Archive for the ‘Books Read’ Category

Books Read: “Seven Methods for Transforming Corporate Data into Business Intelligence”, Dhar, Stein   Leave a comment

The starting point for this book is intelligence density. Intelligence density is a measure of the useful decision support information available.

Dhar and Stein posit a 4 quadrant stretch plot to facilitate the understanding:
– Quadrants:
  – Q1: accuracy, explainability, response speed
  – Q2: scalability, compactness, flexibility, embeddability, ease of use
  – Q3: tolerance for complexity, tolerance for noise in data, toleance for sparse data, learning curve
  – Q4: development speed, independence from experts, computing ease
– Dimensions:
  – Q1 & Q2: Model Related
  – Q3 & Q4: Organisation Related
  – Q1 & Q3: Quality Related
  – Q2 & Q4: Constraint Related

So, the 7 methods are:
– Data driven decision support
– Genetic algorithms: evolving solutions
– Neural networks: simulating the brain to solve problems
– rule-based systems: putting expert reasoning in a box
– fuzzy logic: dealing with linguistic ambiguity
– case-based reasoning: solving problems by analogy
– machine learning: deriving rules from data

As they highlight, utilising the correct method requires:
– an understanding of the range of tools & techniques available to model business problems
– a business-oriented methodology for developing decision support systems

For me, whilst all a bit theoretical and, at this stage, not applicable to my work situations, is an important piece of background information on the thinking behind business intelligence and decision support systems.

Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, ICT Strategy, Innovation

Books Read: “Right Brain / Left Brain Leadership”, Decosterd   Leave a comment

Excellent insights into what makes successful leaders. In essence, success goes to those with the greatest breadth and flexibility in style and perspective.

As Dr. Decosterd is well experienced in organisational development, applied psychology, university teaching and executive coaching her views are most applicable.

The start of the book there is her “Leadership Behaviour Rating” scale (1-10), where a score above 7 in a category indicates a depth strength. A high breadth score is a score of 7 in 7 or more categories:
– assertive
– transformational
– strategic
– savvy
– innovative
– expressive
– engaging
– resilient
– methodical
– grounded

And thus to her thesis – in order to succeed leaders need to act from a broader, more complete range of business, organisational and interpersonal behaviours.

The model she presents has 10 guiding behaviours (how to) and 4 key processes (what):
Behaviours
– left brain:
  – methodical
  – expressive
  – grounded
  – assertive
– right brain:
  – strategic
  – innovative
  – transformational
  – engaging
– plus factors:
  – resilient
  – savvyy
Processes
– visioning
– operationalising
– implementing
– declaring

The above lists just scratch the surface as each of these behaviours have related traits (which are too numerous to list here).

And there are action/development plans to assist in the trajectory of leadership improvement. They are based on:
– orient your leadership from right to left
– work differently, not harder
– when stuck in a preference, shift style
– avoid the quick fix
– manage your energy thoughout the day
– create dynamic interplays
– promote synergies
– go natural
– build a library on leadership, not book-of-the-month picks
– make feedback your new best friend

There is a Charles Schulz quote in the book which is quite apt: “Life is like a ten speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use”.

For me, there is much in the book which speaks to self development

Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Leadership, Organisational Development

Books Read: “On Leading Change”, F.Hesselbein, R.Johnston   Leave a comment

This book explores the challenges of transforming organisations. The themes that emerge are that change leaders encourage questions, innovation, experimentation and learning.

A key thought about change is that change is of necessity a planned abandonment. Its more about creating than problem solving, and its about being open to the new.

That change starts with the passionate few, and that framing is at the heart of the persuasive abilities of these change agents. The elements of framing are:
– what will appeal to hearer
– attractive advantages
– meaningful outcomes

And there are 7 essential steps to transforming a culture through a changed organisation:
1. environment scanning for trends that will impact organistaion
2. determine impact of the trends
3. re-examine & refine mission
4. drop old hierarchy & create flexible structures to release energy
5. challenge assumptions, policies, procedures (keep future relevant ones)
6. communicate compelling messages around mission, goals & values
7. disperse responsibility of leadership

And while change is external (different policies, practices, etc), transition is internal (psychological reorientation). Thus change timelines can, and are, affected by stakeholder’s mental state. That people need to say good-bye to the old, enter a neutral zone of confusion and preparation, and then finally begin to move forward. It can be tough. That’s why the “4 P’s” are important:
– purpose: why do we have to do this
– picture: what does the goal look & feel like
– plan: the steps ahead
– part: involvement in the plan

