Seventhman Blog

  1. Strategic Thinkers: Born or Made?

    "strategic thinking"Not all leaders are created equal. We all agree on that.  Would it be right to say that strategic thinkers have the makings of a great leader?  The topic has been hotly debated for years and there are many studies that beg to differ between those who are born with the gift vs. those who are shaped by daily experiences.  When strategic thinking becomes an essential recipe in an organization’s sustainable success, having someone who can add the highest impact to the business is becoming a rat race.  Just because someone is successful in running functional roles doesn’t ensure that s/he has the makings of a strategic leader.  Who can create that ultimate plan to turn ideas into reality and drive real change that will grow your business?  This remains to be answered..

    Thinking Outside Multiple Boxes

    Or, thousands of them.  In today’s ever-shifting business environment, those who can think and act strategically are worth their weight in gold.  I’m pretty sure that at some point, every company has a need for strategic leaders – and it’s always an urgent job vacancy that remains unfilled for many.  Innovation is quite overrated these days that you have to really understand just what makes leaders strategic and what are they supposed to do in your organization.  Is strategic thinking simply a mindset, or a set of specialized skills?  How can you even encouraged strategic thinking when immediate actions are often rewarded over long-term idea generation and planning?  These are just a few questions to consider.

    The Leadership Mystery We Fail to Solve

    Despite numerous attempts to define leadership at its finest, there’s still a grey line somewhere on what makes a true, great leader.  Opinions vary and theories are many when it comes to the nature of leadership.  Is it more than just the art of dealing with people and having a vision?  There are lots of right opportunities to develop people into highly effective leaders; they don’t simply sprout like some micro-organism in a Petri Dish.  Perhaps, they may be born with the gift, but those with the right type of training, tools and experiences have an increased ability in strategic thinking.  Developing an exceptional leader is not some secret craft made only for the elite few – if management will reward people for thinking and keeping them updated with what’s really happening.  Communication and transparency are not really a mystery after all.

    What Makes a Good Strategic Thinker?

    It’s a tough job; make no mistake about it. To sum it up, strategic leaders are those who:

    •    Think Clearly and Act Quickly when issues and opportunities arise
    •    Deliver Value to the Business
    •    See the Organization’s Vision in a bird’s eye view and anticipate beyond what’s directly ahead
    •    Questions everything without fear
    •    Love to explore new products, services and markets
    •    Proactively find ways in achieving complex goals
    •    Test assumptions and integrate multiple sources to come up with a well-informed, sound and smart decision
    •    Build Passion, Drive and Inspiration among the team
    •    Embrace Change with open arms
    •    See Failure as a journey; not a destination

    Obviously, no one person is born with all these skills and learning it can be daunting.  In large organizations, there may be one or more strategic leaders who complement each other as they work towards a common goal.  Now, I’d like to leave you with one question:

    Do You Have What It Takes?

     

  2. Chief Innovation Officer: The New CIO

    "chief innovation officer"Chief Innovation Officer… you probably haven’t heard of this new job title.  You might be wondering if this is just another hype as companies desperately search for the ultimate alchemist that will bring about change, for the better.  The business realm is under a major transformation and stakeholders are taking a qualitative approach this 2014.  For this reason, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) no longer holds a limited function as technology-enabled innovation proliferate in the enterprise.  There is a need for new leadership in the corporate world as the C-suite struggles to find balance and sustain growth for their products and services in a dynamic, competitive market.

    Should You Hire a Chief Innovation officer?

    Call them the new ‘CIO’ or ‘CINO’ – this new breed of consultants are catalysts of change who have developed a well-rounded set of technical expertise, business cunning, excellent leadership and people skills all-rolled-into-one.  They are not merely growth hackers predicting the path to business success, but they are also stewards mentoring every business unit to make sure that the plan is implemented accordingly.  If you’re asking whether you should hire a CIO for your organization or not, you must be asking yourself how to find one instead.  The ability to continuously improve and innovate faster has never been easy.  Finding someone who can deliver impact to your business is like searching for the rarest of gems. You’ll need all the luck!

    Innovation’s Best-Kept Secrets

    Think of your Chief Innovation Officer as the final block to complete the 3D puzzle.  Just type the word ‘innovation’ on search engines and you’ll see lots of resources on ways to innovate.  Sometimes, you have to look beyond the usual way of things if you really want real change.  Thanks to technology, hiring someone outside your own comfort zone adds diversity to the organization.  Bringing in people from different culture and experiences may just open your mind to what you’ve been missing in the way you do business with your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, ‘Put a Dent in the Universe’.. and that may literally translate to having someone who may be the exact polar opposite of people working in your office.  Radical? Yes. Sometimes, you have to rock the boat a little, shift the balance of power to get from points A to B – faster.

