The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – (Part 7)
March 5, 2010

This post is last in my series and provides where the framework is successfully leveraged.

Successful implementation of the Feld Framework at Companies

Since its inception, The Feld Framework, has been successfully deployed across many companies. The framework has being generalized based on the lessons learned from these companies. The Frito-Lay case has been a topic of case studies by the Harvard Business School.

Frito-Lay                    PepsiCo                                  Coca-Cola                  Agora Foods Southwest Airlines       Delta Airlines                            Burlington Northern Santa Fe FedEx                         Payless Shoes                           Coors Brewing Company The Home Depot         First Data                                AmeriServe Food Distribution


Enterprises that are focused on thriving in the 21st century and beyond have to leverage the IT to enable them to succeed and compete in the fast changing global economy. The Feld Framework provides a robust and highly successful framework to leverage IT and enable business success with speed and consistency.

The Blind Spot can be eliminated if the leadership focuses on the following questions:

Customer Focused:

  • How do customers want to transact business?
  • How quickly are the customers moving to a different set of demands?
  • How quickly are competitors are moving to fulfill customers’ demands?
  • What is the value of the supply-chain leverage?

Business Focused:

  • What are the givens for our industry?
  • What is the value of supply-chain leverage?
  • Are there new competitive entrants?
  • What business transformation is needed to meet the customers’ demand to grow successfully?
  • How can the probability of success be improved while minimizing the risks typically associated with change of transformational magnitudes?
  • What should the pacing of investments be, both short- and long- term?

Organization Focused

  • What gives synergy vs. autonomy, in a multi-divisional company? How and where are these decisions made?
  • How can the transformation occurs and how can the business stay stable during this transformation?
  • How can we leverage the existing assets to keep existing as well as future target running successfully?

