every busienss decision large or small,  focus on growth, reputation management, and return on capital. It  also need an integrated view that blends financial,nvironmental, and social performance.

From businesses governance discipline, organizations are disclosing significantly more nonfinancial information that underpins how value is and will be created. Disclosures include detailed plans for low-carbon products and services, and employee incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2.  Economic Demands:

1)      Sustainability: From Nice to Have to Must Have

Efficiency has been a key internal driver for sustainable practices and is the low hanging fruit when moving beyond compliance and obligation. Waste of resources is costly. Reuse and reduction of waste reduces cost and creates new revenue streams to impact both bottom line and top line business growth. .
The business barriors need be overcomed in sustainability management:
  • Lack of incentives tied to performance on sustainability initiatives
  • Pressure of short-term earnings performance is at odds with longer-term nature of sustainability
  • Lack of, or use of wrong, key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Insufficient data or information to implement initiatives
  • Sustainability isn’t integrated into existing key process & performance management system
  • Company leadership sets sustainability as too low a priority, business units are not engaged with implementing sustainability initiatives
  • Sustainability department is disconnected from the rest of the organization, or is too low to be influential, company lacks the right capabilities and/or skills

2)      Embed Sustainability into Business Process & Operational Excellence

Sustainability leaders embed real, measurable, ongoing commitments to sustainability practices as a strategic differentiator, going beyond the immediate benefits of compliance, obligations, and efficiency. Sustainability is embedded into key business processes, and business makes decision with an integrated view that blends financial, environmental, and social performance, to gain business insight, with which to manage the risks and opportunities in the future.

The methodology and roadmap for sustainability management are designed to evaluate a company’s sustainability opportunities and risks throughout its extended value chain. It also can be used to drive innovation efforts in the development of a holistic sustainability strategy.

• Operational input/output analysis: Examines critical inputs (e.g., materials, energy) and outputs (e.g., finished products, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollutants), giving leaders a picture of the impact sustainability efforts have across the company

• Profit and loss sensitivity analysis: Helps identify the bottom-line impact that sustainability issues (e.g., energy price fluctuations) have on a business

• Regulatory risk analysis: Helps leaders anticipate both the current and likely future laws and regulations that might affect a company’s operations

• Customer and competitor analyses: Helps uncover sustainability priorities of the company’s key customers and competitors

• Brand positioning analysis: Helps assess customer sustainability priorities against product attributes and brand positioning

• Value chain analysis: By considering how change to link s in the value chain affect the operation, also achieve a new perspective on sustainability.


• Innovation analysis: :Looking to sustainability as a driver of innovation — looking beyond the company’s walls to the ecosystem of opportunities and risks posed by a dynamic set of industry partners

3) Using IT to Drive Sustainability

Essentially, a key piece of information—information around environmental and social concerns—has been missing from most business operations. Therefore, IT can play a lead role in improving corporate sustainability performance to ensure the long-term economic success of the enterprise. The commitment to doing this needs to start at the highest level of the organization, with sustainability becoming integrated into the corporate strategy, which is supported by the overall IT strategy. 

Information technology can collect, analyze, monitor, mitigate, and monetize resources within an enterprise and across its value chain, not only in the aggregate, but also across their operating units, allowing them to identify opportunities for improvement. They are able to compare themselves against industry norms to determine and report how they rank competitively in their overall sustainability performance.

3. Social Equity

The classic definition of sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” well ariculate the social pillar in sustaiability
Social Equity is defined  as "equal opportunity, in a safe and healthy environment." Social Equity is the least defined and least understood element of the triad in creating sustainability - balancing economic, environmental and social equity. Social Equity is the perceived value of individual, organization, or brand reputation. it includes the impact on the social systems within which the organization operates. Following categories are included:

  • Labor practices: Impacts on the workforce, including labor/management relations, health and safety, training and education and diversity,  investment and procurement practices, child and forced labor, security practices.
  • Society: Impacts on communities, including corruption, public policy and anti-competitive behavior.
  • Product responsibility: Includes product health and safety, information and labeling, marketing and privacy., etc.
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Three Wonders of Wisdom

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futureofcio
A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.      Robert Frost

