two team members looking at the head of the conference table

The Hidden Benefits of a Customer-Focused Culture

Being focused on customers isn’t a unique organizational trait. Almost everyone in business claims to be customer-focused in one form or another. Some even consider the term cliché. Inc.com contributing editor Jeff Haden cited it as culprit number 1 on his list of 10 Tired Business Clichés You Should Never Use Again.

Jeff Haden, Inc.com

Naturally, stating an intent to be customer-focused and actually being customer-focused are two different things. Sometimes the right thing for your client doesn’t align with the right thing for your organization. This is when having a customer-focused culture truly matters—when the right move is to do the hard thing in the short term for the best outcome for the client in the long term.

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pushpins on a calendar

How to Operationalize a Reorg

The term “reorg” strikes fear into the hearts of many, but it can be a healthy and productive process that positions a company for transformation, rebirth, and long-term success.

There are several moving parts and interrelated elements to consider when undergoing a reorganization. Nailing the fundamentals is critical. These include strategic alignment, executive engagement and accountability, and communication.

For the implementation team tasked with making a reorg happen on the ground, here are the 4 most important factors for making the initiative a success.

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The 3×3 Framework for Digital Transformation Alignment

To write a post on a trending topic, one would typically start with a definition, but in this case, “Digital Transformation” means different things to different people. From the Bennet Frank survey, CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformations, industry analysts, and our own client engagements, we have heard the term used to describe anything from consolidating ERP systems to accepting bitcoin payments. You could attend an IT conference and listen to three Digital Transformation sessions that give contradictory advice. Practitioners in the trenches can easily get confused and overwhelmed.

So let’s break down the key components of a Digital Transformation into a systematic approach to help you focus your efforts and align expectations with top management.

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An IT Leader’s Empathy Exercise Bootcamp

Co-authored by Chris Kondracki and ChiChi Lu.

Understanding and empathizing with others helps IT leaders navigate complex business environments. Empathy enables us to better understand a situation, relate to other people, and view issues from different angles.

Here’s why it works, and how to put it in practice.

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How to Craft Business Intelligence That Drives Decisions

What makes BI meaningful?

Business Intelligence (BI) is a broad domain and is used to accomplish a variety of goals. Whether we’re talking about predictive analytics or lagging KPIs, the common thread is data visualization that drives effective decision making.

The trick is recognizing the difference between a report that has a large quantity of data versus one that has the right information.

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It Starts with Intent: Do you want a “throat to choke”—or do you want the project to succeed?

Whenever I hear the expression “one throat to choke,” it makes me cringe. The phrase, in most cases, refers to contracting with a single vendor to help with every aspect of a technology project. Another variation is, “a single wringable neck.” Either way, it sounds like an explicit threat to the vendor: If this project fails, the blame will be placed squarely on your shoulders.

In reality, if a project does fail, it is very difficult to go after a vendor. Most organizations don’t. Lawsuits are risky, costly, and time-consuming. The only practical concession you can expect from a vendor is free labor, hardware, or software. But it’s from the same vendor that botched things in the first place.

Let’s face it—setting up a one-throat engagement is not really a threat. It’s a bluff. And it stems from an attempt to outsource accountability.

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The Magic of Tiramisu: How Vertical Slicing Helps Agile Teams Deliver More Value

The success of an Agile transformation stems from three key areas: behaviors driven by an Agile mindset at all levels of an organization, adherence to frameworks, and a relentless pursuit to deliver value to the customer.

One of the more nuanced tactics I use to drive rapid, incremental delivery of value to customers is called vertical slicing.

Think of a development project like a tiramisu. Each vertical slice of tiramisu contains many decadent layers of flavors and varying textures. Each portion is delicious because the combination of layers is better than eating one layer at a time. To do so would reduce the value of the culinary experience.

Similarly, a large item on your product backlog can be sliced up into smaller pieces either horizontally (that is, so the work only relates to a single architectural layer) or vertically (so the work spans multiple architectural components).

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What Are Your CFO Counterparts Learning? A Recap of the 2019 CFO Leadership Conference

The CFO Leadership Council recently hosted its 9th annual national conference in Boston. Andrey Alekseyev and I were fortunate enough to be in attendance for the first time. Over 400 senior financial executives gathered in Boston, MA for two days to discuss and dig deep into the complexities of being a modern CFO. In case you missed it, we took notes. Below are our key takeaways and summaries of a few memorable sessions.

As you would expect, CFOs are focused on the staples of financial success—namely, ROI and outcomes. But the modern CFO is also concerned with far more than just the finance function of their organization. Today’s CFOs are invested in digital transformation and what technology can do for their business across the entire organization. In a way, this strategic shift has revolutionized the role of forward-looking CFO.

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Want to Accelerate Change? Slow Down and Observe Team Dynamics

Originally presented at SIM Connect Live 2019 (“Make Winning Normal: Maximizing Agility with High-Performing Teams”), the following concepts offer a new way for IT organizations to implement disruptive technologies and innovations at scale:

The Pace of Change and the Adoption Curve

The pace and complexity of new technologies and innovations have only been increasing over the past years and show no sign of letting up. We consistently hear the following questions from IT leaders:

  • How do I maintain a competitive advantage while keeping up with the pace of change?
  • How do I ensure my organization can effectively adopt new technologies?

One way to address these questions is by examining the Adoption Curve as described by Geoffrey Moore. The Adoption Curve details the distributions and tendencies of a population as it adopts an innovation.

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Data Consistency Is the Key to a Standardized Reporting Process

Standardized reporting is an intricate type of reporting process that aims to produce consistent, reliable, actionable information from disparate systems or sources. A reporting process is standardized if it can be applied across different business units or sub-units in an organization. The processes that generate and collect the data to be reported on must remain the same across all the business units.

For an organization to understand the status of conditions in real time, and make decisions quickly, standardized reporting is required. A universal understanding of information enables clarity and transparency. Clarity supports effective communication based on trust. And studies show that effective communication leads to enhanced productivity and deeper customer relationships (Source).

It’s not a stretch to say that data consistency creates a competitive advantage over other organizations that do not have standardized reporting processes.

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