Archives For #OrganizationalDesign

Preface: There are many UK Government Strategies, Manifestos, Advisory Boards, etc. and the list keeps growing each day. Here are just a few of the ones being touted by the UK Government at the moment; UK Digital Strategy, Mayor of London’s Data Strategy, GDS Vision for Gov.uk, GDS Principles for Government as a Platform, CO Government Data Programme, GDS Digital Advisory Board, CO Data Steering Group, UK Data Sharing Consultation, GDS Registry Advisory Board, Royal Statistics Society “Data Manifesto”, ONS Strategy post-Bean Review, etc.  You have to ask “what do all of these accomplish in respect to replacing/augmenting authentic leadership?”

Intro: The much ballyhooed UK Digital Strategy is apparently now in tatters. It has now been pushed out until after the BREXIT vote in the Summer, but is an indicator of the greater challenges in Government; A complete lack of competent leadership by the Cabinet Office and the Ministers who have been assigned responsibility for Digital, GDS and Other “transformational” investments. It also bodes disaster for Civil Service mandarins who must manage “the vision” and the budget simultaneously with no top-down leadership or direction.

As I proffer to all my clients whom I coach on Leadership: “You can’t Lead what you don’t Understand”.

Body: A common thread found today in every pronouncement by the UK Government and its Proxies is the role of the Strategy that they have developed, either independently (via consultants) or in consultation with a group of contributors/advisors (all of whom have an agenda seeking fulfillment). Each strategy is heralded as the means to achieve what has previously been unachievable e.g. Transformation; or disruptive in terms of changing the status quo e.g. Digital. According to these pronouncements, “All have been designed for maximum impact with little risk” i.e. Revolutionary. However, most will fail to achieve the desired outcomes which have been promoted to justify the investment or will be terminated altogether due to cost & time overruns, etc. (only to be resurrected later under a different name in many cases) at significant cost to the Treasury (and the taxpayers). Why is this always the case one should ask?

Having been a student of strategy (and its execution) for all of my long career, I find this phenomenon both exhilarating and nauseating at the same time. As you cannot see, I still have the scars of many failed strategies on my back; all of which were a result of bad leadership by my superiors who owned the outcome of the strategy, but were not invested enough to make it a success. In principle, Strategy is only 1% of the overall endeavor, with execution being the remaining 99%. This is the core challenge and the most troubling aspect of what I see so often in Government-Lead Strategies, Manifestos, Advisory Boards, etc. They are big on bluster & hype, but low on energy & commitment by their Leaders to achieving the outcome. One only needs to look at some of the pitchmen aka Leaders who are touting some of these strategies today to see real examples of this first hand.

Strategic Change must be part of every true Leaders portfolio of accountabilities in order for any Organization to grow (at inordinate rates), much less counter competitive threats. However, in politics/government where you have a partnership of the ruling party and the civil service there is always a disconnect, if not outright gulf between what is said and what ultimately is accomplished. To mitigate this risk many governments will engage Consultancies/Systems Integrators to deliver on their promises while they cheerlead from the sidelines and designate Civil Servants to “manage the program” as their proxies. This rarely works out and given the UK Government’s long history of large (and small) programme disasters it seems that few ever learn from these mistakes.

It is worth repeating what I have written many times before in this column; “Leadership must be top-down, hands-on and from those ultimately accountable for both the strategy and its success”. Appointing proxies or hiring contractors as surrogate leaders has never succeeded in the past, and will not in the future. The most important component of Strategic Change is that of the Organization’s Culture itself. An Organization’s Culture is the shadow of its Leaders. It mirrors their Leaders behavior and will support its strategic goals if trust has been sufficiently fostered and they feel engaged (not commanded.

Strategic Leaders must take ownership of all aspects of their strategies and drive their execution to success through both actions and deeds. These Leaders must rise to this challenge no matter what it brings and provide a steady hand through all phases of a Strategy Program, all the while keeping the lights on and wheels turning in the current operating environment. These traits are why I believe that “The mantle of Leadership cannot be learned, it must be earned through blood, sweat, toil & tears”. Most of today’s political leaders (so to speak) have reached their pinnacle of power by dodging accountability while taking glory for the hard work & ideas of others, and are ill equipped to be what I refer to as a Strategic Leader. Their partners in Civil Service, while independent of politics to some degree, are not particularly seasoned Leaders either as the system does not promote risk takers (who might fail) and continues to reward bureaucrats who duck for cover at the first sign of trouble. This creates a true Leadership Conundrum which must be reckoned with in order to succeed.

