Category Archives: Leadership

Transparent Digital Transformations Mitigate Risk, Aid Business Objectivity

NEC – Digital Transformation occurs in two ways. Firstly, organizations implement incremental improvements that help parts of the organization to better perform their fundamental business tasks.

Secondly, the organization completely changes the way it does business—by adjusting its business model or taking advantage of new markets or products—which has the potential to transform the industry and disrupt several others.

There are extremely serious consequences if digital transformations are not properly managed. Problems generally occur when organizations fixate on specific technologies or attempt to reach the ‘transformed’ state without fully understanding their existing digital landscape. This results in wastefulness, duplication, delays and worse.

The foundation of a successful digital transformation is a comprehensive understanding of your current digital landscape and a self-assessment of how prepared you are to face the challenge.

Like many powerful concepts, successful execution is almost impossible to achieve until enabling technology is invented. So, some twenty years after initial attempts, it is now possible to safely and effectively consume innovation as part of the digital transformation journey, instead of being compelled to become more innovative.

Innovation is best accessed from a vibrant vendor marketplace, yet current procurement practices, involving outsourcing, panels and tendering, have failed to leverage the quantum of technological innovation available whilst simultaneously managing risk.

In this model the ‘governance layer’ is placed on the vendor as opposed to the solution. Tendering processes can stifle innovation through proscription and new approaches are discouraged due to the lack of reference-ability.

Are government organizations better placed to learn how to more effectively consume innovation than become innovative?

Government leaders should identify, mitigate and eliminate blockages and friction through the refinement of the governance model and business processes. There is much that sustaining innovation can achieve in this regard. Importantly, an organization can and should become better at consuming innovation to manage downside risks.

What to do, if you’re a leading player in a radically changing
market?

“Found or acquire a subsidiary company with the right values and processes, equip it with the necessary resources, then let it do its thing.” more (pdf)>

How to Serve a President You Don’t Like

By Dannielle Blumenthal – It is no secret that the vast majority of Washingtonians dislike our current president.

But you do not have to like the president to serve well, to make your agency more functional, and to deliver great service to the American public. Because whatever program I was working on, it had little or nothing to do with the president and everything to do with the citizen. The more effectively and efficiently I contributed, and helped others to contribute, the better we served the taxpayers, who too often are forgotten in all the discord.

Many conflicts in government really are about ideological differences and beliefs that are fervently held. Others are about personality differences. Still others have to do with money, status, and power. Many are a mixture of all of these.

But most federal employees aren’t having these power struggles.

Most civil servants, at least, can serve a president they don’t like. But if doing you job under this president means violating your personal beliefs and principles, then I would argue it’s incumbent upon you to find another place to work outside of government. more>

Escape the echo chamber

By C Thi Nguyen – Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry.

Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention.

An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side.

An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

Luckily, though, epistemic bubbles are easily shattered. We can pop an epistemic bubble simply by exposing its members to the information and arguments that they’ve missed. But echo chambers are a far more pernicious and robust phenomenon. more>

The Troubling Transformation Of The EU

By Hans Kundnani – There are two quite different ways of thinking about the Commission’s proposals. For Macron, they were part of a vision for a “Europe qui protege” in which there would be greater “solidarity” between citizens and member states.

In the context of this vision, the new European Monetary Fund would be a kind of embryonic treasury for the eurozone. But many in Germany, including Wolfgang Schäuble, seem to support the same idea for entirely different reasons. They see it as a way to increase control over EU member states’ budgets and more strictly enforce the eurozone’s fiscal rules and thus increase European “competitiveness”. If that vision were to prevail, “more Europe” would mean “more Germany” – as many of the steps that have been taken in the last seven years since the euro crisis began have.

These different visions illustrate the way that deepening European integration is not automatically or inherently a good thing. In fact, steps such as turning the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) into a European Monetary Fund may form part of a troubling transformation of the EU that goes back to the beginning of the euro crisis.

It is as if the EU is in the process of being remade in the image of the IMF. It increasingly seems to be a vehicle for imposing market discipline on member states – something quite different from the project that the founding fathers had in mind and also quite different from how most “pro-Europeans” continue to imagine the EU.

Indeed, it is striking that, in discussions about debt relief for crisis countries, the European Commission has often been even more unyielding than the IMF. As Luigi Zingales put it in July 2015: “If Europe is nothing but a bad version of the IMF, what is left of the European integration project?” more>

Trump’s New Solution to Every Problem

By David A. Graham – Three times in the last two weeks, President Trump has turned in frustration from an intractable problem and landed upon an apparently elegant solution: the military.

In each of these cases, the attraction of military action for the president is clear. He has found his agenda largely stalled in Congress, where legislators have no interest in funding the wall or any other number of signature Trump projects, and the president has shown neither the interest nor the patience to lobby them. Even working through executive-branch processes has not produced the results that Trump wants, as courts have blocked some of his most treasured moves, especially his Muslim travel ban.

As commander in chief, he has authority over the military, and the military is, at least in theory, better equipped to respond quickly and efficiently to orders than the rest of the government. What each of these cases has shown, however, is that even the military doesn’t offer a frictionless tool for evading political and practical reality.