The research covered by this book highlights 3 key attributes of change-adept organisations:
– concepts: the imagination to innovate
– competence: the professionalism to perform
– connections: the openness to collaborate

Another approach to breaking free from the old & ushering in the change is to manage by committments:
– to a course of action
– to an ambitious goal
– to stretch relationships
– to an operating philosophy

Another facet of change is the operating environment we all face – the opposing tensions of interdependence & diversity. To lead in this connected world, leaders must:
– have ethical & political savviness
– be authentic & accountable
– fopcus on the politics of commonalities
– think long-term, act short-term
– exhibit leadership through expectation
– seek a a quest for meaning

For me, leading change is similar to infusing innovation. It requires transparency of motive, an openness to the new and a bias toward servant leadership

Posted February 20, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Leadership, Organisational Development

Books Read: “Multiple Intelligences and Leadership”, Riggio, Murphy, Pirozzolo   Leave a comment

Excellent book on a key component of leadership: intelligence. But specifically looking at the different types of intelligence and their respective influences upon leadership effectiveness.

The domains of intelligence as discussed by the papers presented in this book are:
– analytical
– cognitive
– creative
– cultural
– emotional
– practical
– social

I found it not only intriguing, but also leading me to reflect upon, the notion of multiple types of intelligences. That we each hold a mix of intelligences, with degrees of sub-competencies, and that these factors greatly influence our leadership styles.

For example, successful organisational leadership requires a high degree of social intelligence. Social intelligence comprises the two competencies of social reasoning and relational skills. These social reasoning skills are:
– social perceptiveness
– social knowledge structures
– metacognitive reasoning
And the relational skills are:
– behavioural flexibility
– negotiation
– conflict management
– persuasion
– social influence

Which all leads to the thought that one’s social intelligence could be improved by targetting each of these skills.

Likewise with emotional intelligence. Although there are a couple of models that attempt to explain emotional intelligence (the ability model & the mixed model), they too are structured with competencies (ie, perception, empathy, self-awareness, etc).

Then there is the discussion regarding transformational leadership (as opposed to transactional leadership). Those leaders seen as transformational will have greater emotional and social intelligences than cogntive intelligence.

Another important factor covered by the book, whilst not exactly a leadership skill or competency, is motivation.

As the authors state at the end of the book: “successful leadership is extraordinarily complex, and we are only beginning to understand the implications of multiple intelligences for research on leadership, and for leadership selection, training and development”.

For me, understanding that there are numerous skills which ultimately combine to produce a capacity to lead implies that, to a degree, leaders can indeed be made.

Posted February 20, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Career, Directorship, Leadership

Books Read: “Managing the Information Technology Resource”, Luftman   Leave a comment

A quite comprehensive book. Luftman knows what he is talking about due to his long career in IT as CIO, IBM consultant and academic.

In typical left-brained fashion, this book is full of lists!

The first two chapters deal with IT strategy. This is quite understandable for at the core of the IT function is (or at least should be) the IT strategy. The IT strategy enables, or drives, the business strategy. The clear implication is that there must be strategic alignment between the business & its IT function.

Which leads to the Strategic Alignment Maturity Model:
1. Initial/Ad Hoc process
2. Committed process
3. Established Focus process
4. Improved/Managed process
5. Optimised process

With the following criteria for each level of the maturity model:
– communications
– competency/value
– governance
– partnership
– scope & architecture
– skills

In developing the IT strategy, the concerns and related decisions are about:
– external domain:
  – scope of the firm’s technology
  – systemic competencies
  – IT governance
– internal domain
  – IT architecture
  – IT organisational processes
  – IT skills

These concerns can be summarised as follows:
– Business Strategy
  – Business scope
  – Distinctive competencies
  – Business governance
– Organisation Infrastructure & Processes
  – Administrative structure
  – Processes
  – Skills
– IT Strategy
  – Technology scope
  – Systemic competencies
  – IT governance
– IT Infrastructure & Processes
  – Architecture
  – Processes
  – Skills

Some other key lists are:
– Planning involves consideration of the following aspects of IT:
  – strategic
  – tactical
  – operations

– tactical planning areas:
  – application
  – data
  – system
  – network
  – project
  – SLA
  – DR (business continuity)
  – security
  – audit
  – capacity
  – skills
  – budget
  – vendor
  – management systems

– the technology S-curve has implications for the strategic posture that a new technology can create for an organization

– characteristics of innovation that influence adoption rate
  – relative advantage
  – compatibility
  – complexity
  – trialability
  – observability

