What’s With All The Finger-pointing

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Have you ever seen someone point fingers at the next guy/gal (a classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even family and friends)?


It’s the blame game, the one-upmanship, the I’m golden and your mud way of doing business–can you really push that knife in any further?


And whatever finger your pointing, frankly it might as well be your middle finger in terms of the message you are sending. 


The old saying is that when you point fingers at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you–try it with your hand now and see what I mean.


Getting the job done–means working collaboratively and cohesively–we all contribute from our unique perspectives and skills sets. 


It’s synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, rather than I think I’ll take all the darn credit–hey, I really do deserve it (in my own mind anyway)! 


Really, it’s not who did what to whom, but who helped whom and giving credit amply all around.


Ultimately, when we work together, we are strong, and when we point fingers at each other, it’s because we are weak, and we are weakening our relationships and the organization. 


The only time to point a finger, for real, is when you are gesturing to the Heaven, where all blessings come and from whom we are all created in His image. 


Otherwise, keep your fingers to yourself unless your fixing something that’s broke. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Beating Of Life’s Drums

So this was some awesome drumming at the Renaissance Festival today.


The beating of the drums was powerful and in a sense mesmerizing. 


It moved the people to sway, to dance, and to feel the power of the moment. 


In life, as they say, we all sort of move to a different beat–our own beat!


Recently, I had the experience to meet someone who was a truly wonderful person, but who came from a very different geographical, religious, and cultural background. 


There just seemed to be so many misunderstandings as a result, and it wasn’t because anyone was being hurtful or a bad person. 


Rather, we were dealing with good people, who just had very different expectations of each other and of life. 


The beat was there–like a heartbeat, but the beat wasn’t in sync, so in the end, everyone decided it best to go their own way in blessing, and find the life that would met their needs and where the beat was going to be in tune for them. 


In a sense, while we are all the same, yet we are all subtly different whether by nature and/or nurture, we come to situations and to each other with different viewpoints, distinct needs, as well as specific ways to satisfy them and grow us. 


Good and bad is beyond the point.  


Two hearts beat as one and that is a miracle when it happens. 


At other times, two hearts beat each other in their differences and maybe in exasperation and finally in sorrow.


The beats are strong and we search for the beats that uplift us, mesh with us, and make us better when we’re together. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

A New Diplomacy In Town

Aircraft Carriers 3

A wonderful colleague sent me this really impressive photo.

This was one of my favorite of 3 aircraft carrier strike groups taken together (Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan)–the 1st and the 3rd of which are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. 

According to the slides, there were literally 4 four nuclear submarines standing guard in the waters beneath, as well as a B-2 stealth bomber flying overhead.  

What I really liked the most though wasn’t even the photos, but rather the motto for the carriers of:

“Over 90,000 tons of diplomacy…wherever… whenever…”

Diplomacy can be listening, negotiating, and compromise, but it can also be through the projection of the ultimate national and human strength. 

With a staggering rise in global terrorism, militaristic adventurism, and the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it’s time to harden up on some of the soft power, and demonstrate as well the very credible hard power and resolve we have for protecting American lives, freedom, and human rights. 😉

(Source Photo: here)

Cherry Blossom Sky

lorful

Cherry Blossom

What beautiful weather we are having this time of year.


Just loved this gorgeous Cherry Blossom tree with the white leaves against the pale blue sky. 


Almost looks like snow flakes, but thank G-d those are gone now. 


All this nature is sort of the opposite of work, but on my mind is this quote that I heard this week:

_____________

“Plan the work

AND

Work the plan”

_____________


It’s simple, but gets right to the point of the necessity of planning and then executing on the plan.


I like the gorgeous nature and this smart saying.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Helping Kids To Stand On Their Own

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So my wife and I have a longstanding disagreement on the best way of teaching children. 


Her perspective:


TEACH TO CARE – Get the kids to do them for themselves, learn to be independent, by doing they learn to stand on their own two feet, don’t baby them, by teaching them to do for themselves you are caring for the kids, if you jump every time they ask then there is no reason for them to try themselves.


His perspective:


CARE TO TEACH – Do for the kids when they are young, by showing them how then they start to learn how to do it for themselves later in life, children need to be shown love and caring so they can learn to one day care for themselves as well as for others, by loving and giving selflessly to children they learn that they are valuable human beings and grow to a healthy maturity. 