The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – (Part 6)
March 4, 2010
In my previous post, I discussed the plank HOW we do it. In the post, I will talk about WHO will accomplish the transformation.
WHO will lead and manage the change?
  • Human aspects make the difference in the success of the journey. Irrespective of in-source, outsource or smart source of resources, the following key principles are essential for success:
  • WHO Principle 1: Organization matters
  • WHO Principle 2: Leadership matters
  • WHO Principle 3: Culture matters
  • WHO Principle 4: Performance matters
  • Treat IT folks in the same manner as one treats people in any other profession.
Once a well articulated WHY, clearly defined WHAT and pathway to execution of HOW it is to be done is completed, the business transformation’s success depends on the leadership: WHO governs and leads the team through the phases. The leadership needs to understand and address the short- vs. long- term needs for the business and the business unit vs. the enterprise’s need for execution. The winning team will have the right talent, the right structure with clear decision making authority, and accountability. A strong and sustained leadership culture from the top of the organization to the front line is the only way to muster the energy for sustainable and systematic change. However, there is need for governance structure and processes. WHO Principle 1—Organization matters: This requires (a) a process driven development teams, (b) a common services team, and (c) a world-class operations team. The IT team should be organized for most enterprises as follows, with a cradle-to-grave responsibility including design, code, test and support, with each group under a strong leader. The development leader should relate to customer experience and deliver a superior end-to-end experience for the customer. An optimal team depends on the size of the enterprise. The basic organization structure could be as follows: VP with 6-10 direct reports presiding over each sub-function and each of them have teams with no more than 60-100 developers. Each front line manager should have a team of 8-12 people. This kind of organization has many advantages, for it provides stability, end-user intimacy and named accountability, creates a knowledge team and empowers developers by engaging them in real-time feedback. Also, all developers should be educated in project management to reduce inefficiency and cost of project management. Besides the process driven team, there is a need for a “common-services” team in every enterprise. The mission of this team is to design and build component code and frameworks that all other development teams can re-use. This improves the quality and cost of development. They also play a key role for this team to provide all of the inter-systems communications and messaging that is so critical to the seamless end-to-end operations. Nothing is successful without a world-class operations team that is “ALWAYS ON” and is focused on providing a superior end-to-end customer experience. The team’s goal is to provide efficient deployment, fixes, provide robust security and immediate response to challenges, both internal and external. WHO Principle 2—There are no perfect leaders, but great leadership teams. Leadership team should follow the following three steps (a) building an agenda, (b) building a foundation and  (c) having an impact A) Building an Agenda Key skills of great leadership: 1) Pattern recognition—the ability to see underlying relationships and understand the meaning beneath the surface. This skill helps to distinguish the important factors from the noise and craft a compelling story of the organization’s challenges and opportunities. Great executives are good at addressing the near-term issues of the enterprise, as well as the lead the team towards the future goals of the enterprise. 2) Street smart—pattern recognition focused on the people and organizations. Leaders need to understand how decisions are made—who the influencers, experts and blockers are in the organization— and who will tell you what you want to hear vs. what you need to know. 3) Technically savvy—the ability to sort complex issues independently and take advantage of organizational, business and technological opportunities while avoiding fads. B) Building a Foundation Leaders must show personal character. This means doing and saying what is right, not just what is expedient or what others want to hear, even if it is at substantial personal risk. The consistency of character is hard to describe, but easily recognized. The leader’s character will build trust in the enterprise and lead to success of the organizations. Another important skill for great leaders is influence and persuasion. Leading other executives and front-line workers through a full scale business transformation that could be game changing will require strong influencing and persuasion ability. C) Having an Impact Leaders need to fully engage with their colleagues in the business. They should (a) provide input that business leaders actively seek out, (b) articulate unstated business needs, (c) guide organization to better processes and solutions and (d) tactfully challenge their colleagues’ position when necessary. Leaders need to be resilient and solutions oriented. During the game-changing initiatives, one needs to develop new approaches to work over, around, and through obstacles and setbacks. To be successful once has to build a resilient organization. WHO Principle 3—The culture of the organization is an important aspect in the success of leading change. Typically, culture is considered a soft topic and hard to describe. In reality it is actually a hard topic but easy to describe. Culture is like mortar that makes the building blocks (bricks) into a strong and durable wall. The culture that (a) builds trust, (b) provides hope, (c) shares enjoyment, and (d) leads to opportunity, builds a high performing team.  
  • Trust in the staff is a must. The trust is cultivated by setting boundaries within which people (a) can have freedom to make decisions, to take risks, to speak their minds, and (b) have obligations to speak the truth, to be accountable for their decisions and to learn from their mistakes. Leaders, when evaluated on how well they shared their staffs with each other, tend to build trust among each other.
  • Hope is important as people tend to flourish when they have believe they have hope to achieve great dreams. Leaders need to be realistic as well as optimistic to provide a hopeful environment.
  • Enjoyment is important in the work environment, as people perform at peak levels when they enjoy what they do and with whom they work with. Real enjoyment at work comes when the team is deeply immersed in tacking a problem, and as one, perseveres and succeeds together.
  • Opportunity to grow is important at all levels and for all degrees of performers. Implementing the “move meeting” concept for rotating the talent pool through projects of different skills and requirements, providing the talent pool opportunity to learn new things. Creating opportunities for highly talented workforce by recalibration of the workforce on a regular basis is also important.
  WHY Principle 4—The greatest asset any organization has is the talent, commitment, and energy of the people who work each day to produce its products and services. Long-term organizational success depends on the how the greatest assets are directed and developed. The process of directing and developing these assets is performance management, a very different activity from corporate performance appraisal. The performance management science encompasses a systematic approach to (a) performance, (b) development (c) succession planning, and (d) evaluation and rewarding performance outcomes. The steps of to a successful performance managements are  
  • Line organizations own the performance management process.
  • Both managers and employees play a critical role in improving organizational performance.
  • Performance must be measured on two dimensions: performance objectives and demonstration of competencies/values.
  • Performance contributions must be differentiated across like jobs.
  • Performance contributions must be tied directly to compensation.
  • Performance improvement requires feedback, coaching, and development opportunities.
The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – (Part 5)
March 3, 2010
My previous post talked about WHAT will we do. In this post, I will discuss HOW?.
HOW will it be done?
  • The pathway from current state to the future state.
  • Business and IT organization do heavy lifting and follow the following three principles:
    • HOW Principle 1: Define and design a business application and technology blueprint andarchitecture before beginning investment and construction.
    • HOW Principle 2: Enforce a “Common Way” for development and quality engineering.
    • HOW Principle 3:Be disciplined in program and project management.
HOW (Execution) pathway is the most important for the success after the WHY and WHAT. Historically, most enterprises fail when they arrive at this plank. Once a well articulated plan on WHY the change is needed and WHAT to change is done, many executives consider that plan to be (a) a threat, naive, or impractical or (b) on the spot. In case of (a), the executive fails because they do not believe and are not vested in the proposal and in case (b) the executives and board members have no confidence in the team to deliver the IT enabled business transformation in time, and on budget, with expected returns. The Feld Framework provides the principles of execution that provides a clear direction for execution and increases odds of success. HOW Principle 1—Key requirement is that team has developed and understood the business architecture with the IT architecture and the construction plan before building the IT infrastructure, software applications, and deployment.  
  • Layer 1: Business architecture—Key Role Player: Executive team (with CIO). Time boxed: 90 days. Process co-owners: IT and business leaders. Focus on breaking down necessary investments into actionable, discrete pieces of work. Warning: do NOT delegate or skip this layer.
  • Layer 2: IT architecture (applications, information and technical architecture)—Key Role Player: CIO/IT leadership. Time boxed: 90-180 days. Focus on the details required to construct a quality product at the “deal” price. Warning: No one should start programming or acquire IT hardware/software WHILE planning for IT architecture is going on.
  Leadership team should make effort to lead this and not delegate it to be successful. The main cause of failure comes from lack of executive leaders’ involvement in leading this pathway. HOW Principle 2—A large transformation work results in many changes in architecture, business processes, organization, structures, incentives, cultures, financials, analysis and reporting that must be managed and harmonized as systems are built and deployed. The business work streams should be well-integrated with the systems development lifecycle. Enterprises select a development methodology, but fail to enforce it across because of teams choosing not to follow the methodology, or because the methodology is so rigid and enforced with overbearing bureaucracy that it kills the speed of development and the motivation to carry it out. These two pitfalls should be avoided in building the operating culture. The success of strategic multiyear projects depends on a successful release plan. This plan should address the following clearly and concisely:  
  • Major releases are done between every three to twelve months (typically six months) apart. All business work streams are included and synchronized.
  • A consistent way of managing delivery of software, function and organizational change to the business.
  • End-to-end use cases or real business scenario testing using optimized resources.
  Provide rally points for all organizations to converge at specified tollgates.
Transformation Release Methodology
WHY WHAT Business Process & Application Changes Integration Deployment
Strategy Business Model Technology & Infrastructure Changes
Organization & Culture Changes
Location & Physical Asset Changes
Financial and Metrics Changes
Tollgates 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Any methodology should include the following phases or tollgates. The respective roles of business and IT switch around during the above 8 phases as shown below:
Phases Business’s Role IT’s Role