Leadership is more than a forward-looking vision and a grandiose strategy; it is about delivering on them. Without a crisis to focus on, most Politicians and Civil Servants cannot find it in themselves to rise to be real Leaders. Perhaps that is what many of these strategies need at the moment.

Notes:

1.- This article appeared in an edited form in the April 2016 issue of Information Age (UK) (www.information-age.uk)

2.- The featured image was taken at IBM’s IOD conference in 2012, but is being used in this context to denote how many so-called Leaders appear in public as they hype their strategic leadership capabilities.

 

 

A precursor to my discussion*:

  1. Digital has become such an amorphous term that few can describe what it actually means anymore
  2.  An effective Digital Strategy needs to be based on the Organization’s Core Strategic Objectives

Discussion:

Just prior to the New Year the UK Government quietly posted a notification that it was “seeking ideas for the next phase of the Digital Revolution”. From what I have seen in terms of those responses, they might have been better served by standing on a soapbox at Speakers Corner in Hype Park and asking passers by for their opinions, as their call to action has unleashed a torrent of “thought pieces”, Opinions & rants from virtually every corner of the UK.

Over the past several years, I have followed with great interest all of the Digital Transformation Programs that central governments across the world have embraced in their efforts to bring “Digital to the Masses”, while improving Government services, efficiencies, etc. Most of these have now evolved into “cults” with every agenda seeker and crackpot out there opining the virtues of their “flavor of digital” on social media and at every conference imaginable. During this same time, we have seen ever-increasing budgets allocated to these programs, high levels of management attrition and dubious ROI results being promoted as “savings realized”, but the single most glaring aspect that troubles me in virtually all of them is;  “What is the long-term Strategy”? It certainly can’t be just making better web sites or training the entire population to “hack code”? It is in this vain that I offer my opinion on “What is needed & what is not in the UK’s next Digital Strategy.”

As “digital” has now become a word without a stable definition, I will endeavor to ground my discussion in the basic notion that; “Digital as a term encompasses all disciplines in respect to embracing all that the Web, Data & Analytics have to offer”.  I refer to these as core competencies and believe that they must be leveraged in an Organization’s strategy in order to be an enabler of the desired outcomes from it. The UK (whether in or out of the EU in the future) must create a competitive strategy that makes its relevant on the world stage in order to capture inordinate levels of external investment, to develop the greatest talent pool in all sectors, etc., all at the expense of its peers. This notion of differentiation is a much more business-like view of the needs of a country, but most have been evolving their thinking in this direction for quite some time now. If the UK wants to “punch above its weight” in the world then it needs to make its core competencies the strongest & most sustainable anywhere, which cannot be easily duplicated or commoditized by countries motivated to do so.

What’s Needed? (to achieve this outcome):

  • Use “Digital” as a focal point to create sustainable sources of competitive advantage for the UK by baking it into every aspect of the long-term strategy for the country (independent of whatever party is in power) and the goals which it must be achieved i.e. Not a fashion statement or feel good program.
  • Develop Digital Leaders (Civil Service, Cabinet Office, MP’s, Charities, etc.) who are more than cheerleaders and partisan politicians. Educate everyone from the earliest age, throughout their entire academic & trade school careers to be literate in Digital, regardless of class or age. Promote Digital Leaders based upon competency and acumen (merit), not beauty, charm or politics. Develop Digital Leaders who “walk to talk” every day.
  • Create a National Culture that embraces “Digital at every turn”, not just one that consumes interesting content over broadband. Make Digital know-how essential to daily life in all Sectors of Government, Commercial & Non-Profit.
  • Invest inordinately in Education, Leadership Development, Infrastructure & Culture to create sustainable sources of competitive advantage in “All things Digital”.

What’s not Needed?