    What Questions You Should Be Asking Instead

    As I mentioned from my last post that this year will be exciting as hybrid talents are on the rise, as the key decision maker, you should ask:

    •    How can I gain a sustained competitive advantage in a saturated market?
    •    Who can I trust to implement a successful innovation strategy from ground-level..up?
    •    Who are insatiably passionate about what they do and are willing to push the limits to explore new ideas?
    •    Who can collaborate with different departments and act as an ambassador of idea generation?
    •    Who can successfully pilot your innovation road map to align with your business goals?
    •    Who is realistic enough to allow room for growth while minimizing risks that come with failure?

    Probably by now, you have the answer to this question which can only be summed up by a talented CINO.  The business world is facing major changes and the only way to become a game changer is to be as creative, as fearless and as realistic.  You’ve got to be unconventional this time or you may simply bring in someone who will relentlessly focus on how to grow your business for the long run.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

     

     

  3. 2014 Insights: Can Technology Save the World?

    "social impact"A means to an end… or an end to a mean?  I’ve been thinking about this whenever I read the news about the latest innovation in the tech world.  The point of creating something new is to solve problems in the real world.  I just can’t think of any other reason than that and those who did so passionately have turned out to be a huge success in their field.  I believe that the question is not about coming up with any solution you can think of – but solving the right problem.  Think of it this way:  If you’re given 24 hours to save the world, what will you plan to resolve?  Sounds simple than you think, right?

    The Problem With Breakthrough

    Many businesses are still in the dark when it comes to creating new products, processes and services.  Try as they might to attempt solving issues which they think are important, there will still be missed opportunities in the pursuit of the next big thing.  How many times have we seen IT projects fail to deliver?  How often do we see new products failing to hit profit simply because it didn’t tackle the right problems?  We are living in a world where innovation is driven by challenges in a business, technical, political and social level.  No matter how many talented experts we have in the marketplace, success rates rise and fall dramatically.  Months to years of elaborate research and development have gone down the drain, with thousands to millions of dollars vanishing into thin air.

    Through the Lens of Effective Leadership

    Sometimes, when things go wrong, you wonder which is lacking: Leadership or problem-solving skills?  Leaders missed the opportunity to understand the depths and dimension of a problem.  This may have contributed in failure to implement things correctly.  Many fear that they spend too much time defining what the real issue is so they speed towards a solution like some crash-test dummy.  If one really wants to change the way things are right now, existing practices and protocols must be improved and problems must be viewed as a door to making things better; not as a distraction.  In my experience, transparent communication works.  When people are empowered to speak up, you can clearly map-out a road towards a viable, long-term solution. Your open-mindedness will break down communication silos, hands down.

    Making a Big Difference in the Real World

    To all tech startups, enthusiasts and fellow entrepreneurs, I have one question for you this coming new year: Are you ready to solve serious problems and make a difference in people’s lives?  You may have prioritized monetization, social capital, or influence when you spread the word about your creation.  How about social impact?  When I saw Jason Pontin’s Ted talk, Can Technology Solve our Big Problems, it made me think how social media and countless apps have enriched our lives.. from the Arab Spring uprising to inspiring memes.  But then again, how about coming up with something that addresses real issues like poverty, climate change and so on?  It’s nice to see the likes of crowdfunding, open online courses, and open source projects bridging the gap.  I just think that we can do more, especially in this age of interconnectivity.

    Are you up to the challenge then?

     

     

  4. Why Do IT Projects Fail Big Time?

    "IT project failure"In the world of IT, projects do crash and burn.. a lot of times lately.  When things go wrong, who’s to blame?  Before you go on a witch hunt for the next responsible person, you ought to dig deeper for you to come up with a permanent solution.  It’s never an easy job though, but doable nonetheless.  While it’s better to talk about why IT projects succeed, to know why they fail can help improve the chances for many of us who are missing goals terribly.  According to a recent study featured by Cio.com, 50 percent of companies had experienced IT project failure in the last 12 months.  You start to wonder if there’s a shortage of project managers or skilled IT workers (or both).

    Don’t Blame It on IT

    Let’s set aside for a moment this tech fiasco where Obamacare is concerned.  While working as a software developer helped me acquire logical and problem-solving skills, I just feel it’s totally unfair to blame it all on IT when things go wrong.  Did you know that most IT project fail because of poor management?  It’s very rare that failure is due to major technical hurdles.  Key to the success of any undertaking is assigning the right tasks to the right people, plus, defining clear goals and responsibilities.  Just because developers are working in tech doesn’t mean expecting them to behave like computers too.  When leadership is lacking, programmers can get lost in a maze of confusion (not to mention, frustration).