Lead Support
System Testing
Integration & Acceptance
Implementation & Deployment
The methodology deployed should be enterprise-wide and it should include progress to plan, quality metrics, and so on. Remember that the total cost of ownership is significantly higher for a poorly designed and engineered system compared to a well-designed high quality system with initial high cost of development. HOW Principle 3—This principle provides life and motion to the HOW principle 1 and 2. Both principles 1and 2 are critical processes and structures, but how they are managed together will lead to success or failure. This requires that IT organizations have a culture of build to delivery, with a strong project review process. The project review process should be for self-disciplining and keep at large a methodology police or process cops. Bureaucracy is harmful to the process as well. Setting a cadence for reviews, meetings and tollgates helps to establish participation and management. Meetings should be only during designated meeting times and rest of the time should be devoted to work. Maintenance and support team should be integral part from the beginning. The quality of HOW is inextricably tied to the quality of WHO. In my next post, I will discuss, the next plank, the WHO!!.
The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – (Part 4)
February 24, 2010

In my previous post I covered the first plank WHY – do anything? In this post I will talk about the second plank, WHAT will we do?

WHAT Will We Do?

  • Define the future state clearly.
  • What needs to change?
  • What needs to stay the same?
  • Discussion can lead to centralized vs. decentralized control and implementation.
  • Focus on what gives speed and customer centricity.
  • Focus on scale, leverage and quality.
  • Be extremely agile.

Define the future state clearly

In my next post, I will write about the third plank- How?

The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – The Four Planks in Strategy Phase (Part 3)
February 23, 2010

My previous post talked about the Five timed boxed phases. Here I will cover the 1st of the four planks for the strategy phase (i.e. WHY)?

WHY                                                                                                                                                              WHY do anything?

  • Provides platform durability
  • Enables organization to:
    • mobilize,
    • make investments,
    • set priorities,
    • take risks, and
    • sustain effort throughout the journey of transformation.
  • Business imperative articulated by the executive team.