1. Cleverness is not wisdom.    Euripides

Wisdom is on how to dig into root cause or hunt for essentials; Cleverness struggles at surface, takes shortcut to reach the comfort zone;

Wisdom is the guide for purpose, progress  and change the world for better;  Cleverness put emphasis on style or others, compete to win without authenticity;

Cleverness is imitation only, wisdom combines knowledge, reflection and experience; The Power of wisdom overcomes the barriers; the shallow of cleverness creates the new problems

Wisdom speaks of nature; cleverness appreciates artifact; It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, it’s a choice of clever to be a slave to them;

Wisdom is multi-dimensional pursuit: cleverness is single layer of understanding;  Wisdom is perception, cleverness is what you see; it’s not what you see matter, it’s what you perceive.

Leadership is influence, influence is from wisdom;


2. Wisdom is More Than Knowledge

Knowledge is pieces of fact, with limitation;  wisdom is universal, encircle the world;
Wisdom comes from knowledge, blend with reflection, transform into insight, abstract into wisdom;
Knowledge can be out of date, wisdom lasts forever;
Knowledge is man power, and wisdom is nature power;
Knowledge is the start of human intelligence, wisdom is the highest level of human intelligence.

3. Pursuit of Wisdom

Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it - thou art a fool.
Lord Chesterfield

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucius







Five Principles of Carl Von Clausewitz's Strategy

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Von Clausewitz's book On War is a classic, he had career in the Prussian army, and served in a number of major campaigns, he was a thinker and philosopher who studied war to with in-depth knowledge that no one else had ever done before. He also believed that war was more like business. As he points out, both war and business involve the clash of interests, although one obviously results in lots of bloodshed, the other lots of logistics,  that’s why his insight and strategy also significantly influence modern business. 
Here are five principles the business can learn from Clauswitz’s strategy:

1. Principle of Plan Well with Simplicity

Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

Von Clausewitz was a great fan of planning and believed that war plans should cover every aspect of conflict, weaving them into a single operation with an ultimate objective. In his view, no one should start a war without fully understanding what they intended to achieve by it (the political purpose) and how they intended to conduct it (the operational objective).

Same as running business or project, good planning is half of success. Always start with strategic planning with clear goal and value proposition,  following a series of cohesive actions to execute it.

2. Principle of Unity of Command

For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort

Von Clausewitz discusses the importance of the unification of forces in time. His main argument is actually quite simple and focuses on whether it's best to throw all your men into an engagement at once or hold some back ready to join when really needed. In his view it is far better to apply all your forces simultaneously: their effectiveness will be far greater because everything can be concentrated in a single action in a single moment in time.

Same principles fit for business, keep focus, stay hungry.  It’s critical to well integrate the best talent, the effective process and the latest technology seamlessly & synchronously to achieve high-performance result.

3. Principle of Historical Examples

The historical examples provide the best kind of proof in the study of war.

Von Clausewitz was emphatic in his view that historical examples provide the best kind of proof in the study of war. He cites four key uses of historical examples. First, they may be used as an illustration of an idea; second, they serve to show the best practice of an idea; third, they can prove the possibility of an effect, and finally, they may be used to develop theory. But he goes on to warn of the dangers too, such as only using those examples supporting a particular opinion.

Von Clausewitz also recognize the root cause of both success and failure is an essential skill if you are to remain successful and avoid the mistakes of the past. It worthes the effort to find out why something succeeds or fails by investigating the underlying factors and behaviors of those involved.

Same principles can be practical for the business, always learn from other’s million dollar mistation, brekdown the problem and solve it via analytics and logic step, also can develop the new knowledge and theory via the experiences.  

4. The Number Effect

It's crucial to use the superiority of numbers to good effect.

When von Clausewitz discusses the effect which superiority of numbers has on war, he does so only on the basis of having stripped out all the other factors associated with strategy and tactics first. His argument is that without a good strategy and excellent tactics, we are left with nothing more than a shapeless battle in which the only distinguishing factor is the number of troops on either side. He also points out that having more men may ultimately contribute very little to the outcome of an engagement and will only do so if the numbers are great enough to counterbalance the strategy and tactics of their opponents. In other words, although it is essential to field as large a force as possible, it's crucial to use the superiority of numbers to good effect.

