October 31, 2008

Weapons or Troops and The Total CIO

Should the CIO focus on day-to-day operational issues or on IT strategic planning and governance issues?

From my experience many are focused on firefighting the day-to-day and putting some new gadget in the hands of the field personnel without regard to what the bigger picture IT plan is or should be.

In many cases, I believe CIOs succumb to this near-term view on things, because they, like the overall corporate marketplace, is driven by short-term results, whether it is quarterly financial results or the annual performance appraisal.

The Wall Street Journal, 30 October 2008, had an article entitled,
“Boots on the Ground or Weapons in the Sky?”—which seemed to tie right into this issue.

The debate is to which kind of war we should be preparing to fight— the current (types of) insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan or the next big war, such as potentially that with Russia or China.

Why are we facing this issue now?

“With the economy slowing and the tab for the government’s bailout of the private sector spiraling higher…lawmakers are signaling that Pentagon officials will soon have to choose.”

And there are serious implications to this choice:

“The wrong decision now could imperil U.S. national security down the road.”

The two sides of the debate come down to this:

Secretary Gates “accused some military officials of “next-war-itis,” which shortchanges current needs in favor of advanced weapons that might never be needed.”

In turn, some military officials “chided Mr. Gates for “this-war-itis,” a short-sighted focus on the present that could leave the armed forces dangerously unprepared down the road.”

From war to technology:

Like the military, the CIO faces a similar dilemma. Should the CIO invest and focus on current operational needs, the firefight that is needed today (this-IT-itis) or should they turn their attention to planning and governing to meet the business-IT needs of the future (next-IT-itis).

But can’t the CIO do both?

Yes and no. Just like the defense budget is limited, so too is the time and resources of the CIO. Sure, we can do some of both, but unless we make a conscious decision about where to focus, something bad can happen.

My belief is operations must be stabilized--sound, reliable, and secure—today’s needs, but then the CIO must extricate himself from the day-to-day firefighting to build mission capabilities and meet the needs of the organization for tomorrow.

At some point (and the sooner, the better), this-IT-itis must yield to next-IT-itis!


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IT Governance and Enterprise Architecture

I came across an interesting IT Governance Global Status Report 2008 from the IT Governance Institute.

The study and report was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was the third one of its kind—the first two conducted in 2003 and 2005. In this latest study for 2007, interviews were conducted with 749 CIOs and CEOs in 23 countries.

Here are some interesting findings from the study on how enterprises are fairing on IT governance and my thoughts on these:

Championed by—in most cases CIOs champion IT governance (40%), followed by CEOs (25%), and then by CFOs (9%).

Since CIOs are predominantly responsible for IT governance, they need to step up and elevate governance as well as its complementary function, enterprise architecture, and resource it as a priority for effectively managing IT investments.

Business management engagement—68% of respondents said that business management participates (42%), leads (14%), or is fully accountable (12%) for IT governance.

From my experience, often business managers are more engaged in IT governance than IT managers; we need to work with the all the SMEs (IT and business) to understand the importance of IT governance and encourage and engage them for their active participation.

Positive view of IT—“Non-IT people…have a much more positive view of IT” than do IT people. 72% of general management agree strongly on the value creation of IT investment versus only 46% of CIOs.

We need to explore why IT professionals have a more negative view of IT than our customers on the business side of the house have and to reconcile this. Is it just that we are professionally self-critical or that know more about our dirty laundry?

Importance of IT to overall corporate strategy—“93 percent of respondents answered that IT is ‘somewhat’ to ‘very important’ to the strategy.”

IT is important to the business achieving its strategic goals. We need to ensure sufficient time, attention, and resources are allocated to developing an IT strategy and enterprise architecture that aligns to and support the business strategy.

IT governance implementation—Only 52% are ‘in the process of’ (34%) or ‘have already implemented’ (18%) IT governance; however, another 24% are considering implementing.

We need to pick up the pace of IT governance implementation. IT governance is critical establishing and enforcing the IT Strategic Plan and enterprise architecture, to vetting IT investment decisions and sharing risks with project shakeholders, and providing oversight and due diligence to ensure successfully project delivery.

Current IT governance practices—Some of these include: “IT resource requirements are identified based on business priorities” (80%), “boards review IT budgets and plans on a regular basis” (72%), “IT processes are regularly audited for effectiveness and efficiency” (67%), “Central oversight exists of overall IT architecture (IT Architecture Board or Committee)” (63%), “IT project portfolio is managed by business departments supported by the IT department” (59%), “Some form of overall IT Strategy Committee exists” (58%), Standard procedures exists for investment selection (IT Investment Committee)” (55%).