The WHY to do anything is more important than ever, because to be successful the enterprise has to be agile and efficient in responding to the needs of the customers and compete globally. During the last 40 years, multiple innovation waves have created a global economic platform for business competition.

Today’s customers care only about how fast they can review a full suite of products and services, receive their choice and move on. They are not concerned about how an enterprise is organized internally, whether by products or P&L or services. Enterprises that fulfill the need of customer will survive and thrive in the 21st century. Such enterprises have to adhere to a hybrid model of being like both the hare and the tortoise. The organizations needs to emulate the hare by being agile to adapt to the global market fluctuations. At the same time emulate the tortoise by adopting characteristics such as discipline, operational excellence, standardization, simplification and automation.

High performance enterprises are simultaneously centralized for leveraging operational excellence and global consistency and decentralized for insightful decision-making, innovation, and speed. The culture of these enterprises has to be structured around both speed and leverage. IT is central to all enterprises and needs to be modeled around the above characteristics.

Another challenge is that the evolution of IT is taking place at a fast pace and business leaders have to adapt to those changes while making sure that they are not carried away by the latest fads. Many companies have demonstrated that they can be more efficient by owning fewer assets and renting or buying much of what they need. Thus a successful 21st century enterprise has to master a virtual ecosystem that is always on, integrated, and responsive to its customers. IT enables that system.

The investment in IT has to be done while keeping in mind the increasing speed of technological advances, the degree of complexity of technologies, and a customer centric view of business. The business leaders need to ask customer-centric questions and ask how do I gain market share and competitively grow? And how do I make money doing it? What investment gives cost and quality leverage, speed and flexibility in the global economy? The traditional question of whether the business run in a centralized or decentralized manner need not be the main question for the 21st century organization, for the answer no longer matters.

For enterprises to be successful in the 21st century and beyond, one needs to keep asking WHY do anything. If there is a compelling reason, then move to the planks of WHAT, HOW and WHO.

In my next post, I will write about the 2nd Plank WHAT will we do?
The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – The Five Time Boxed Phases (Part 2)
February 20, 2010

In my earlier post, I provided an introduction to The Feld Framework. In this post I talk about the five time boxed phases.

The Five Time-Boxed Phases

Strategy- Phase 1
Failure state & Scenario Planning
  •  Perform the Gap Study between the current business model and the future state: It defines the work, timeframes, investments, and risks of the transformation.
  • Articulate a compelling reason to change (WHY) and propose WHAT to change.
  • Multiple pathways to reach to the future state: Scenario planning to get Best Fit Scenario, that shapes the HOW and WHO portions of the agenda.
  • Time duration for this phase between 90 – 120 days.(No traction if <90 days; It becomes a science fair project if it takes more than 120 days). Detailed plan takes to next phase: The Turn.
  • Executive committee-led effort with heavy engagement by the IT leader/CIO
The Turn - Phase 2
Plan Detail & Repositioning the Organization
  • Sequencing and pacing the journey from the current to the future state.
  • Develop business and technology blueprints, providing a construction process and a clear roadmap.
  • First release should be broad, but articulated to show visible, small impactful success. This helps in adjusting the organization for change in leadership, structure, governance, and investment (WHO) and the common-way quality engineering (HOW).
  • Time duration 90 days.
Up & Running - Phase 3
Delivering the New Way
  • More emphasis on the HOW and WHO in this phase. IT leadership plays a key role.
  • Focus on quality construction, modern design and development, and IT capability building, executing and delivering the new way.
  • Time duration six to nine months, depending on the size and complexity of Release 1.
Hitting Stride - Phase 4
  • Gain speed, correct course, and build organization strength and confidence.
  • Enhance quality and productivity. Business team engaged in enhancing Release 1 for business processes, metrics, incentives, culture, locations, etc.
  • A two year activity.
Self-Sufficiency - Phase 5
  • Journey enters year three.
  • Achieve consistent and quality delivery every six to nine months at a reasonable cost.
  • Business function plays the role of implementing the IT-enabled changes and extract value of the investment.
  The next post will talk about the four planks in strategy phase.
The Feld Framework For IT Leadership (Introduction / Part 1)
February 18, 2010
In the next few posts I will provide a review of The Feld Framework for IT Leadership.