    The Constantly-Evolving Role of Project Managers

    Gone are the days when managers send out orders to be followed by their minions.  The role has evolved into something so dynamic that it involves human relations.  It’s not only making sure that deadlines are met and everyone adhere to best practices, but project managers should also communicate and motivate their team to be their best.  Still, we see many who are stuck in the old mindset that they’re not ready to implement change management, no matter how Agile they think they are.  One of the biggest failure that a project manager can commit is not aligning goals between team players and stakeholders.  They’re supposed to bridge the gap and create trust; instead, they are putting everyone on gridlock until everyone decides to quit and call it a long day.

    Looking at the Real Problem

    Because it’s easy, when IT projects fail – people will simply look at the IT department to blame.  It’s not really the case.  Most of the time, it’s lack of resources that contributed to the failure.  As enterprises move to the cloud, we see demands in adopting more application, adding to the backlogs of the IT team.  Nobody really cares how people work on it so long as it’s delivered in lightning speed.  Soon, your team feels overworked and confused on what to prioritize first.  While you can argue that this can be easily fixed by project managers, most often, they add to the burden by simply not admitting that there’s a problem in the first place.  You can’t blame them though when they’re expected to run things to spotless perfection.  Should the founders be blamed then for such unrealistic expectations?  Accountability should run from top to bottom, no exceptions!

    No matter, if you embrace failure as a testing ground instead of your final destination, you might just win the race to the next disruptive technology around.

     

    **Something new is coming.  Stay Tuned!

     

     

  5. IT, Project Management and The Impossible Dream

    "project management"Is there such a thing as a perfect project management method?  As businesses are struggling to implement Agile with all the rapid iteration in the hope of coming up with something innovative, the pressure is on.  We’re currently in the last quarter of the year and one can only look back to January to see if you’ve got more items ticked on your wish list.  From status reporting, budgeting, managing teams to numerous technology that allows you to do all these in a breeze, surely, there’s one (or more) things you would like to wish for this coming 2014?

    An IT Project Manager’s Wish List

    You might wonder why I’m writing about this too early when we are a few months’ away from the coming of the new year.  The thing is, there’s never such a thing as ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ if you want to implement real change, right now.  I believe that most of you can relate to one or more of the items here:

    Wish #1 Managing the Right Team

    While every project manager wishes for the best team, it is only the best project managers who can bring out the best in each person (no matter how hopeless).  Would you agree?

    Wish #2 Getting More Involved

    For those of you who are working with big organizations, being included in key management decisions is an ultimate dream.  It would feel so much better when the right expectations are set because IT is not some magic pill that will solve every issue in the business.

    Wish #3 Clarity

    In line with the item above, if there’s strong leadership support, it’s easier to manage stakeholders.  Having a clear objective and clearly communicating it can help avoid delays, slipups and all the ugly situations in between.

    Wish #4 User-Friendly Project Management and Collaboration Tools

    While the internet is rich with tools to get things done, finding something simple for everyone on the team to use is just a minor challenge; getting everyone to accept the idea of using it is another.

    Wish #5  Earning Trust and Respect

    Project management is about respecting, empowering and entrusting your team.  It’s seldom that project managers get to earn their team’s respect especially in running a diverse team of skills, personalities and dreams.  Only a few has conquered the unimaginable..

    And wouldn’t any IT project manager want issues to be resolved by themselves, that resources can be put on auto-mode to keep everyone productive, and that clients won’t make any request for changes?  Now, these are wishful thinking.

    In reality, project management is not for project managers alone and there will always be unique challenges to face.  One thing’s for sure though: Technology speeds up the way we work and communicate, helping us make better and informed decisions.

    Is there a wish you have right now where managing your IT project is concerned?  I am no genie, but my experience allows me to guide you in the right direction.  How Can I Help?

     

     

     

  6. Are You Ready to Disrupt and Innovate?

    "disruptive innovation"If no one has come up to challenge the old, we won’t even have new market and technologies today.  Thanks to disruptive innovation, businesses are continuously finding ways to improve in a volatile market with fast-changing trends and shifting consumer behavior.  Last time, I invite you to innovate processes and that’s not without a reason.  Truth is, if you don’t have anything of value – people won’t notice you.  Simple.  If you want to shape the future and create a lasting impact in the tech world, you simply have to create something that will disrupt the market with cutting edge tools.

