Face of Benross Golf… Who would have thought

When I took up golf about 5 years ago, it was my way to get out of the house and get some fresh air.  I had always admired the game, but never understood it or had a chance to play much (except during my stay in Kuala Lumpur for project work).  Years of playing cricket meant I had some basic hand-eye coordination, but all the wrong type of muscle memory.  If at that time someone had told me that I would be in contention to be the Brand ambassador of a golf club manufacturer, I would PMSLing..

FaceOfBRoss-PosterOver the past 5 years, I have played a few courses and cut my handicap and been active in the Golfing media.  I have come to love the game and my son is getting into it. Last month, Benross ran a competition to look for a Brand Ambassador via their ‘Be the Face of Benross’.  As a middle aged hack, I had little chance of it, but then I tossed my name into the cap and lo and behold, I am in the shortlist of 15!!!

The next round is via Facebook voting.  As some of the other competitors are young & digital savvy millennial, I was expecting they would walk all over the rest of us.  So it is good to see, that my family and friends (and their family and friends) have helped me get to a respectable position on the leaderboard.

Polling closes on 2nd March 2015, so if you read this post prior to that, do vote for me for being the Face of Benross I need votes to finish in the top 5 and qualify for the finals. The voting is via Facebook and it would be great if you can vote for me by hitting ‘Like’ on my photo on the Benross Facebook page. Click on the link http://on.fb.me/1zlc9ie  and hit Like.. Simple. Should take less than 5 seconds and anyone can vote.

Who says middle aged men with full time jobs and high handicaps cant aspire for such things.
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Finding a new Coach – the_coach

I played Swinley Forest GC at a corporate event a few weeks ago. On the 11th P4, the organising pro comes around and records a video and gives some suggestions. The video can be seen here on the Ubersense site (swing starts around the 29 sec mark)

Anyways, I posted this video to the Golf Monthly forum for comments. There were a few well intentioned comments, but the one with the real meat came from a forum member simple know as the the_coach. the_coach is apparently based in California, plays off a +1 handicap.

The_coach coaches through his/her own involvement with the USGA at state & national level. He tries to play in the (US) national open amateur & state competitions throughout a season plus the three clubs he belong to. It is remarkable that the_coach is taking the time to advice a lot of folks on the GM forum. Irrespective of the fact that I dont know who the_coach is, the advice he provided me is rock solid and I have benefited from it. Since our first contact on the forum, I have exchanged a lot of ideas with him and every bit of advice either via his/her long and well crafted message or video suggestions have worked wonders for me. (For the sake of simplicity, I will address the_coach as a ‘he’)

To keep all the advice in one place, I have started a new blog series imaginatively called ‘The_coach Series’.  The advice pertains to my swing and the_coach’s assessment of it, but some elements are equally applicable to everyone. I have tagged the series with a ‘the_coach’ tag so will be easier to find and here is a quick link too.. Happy learning>>

Transform your IT, then the Business

The following is an article I help cowrite  for CIO Connect magazine (along with Richard Webb).
 