The reality:


CARE AND TEACH – We need to show care and love to children, but also need to teach them to do for themselves. We can’t smother children nor can we send them out into the world unprepared. Care for them at an early age, show them how, and then give them opportunities to do it for themselves and become full adults. 


Like with most things in marriage, and relationships in general, the bringing together of two heads and hearts is better than just one alone. We balance each other, complement each other, and synergize each other–one is alone and deficient, two is together and with G-d making three, it is a whole. 


And always tell your wife she was right. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Posture Matters

Posture Matters

So the military got it right when they teach their cadets to stand tall “at attention.”

“Chin up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in.”

The Wall Street Journal (21 August 2013) says that “posture can determine who’s a hero, [and] who’s a wimp.”

Research has shown that striking a power pose raises testosterone levels that is associated with feelings of strength, superiority, social dominance, (and even aggression at elevated levels) and lowers cortisol levels and stress.

Power poses or even just practicing these have been linked with better performance, including interviewing and SAT scores.

Body language or non-verbal communication such as standing erect, leaning forward, placing hands firmly on the table, can project power, presence, confidence, and calmness.

It all ties together where saying the right thing is augmented and synergized by looking the right way, and doing the right thing. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Official U.S. Navy Imagery)

The Meaning of CIO Squared

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An article in CIO Magazine (1 March 2012) describes the term “CIO Squared” as “the combination of chief information officer and chief innovation officer,” and goes on to provide examples of CIOs that are both of these.

While I respect this definition of the term and think innovation is certainly critical to the success of any CIO, and for that matter any organization in our times, I have been writing a column called CIO Squared for a couple of year now in Public CIO magazine and have other thoughts about what this really means.

Moreover, I think the article in CIO missed the point of what “squared” really implies

Like the notion that 1+1=3, CIO Squared is a concept that the CIO is not just multi-faceted and -talented (that would be 1+1=2), but rather that the CIO integrates multiple facets and roles and synergizes these so that they have an impact greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. 1+1=3).

I see the CIO Squared fulfilling its potential in a couple of major ways:

– Firstly, many organizations have both a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technology Officer–they break the “Information Technology” concept and responsibility down into its components and make them the responsibility of two different people or different roles in the organization. One is responsible for the information needs of the business and the other brings the technology solutions to bear on this.

However, I believe that fundamentally, a truly successful CIO needs to be able to bridge both of these functions and wear both hats and to wear them well. The CIO should be able to work with the business to define and moreover envision their future needs to remain competitive and differentiated (that’s the innovation piece), but at the same time be able to work towards fulfilling those needs with technology and other solutions.

Therefore, the role split between the CIO as the “business guy” and the CTO as the “technology whiz” has to merge at some point back into an executive that speaks both languages and can execute on these.

That does not mean that the CIO is a one-man team–quite the contrary, the CIO has the support and team that can plan and manage to both, but the CIO should remain the leader–the point of the spear–for both.

Another way to think of this is that CIO Squared is another name for Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO).

– A second notion of CIO Squared that I had when putting that moniker out there for my column was that the CIO represents two other roles as well–on one hand, he/she is a consummate professional and business person dedicated to the mission and serving it’s customer and stakeholders, and on the other hand, the CIO needs to be a “mensch”–a decent human being with integrity, empathy, and caring for others.

This notion of a CIO or for that matter any CXO–Chief Executive Officer or the “X” representing any C-suite officer (CEO, COO, CFO, CHCO, etc.)–needs to be dual-hatted, where they perform highly for the organization delivering mission results, but simultaneously do so keeping in mind the impact on people and what is ultimately good and righteous.

Therefore, the CIO Squared is one who can encompass both business and technology roles and synthesize these for the strategic benefit of the organization, but also one who is mission-focused and maintains integrity and oneness with his people and G-d above who watches all.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>The Coloring Book of Leadership

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In a leadership course this week, I was introduced to the “Insights Wheel of Color Energies,” a framework for understanding people’s personalities and leadership styles.