Business need adopt the same principle Von Clausewitz discovered: It can be very big, and it can be beautiful, but when it comes to the numbers game, the question is: are you using your resources wisely?

5. System Thinking

The truth is: we are part of a wider system that controls us more than we could ever know.

In many ways, von Clausewitz was ahead of his time, but there was one area in particular where he was light years ahead: systems thinking. Although systems theory as we know it today had yet to be defined or articulated, von Clausewitz understood war was not an isolated act. In his view, opponents in war could not regard each other as abstract entities; they were part of a wider system that included individual behaviour as well as politics. As a result, it was a relatively straightforward process to understand and model the motives of a potential enemy; all you had to do was observe. And because war was part of a larger ‘system’, it rarely broke out spontaneously nor could it spread instantaneously.

The principle is extremely practical at today’s over-complex and hyper-competitive global business environment, business can no longer survive in its own four wall surroundings,   it need shape the new eco-system to compete and collaborate at the same time, it also need craft the new busienss model via systematic thinking and holistic view. Its value chains are cross-industrial, cross-cultural silos, its influences are global and amplified via digital fabric.


Talent Master: Insight via A Photo, A Parable and A Painting of Race Horses

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | comments

“Human resources are like natural resources; they're often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they're not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.”    ~― Ken Robinson
 

1. A Photography of  Race Horse

On 4/8, Google has celebrated the 182nd anniversary of the birth of Eadweard J Muybridge, the British photographer, by creating a "doodle" based on his ground-breaking 19th-century images of racehorses. The animated graphic celebrates Muybridge's "The Horse in Motion", a film strip-style collection of shots created using 24 cameras which capture the running habits of racehorses owned by Leland Stanford, a Californian businessman and animal breeder, it vividly capture the spirit of horse.

2. An Ancient Parable of Long-Distance Race Horse

The premium breed long race horses were mixed with other regular horses, when they were hungry, not getting fed well; when they were yelling, no one understood why; when they stretch, nobody pay attention to, until one day, the maxima (the master who can recognize racehorse) came in, selected them out via capturing their spirit, he took them back, fed them right, understood their habit and train them properly, they became the superior long race horses again! The conclusion: The world has maxima first, then come to the racehorse.

Three Takeaways from Talent Management Perspecive:

A: Not lacking of Talent, it’s a Lack of the Unique Eyes Recognize it

  • The Unique Eyes identify Talent “Spirit”:
  What is spirit? It’s the character and energy, character is inbuilt, the innate self, the individual’s intelligence, sharpness and dynamism. And energy is the passion, the strength and attitude. The spirit is human’s blueprint;  like a seed, with its uniqueness & color theme. The talent master with unique eyes can identify such an enchanting human “spirit”, make a foreseable choice.
 
  • The Wise Talent Master recognize talent “Voice”
 “Voice Uniquely, Think Differently”, it’s the characteristic of innovative talent, the wise talent master will understand talent deeply and become their advocate, and believe the right combination of talent and ability will instill the new energy and fresh attitude to revitalize legacy business environment.  

B.    Inspire the Innovation-Centric Recruiting Culture:

Companies have to recognize that talent comes in all shapes, colors and  sizes. The blueprint needs to be flexible and resilient. We may also need multiple definitions of what leadership is and multiple paths to power of serving.


  • Recognize the New Characteristics of Business Leaders
The Talent masters need understand today's rapidly changing business environment and over-complex global atmosphere, which requires the next generation of business leaders should combine the characteristics of effective executive, creative entrepreneur and persuasive coach, well-mix the leadership influence, innovation capability and managerial capacity. The diversified talent may also include the movers and shakers, the thought leaders and the innovators who have the courage to take calculated risks or who has the passion and ability to make changes. 