Transform your IT, then the Business
The CIO has long been positioned as a senior executive on the cusp of becoming a truly strategic partner to the business. However, a recent survey by Ernst & Young, shows that in the real world, very few CIOs have so far managed to achieve this goal. According to our survey, less than one in five of the CIOs polled have risen to become a full member of their company’s executive management team. Additionally, when asked about the degree to which they participate in strategic decision-making, responses were lukewarm, with just 43% rating this as something that they are highly engaged in.
One of the possible reasons for the CIO not being able to gain a seat at the top table could be because the IT Department is burdened with a track record of unsuccessful delivery of business needs. This results in the CIO being perceived as someone who does not understand the business and whose sole purpose is there to keep the lights on.  In this article, I offer four ways through which a CIO can bridge the credibility gap and, once achieved, how they can move IT away from being seen as a support function toward gaining a stronger role as an innovative, transformative and integral part of the business.
Deliver on the basics.
The first area involves executing the basics and making sure the IT function is a well-oiled machine that supports the business both from an operational perspective (ensuring the infrastructure is secure, resilient and performing) as well as a delivery perspective (delivery of existing projects, stopping projects that no longer justify the business case and ring-fencing those that will deliver real business value).  Achieving this can place a large demand on the CIOs time and may reduce their ability to focus on how IT can serve to meet the strategic needs of the business.  It is therefore recommended that the CIO should have a key delegate who can handle the operational side of IT on their behalf.
Keep the team motivated
As the saying goes, ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, get a team’; to build a credible IT function, it is imperative that the IT workforce is high performing and cohesive unit. Keeping such a team motivated, requires the clever use of financial and non-financial levers.  As a CIO, this requires a skill-set not typically associated with a person who has a background in IT and requires you to consider such areas as; ensuring you have the right people in the right roles, communicating and listening to your workforce, rewarding merit and demonstrating that remuneration is linked to performance.
Demonstrating cost leadership
Establishing oneself as a cost leader is perhaps the area in which a CIO can make the biggest impact to their credibility.  CIOs need to understand how IT spend decisions affects the net present value of the business and consider IT costs in terms of balance sheet and P&L impacts.  However, few CIOs bring this financial literacy to their role.  A cost leader CIO should;
  • Instil a culture of cost awareness in the IT Department.  An example of where this would be of benefit is with respect to the IT Department’s sourcing arrangements which typically make up to between 60%-90% of spend.  The IT Department, and hence the CIO often receive criticism for not understanding the implications of contractual arrangements they have entered into.
  • Demonstrating efficiency in IT spend e.g. implementing a streamlined organisational structure with less layers and having an IT Operations Lead and IT Delivery Lead which allows you to focus on more strategic needs of the business
  • Understanding IT cost and reflecting this in your use of language while communicating to the business.  Often, CIO’s are guilty of explaining things in terms of gigabytes and terahertz which may result in the loss of business audience.
However, achieving cost leadership can often be the most difficult learning curve as it involves an appreciation of finance which again may not come naturally to a CIO who has an IT background.
Expand your relationships
The nature of a C-suite role requires a far greater emphasis on relationship building and fostering better links with a wider range of stakeholders both within and outside the business.  As a CIO, trusted relationships are built through an IT department that is seen to delivering on its promises and engaging with the wider business.  Roman Dudzik, the CIO of Polish utility Energa, talks of “making a bridge” with the rest of the business, which in turn helps IT professionals get invited to the meetings from which they were previously excluded. But he adds that this is “not something you can do from one day to another. You need to build these relationships over time,” he says.
CIOs must also reach out beyond their own walls to others in the sector, the regulatory community, analysts, customers and the media. Laurent Ferrari of EDF notes how a personal network of external contacts he has built up over time has been invaluable in giving him an edge in his role. “The CIO has to be part of a lot of different networks,” he notes.
Conclusion

By building a lean, motivated, cost aware IT Department with a track record for successful delivery, the CIO will earn the right to sit at the top table as a business partner.  Once there, the CIO can start to increase his sphere of influence with an unprecedented opportunity to drive the business agenda.

A home for blogging

Hello.. welcome to my new home in cyberspace.

Over the years I have written on different websites, blogs or print.

These little pieces of me have been floating around for a while and have never been pulled together in one place. The idea to give them a home came around while on a lunch break with Richard Webb.  While I suffer from sporadic bouts of writing, I realised it might be a good idea to have one site that can act as a home that I can always turn to.  I took Rick Mans advice and did ‘go for it’, but there were several challenges in pulling this site together.

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Classroom Capitalism

(I didn’t write this but I found it interesting and wanted to share it.  While it makes it interesting reading, it does have it flaws.  But more on this later.  I saw this on Facebook, and the author and authenticity of the article is unknown)

An economics teacher at a local school made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Gillard/Brown socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
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Gaining a single figure handicap..Done. (well almost)

In June 2011, when the RiG and I were the only hackers around the Shey & Maybury courses, I chanced upon a posting on the Hoebridge notice board. This was for the monthly 9-hole Improvers competition. I snapped a pic and sent it to RiG to check his appetite for participating. Shey is a 9-hole, par 33 course. RiG was not very keen as he thought we would be rubbish at it and would end up embarassing ourselves. While there was merit in the argument, I prevailed over RiG and as they say the rest is history. Continue reading

Is Disruption the same as Innovation?

We are increasingly seeing innovation becoming part of the CxO growth agenda and Capgemini is a recognised leader in this area. So it is understandable that I got a bit of grief for using the term ‘Disruption’ instead of ‘Innovation’ in my previous posting. So that begs the question, is Disruption the same as Innovation? My answer is: It depends. Innovation comes in various forms and can affect different parts of the organisation in ways that may or may not cause disruption. Disruption on the other hand is almost always an end result of an innovation; new technology, process, products or applying an old way of doing things in a new context/industry. Continue reading