  • Superlatives & Exemplars: Digital is an evolutionary transition from the Analog world we have known for centuries. It is not disruptive, but can be transformational if executed with speed and precision. Hype is not of value in any strategy.
  • Grandiose predictions as to the impact of Outcomes or capabilities. At best, Digital is incremental in terms of benefits and sources of competitive advantage. It is the execution that is critical, not the idea itself. Benefits will manifest over the long term i.e. Transformational
  • Exclusion of any Sector from participation or realization of the full benefits of the Strategy and its outcomes. All boats must rise accordingly in this strategic journey.

A long-term Competitive Strategy for the UK should fully leverage all of its investments & know-how in Digital to date (Capabilities, Infrastructure & People) in order to create clear lines of differentiation in respect to other Countries who are pursuing similar paths, as well as to build sustainability for this momentum far into the future. The realization of  these outcomes will insure maximum benefits to the entire country and all of its citizens for decades to come.

Further Reading:

“What is Digital Transformation and Why do I need to embrace it?” (https://infomgmtexec.me/2015/10/29/what-is-digital-transformation-why-do-i-need-to-embrace-it/)

“Changes in Digital Transformation Leadership: Anarchy or Opportunity?” (https://infomgmtexec.me/2015/10/16/changes-in-digital-transformation-leadership-anarchy-or-opportunity/)

 

 

*- An edited version of this posting appeared in the February 2016 issue of Information Age (UK) (www.information-age.com)

Preface:

During November’s Data Leadership Conference in London I will be updating the audience on the progress to date that we have made during 2015: The Year of Data Leadership. I promise to share those findings in a subsequent posting shortly after the conference. In the meantime, this is the premise that started the thought process I used:

“The strategic value of Big Data & Analytics can only be realized when they are fully leveraged and exploited by the entire Enterprise. Top Down Data Leadership is essential to the success of these endeavors.”

Body:

As the focus of industry hype moves from Big Data to the Internet of Things we have a unique opportunity to turn our attention to one of the underlying disablers of broad success in using data & analytics to their full potential in any Organization; the lack of Top Down Data Leadership.  During the past couple of years we have seen a fever pitch in Organizations’ anointing proxies to the status of superheroes in respect to Data & Analytics Officers. While there have been many such appointments, most are now being scrutinized as the widening gulf between the rhetoric and reality becomes more apparent. This effort to create “Chief Whatever Officers” has been foolhardy in my opinion, as it has completely dodges the need for the Board and CEO to become directly accountable for the Organizations management and exploitation of data and their leverage of analytics across the enterprise to create a “culture of evidence-based decision making”. My aim in 2015 is to change this dynamic.

In 2015, I would like to create much more than awareness of this underlying challenge, but to make actionable its solution in what I am calling “The Year of Data Leadership”. In the Year of Data Leadership I would like every CEO and their Board (Public, Private, NGO, Not-for-Profit, etc.) to accept the fact that they (and Not IT) are fully accountable for “all things data and analytics”. I want them to embrace this accountability and make it core to their Strategies and Operational Plans. I am challenging them to step up to this leadership mantle and provide the Organization with a plan of action to put it on a trajectory to becoming a “Predictive Enterprise” within 5 years (2020). This Decision Making transformation would move them from being gut-based decision (relying on experience and anecdotes) making Organization to one where evidence (facts, decision science and the appropriate amount of intuition) guide all decisions at every level.

This is an ambitious undertaking for even the most agile of Organizations, but a necessary one if the competitive advantages of a Predictive Enterprise are ever going to be realized. To accomplish such a Transformation I strongly recommend approaching it as follows;

1.- Immerse the CEO, Board & Senior Executive Team in a series of Boot camps designed to immediately (and measurably) raise their acumen and competencies in the domains of Decision Science & Analytics, for “you cannot lead what you don’t understand”.

2.- Make Data, Information & Analytics Core Competencies in your strategic and operational endeavors. Make then pervasive and break down silos and centers of excellence to make capabilities mainstream and ubiquitous to all aspects of your operational domain. This will require investment in staff development and in the early stages may require shadowing of staff with outside experts, mentors and coaches.