    Identifying Opportunities for Disruptive Tech

    With the consumerization of IT comes this great potential to improve productivity.. at lower costs.  We are living in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) age, there is a need to bridge the gap between work and play – to make people’s lives easier.  The most disruptive technologies of them all are the ones that completely change how we communicate and live.  Take for example the case of cloud computing.  While USB flash drives replaced downloadable digital media like CDs, DVDs.. the cloud got rid of having a local physical storage for data.  Now, people can access their files, anytime and anywhere.  No matter what your business prefers when it comes to innovation, keeping an open mind helps a lot if you want to move forward.

    Do You Have the DNA for Disruptive Innovation?

    Let’s take the case of the software as a service.  The most important question of them all is how can small players disrupt the market that is currently dominated by the Silicon Valley big wigs?  As I have mentioned before, the greatest challenge in the tech world is developing new business models based on open source/freeware.  In the race for the next big thing, the last thing you want is for your ideas to be stolen.  For the same reason, new software is often sold with proprietary licenses, protected by intellectual property rights.  It means that you can’t share or improve this openly with others.  There will always be security and privacy risks where innovation is concerned.  In this sharing economy, maximizing profit for all while allowing the adoption of new tools, software, and technologies is still a work-in-progress.

    Taking a Leap from Idea Generation to Execution

    Be a leader, not a follower.  You often hear this when it comes to creating a new product or service.  You know that those who are in the mainstream may not be interested in what you’ve come up with and you’re smart enough not to listen to them.  You have been smarter to ditch your traditional business metrics when it comes to measuring the ROI of what you’ve just created.  You’re even wise enough to match the right people with the right ideas, without ever falling into the pitfall of copying what top companies have come up with.  You may not be the next Google or Apple, but that’s totally fine.

    In the end, what matters most is coming up with a product that delivers on the details… and keeping your promise to customers.

    How can you enter the market at the right time, for the right potential customers to accept the innovation you have built?  That’s the real question.

     

     

     

  7. In the Karma Economy, Giving is Good for Your Business

    "corporate philanthropy"Giving is good for your business, someone told me.  I have almost forgotten about this until I have read this post from ABC with these words: ” Corporate social responsibility programs have the potential to make a huge difference to society. ”  I believe that when most of us started doing business, we wanted to make something better in our big or small ways.  As we progress with growing our business, experience gives us a harsh lesson otherwise in this dog-eat-dog world.  We have forgotten that noble goal we have as we set out measuring ROI to make sure we make profit with the quickest turnaround time.  You may have achieved a few milestones.  Somewhere along that road, have you ever thought of giving back to the community in some way?

    In the Karma Economy, Giving is Good

    Last March, I have shared with you my thoughts on Employee Appreciation Day.  This time, I will take you to that feel-good factor, of giving where it counts.  Is it really a coincidence that top brands out there get ahead by being generous?  Let’s take out the spiritual aspect of things and just focus on Physics.  If you can recall, we’ve been taught that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.  If you have watched the movie, ‘Pay It Forward’.. you’ll know what I mean.  One good deed can affect change, no matter how you believe it or not.  Findings from Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take, confirm the idea that those who rise on top may be those who give the most.

    Inside the Corporate Giving Strategy

    Let’s apply the principle of giving within your organization.  If you want to achieve your business goals, you must inspire loyalty first.  You can do this by giving to your bottom line.  Even when you’re working on a virtual setting, strive to create a community for your team and give each person an opportunity to grow.  You can do this by engaging your people in the development process and giving them the chance to try new ideas, something that’s outside their job responsibilities.  You’ll be surprised how ‘giving’ your people this initiative will initiate them into innovation.  This in turn saves you time and money because you have a productive team who’s happy to make things work.

    It’s All About Smart Giving…

    If giving is truly good, just where do you start?  The answer lies closely to your business – your workers and customers.  Your customers will feel so much better knowing that they have chosen a brand with a heart.  It validates their purchase and they may just stick with your business for the long run.  Just as always, it’s good to start picking a cause that you really believe in.  Find a local group or network with others for this meaningful venture.  You can even search for a cause related to your business.  You may also do research to make sure the organization is legit.  Whether it’s sponsorship, donation or volunteering your time – you have to be sincere in your commitment.

    Giving back doesn’t have to be complicated so long as it’s a cause that’s close to your heart.  It’s not about how you do it… What matters most is that you do and good deeds have their own way of going viral to your potential prospects and business partners.

    What do you care about?