IT governance best practices are well established through frameworks such as COBIT, ITIL, and ISO20K. We need to leverage use of these frameworks to develop our organization’s IT governance solutions and ensure this vital enterprise architecture enforcement mechanism!


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October 27, 2008

Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture

Just wanted to thank Jonas Lamis for posting my guest blog, "Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture," on the Architecture & Governance Magazine site.

I think A&G is a great magazine -- down-to-earth and straightforward views on a range of important topics to CIOs, enterprise architects, and other IT professionals.

Kudos to Jonas and his team!
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October 26, 2008

IT Planning, Governance and The Total CIO

CIOs are consumed by day-to-day tactical/operational IT issues and firefighting IT problems, and as a result, there is a lack of focus on IT planning and governance—two of the biggest problems facing CIOs today.

ISACA, an organization serving IT governance professionals, conducted a survey consisting of 695 interviews with CEO/CIO-level executives in 22 countries, and published the results in IT Governance Global Status Report 2006.

Here are some of the amazing findings from this study.

Firefighting predominates: “Organizations are suffering from IT operational problems…only 7% of the respondents experienced no IT problems at all in the previous year…Operational failures and incidents…are mentioned by approximately 40 percent of respondents.”

IT’s alignment with Business is weak: Only 56% of the organizations surveyed “understands and supports the business users’ needs.”

Strategic Planning is underrated by CIOs: “More than 93 percent of business leaders recognize that IT is import for delivering organization strategy…Somewhat paradoxically, general management perceives the importance…slightly higher than does IT management.” In fact, in the public sector, IT was viewed as a commodity versus strategically by 47% of respondents!

IT governance is lagging: “CIOs recognize the need for better governance over IT,” to align IT strategy and manage risks. Yet, “when asked if they intend to do or plan IT governance measures, only 40 percent replied in the affirmative.”

Liza Lowery Massey, who previously served as CIO of Los Angeles, says in Government Technology, 9 July 2007:

“Establishing IT governance up front is the No. 1 thing I would do over in my career. IT governance is crucial to a CIO’s sanity.

Further, Liza wrote in Government Technology, 14 April 2008:

“Now when I help my clients implement IT governance, I see the benefits firsthand. They include shrinking your IT department’s to-do list, achieving IT/business alignment, putting teeth into policies and standards, and focusing departments on business needs rather than technology. My work life would certainly have been smoother had I set up governance to address these issues instead of trying to handle them all myself.”

CIO Magazine, 1 November 2006, has an article by Gary Beach, entitled “Most CIOs Fail to Convince Top Management That IT Can Transform Business.”

In this article, Gary notes that the rate of investment in IT is half the rate of corporate profit growth, and he asks why?

Certainly, the failure to align with business, and effectively plan and govern IT is hindering CIO’s ability to succeed.

The unfortunate result, as Andy McCue reported in Silicon.com on 26 April 2007, is that “CIOs and the IT department are in danger of being relegated to the role of support function because of a lack of vision and technology innovation.”

The answer is clearly for CIOs to “stabilize the patient” and get out of firefighting mode, and allocate sufficient time, attention, and resources to IT planning and governance. Only in this way will CIOs effectively align IT with business requirements, solve genuine business problems, innovate and transform the enterprise, and fulfill the strategic role that the business is looking for from them.


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October 25, 2008

Talent, Determination, and The Total CIO

To become a great CIO or a great anything, what is the driving factor—talent or determination?

Fortune Magazine, 27 October 2008, has a book excerpt from Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.

Often, as individuals we’re afraid that if we don’t have the inborn talent then we can’t really compete and certainly won’t succeed. But that isn’t true!

Here’s an interesting anecdote about Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Balmer. “One of them recalls, ‘we were voted two guys probably least likely to succeed.’” They played waste-pin basketball with waded-up memos at P&G before becoming CEOs of General Electric and Microsoft.

Research shows talent is not the decisive factor:

“In studies of accomplished individuals, researchers have found few signs of precocious achievement before the individuals started intensive training…Such findings do not prove that talent doesn’t exist. But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.”

So if innate talent is what makes for high achievement, what does?

The answer is…”deliberate practice” characterized by the following:

  • Stretch goals—“continually stretching an individual just beyond his ir her current abilities.”
  • Repetition—“top performers repeat their practice activities to a stultifying extent.”
  • Feedback—“in many important situations, a teacher, a coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback.”
  • No pain, no gain—“we identify the painful, difficult activities that will make us better and do those things over and over…if the activities that lead to greatness were easy and fun, then everyone would do them.”