3.- Manifest Cultural Adoption by all members of the Organization of this new strategic paradigm i.e. Becoming a Predictive Enterprise. Organizational Culture is “the shadow of the CEO, Board and Senior Executive Team”. It is found in every corridor and behind every door across the enterprise and is molded from the Top-down. To begin to change a culture requires Top Down Leadership to changes it behavior and modify all cultural norms and activities. The entire Leadership team must engage with the Organization directly (with support by Change professionals) to lead by example in regards to championing the new direction and its virtues.

This three-pronged approach will produce the maximum results in the shortest period of time and requires close coordination, substantial investment of time and resources to succeed. It is truly transformational and should not be a sub-priority to other Enterprise-wide strategic and operational initiatives.

The Nexus of Top-Down Leadership, Cultural Adoption and the enabling Core Competencies of Data, Information & Analytics creates a unique strategic framework for becoming a Predictive Enterprise. All components are required to work in concert to achieve a true transformational outcome within any Organization who wants to fully exploit data & analytics for competitive advantage.

*-This posting in an edited version appeared in the January 2015 issue of Information Age (UK)

Preface:

Digital (adj) the predominate use of Internet, Mobile & Internet of Things technology platforms to radically improve Customer Engagement, Collaboration & Operational Efficiencies.

Transformation (noun): a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a process by which one function is converted into another that is equivalent in some important respect but is differently expressed or represented.

Body:

Digital Transformation has become the de jour subject to espouse your beliefs on in 2015. As such, I felt obliged to add my voice to this chorus. Hopefully readers will agree once they have read this.

Digital is one of the key Disruption Initiatives being applied by business strategists & enterprise architects to wake-up moribund industries such as Financial Services (Banking & Insurance), Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), etc. It promises superior levels of engagement with Consumers (Customers) for a fraction of the cost of conventional (Analog) methods (Print Media, Television Advertising, etc.), amongst other strategic benefits. Considering that many of these particular industry sectors spend 5-7% of their gross revenue on marketing and branding activities it is not hard to see why the disruptive approach of Digital is so compelling & attractive to them.

On a technical level Digital speaks to the leverage of many disparate initiatives in Mobility, Internet, Applications, Security, etc. to create a suite of capabilities all focused on Customer & Collaboration. It allows IT functions to create an integrate delivery stream which they can manage end-to-end.

In spite of deep spending on Digital Transformation endeavors, payback still seems illusive for most. Like most Transformational endeavors, Digital is not immune from the intrinsically high rates of program failure & disappointing strategic outcomes. In most cases this is directly attributable to abysmal (dis-engaged) Leadership by the CEO and Board (who cheerlead, rather than take hands-on accountability) and overall poor execution by Consultants who sell Transformation Methodologies & Services to these same leaders. Given the stakes one should ask, “Why is this?” These are my thoughts on the “Why”.

CEO’s and Boards use Transformation as a strategic tool to move a well-established organization out of its current doldrums and into a leadership position once again. It is a black art for the most part as most of these same people rarely understand how to execute Transformational Change and typically bet the farm (so to speak) on Consultants and hucksters i.e. Thought Leaders, who sell transformation as the “cure to all that ails” with the proviso of “Trust us, we will handle all the details”. The failure rate and associated costs of these failures has become so high (and contentious) that all of the top tier consultancies now require their customers to sign gag orders which forbid them from going public about these debacles, much less requiring private arbitration to resolve all contractual/financial disputes. Given this, most Transformation Programs seem doomed from the start.  Digital Transformation is no different in this regard and yet I firmly believe that it is imperative for all Organizations (Private, Public and Not for Profit) to embrace this paradigm shift. The primary rationale for this is the fact that it forces these same Organizations to abandon their backward-looking, gut-based decision making & customer engagement endeavors in favor of evidence-based & “always on” approaches, key components of a Predictive Enterprise. In my advisory endeavors I have always counseled senior executives & boards to “never waste a crisis” in respect to fostering real (transformational) change in your business model and culture and see the pursuit of Digital as such an opportunity. Without a compelling impetus Organizations’ can barely muster marginal or incremental change successfully.