– to measure IT, identify strategic goals for each of the 38 IT Processes. Then identify a measurement related to a critical success factor of that goal

– Society for Information Management said best to use Portfolio Management Process (2001)

– also use the Business framework to rank investment projects using 4 criteria:
  – – financial benefits
  – – intangible benefits
  – – technical importance
  – – business objectives

And so to the final list, the book’s contents:
1. Introduction
2. IT Strategy
3. Strategic Alignment Maturity
4. The Role of the CIO
5. IT Processes
6. Planned-Related IT Processes
7. Managing Emerging Technologies
8. Organising IT
9. Human Resource Considerations
10. Management of Change
11. IT Governance
12. IT Business Communication
13. Measuring, Repoering & Controlling
14. Assessing the Value of IT

For me, this book highlights the need to get the IT strategy right and aligned to the business.

Posted February 20, 2013 by terop in Books Read, ICT Strategy

What I would do – version 1.0!   Leave a comment

After having read all of these books, although there are more reviews to come, what would I do given the opportunity?

1. Expose people to ideas through networking, events, seminars, courses & the like
2. Setup a system that establishes, and rewards, an ongoing flow of innovation
3. Keep a forward looking “upgrade” agenda
5. Maintain contextual perspective (organisation, users, finance)

All in the context of servant leadership (more posts to come on this topic).

The quote which best summarises a valid, comtemporary & successful leadership style is this:

“Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it toward goals of beneficial permanance that fulfill the group’s real needs.”

Books Read: “Managing Intellectual Capital”, Teece   Leave a comment

This academic puts his finger squarely on the problem: “knowledge, competence & related intangibles have emerged as the key drivers of competitive advantage in developed nations”.

Thus, the essence of the firm in the new economy is its ability to create, transfer, integrate, protect & exploit knowledge assets. That is, its intellectual capital.

So, a firm needs dynamic capabilities as well as knowledge assets. This dynamic capability is the ability to sense and then seize new opportunities, to reconfigure and protect knowledge assets, competencies, complementary assets & technologies, and to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

Whilst a large part of the book is spent on how to manage intellectual capital in different fields, for example market entry strategies, licensing options & public policy, the foundational concepts espoused are sound.

And again the innovation meme. This innovation meme that is central to our modern economy. Teece maintains that in order the maintain competitiveness firms need to adopt innovation strategies that force change. These strategies are:
– increase exposure to ideas and approaches external to the firm
– design organisational structures and incentives to catalyse and reward creative action
– promote the continual shedding of established assets and routines

For me, this book again demonstrates the centrality of innovation to organisational effectiveness.

Books Read: “Managing Innovation”, Tidd, Bessant   Leave a comment

Excellent book on how to get innovation up and running. The sub-title is “Integrating Technological, Market & Organisational Change”.

The bottom line, according to the authors, is that organisations that are consistently successful at managing innovation outperform their peers in terms of growth and financial performance. But to get there, you need to realise that innovation is not easy or automatic. It requires skills, knowledge and motivation.

Overall, they argue for an incrementalist approach to innovation (one based on new knowledge & learning) within a strategic framework. Further, to enable innovation a networking mindset must be in play.

There are 6 parts to this book:
1. Managing Innovation
2. Context
3. Search
4. Select
5. Implement
6. Capture

There is quite a degree of very useful information in this book. So I won’t be aiming to cover it in detail.

As before, innovation is not just about new products. Its also about new processes and services. But underlying this is the concept of the innovation space, that there are 4 dimensions to this space:
– product innovation: changes in the things (products and/or services) that an organisation offers
– process innovation: changes in the ways in which the things are created and delivered
– position innovation: changes in the conext in which the things are introduced
– paradigm innovation: changes in the underlying mental models which frame what the organisation does

Another aspect of innovation is its particular characteristic:
– degree of novelty: incremental or radical
– platforms and family of innovation
– game changing: discontinuous innovation
– level: component or architecture
– timing: innovation life cycle, ie initially a product then a process supporting the product)

And it’s here that the authors present a number of different models and the interrelatedness of the elements of each of these characteristics.

From here the process of innovation is presented and discussed. The primary model of the innovation process is the “innovation funnel”. This model is a clear metaphor for the innovation process where there is a broad range of inputs to the process and a narrow flow of outputs. Thus:
1. search: how can we find opportunities for innovation?
2. select: what are we going to do & why?
3. implement: how are we going to make it happen?
4. capture: how are we going to get the benefits from it?