In the Color Energies framework, there are four types of personalities/styles:

  • “Fiery Red”—The Director—competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, purposeful, and driving— they seek to “do it NOW.”
  • “Cool Blue”—The Observer—cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, formal, and analytical—they seek to “do it right.”
  • “Sunshine Yellow”—The Inspirer—sociable, dynamic, demonstrative, enthusiastic, persuasive, and expressive. They seek to “do it together.”
  • “Earth Green”—The Supporter—caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, relaxed, and amiable—they seek to “do it in a caring way.”

There is no one best type—each is simply a personal preference. And further, each of us is “incomplete and imperfect”.

  • The one who seeks to “do it right” may miss the point with their “analysis paralysis” when something needs to be done in a time-critical fashion.
  • Similarly, the leader that’s focused on “just getting it done now” may be insensitive to providing adequate support for their people, or collaboration with others in the organization.

We saw this clearly in the class. After each person was asked to self-identify which color they were most closely aligned to, it was clear that people were oriented toward one or maybe two types, and that they did have an individual preference.

While no framework is 100% accurate, I like this one as it seems to capture key distinctions between personalities and also helped to make me more self-aware. (I am Cool Blue and Fiery Red, in case you ever decide to “tangle” with me :-).

Combining Color Energies with other personality assessment frameworks, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), can help us to understand both ourselves and others.

With that knowledge we can work together more productively and more pleasantly, as we empathize with others rather than puzzling about why they act the way they do.

Once we start to identify the “color personalities” of others whom we know and work with, we can better leverage our combined strengths.

To me, therefore, leaders have to surround themselves with other excellent people, who can complement their personality and leadership styles so as to fill in the natural gaps that we each possess.

>The Many Faces of the CIO

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The Chief Information Officer is a complex and challenging role even for those highly experienced, well educated, and innately talented. In fact, Public CIO Magazine in 2009 stated that the average tenure for a CIO is barely 24 months. What is it that is so challenging about being a CIO?

Well of course, there is the technology itself, which some may consider challenging in terms of keeping pace with the quick and ever changing products and services and roles that the IT plays in our society.

But one of the reasons not so frequently addressed is that the CIO role itself is so multi-faceted and requires talents that span a broad range of skills sets that not a lot of people have mastered.

In the CIO Support Services Framework (CSSF), I talked about this in terms of the varied strategic functions and skills that the CIO needs in order to plan and execute effectively (instead of just being consumed in the day-to-day firefighting)—from enterprise architecture to IT governance, from program and project management to customer relationship management, and from IT security to performance management—the CIO must pull these together seamlessly to provide IT capabilities to the end-user.

I came across this concept of the multifaceted CIO this week, in a white paper by The Center for CIO Leadership called “Beyond the Crossroads: How Business-Savvy CIOs Enable Top-Performing Enterprises and How Top-Performing Enterprise Leverage Business-Savvy CIOs.” The paper identifies multiple CIO core competencies, including a generic “leadership” category (which seems to cross-over the other competencies), “business strategy and process” reengineering, technology “innovation and growth”, and organization and talent management.

Additionally, the white paper, identifies some interesting research from a 2009 IBM global survey entitled “The New Voice of the CIO” that points to both the numerous dimensions required of the CIO as well as the dichotomy of the CIO role. The research describes both “the strategic initiatives and supporting tactical roles that CIOs need to focus upon,” as follows:

Insightful Visionary

Able Pragmatist

Savvy Value Creator

Relentless Cost Cutter

Collaborative Business Leader

Inspiring IT Manager

Clearly, the CIO has to have many functions that he/she must perform well and furthermore, these roles are at times seemingly polar-opposites—some examples are as follows:

  • Developing the strategy, but also executing on it.
  • Growing the business through ongoing investments in new technologies, but also for decommissioning old technologies, streamlining and cutting costs.
  • Driving innovation, modernization, and transformation, but also ensuring a sound, stable, and reliable technology infrastructure.
  • Maintaining a security and privacy, but also for creating an open environment for information sharing, collaboration, and transparency.
  • Understanding the various lines of business, but also running a well honed IT shop.
  • Managing internal, employee resources, but also typically managing external, contracted resources.
  • Focusing internally on the mission and business, but also for reaching outside the organization for best practices and partnerships.