Digital Transformation can provide a unique opportunity to realize the benefits of becoming a Predictive Enterprise while changing the dynamic between the Organization and its Customers (constituents), Partners & Suppliers. It portends to be the single most dramatic overall change that any established Organization can pursue as it breaks its many ties with the status quo and truly transforms.  The key to success is Leadership from the Top-Down (CEO & Board), an Engaged Culture and embracing Digital Outcomes (data, analytics, etc.) as Core Competencies and not IT functions. Digital Transformation is synonymous with what I have evangelized in The Data Leadership Nexus in this regard.

*-An edited version of this posting first appeared as an article in the March 2015 issue of Information Age (UK)

In advance of my presentation at the Data Leadership 2015 Conference in London (November 26th) entitled: “Profiles in Data Leadership”, I thought that I would set the tone by asking a fundamental question; Do you have what it (really) takes to be a Data & Analytics Leader? I hope you enjoy it.

It seems that everyone today aspires to be a Leader in whatever activity or organization that they are involved in, no matter their background, capabilities or experience.  Many endeavor to pursue the Mantle of Leadership by engaging in “soft activities” such as writing articles & blogs, social media participation, conference presentations, etc., to demonstrate their abilities & potential, but few are successful it seems. Conventional wisdom says that being promoted to Manager is a pathway to Leadership as well. I disagree with all of these approaches.

Over the course of my career I have come to this belief; Leadership is Earned, not Learned! You can educate anyone on the principles of Leadership, but that does not make them a Leader. Leadership only comes from experience, character, fortitude under fire and other key behavioral/cognitive attributes. Given all this, it brings me to the title of my column this month: “Do you have what it takes to be a Data Leader?”

Recently, Information Age announced its selections for the “Data 50”, a group of data leaders & influencers in the UK. The “50” were chosen from a group of nominated candidates submitted this past Summer (2015). The Data 50 represent an interesting cross-section of data folks in the UK from all sectors and I am familiar with a number of them.  Independent of the Data 50, I have been writing over the course of this “Year of Data Leadership (2015)” about the 8 CEOs whom I have chosen for my series; “Profiles in Data Leadership”. Not surprisingly, there is no overlap between these two groups as they do represent completely different ends of the what I refer to as the Data Leadership spectrum. Let me explain why.

At one end we have the notion of what I call “The Data Leadership Nexus”, a strategic framework for becoming a Predictive Enterprise. Central to this concept is the role of Top-down Leadership by the CEO & Board in guiding the successful exploitation of Data & Analytics by everyone across their Organization in order to make it pervasive and ultimately to create sustainable sources of Competitive Advantage. The Nexus presumes that you have a highly functioning Leadership structure in place already, which is fully accountable for strategic, tactical & operational performance in the classic sense, but has also undergone a transformation over time to be highly competent in areas of data & analytics. This Data Leadership Nexus is Transformational in approach and encompasses Executive Leadership, Core Strategy, Organizational Culture & Technology to achieve its desired outcomes.

At the other end of the Data Leadership spectrum, we have the traditional technology-focused Data Management activity within the IT Organization. Leadership here drives functional responsibilities and is focused on how to best deliver data & analytics as a service to Users and Executives. This is a very critical role in every organization and today and is often referred to as that of the Chief Data Officer. In many of these same Organizations this role may also be responsible for Data Governance activities as well as liaison with Business Units to establish SLA’s, Functional Requirements, etc. The emphasis for this role is to provide technology services & expertise in support of the Organization’s Objectives (strategic, tactical & operational).

In order for any Organization to be successful in its quest to become a Predictive Enterprise, the entire Data Leadership spectrum (both ends, much less the middle) must have inherently strong leaders in all roles that intersect with data, analytics & information governance. Whether top-down, bottom-up or middle-out in respect to the location of these roles or their span of responsibilities, every Data Leader must work from a position of strength & experience in respect to knowledge, acumen & abilities. This is a much deeper set of requirements that almost all other managerial or executive positions.

If you want to become a Data Leader (or a better one if you already are) my advice is as follows; You must be a true leader at your core, one who understands not just the technology, but the why & how of making it a core competency for your Organization in its pursuit of strategic excellence. You must be fully accountable for those who work within your span of responsibilities and lead from the heart. Finally, you must steel yourself each and every day to more worthy and capable of the challenge you have been tasked with. In the end, Leadership is not for everyone, especially those who want the spotlight on themselves constantly.

