Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Values should you expect but will never hear from leadership!

Many leadersmanagers over the next month or so are preparing to deliver speeches that champion ideals. It is a common tendency to draw up a set of values and present them simultaneously to all of the key players at some annual meeting or specially convened strategic planning meeting or retreat without regard to how this ceremonial practice may run counter to their goals...

An enterprise may be made worse, not better, by pretending to advocate a set of standards its not prepared to live by. I suspect many in the audience will look upwards to see if those guys are truly serious before they commit themselves to a cause.

Having been an IT employee for the last twenty five years across many organizations, I have yet to find a set of values that remains uncompromisable. We live in a world where waivers are the norm. Many people continue to avoid improvement simply because it isn't required by their leadership. Have you noticed the message is finely tuned but otherwise lacks the substance of bi-directional commitment?

Below are some values I have outlined that are notoriously absent from the majority of the speeches I have heard:
If your CIO were to incorporate these phrases and truly meant it, would that be a dream job...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Why many consulting firms never deliver the value sought by CIOs

There are many successful consulting firms including the likes of Accenture, Cognizant, Virtusa and Wipro. Sadly, they still leave a lot to be desired in the hearts and minds of their clients. I think I know what the missing ingredient is...

It is important to acknowledge that these firms provide their clients with exactly what they ask for and therefore the onus shifts to a CIO needing to ask for the right things. The fatal flaw made by many CIOs is in asking for consulting services and not expertise.

An expert's job is to be right: To solve the client's problems through the application of technical and professional skill. In order to accomplish this, the expert takes responsibility for the work away from the client and acts as if he/she is "in charge" until the project is completed.

The consultant behaves differently, rather than being in the right, the consultant's job is to be helpful and to provide guidance, input and counseling to the client's own thought and decision-making processes. The client retains control and responsibility at all times: the consultant's role is subordinate to this, not that of a prime mover.

The best and brightest within our profession are forced to pretend to the virtues of being a consultant but in reality do not want to be one. They don't want to consult but instead have a preference to take charge. The asset manager does not want to merely recommend suitable investments anymore than a trial litigator want to be constrained to only providing input on trial strategy.

What if we could figure out a way to eliminate pretend behaviors? An expert wants to be an expert is going to be miserably poor at pretending to be a consultant and with high predictability will resent the client throughout the entire project.

Anyone want to take a guess at how frequently this happens?

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Sunday, January 01, 2012


Why IT fails at increased productivity and business value

I have been studying some of the traits within the insurance vertical and have observed:

Success enterprises live up to their ideology and high standards, even if it costs them something in the short term. The most successful of enterprises have the highest of values that are articulated, adopted and internalized. Think about what comes to mind when you hear the names of McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Do you think think these firms attempt to be everything to everyone and focus on crowd-pleasing perception management?

In these firms, do you think that the so-called leadership is only focused on leadership and ignores the basics of management? I wonder if someone in McKinsey is thinking that they can make a lot of money just by getting people to work harder and couching this under the guise of leadership? Do they simply set higher financial targets and enforce them while ignoring things like inspiration and motivation?

What would happen if your CIO truly thought about creating an environment where passion is rewarded instead of penalized. What would he/she say if they reflected on the following implicit statements contained within their message:

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Are Insurance Carriers adopting the worst practices of Banks?

We all know what happened to the banking sector and its cataclysmic collapse. Some people think banking collapsed do to its incestuous greed and irresponsibility in making horrific underwriting decisions. While these are contributing factors, I believe that the issue at hand is in putting profits ahead of people...

Its now 2012, the year of the empowered consumer. We can no longer expect consumers to exhibit brand loyalty when it has become apparent that they are no longer respected as individuals. Marketers everyone are attempting to classify, categorize and taxonomize consumers into nice little buckets while ignoring what makes them so valuable.

Empowered customers will figure out that insurers determined sometime ago that it was cheaper to use price and sales to win/retain their business than it was to earn their custom and loyalty through value and service. It is the insurance industry version of the same flawed "high leverage/high growth model" strategy that the banks blew-up!

This inward-looking and self-serving approach focused upon improving margins for the operator at the expense of the customer, rather than on the type of "creative destruction" to improve products/service and has ultimately left the industry reputationally damaged and untrusted.

As we continue down this destructive path, I humbly predict that the rise of technologies ranging from business intelligence to channel transparency will further erode the value proposition of insurance to consumers. With passion, I humbly predict that this will be a year where the increase in loss ratios will outrun the ability to increase prices. Anyone care to argue differently, I welcome their insight...

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