  • Explore the new talent pipeline
The next generation of talent management must explore the new, dynamic talent pipeline, with extension of business boundary at the era of digitization, the end to end talent pipeline is also expanding such as social channels, global platform, open stage, through audacious experiment and innovation-centric recruiting, the legacy business culture can be revitalized, and legacy business mindset can be re-energized


C. Talent Life Cycle Management

  • Talent Energy/Potential Management
As we learned from the parable above, the right talent need be treated fairly, understood deeply and trained properly, it requires the culture of innovation to encourage openness, elastic managerial style to rotate the positons, multiple communication channels to let idea flow & grow and effective incentives to reward high-performance. The talent strategy & management need be well integrated into business’s strategy in catalyzing long term growth.

  • The Art of Team Builder
The high-innovative team with optimal talent mix is not only composed of the top talent representing key positions and disciplines but also has the chemistry and unique problem solving capabilities  that comes from the right combination of backgrounds, styles, and perspectives.

3. A Painting of Horse

Horse is also the favorite subjets depicted another artist-Beihong’s life, his paintings melt the western & eastern styles, ancient & modern techniques, his paintings of horses, ink dripping unrestrained, riding with the wind with full spirit, to bring a fresh, strong, bold flavor.

Like these artists who truely capture the spirit of race horse, the modern talent masters need take innovative approach to master human talent, and harmonize business world with creative theme.

Three Big HOWs to Tame Big Data

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | comments


In its May 2011 report on big data, the McKinsey Global Institute projected a 40 percent annual growth in global data—a doubling of data volumes every two years. Much of this data is complex, unstructured data that doesn’t submit readily to analysis. In fact, big data refers to the volumes of mostly complex, unstructured data whose analysis could yield significant dividends in terms of competitive business advantage, but cannot be analyzed by the existing structured data oriented infrastructure & framework.

Therefore it lies the chal­lenge of big data, at Three WHYs for Big Data, we explored why Big Data is Big Matter, we also further articulate Three Big WHATs to identify Big Data Challenges, and now continue the series on how to overcome the barriers to tame the Big Data?

 1. How Big Is Big Data?

While experts agree that Big Data is big, exactly how big is a matter of debate. IDC forecasts a roughly 50 percent annual growth rate for what it calls the world’s “digital universe,” more than 70 percent of which IDC estimates is generated by consumers and over 20 percent by enterprises. Between 2009 and 2020, the digital universe will swell by a factor of 44 to 35 zettabytes, or 35 million petabytes, IDC predicts

Big data is data that is too large to process using traditional methods. It originated with Web search companies who had the problem of querying very large distributed aggregations of loosely-structured data

 2.  How to start first step to tame Big Data?

If you’re creating large data sets, which most of businesses do today,  you have no choice but to embrace big data management. First Steps to Managing Big Data can be overwhelming and full of confusion, especially if the organization has a lot of existing data and data continue to grow and flow exponentially.

A) Start with business Strategy/goal: As we put in the Three Big Whys for Big Data, Big Data is the means to end, not the end. Start with end: the purpose, the business goals, the strategy;

B) And then develop a Big Data Strategy/map in which you classify:
The types of data that are important to the organization.
Various aspects of your data, such as whether it changes a lot (complexity & variety)  and how fast it’s growing (velocity).
Is much of your data critical information
Prioritize the business problems Big Data can help solve

C) The right Tools and Architecture: using traditional data warehouse solution to search through such vast amounts of often unstructured data can takes weeks, if not months. Hadoop, an open source ecosystem of data management tools and technologies that can help organizations tackle the broad problem of big data analytics, here is another nice article to recommend 7 top tools for taming Big Data.

D) Data Security & Governance: However, IT and business managers should keep cautious when it comes to implement Hadoop, which requires a fair amount of practices and serious attention & solutions to the security of massive amounts of data/ information stored in distributed clusters and potentially in public clouds


3. How to Build the Right Mindset and Culture to gain wisdom from Big Data quantitatively and qualitatively?

Extracting business value and wisdom from big data remains elusive for many organizations. For most companies today, data are abundant and readily available, but not well used. Nearly one in four survey respondents says the vast majority of its company’s data are untapped. Another 53% say they only use about half of their valuable data. Yet 73% say that data collection in their organization has increased over the last year

 The biggest challenge that business faces to manage Big Data today is more cultural than technical. Data oriented business culture need be well established to help every level of organization to make data-driven, better and faster decision. Technically, the Big Data solution need combine computer science, mathematics, statistical analysis, data visualization and even social science to gain insight and foresight about what customers need and what’s the future trend.