So what do you do if you want to be a great CIO or successful in any professional endeavor?

  • Set goals.
  • Plan how to reach them.
  • Observe yourself/self-regulate.
  • Self-evaluate.
  • Adapt to perform better.
  • Repeat.

This is where determination comes in and makes the difference between success and failure.

What you want—really, deeply want—is fundamental because deliberate practice is an investment. The costs come now, the benefits later. The more you want something, the easier it will be for you to sustain the needed effort.”

In any case, “the evidence…shows that the price of top level achievement is extraordinarily high…by understanding how a few become great, all can become better.”


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October 24, 2008

The ABC Strategy and The Total CIO

CIOs have a number of options with respect to upgrading their enterprise’s information technology.

Military Technology Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 has an interview with David Mihelcic, the CTO and Principal Director, Global Information Grid, Enterprise Services Engineering, at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).

In the interview, Mr. Mihelcic describes the Adopt, Buy, and Create (ABC) strategy of General Croom:

Adopt—“we want to focus on using technologies that are mature to meet our needs. Our first is to adopt something that’s already in existence” in the enterprise.

Buy—the second choice is to “buy services and products that are readily available in the commercial space.”

Create—“only as a last resort do we create capabilities from scratch.”

The ABC strategy is valuable to CIOs in that is provides a continuum of options for obtaining technologies to meet requirements that starts with adopting existing platforms, which is the most conservative, trusted, and often economical. If we can’t adopt what we already have, then we proceed to buy the technologies we need—this is potentially more risky and expensive in the short term. And finally, if we can’t readily buy what we need, then we create or develop them (usually starting with research and development)—this is the most risky and immediately expensive option.

However, I would suggest that we need not follow this continuum in sequence (A, B, then C) in all cases.

While creating new capabilities is generally expensive in the short term, it can lead to innovation and breakthroughs that are potentially extremely cost effective and strategically important in the longer term. The development of new capabilities often yields competitive advantages through performance improvements. Also, innovations can provide for new revenue sources, market growth, and cost savings. Often the enterprises that are the strongest in their industries or segments are those with a capability that others just can’t match. In fact, I would argue that our nation’s own technological advances are a critical component to maintaining our military’s worldwide superiority.

Therefore, while the ABC Strategy is a good continuum for understanding our technology refresh options, I would advocate that we use the A, B, C’s with agility to meet our needs for innovation and global competitiveness.


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October 21, 2008

Lessons from High School Dropouts for The Total CIO

The Wall Street Journal, 21 October 2008, reports some shocking statistics on high school dropouts.
  • “In the nation’s 50 largest cities, the graduation rate [in four years] was 52%.”
  • The graduation rate was as low as 25% in Detroit.
  • “Only about seven in 10 students are actually finishing high school.”
  • “Dropouts are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, including about 75% of state prison inmates.”
  • “The difference in lifetime salary for a dropout and a high school graduate is about $300,000.”
  • Cutting the number of dropouts in half would generate $45 billion annually in new tax revenue.”

So obviously there is a very compelling case for reducing the high school dropout rate and having students graduate!

What is being done to address this issue?

One new program was started in the city of Houston called “Reach Out to Dropouts.” In Reach Out, “volunteers, including Mayor White and school superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, visit the homes of students who haven’t returned to school.”

How did this start?

The mayor “was troubled by the fact that while the private industry could track inventory world-wide, school systems could not track students.” But then he took this further, by reaching out to students in person, and finding out why they quit, and how the city could help them return (for example, money, childcare, tutoring and so on).

What are the results?

“Reach Out has recaptured more than 5,500 dropouts in the city since it started in 2004.”

One student summarized it this way: “They were saying I was so smart and they didn’t know why I wasn’t in school, that I was too smart to just drop out. It got to me, kind of.”

This is powerful stuff!

To me there are some profound lessons here for the Total CIO:

First is the personal touch. The CIO’s job is providing information technology solutions for the business and this is great. However, IT is not a replacement for having a personal touch with people. Technology solutions need to complement people solutions.

In the case of the Reach Out program, it’s not enough for our schools to track students like inventory or assets using attendance systems, but we need then take the tracking information and apply it with people and process to get in there and actually help the students come back and graduate. The technology along can’t do this; only people can!