As noted in some of my other posts, innovation in the worplace requires the right conditions. Some call it a cultural thing, others climate factors. Tidd & Bessant distinguish between the two. They say that climate is defined as the recurring patterns of behaviour, attitudes & feelings that characterise life in an organisation. Whereas culture refers to the deeper & more enduring values, beliefs & norms. They highlight six climate factors that influence innovation:
– trust & openness
– challenge & involvement
– support & space for ideas
– risk taking
– freedom

Now, its all well & good to come up with ideas & plans for innovation. But they need to be implemented if they are worthwile. One of the ways to ensure this is so, is to use the “stage-gate” system:
– Gate 1: filter ideas to preliminary investigation
– Stage 1: Idea formulation
– Gate 2: filter products to business opportunities
– Stage 2: Concept formulation
– Gate 3: filter projects to product/process development
– Stage 3: Product development
– Gate 4: filter products to limited launch
– Stage 4: Test marketing
– Gate 5: filter products to international marketing
– Stage 5: International marketing

Finally, there are 4 clusters of behaviours that represent important routines in realising good performance. Successful innovation:
– is strategy based
– depends upon effective internal & external linkages
– requires enabling mechanisms for making change happen
– only happens within a supporting organisational context

All in all, it reminds me of the Steve Jobs quote: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader & a follower.”

For me, then, this book demonstrates that innovation is not a haphazard affair. That there is a method by which innovation can be infused into an organisation.

Posted February 20, 2013 by terop in Books Read, ICT Strategy, Innovation

Books Read: “Information Management for the Intelligent Organisation”, Choo   Leave a comment

The subtitle of this book is “The Art of Scanning the Environment”.

The nub of Choo’s thesis is that an organisation posseses intelligence. That is, organisations take in information, materials and energy. These are transformed into knowledge, processes and structures that produce goods and services. Thus it can be seen that organisations are at once:
– information processing systems
– decision making systems
– interpretation systems

That work with three classes of knowledge:
– tacit
– rule-based
– cultural

And so to be successful, an organisation, an intelligent organistion if you will, must adapt its behaviour according to its internal and external environment. In other words, an intelligent organisation is a learning organisation.

And so how to learn? Choo states that a climate that encourages learning, designing information processes and systemns that promote knowledge creation and use, and recognises and manages intellectual assets are the keys to successful learning organisations.

Sounds a lot like the climate required for successful innovation culture!

And so there are two factors for success:
– flow of intelligence: related to attributes of connecting, sharing, structuring information
– industry foresight: deep understanding of trends & discontinuitied in technology, demographics, government regulation & social lifestyle

Choo’s “Information Managament Process Model:
– identify information needs
– information acquisition
– information acquisition and storage
– develop information products and services
– information distribution
– information use

About environmental scanning. There are 4 styles:
– undirected viewing: information exposure with no purpose or need in mind
– conditioned viewing: information exposure about selected areas with assessment in mind
– informal search: limited & unstructured information search to address a specific issue
– formal search: deliberate effort to obtain specific information

Taking note of the definition of environmental scanning which is “the acquisition and use of information about trends, events and relationships in an organisation’s external environment which would assist management in planning the organisation’s future course of action”.

Finally, when it comes to implementing, distributing and using the information products & services there are a couple of key questions:
– can users find data to solve their problems
– how do systems add value to the data

For me, this book shows that a healthy organisation, just like an individual, is characterised by a bias toward learning.

Posted February 20, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Innovation

Books Read: “In Search of Excellence”, Peters   Leave a comment

This is one of the classic management books. First released in 1982.

In developing his thesis on the attributes of excellence, Peters draws together several threads.

One is his background. Whilst Tom was an “Organisational Effectiveness” practice leader at McKinsey & Co he developed their “7-S Framework. This framework was designed to inculcate flexibility into organisations to meet their changing conditions.

The multi-variable “7-S Framework”:
– structure
– strategy
– staff (people)
– (management) style
– systems (& procedures)
– style (guiding concepts)
– shared values

Another is management theory. He explores the shortcomings of the “rational models” with their foundations in Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory. Moves onto the “human relations” management theories of McGregor, et al. And finally ends up with some of the current thinking around the impact of an organisation’s environment upon its management practices.

Taking the above with real-world analysis, Peters posits eight attributes of excellence:
  – a bias for action
  – close to the customer
  – autonomy & entrepreneurship
  – productivity through people
  – hands-on value driven
  – stick to the knitting
  – simple form, lean staff
  – simultaneous loose-tight properties

A recipe, I believe, for an IT department or a whole organisation

For me, this book develops the ideals for a good performance.

Posted February 19, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Team Management