Summary The success of any business organization in a fast growing, customer-centric global economy relies on the ability of that organization to leverage its IT strategy. In the past two decades, many case studies have been done that show companies that failed to leverage and implement an agile IT strategy were overtaken by their competitors. The implementation of an agile and efficient IT is certainly dependent on the right business and IT leadership. The Feld Framework for IT Leadership presents a principle-based, highly successful framework that has been tested across technology eras and various industry sectors.

Introduction In most business organizations, the business leaders are knowledgeable and skilled at most operational and functional areas of the business, such as finance, products and litigation. These leaders are so adept at probing and pushing the workforce and at communicating their point of view with zeal that an executive team meeting seems very productive and communicative. However, when the discussion goes into the realm of IT implementation and strategy, most of these business leaders rely on the IT consultants and technical subordinates. Their eyes glaze over with confusion and they only hope the IT function gets the operational aspect of business right. The business leaders consider IT as a relative black box and a complex functional area. In fact, IT is a blind spot for most business executives.

However, IT should be no more difficult than marketing, operations, finances, sales or any other broad operations disciples. Because IT is essentially about information flow, work-flows, and reflecting business rules for technology to drive greater efficiency, it should enable all other functions to operate seamlessly and integrate, leading to a well run business.

In this fast moving, customer centric, global economy, IT plays a critical role in enabling, or disabling, an enterprise; however, it remains a blind spot for most business executives and a costly inhibitor of speed and agility.  In terms of Porter’s Five Forces Model, IT plays a significant role in all Five Forces—competition within the industry, barrier to new entry, supplier power, buyer power, and the threat of substitute products.

The Feld Framework for IT leadership unveils the mystery surrounding the IT blind spot. The Feld Framework is a simple and solid approach for demystifying technology for non-technical business leaders.  It provides a path to successfully fight global competition and adapt those as the competition changes with time and new technology. It provides a framework for business executive to be as fluent in IT’s role as they are in other disciplines of business operations, and enables them to leverage IT for complete business transformation in order to successfully compete in the global economy.

The complete journey for business transformation requires the four planks for change and the five time-bound phases, as shown below in Figure 1. All four planks of changes are important in each phases of the business transformation journey. The journey starts with a 90 day strategy engagement in which one answers the following questions for each of the planks.

  • WHY – Why do anything?
  • WHAT – What we will do?
  • HOW – How will we do it?
  • WHO –Who will lead and manage the change?
4Planks of Change The Journey (2 years)
Time bound phases (The first three are 90 days long)
Strategy The Turn Up & Running Hitting Stride Self-Sufficiency
Failure State & Scenario Planning Plan Detail & Repositioning the Organization Delivering the New Way Acceleration Industrialization
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5

The Feld Framework has been developed over two decades by a very experienced team of IT leaders. Its implementation in different industries has allowed this framework to grow into a simple, principle based, framework which can be easily deployed to any organization.

The origin of the Feld framework can be traced to the work of Charlie Feld in 1984, when he led the business transformation at Frito-Lay. Since then, a team of IT leaders have employed his method in major companies such as Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, Pepsi-Co, Coca-Cola, First Data, FedEx, Home Depot, Payless Shoe Source, Washington Homes and Burlington Northern Railroad.

The technological changes taking place globally require business leaders to develop a reasonable foundation for using systems and technology as they come into the marketplace while avoiding fads.

Role of a Chief Knowledge Officer
February 12, 2009

Many people in the company and outside have asked what is the role of a Chief Knowledge Officer or CKO in an organization?

Chief Knowledge Officer is “the individual that is in charge of building, maintaining a knowledge management infrastructure and building a knowledge culture to align with the business strategy and create a competitive advantage.” The Chief Knowledge Officer position is fairly new in business compared to the existence of the Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Finance Officer on the executive team. In the fast moving companies, the CKO role is becoming increasing critical and thus, the position sits on the executive team.

The data pyramid is Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom. Information systems are good at storing data and information. The challenge has been the management of knowledge that results from the stored information. Knowledge has two components, explicit and tacit. The management of tacit knowledge has been very difficult. More on this later. In my own role as CKO I lead the organization that have knowledge workers in the areas of market research, competitive intelligence, economic factors research, business cases and financial modeling, marketing analysis, web analytics, product pricing, packaging and promotions, customer care analysis, etc.

In my next post I will talk about various modes of knowledge conversion and its effectiveness.