In general, IT solutions must follow people’s requirements and process improvements. You cannot build IT solutions for yesterday’s process (sending letters home or calling the truancy officer); you must build it for today and tomorrow’s way of doing business (personally finding out what the problem is and then remediating it). The bottom line is that the CIO has to be forward-thinking rather than reactive: Implementing technology solutions and then modifying or customizing it to mimic existing processes is not the answer. Rather, the CIO needs to work with the business to modernizing the process and then apply the appropriate technology as an enabler for enhanced results.

With the Reach Out program to help students graduate, the City of Houston didn’t just track the dropouts, but they looked at what was being done to solve the problem and bring kids back into the education system. If sending letters home to parents wasn’t working, for example, then perhaps getting out from behind the desk and going to the student’s homes would. Through this new way of “doing business,” the educators and politicians are showing genuine care and concern, and tailoring solutions to the needs of individual students—and it is working!

The personal touch with people, and reengineering process to match what they need, is crucial for solving problems and implementing technology solutions.


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October 19, 2008

Net-centricity and Enterprise Architecture

See video on Department of Defense (DoD) vision for Net-Centricity:



Source: Department of Defense
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Balancing Strategy and Operations and The Total CIO

How should a CIO allocate their time between strategy and operations?

Some CIOs are all operations; they are concerned solely with the utility computing aspects of IT like keeping the desktops humming and the phones ringing. Availability and reliability are two of their key performance measurement areas. These CIOs are focused on managing the day-to-day IT operations, and given some extra budget dollars, will sooner spend them on new operational capabilities to deploy in the field today.

Other CIOs are all strategy; they are focused on setting the vision for the organization, aligned closely to the business, and communicating the way ahead. Efficiency and effectiveness are two of their key performance measurement areas. These CIOs are often set apart from the rest of the IT division (i.e. the Office of the CIO focuses on the Strategy and the IT division does the ops) and given some extra budget dollars, will likely spend them on modernization and transformation, providing capabilities for the end-user of tomorrow.

Finally, the third category of CIOs, balances both strategy and operations. They view the operations as the fundamentals that need to be provided for the business here and now. But at the same time, they recognize that the IT must evolve over time and enable future capabilities for the end-user. These CIOs, given some extra budget dollars, have to have a split personality and allocate funding between the needs of today and tomorrow.

Government Technology, Public CIO Magazine has an article by Liza Lowery Massey on “Balancing Strategy with Tactics Isn’t Easy for CIOs.”

Ms. Massey advocates for the third category, where the CIO balances strategy and operations. She compares it to “have one foot in today and one in tomorrow…making today’s decisions while considering tomorrow’s impacts.”

How much time a CIO spends on strategy versus operations, Ms. Massey says is based on the maturity of the IT operations. If ops are unreliable or not available, then the CIO goes into survival mode—focused on getting these up and running and stable. However, when IT operations are more mature and stable, then the CIO has more ability to focus on the to-be architecture of the organization.

For the Total CIO, it is indeed a delicate balance between strategy and operations. Focus on strategy to the detriment of IT operations, to the extent that mission is jeopardized, and you are toast. Spend too much time, energy, and resources on IT operations, to the extent that you jeopardize the strategy and solutions needed to address emerging business and end-user requirements, and you will lose credibility and quickly be divorced by the business.

The answer is the Total CIO must walk a fine line. Mission cannot fail today, but survivability and success of the enterprise cannot be jeopardized either. The Total CIO must walk and chew gum at the same time!

Additionally, while this concept is not completely unique to CIOs, and can be applied to all CXOs, CIOs have an added pressure on the strategy side due to the rapid pace of emerging technology and its effects on everything business.


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October 15, 2008

Crazy System Messages and Enterprise Architecture


http://sundrania.com/uploads/photos/332.jpg

Ever wonder about the crazy system messages you get when something isn't working right. Like the one above (a spoof, of course); what the heck is an "illegal operation" when it comes to a computer program?

So no wonder people complain about why IT folks can't talk in plain, simple language.

This is a perfect example of why User-centric EA (focusing on "useful and usable" business and technology architectures) is so important to our enterprises and stakeholders!
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October 14, 2008

The Enlightened Enterprise and the Total CIO

The Total CIO is responsible for the strategy, operations, and governance of everything IT.

The strategy ensures that we are doing the right things and doing them the right way. It’s the CIO’s vision, goals, and objectives for developing IT solutions that meet business requirements.