 There is a strong link between effective data management strategy and financial performance. Statistically, companies that use data most effectively—strategic data management of Big Data—stand out from the rest. Fifty-three percent of customers say their organizations achieve higher financial performance than their peers, compared with 36% overall.

Big-data analytics must be business led with the right mindset, time to value, and with effective data mining tools, as not all projects will be successful at finding the needle in the haystack. The organizations that can do it successfully will out beat the competitors and become the intelligent business in 21st century.
Twitter: @Pearl_Zhu



Three Big WHATs to Identify Big Data Challenges

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Big data means both big opportunities and big risks for organizations, at Three Big Why for Big Data, we clarify why Big Data is such a big deal, also why Big Data may cause big distraction, here we further describe the three big WHATs to identify the potential challenges facing organizations when manage Big Data.





1. What are characteristics of Big Data?

From wiki, Big data has the following characteristics: Very large, distributed aggregations of loosely structured data – often incomplete and inaccessible:
  • Petabytes/exabytes of data,
  • Millions/billions of people,
  • Billions/trillions of records,
  • Loosely-structured and often distributed data,
  • Flat schemas with few complex interrelationships,
  • Often involving time-stamped events,
  • Often made up of incomplete data,
  • Connections between data elements that must be probabilistically inferred
  • Applications that involved Big-data either Transactional or Analytics

 2. What are the biggest challenges to manage Big Data?

  •  Increasing volume of unstructured data
  • Range/variety of data types/sources
  • Complexity of individual data types
  • Speed/velocity of data
  • Providing analytics from a range of data sources
  • Cost of managing data
  • Data storage
  • Security of data
  • Data governance, regulatory compliance, risk management
  • Energy/power consumption of data
  • Providing business insight from massive amounts of data

3. What are the biggest barriers to facilitate Big Data project?

  • Lack of the right mindset and culture
  • Lack of management support and executive sponsorship
  • Lack of talent, expertise & experience,
  • Cost and availability of training
  • Lack of knowledge of big data framework and tool implementation
  • Lack of knowledge of available big data management
  • Resources & Budget constraints
  • Lack of other resources (IT, fiscal, etc)

Based on the three Big WHATs, organization can well understand the challenges and better evaluate Big Data Life Cycle Management solutions, to achieve the expected business results and goals.Twitter: @pearl_zhu

Three-Step IT Investment Strategy

Sunday, April 15, 2012 | comments


New MIT research used data from more than 400 global companies from 1998 to 2003.:  “The Impact of IT Investments on Profits” finds that investments companies make in IT increase profitability more than investments in advertising or R&D do.”. IT investment now is strategic imperative for forward-looking business to pursue the growth, but how to do it wisely, what’s your holistic IT investment strategy?


1.    Diagnose the Pitfalls


The study found, “however, that there was significantly more variability in the effects of IT investments than in investments in advertising or R&D. Perhaps because IT involves novel technologies, IT investments offer more room for creativity and innovation. It may be that most businesses already know how to manage advertising and R&D to their best advantage, but only some have mastered managing IT.”

  • Not Focus on the Most Critical Project
 At many organizations today, IT spends most of their resources and budget on operational projects which do not provide differentiate business capabilities to compete for the future.

Therefore, to avoid such pitfalls, IT strategy need become significant component of business strategy, co-developing strategy from both business and technology will make all projects essentially business investment, to focus on business growth or cost optimization, the study also found that in general, IT investments were more effective in improving profitability by increasing revenue than by decreasing operating expenses. In fact, IT investments had a marked positive effect on revenue growth.


  • Higher IT Project Failure Rate

In the United States, we spend more than $250 billion each year on IT application development, statistically, 31% of projects will be cancelled before they ever get completed., 53% of projects will cost twice as of their original estimates, overall, the success rate is less than 30%, you may read more details from  Five Ponderings why IT Project fails. 

Such a statistics may present another red light for organizations to invest large scale IT projects. ,therefore, top management need understand that project and portfolio management are key to drive many business initiatives such as strategic planning, investment priority, capital budgeting, new product development, organizational changes, M&A, etc, the businesses understand the vital importance of project management will outperform the competitors and reap the business benefits for the long term.