*This posting in an edited version appears as an article in the November 2015 issue of Information Age (www.information-age.com)

October & November will be frantic months of activities with a strong focus on Conferences. Check back often for updates and additions. In most cases I will be Tweeting and Blogging live from each conference;

Conferences:

Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP): “2014 Change Connect Symposium” – October 1-2 – Microsoft Campus Commons (http://www.acmppnwnetwork.org/?page_id=326)

Digital Analytics Association (DAA): “Monster Analytics Mashup” – October 16th – Microsoft Conference Center (http://www.digitalanalyticsassociation.org/calendar_day.asp?date=10/16/2014&event=260#.VCWfF8LF-yM)

Information Age (UK): “Data Leadership 2014” – October 30th – The Grange Tower Bridge Hotel (London) (http://www.dataleadership.co.uk) :

Keynote: “Embracing The Data Leadership Nexus for Strategic Success”

UK Open Data Initiative: “ODI Summit 2014” – November 2-4 – British Film Institute (London) (http://summit.theodi.org/)

Articles:

IBM Big Data Hub: “The Privacy Corner”. “Discrimination and Other Abuses drive the Need for Ethics in Big Data” (http://ibm.co/1sKmkx0)

Information Age (UK): “Transforming into a Predictive Enterprise” (http://www.information-age.com/technology/information-management/123458506/holy-grail-big-data-becoming-predictive-enterprise)

Information Age (UK): “The State of Open Data” (November 15th (URL to be posted at time of publishing)

IBM Big Data Hub: “The Privacy Corner”. “Have we already lost the Privacy battle?” (November – Date TBD)

The Data Leadership Nexus (Blog):

“Reflections on Data Leadership 2014” (November 4th)

“How to Successfully Execute your Transformational Plan for becoming a Predictive Enterprise” (November 15th)

“The Data Leadership Nexus: (Recap)” (Updates throughout the month) (https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/09/16/recap-the-data-leadership-nexus/)

 

The Data Leadership Nexus is a path to success when it comes to realizing the numerous business benefits of Big Data and Advanced Analytics which have been extolled by so many in recent times and yet realized by so few. It is the linchpin of your Strategic Plan for building & sustaining “a culture of analytics” to foster evidence-based decisioning, deeper & broader insights, full knowledge exploitation and optimized strategic performance while making these behaviors pervasive across your entire enterprise. In my mind it is the path to realize everything data-related that we have been working on for more than 50 years now in Management Theory, Decision Science and Information Technology.

By definition: The Data Leadership Nexus is the intersection of; Top-Down Executive Leadership, A fully aligned Organizational Culture and the full exploitation of Data, Information, Analytics to create strategic outcomes, sustainable sources of competitive advantage and enterprise value within every organization that wants to become a Predictive Enterprise.

I define a Predictive Enterprise as: “The use of Predictive Capabilities driven by data, information & analytics to; optimize decision making, facilitate strategic & operational outcomes, mitigate risks and to exploit insights across the entire Enterprise”

The Data Leadership Nexus is comprised of these basic components;

  • Top-Down Leadership (by the Senior Executive Team)
  • Data, Information & Analytics
  • Organizational Culture 

Each component was discussed in detail in previous postings. They can be found using the following links;

#: Overview & Introduction:  https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/05/overview-the-data-leadership-nexus/

#: The Motivation behind The Data Leadership Nexushttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/25/data-analytics-leadership-missing-in-action/

#: Top-Down Leadership:   https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/11/leadership-requirements-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Organizational Culturehttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/08/28/the-role-of-organizational-culture-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Data, Information & Analyticshttps://infomgmtexec.me/2014/09/09/data-information-analytics-as-core-competencies-in-the-predictive-enterprise/

#: Additional Background Material: “Transformational Leadership for Big Data & Analytics Success” (Three-part series): 

  1. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/06/27/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success/
  2. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/11/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success-part-2-establishing-top-down-accountability/
  3. https://infomgmtexec.me/2014/07/20/transformational-leadership-for-big-data-analytics-success-part-3-organizational-design-cultural-adoption/

In future postings I will discuss; “How to Build & Successfully Execute your Transformational Plan for becoming a Predictive Enterprise using The Data Leadership Nexus as a Strategic Enabler”.