Trump is hardly alone among presidents in turning to the Pentagon as a method of acting when other means wear out. Dog-wagging and jingoism make military deployments an alluring option for any president, especially one who is struggling in Congress, opinion polls, or both. President Obama became quickly enamored of drone strikes. President Clinton bombed the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Sudan. President Reagan invaded Grenada. Presidents at the ends of their terms tend to concentrate on foreign affairs, sometimes at the barrel of a gun, once they’ve achieved all they can domestically. more>

A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe

By Richard Stallman – Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.

The surveillance imposed on us today far exceeds that of the Soviet Union. For freedom and democracy’s sake, we need to eliminate most of it. There are so many ways to use data to hurt people that the only safe database is the one that was never collected. Thus, instead of the EU’s approach of mainly regulating how personal data may be used (in its General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR), I propose a law to stop systems from collecting personal data.

The robust way to do that, the way that can’t be set aside at the whim of a government, is to require systems to be built so as not to collect data about a person. The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

Frills on the system, such as the feature of letting a passenger review the list of past journeys, are not part of the basic function, so they can’t justify incorporating any additional surveillance.

What about security? Such systems in areas where the public are admitted must be designed so they cannot track people.

The EU’s GDPR regulations are well-meaning, but do not go very far. It will not deliver much privacy, because its rules are too lax. They permit collecting any data if it is somehow useful to the system, and it is easy to come up with a way to make any particular data useful for something. more>

Reinventing And Humanizing Management: How Agile And Beyond Budgeting Have Converged

By Steve Denning – “What is required in today’s creative economy,” wrote Gary Hamel recently, “is a radical rethink of our top-down, tradition-encrusted management principles and processes. The challenge: building organizations that are as innovative as they are efficient, as passion-filled as they are pragmatic… This is not merely about implementing a new practice, process or structure. Instead, we have to start with a new set of management principles.”

The Agile movement began in software development, while the Beyond Budgeting (BB) movement started from a re-think of budgeting principles. What’s interesting is to see how far these two movements, which had such radically different origins, have steadily converged.

The purpose of the Beyond Budgeting movement is not necessarily to get rid of budgets. The purpose is to create these organizations that are more adaptive, more human, call it more agile. In order to do that, we need to change traditional management.

At the core of traditional management, you find the budgeting process and the budgeting mindset. So the budget is “the elephant in the room.” An organization can never be truly agile unless you also address that mindset, and that process. It is necessary but not sufficient. more>

Are We Master or Machine?

By Junko Yoshida – The two AI leaders are the US and China. In the US, it’s entirely driven by the private sector… Chinese players collect a lot of data driven by a government. Neither reflects our principles and values, says French President.

Most U.S. consumers, swept into the era of Big Data, in a prosperous nation where Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have become the definition of Big Business, don’t readily dwell on the constitutional complexities of personal privacy.

Last Thursday, Emmanuel Macron, president of France, laid out a new strategy for artificial intelligence in his country. The French government will spend 1.5 billion euro ($1.85 billion) over five years to support research in the field, encourage startups, and collect data that can be used and shared by engineers.

Macron’s goal is obvious. France is figuring out that they’ve got to start catching up to the U.S. and China. He wants the best and the brightest in the AI field to come to Paris.

To most American observers, Macron’s economic argument is easy to understand. Where things get tricky for most Americans to comprehend is the French argument on “values.”

This is where Macron introduces “digital sovereignty.” more>

Is Constitutional Localism the answer to what ails American democracy?

By Michael Hais, Doug Ross, and Morley Winograd – We have a different idea.

Specifically, we call for a new civic ethos or governing framework which we call Constitutional Localism, that will shift the greatest number of public decisions possible to the community level—albeit within a clear constitutional framework to protect the individual freedoms and rights won over the past 250 years.

We see the pursuit by Americans of varied lifestyles and cultural preferences as a healthy sign of American freedom and choice, not a destructive force. We need to rebuild public confidence in American democracy, not by insisting on a singular national answer to each problem, but by celebrating the ability of America’s varied communities to find solutions that work best for them. As we see it, the challenge confronting the nation is to find a way to permit this range of opinion and action to flourish while restoring a shared faith in the common democratic values and processes that define American self-government.

Our prescription to provide better governance while restoring faith in democratic processes is to encourage more democracy, not less.

We believe empowering local communities promises greater benefits than simply escape from the frustrating deadlock in Washington. more>

Will China Really Supplant US Economic Hegemony?

By Kenneth Rogoff – True, it is highly unlikely that President Donald Trump’s huffing and puffing and bluffing will bring about a large-scale return of manufacturing jobs to the US. But the US has the potential to expand the size of its manufacturing base anyway, in terms of output if not jobs.

But China’s rapid growth has been driven mostly by technology catch-up and investment. And while China, unlike the Soviet Union, has shown vastly more competence in homegrown innovation – Chinese companies are already leading the way in the next generation of 5G mobile networks – and its cyber-warfare capacity is fully on par with the US, keeping close to the cutting edge is not the same thing as defining it. China’s gains still come largely from adoption of Western technology, and in some cases, appropriation of intellectual property.

In the economy of the twenty-first century, other factors, including rule of law, as well as access to energy, arable land, and clean water may also become increasingly important. China is following its own path and may yet prove that centralized systems can push development further and faster than anyone had imagined, far beyond simply being a growing middle-income country. But China’s global dominance is hardly the predetermined certainty that so many experts seem to assume.

China might lead the digital future if the US drops the ball, but it won’t become the dominant global power simply because it has a larger population. more>