2.     IT Project Investment Prioritization with Guiding Policy


  • Use EA as a Guide for IT Investment and Portfolio Balancing.
 In enterprise/business architecture, start with a high level capability model that describes the summary about what the company does, then business and IT leaders/ strategists should use it as an effective communication tool to identify the strategic capabilities (two or three) that differentiate their company from competitors. It will show the gaps and overlaps, then you may question weather the new initiative can help fill up the gap or reduce the waste for the overlaps. Leveraging technology to improve these key areas will likely to have the greatest business impact

  • Project Prioritization Criteria:
A long-term roadmap that shows where we want to be and why is needed. We need to ensure we're investing in the right projects. This focus will free up money in every facet of IT and create headroom for IT innovation and business growth. Work to simplify your existing technical debt using the capability model and roadmap as a guide.

Primarily there are five critical factors that would help rank each project in the portfolio;
A> Alignment (with company strategy) score based on balanced scorecard: Strategic Fit & Importance.
B> Market and/or Revenue Growth : Potential growth opportunity or market entry
C> Operational Efficiency : Process standardization/improvement , Business agility improvement (supports new product, price changes, scale, acquisition etc) , Improved reliability by mitigating business risk
D> Risk score based on risk factors such as potential project risk & its mitigation costs : Governance Risk/Compliance area on level of risk and ability to address risks , HR (of Business/IT) capability to deliver, ability of business to manage change
E> ROI factors: Reward to Company : cost/benefit , payback period.

  • Simplicity is the Key:
 For non-strategic, generic capabilities, the focus should be on simplification to remove complexity and cost. For technology, that means removing custom applications and processes wherever possible.


3.    Best Practices to Prioritize & Rationalize IT Project

 The prioritization of the portfolio is an ongoing process. Decisions must be reevaluated periodically (6~12 months or shorter) in order to confirm the assumptions we used to prioritize our projects.  Be careful to distinguish between best practices and the prioritization

The prioritization roadmap is a methodology that every CIO or IT organization need create according to their own realities and capacities.

A good practice, for example, involve the participation of users, to have related experience, or have a scientific methodology to standardize corporate financial analysis as "investment, profit and rate of return of the projects”, and to have vision and strategy deployed in short-term and long-term defined including its level of importance among them, to have a minimum IT budget for "investments" (politics related about the investment), etc. Some variables used to prioritize the projects are:

1) Risk involved: Identify risks that deadlines are not met, the issue related if the project can not be easily accepted by staff, flow cash capacity from the corporate capacity or level of trust with suppliers to provide the service. This will require that each organization believes or create its own risk matrix
2) Conductor: Mandatory, critical, optional. A measure whether you should do it without looking at the costs.
3) Size of the cost ($): not only the amount but the flow at the time of disbursement
4) Size of profit ($):not only the amount but the flow at the time or the cost ($) if we do not do it (such as meeting regulatory actions)
5) Return of investment
6) Approved budget ($).
7) The time to complete the Implementation (post-training and post adjustment period)
8) Time to reach equilibrium (cost = benefit)
9) Time required by users to implement the project
10) Alignment of the project with the vision and strategies. A precise identification of objectives that the project will support
11) Staff needed to implement the project (numbers, skills, timeframe, outsourcing)
12) Staff impacted: (in IT and in the user area)
13) Customers Impacted (in numbers, sales amount and the so on)
14) Opportunity / Innovation: Sometimes could be projects that seek to "evaluate" a potential product or a technology solution to a problem (prototype). These are usually projects that seek to place the business into a new vantage point (looking for the “jump”).
15) Suppliers (skills and resources to execute)
16) Each variable must have a scale and weight. So a project is reflected in a number that will facilitate prioritization. If a project does not have the "priority" we expected may be due to an error in processing or failing to consider a new variable or because our feeling was not right.
17) Evaluate each of the variables from the perspective of original value (value that was assumed when the project was prioritized), current value (the value that considers the current scenario with the current costs) projected value (the value considering a conservative scenario according we expect in the future –as example, changes of prices-). The comparisons help to review progress, deviations, and make new decisions.