The operations is providing for core IT functions like voice and data communications, information, applications, infrastructure, security, and so forth,

The governance is how we make decisions about IT. Through good governance we enhance visibility of IT requirements and projects, enable better communication and vetting, share risks, and prioritize, authorize, and control IT investments.

Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 2, has a good article titled “Bringing IT Governance from Theory to Action.” (by Davin Gellego and Jon Borg-Breen)

The problem is complexity:

“Even as technology has simplified and become almost invisible to most audiences, the complexity of maintaining technology is reaching a breaking point for information technology organizations…little time is invested between the lines of business and IT to communicate corporate goals and how technology can support these goals. The mandate is simply ‘do more with less.’”

The solution is governance:

Lines of business and IT can no longer work in their respective vacuums. This new interconnectedness means that what affects one now affects all. If problems are no longer confined to one functional area, solutions can’t be either. IT governance defines accountability and decision making and simplifies the challenges of consolidation, outsourcing, and increased visibility—ensuring IT expenditures deliver real business value.

The traditional organizational paradigm was silos. Everyone works for their particular unit, division, line of business and so on. Each is functionally and organizationally independent. Each develops their own strategy, products and services, customer base, and so on. Each has their own profit and loss statement. Working with other divisions, conducting joint product development, sharing information or ideas, cross-selling, and other collaborative efforts are discouraged, shunned, minimized, and looked at with suspicion. It’s every line of business or man for themselves. A unit that is not “producing” gets disciplined, downsized, reorganized, spun off, or otherwise eliminated. A division head that isn’t meeting their targets is toast! (Interestingly enough, people traditionally work in a “division”—that very word connotes separation, distinctiveness, and divisiveness.)

The enlightened paradigm is cross-functional. Everyone works for the enterprise. Each unit of the enterprise is part of a functional whole. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Collaboration, integrated product teams, working groups, information sharing, cross selling, corporate brand, interoperability, standards, component re-use, and other unifying activities are encouraged, taught, mandated, recognized, and rewarded. Performance measures take into account not only how your division is doing, but how it is contributing to overall mission of the organization. The goals of each individual and unit are aligned to the enterprise.

In the enlightened enterprise, The CIO is not running “the IT division,” but rather is providing IT services and solutions to the enterprise. In this paradigm, the CIO requires a structured and mature governance process, so that all stakeholders have a voice at the table and can influence the decision process and ensure more successful project delivery. IT governance provides for a consistent, collaborative decision process. Governance bring business and IT subject matter experts together to communicate, make visible, align, share risks, vet, prioritize, and issue decisions.

“The most successful enterprises engage in both business and IT in investment decisions. IT governance strengthens and clarifies the connection between corporate goals and IT initiatives. And with both business and IT aware of the strategic benefits of a given initiative, the initiative has a far greater chance of company-wide adoption and success.”

In the enlightened enterprise, “no line of business or IT department is an island. What affects one, affects all.” And in this environment, it is The Total CIO who can reach out across the enterprise bringing a unifying IT strategy, a sound, reliable, secure, and cost-effective operations platform, and a governance process to communicate, make visible, share risks, and make better decisions through the participation of all the pertinent IT stakeholders.


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October 13, 2008

Brand and The Total CIO

David F. D’Allesandro, the CEO of John Hancock insurance group has a bunch of wonderful books on building brand and career, such as “Brand Warfare”, “Career Warfare” and “Executive Warfare”.

All the books have three things in common. One, they are about the importance of brand. Two, they are about moving ahead in the corporate world. And three, they all end in “warfare.”

Brand is critical for building value. Brand is our reputation. It’s how we are known to others. It’s what people think and say about us. It’s a representation of our values and integrity.

We all know corporate brands such as those from consumer product companies and fashion designers. Those that have a “good” brand, tend to convey a higher status and cost a premium. We trust those brands and many people wear the brand labels as a status symbol.

We all carry a brand. Like a mark of “Grade A” or “Prime Beef” seared on a side of a hide of cattle, a brand is mark of distinction for us.

At work, we are branded as honest or not, fair or not, hard working or not, team players or not and so on and so forth.

As the CIO, it is imperative to have a brand that synthesizes the best of business and technology for the organization.

On one hand, many view the CIO as the technical leader for the organization; the wang-bang guru that leads the enterprise through the often confusing and fast-changing technology landscape. In this role, the CIO can make or break the future of the organization with wise or poor technical decisions that can put the enterprise on the cutting-edge, build competitive advantage, and increase revenue/profits, market share, and customer satisfaction. Or the CIO can lead the organization down a technical sinkhole with failed IT projects that jeopardize mission, alienate customers, drive out good employees out, and waste millions of dollars.