However, what can seem like contradictions in the CIO role are not really incongruous, but rather they are mutually supportive functions. We develop the strategy so we can faithfully execute. We invest in new technology so we can decommission the legacy systems. We invest in new future capabilities, while maintaining a stable present day capacity, and so on. The role of the CIO is truly multifaceted, but also synergistic and a potent platform for making significant contributions to the organization.

While certainly, the CIO does not accomplish all these things by him/herself, the CIO does have to be able to lead the many facets of the job that is required. The CIO must be able to talk everything from applications development to service oriented architecture, from data center modernization to cloud computing, from server and storage virtualization to mobility solutions, from green computing to security and privacy, and so much more.

The CIO is not a job for everybody, but it is a job for some people—who can master the many facets and even the seeming contractions of the job—and who can do it with a joy and passion for business and IT that is contagious to others and to the organization.

>Playing It Safe or Provoking to Action

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Which does your leadership do? Do they play it safestaying the same familiar course, avoiding potential change and upset or do they provoke to action, encourage continuous improvement, are they genuinely open to new ideas, and do they embrace the possibilities (along with the risks) of doing things better, faster, and cheaper?

Surely, some leaders are masters of envisioning a brighter future and provoking the change to make it happen. Leaders from Apple, Google, Amazon, and other special leaders come to mind. But many others remain complacent to deliver short-term results, not rock the boat, and keep on fighting the day-to-day fires rather than curing the firefighting illness and moving the organization to innovation, ideation, and transformation through strategic formulation and execution.

Provoking to action is risky for leaders as the old saying goes, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down,and often leaders that make even the best-intentioned mistakes in trying to do the right thing get sorely punished. Only enlightened organizations encourage innovation and experimentation and recognize that failure is part of the process to get to success.

While responsible leaders, almost by definition, provide a stable, reliable, secure, and robust operating environment, we must balance this with the need to grow and change productively over time. We need more organizations and leaders to stand up and provoke actionto drive new ways of thinking and doing thingsto break the complacency mindset and remove the training wheels to allow a freer, faster, and more agile movement of organizational progress. To provoke action, we need to make our people feel safe to look out for long-term organizational success strategies rather than just short-term bottom line numbers.

Harvard Business Review (December 2009) provides some useful tips for provoking action called Five Discovery Skills Separate True Innovators from the Rest of Us.

  • AssociatingDevelop a broad knowledgebase and regularly give yourself the time and space to freely associateallow your brain to connect the dots in new ways and see past old stovepipes. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some these lead to new ideas.
  • Questioning–”Innovators constantly ask questions that challenge common wisdom. We need to question the unquestionable as Ratan Tata put it. We must challenge long-held assumptions and Ask why? Why not? And What if? Dont be afraid to play devils advocate. Let your imagination flow and imagine a completely different alternative. Remove barriers to creative thinking and banish fear of people laughing at you, talking behind your back, dismissing you, or even conducting acts of reprisal.
  • ObservingCareful observation of people and how they behave provides critical insights into what is working and what isnt. There is a cool field of study in the social sciences called ethnomethodology that studies just such everyday human behavior and provides a looking glass through which we can become aware of and understand the ways things are and open us up to the way things could be better.
  • ExperimentingWeve got to try new things and approaches to learn from them and see if they work and how to refine them. Productive changes dont just happen all of a sudden like magic; they are cultivated, tested, refined, and over time evolve into new best practices for us and our organizations. Experimentation involves intellectual exploration, physical tinkering[and] engaging in new surroundings.
  • NetworkingIts all about people: they inspire us, provoke us, complement us, and are a sounding board for us. We get the best advances and decisions when we vet ideas with a diverse group of people. Having a diverse group of people provides different perspectives and insights that cannot be gleaned any other way. There is power in numbers”–and I am not referring to the power to defeat our enemies, but the power to think critically and synergistically. The group can build something greater than any individual alone ever could.

Of course, we cannot drive change like a speeding, runaway train until it crashes and burns. Rather, change and innovation must be nurtured. We must provoke to action our organizations and our people to modernize and transform through critical thinking, questioning the status quo, regular observation and insight, the freedom to experiment and constructively fail, and by building a diverse and synergistic network of people that can be greater than the sum of their parts.