Going back to MIT’s study: one of the many questions that arise is, what percentage of the overall IT spend should be spent on operations and what percent should be spent on development. The research shows a mixed bag of results, but the more sophisticated and mature IT shops tend to spend about 65% on operations. Some of the more advanced IT-focused companies have the ops portion down to 40%.

Five Nature Views of Thought Leadership

Monday, April 9, 2012 | comments


Thought Leadership is the art of visionary leadership, more authentic than charismatic;  more influential than controlling,  more thinking than talking; perceiving, not just seeing, here are five nature views thought leaders can bring to the board:





1. Sunny View

As sunshine, leadership with sunny view is full of energy, bright with full spectrum of colors, visible but intangible, shining the spotlight on others and your surroundings:

  • Positive View: Leaders with positive views will make positive influence, see bright side of solution, see the talent niche from staff, see the harmony of nature, and see the possible from impossible. The postive leadership will not only shine through the organization, but also brighten our society.
  • Colorful View: Leaders has colorful view is to see the characters and essentials deeper than the skin level,  like sunshine, embrace the spectrum of colors, consider using Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ techniques, encourage the team to put on each of the following hats to analyze the situation:
           *White hat – Fact driven,  gather as much data as possible.
           *Yellow hat – look at the positivies, value and opportunities.
           *Black hat – look at the negativites, difficulties and dangers.
           *Red hat – Express emotions such as feelings, hunches and intuition.
           *Green hat – Creative approaches to consider new concepts and alternatives.
           *Blue hat – Oversee the brainstorming process, and review the ideas

    2. . Mountain View
“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.”  ― Jeffrey RasleyBringing Progress to Paradise

  • Blueprint View: See bigger picture, how to create abstract view and future state of business, perception and sight is an important strategy to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things

  • Humble View: “If I have seen further,  it is by standing on th shoulders of Giants.”    Isaac Newton, when we stand on the mountain, on one side, we are proud and thrilled to overview the city, or even the world, on the other side, mountain makes us feel humble, such a humillity will make others to stand on our shoulder, and such a humble view will make human’s progress. like all wildernesses,  mountain view also challenges our complacent conviction 
 3.    Valley View

For those of us live in the valley, we know valley is not about empty space, it’s the eco-system and the dynamic life chain, there’re hidden hill and running river, there’re rainforest and blue bay, there’s competition but also the peace of mind.

Valley view is about deep, deep thinking and the in-depth understanding, not only see the tree, but also the forest:

  • “Root” View: It's what's under the ground creates and nuture what's above the ground. It's what's invisible that shape what's visible. It means that if you want to change the plant, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible business result, you must first change the invisible culture. That’s the Law of Nature, also the Law of Talent Management

  •  Forest View: In such a inter-connect and hyper-complex world, we need see both “the trees” and “the forest”.  We must be able to resolve the problem of  complexity via both breaking down into branch alternative, but also synthetize into the forest, it means, priority matters, it’s critical to know what is important and what is not so important, what to focus on and which to pay less attention to, leadership is about leverage.
 4.    Ocean View
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”  Mahatma Gandhi

  • Change View:  Ocean is all about the changes, the flows and ebbs, the turbulence of waves and tiny drop of water. Business is just like ocean, change is the only constant now, ocean view will help us broaden the horizon, recognize the pattens, and catch the tide, adapt to the changes.  
  • Historic View: In the ocean, the next wave is always pushing over, ocean like time, alway move forward tirelessly, however, ocean views help us learn historic lessons, forward-looking the future, ocean view makes us tolerant and appreciate the difference, calm down when things changes.

5. Mirror View
“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror. -Ken Keys

  • Leadership Reflection: Leaders are mirrors for the entire organization and our society, you also serve as the mirror for others, seek commonalities among people, respect differences and celebrate uniqueness.

  • . Self-Reflection: As leaders, you are also humans, with strength and weakness,  presenting optimism, confidence and brightness, but also reflecting the humility and vunerability.  
Leadership is all about influence, through the breath and depth of such five nature views, may authentic leadership be shining like sun, open as mountain, deep like valley, broad as ocean and clear like a mirror. 
 
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