On the other hand, many like to say that the CIO is not and should not be tech-focused, but should be about the business—understanding the business strategy, operations, and requirements and then driving an IT organization that is responsive to it. Taken to an extreme, the CIO may not be required to have a technology background, an IT degree or even a technical certificate. This person may be from the business side of the house and could almost alien to the CIO organization and therefore, may not easily garner the respect of his more technical people.

The true successful CIO melds business and technology together. Their brand is one where business drives technology and where strategy is paramount, but operations is a given! This CIO is someone who can be relied on to make wise technical decisions today that will enhance the strategic success of the organization tomorrow. The CIO is a leader who manages not only upward, but who reaches across the organization to build partnership and understanding; who inspires, motivates, trains, recognizes, and rewards his people; and who conducts outreach and brings in best practices from beyond the strict organizational boundaries. This CIO is loyal, dedicated, hard-working, smart, and has the trust and confidence to get the job done!

So what with the “warfare” part in the books?

Well, unfortunately not everyone wants us to succeed. So, we must work on our brand to build it and make it shine, but at the same time, there are others inside and outside the organization who for various reasons would like to tarnish our brand: perhaps, they are jealous, competitive, nay-sayers, change resistant, oppositional, confrontational, troubled, or just plain crooked.

What D’Allesandro says is that to be successful, what sets us apart, is our ability to build relationship with others, even when it is challenging.

To be a successful CIO, we need a terrific personal brand, but more than that we need to have courage and conviction to stand by our beliefs and the vision and the ability to articulate it to guide and influence others to advance the organization’s long-term business and technical success.
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October 12, 2008

Nimbleness, Ingenuity and The Total CIO

We all know the story of David and Goliath, where little David slays the monstrous adversary from the Philistines, Goliath.

From a religious perspective, of course, David is victorious over this incredible enemy, by the hand of G-d; it is a miracle!

Metaphorically, David slays the Giant with a rock and sling shot overcoming the daunting Goliath and his foreboding weapons (sword, spear, shield, and armor); it is David’s nimbleness and ingenuity that overcome the hulking and conventional giant, Goliath.

You have to love this story.

Good wins over evil. The smaller defeat the larger. The underdog overcomes the “sure thing.”

The modern day, Hollywood version of this is Rocky whose sheer determination and laser focus prevails against superior adversaries. How many times does the smaller Rocky defeat the larger, better trained, more muscular opponents? Remember—Apollo Creed (taller, trimmer, faster), Hulk Hogan (the giant who literally picks Rocky up over his head), Clubber Lang (the awesome Mr. T), Ivan Drago (the steroidal, methodically-trained Soviet), and so on.

David versus Goliath, Rocky versus Ivan Drago…

While these are amazing and inspiring stories of success, these aren’t unique stories or themes in history. Why?

As the old saying goes, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Small, nimble, and innovative can and will overcome large, lumbering giants. This can be in the ring (like Rocky), on the battlefield (like David and Goliath), and in marketplace competition (like challenger brands such as Apple, Google, Honda…).

Recently, the Wall Street Journal has an article entitled “Honda’s Flexible Plants Provide Edge.” (23 September 2008)

“One recent morning, the Hondo Motor Co. plant here churned out 120 Civic compacts. Then the production line came to a halt and workers in white uniforms swept in to install new hand-like parts on the giant gray robots that weld steel into the car’s frames. About five minutes later, the line roared back to life, and the robots began zapping together a longer, taller vehicle, the CR-V cross-over. In the automotive world, this is considered quite a feat.”

Honda’s plants are the most nimble in the industry.

In the first 2/3 of the year, while sales are down 24% at Chrysler, 18% at CM, 15% at Ford, and even 7.8% at Toyota, Honda is up 1.7%!

Like with Honda’s more efficient production process—“to shuffle production among different plants as well as make different models in one plant--flexibility and innovation are the rocks and slingshot of the modern day David. Watch out Goliaths!

The great lesson here for large, successful organizations is that no matter how much bigger and better you are than the competition, you can never rest on your laurels.

Time can change everything.

The smaller, seemingly disadvantaged enterprise is eyeing those in the #1 spot and taking it as their personal challenge to unseat them. They are clawing their way up and will use their smaller size to outmaneuver, and their ability to innovate to leap ahead of the competition.

The Total CIO (like King David and Rocky) find a strategic advantage to enable them to overcome stronger and/or larger competitors. The Total CIO leverages technology/business process improvement as tools of innovation to change the game completely.


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October 7, 2008

Holographic TV and Enterprise Architecture

Watch out enterprise architects…holographic technology is coming your way.

CNN reported on 6 October 2008 that “Holographic television to become reality.”

Of course, the TV piece of it is only the tip of the iceberg, because 3-D holographic technology can be used in our organizations for all sort of presentations (forget about simple PowerPoint slideshows anymore), video-teleconferencing (think CISCO Telepresence on steroids), desktop computer applications (think Office and Internet applications that take place literally on your desk rather than on a flat screen). Also, holographic technology will be able to be applied to specialized areas such as tele-medicine (for example, battlefield surgery), more realistic professional training (all kinds), and enhanced command and control functions (such as common and user-defined operational picture for defense, law enforcement, and Intel), and much more.

Why is all this now seen as possible?

Recently, researchers at the University of Arizona had a major “breakthrough in rewritable and erasable holographic systems.” This is “prerequisite for any type of moving holographic technology,” like a television where “images would need to be changing multiple times each second,” says Dr Nasser Peyghambarian.

Dr.T ung H. Jeong, a retired physics professor at Lake Forest College outside Chicago, says that “We are moving toward the possibility of holographic TV…It has now been shown that physically , it’s possible.

Peyghambarian believes that this “technology could reach the market within five to ten years.”

The challenge will be to produce it cheap enough to make it viable for the mass market.

As with most technologies that reach a basic level of maturity and profitability, competitors will rush in, drive down costs and commoditize the product.

We can look forward to this tremendous evolution in the way we watch and interact with information, applications, entertainment, training, and social media.

Users will have a richer and fuller experience by virtue of using this technology. It is the job of the enterprise architect to identify new technologies like this for our organizations and to plan the way ahead for their alignment with the business, adoption and use.

Holographic technology will change the way we conduct our operations in business, government, and our personal lives.


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October 4, 2008

Political Capital and the CIO

Leaders wield power through many means: formal authority, control of scarce resources, use of structures, rules, and regulations, control of decision processes, control of knowledge and information, control of technology interpersonal alliances and networks, and so forth. (Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan).

But one often-neglected factor when it comes to power is likeability, sometimes known as political capital: the late President Ronald Reagan was the epitome of this.

“Political capital is primarily based on a public figure's favorable image among the populace and among other important personalities in or out of the government. A politician gains political capital by virtue of their position, and also by pursuing popular policies, achieving success with their initiatives, performing favors for other politicians, etc. Political capital must be spent to be useful, and will generally expire by the end of a politician's term in office. In addition, it can be wasted, typically by failed attempts to promote unpopular policies which are not central to a politician's agenda.” (Wikipedia)

Every leader (including the CIO)—whether in the public or private sector—manages to get things done in part through their political capital.

For the CIO, this means that while their job is certainly not a popularity contest, they cannot effectively get things done over the long term without rallying the troops, having a favorable image or degree of likeability, and generally being able to win people over. It’s a matter of persuasion, influence, and ability to socialize ideas and guide change.

The CIO can’t just force change, transformation, modernization. He/she must expend political capital to move the organization forward. The CIO must make the case for change, plan and resource it, train and empower people, provide the tools, and guide and govern successful execution.

The Wall Street Journal, 4-5 October 2008, has an editorial by Peggy Noonan that touches on the importance of political capital:

“Young aides to Reagan used to grouse, late in his second term, that he had high popularity levels, that popularity was capital, and that he should spend it more freely on potential breakthroughs of this kind or that. They spend when they had to and were otherwise prudent…They were not daring when they didn’t have to be. They knew presidential popularity is a jewel to be protected, and to be burnished when possible, because without it you can do nothing. Without the support and trust of the people you cannot move, cannot command.”

Certainly if the President of the United States, the most powerful position in the world, cannot execute without political capital, then every leader needs to take note of the importance of it—including the CIO.

Lesson #1 for the CIO: effective leadership requires political capital duly earned and wisely spent.


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Why a New Blog Called the Total CIO?

As you all know, I have been leading and promoting the concept of User-centric Enterprise Architecture for some time now.

After hundreds of blog posts and numerous articles, interviews, and speeches, I believe it is time to expand the core principles of User-centric EA to encompass all that a CIO can and should do to implement best practices that facilitate total mission success.

Thus, the concept of the "Total CIO".
  • The Total CIO is mission-driven. He or she never compromises on delivering IT solutions that meet business requirements. In today's world this means capturing and managing customer requirements, synthesizing business and IT for effective strategy as well as efficient tactical implementation.
  • The Total CIO is holistically minded. He/she employs best practices from various disciplines (IT, business process reengineering, human capital, etc.) to move the mission forward through infomation technology. This quality speaks to innovation, expansiveness, and thinking outside the box without ever losing sight of the goal.
  • The Total CIO is customer-centric. He/she focuses on making it easier for people to use technology. That means he/she is focused on helping people deliver on the mission. This means that rather than speaking in jargon and creating shelfware, he/she delivers useful and usable information and technology to benefit everyone from the CEO to front-line personnel.

I look forward to your comments and input.
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October 3, 2008

Enterprise Architecture Fit

Enterprise architecture helps organizations to ensure strategic business alignment and technical compliance of their systems.

Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 3, has an interesting article on “Business Fit vs. Technical Fit” by Larry DeBoever, in which he proposes a mapping of systems to demonstrate their EA fit.

Systems are mapped on a 2x2 grid that has business fit on the y axis and technology fit on the x axis.

The resulting quadrants provide a visualization of how systems map in terms of business alignment and technical compliance. Here is my view on these:

  • Lower left—low business and low technology fit. These are systems that are duds; theydo not meet business requirements or technology standards and should be sunset.
  • Upper left—high business and low technology fit. These are systems that are silos; they meet business needs, but don’t provide technical alignment in terms of interoperability, standardization, component reuse or alignment to the target architecture and transition plan. These systems need a technology waiver or should be retrofitted to comply with the enterprise architecture.
  • Lower right—low business and high technology fit. These are systems that are “toys”. They do not meet the requirements of the business, although they align nicely with the technology standards of the organization. Unless these systems can demonstrate business value, they should be decommissioned.
  • Upper right—high business and high technology fit. These are systems are optimal; they are in the EA sweet spot in that they meet business requirements and technology compliance parameters. These systems are sound IT investments for the organization.

This quadrant view of EA fit for systems is a wonderful tool for planning and also for conducting EA board reviews of proposed new systems or changes to existing systems.

For systems that do have business and/or technology alignment, Larry DeBoever calls for ongoing reviews and enhancements, due to “the problem of regression.” Since business needs and technology standards and plans are constantly evolving, our systems will be under constant pressure being forced to lower levels of business and technology alignment. Therefore, system development, enhancements and modernization is an imperative to remain competitive and on mission.


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October 1, 2008

Personal Enterprise Architecture

For a long time, I’ve wondered about the application of “enterprise” architecture to the person. In other words, can the principles of EA that are typically applied to an organization be relevant to us as individuals. And frankly, I am certain that they can!
Personal Enterprise Architecture (PEA)—essentially, this means that you’re your own enterprise. And you need to treat your life in the same (or even better) careful and planned manner that you would treat the organization that you care about and are hired to steward. This means taking an accounting of where you are in your life (your personal baseline), figuring out where you are going or want to be (your personal target), and then coming up with a game plan of how you are going to get there (usually through some sort of combination of hard work, personal investment, and self-sacrifice).

As this particular time of year, the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), Personal EA is especially meaningful. Rosh Hashanah is a time of personal judgment. It is a time of introspection—where we reflect on our actions of the past year (our personal baseline); we feel and express regret for the things that we’ve done wrong; we commit to do better in the future (our personal target); and we plan how we can be better human beings in the year ahead of us (our personal transition plan).


In a sense, our lives can actually be more complicated than business processes and technology enablers. There is a Jewish saying that every human being is a whole world unto themselves. I believe this applies in terms of our value in the eyes of G-d, complexity as a combination of individualized nature and nurture, and in terms of potential to do great things.

True, we sometimes do things in an automated fashion—by rote, without thinking, sometimes callous of others feelings and the impact our actions have on ourselves and others. But we are not automatons!
As human beings, we are all faced with enormous personal tests and challenges. Unlike an organization, it’s not just about making money or achieving the organizational goals (however important those may be). But rather, we must face difficult and daunting human issues, day-in and day-out. We all know these human challenges. They are on one hand the most personal and often painful and on the other, the most central and meaningful. For each of us, these challenges are different. But the issues test our faith, demand compassion for others, and involve personal sacrifice.
Whatever your religion and whenever your new year (and time of reflection and judgment) is, we all share a commonality. We are human being endowed by our creator with a soul that drives us to pick ourselves up from wherever we are today and strive for a better tomorrow. What more noble an EA can there be?

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