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Tag Archives: Vision

Finding Purpose: An Elusive Endeavor

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There is no better time than now to reflect on your purpose and then act on it.

Last January, I was in my hometown in the Philippines so I could be with my father to celebrate his 70th birthday. The craziness of 2020 had already begun. I almost did not make the trip due to the eruption of the Taal volcano, 30 miles from Manila. Before coming home, I reached out to the head of my hometown alma mater to pitch an idea. I wanted to spend time giving back to my high school, St Mary’s College of Catbalogan, by speaking to upcoming high school graduates. I spoke to them for an hour about creating tomorrow and sharing steps to a purpose driven career. My favorite part of that day was when the students spontaneously sang a happy birthday song for my father when I introduced him. I am so grateful I made that trip and connected with friends and families in Manila and my hometown Catbalogan.

We have done our fair share of reflective thinking during this pandemic. We watched as individuals and communities around the world changed — oh how it has changed. I believe that today, more than ever, the sense of purpose is important. It is important in individuals, in communities and even in businesses.

My wife, Ivy always tells me, “we are where we are supposed to be”. She means that, if we chose to go it’s because we were supposed to go. For those of you who know my personal story, I was supposed to be an accountant working for San Miguel Corporation. That was my ultimate dream growing up in the Philippines. I got accepted in one of the best accountancy programs in the country and ready to march on. Until…my parents forgot my birth certificate at home in the province when they were enrolling me in 1993. I lost my accountancy slot which was a quota program and was relegated to Information Technology (IT). I got into the program thinking I will shift the following trimester, but here I am still in IT 27 years after. Ironically my brother is a Finance (Accounting) Manager in San Miguel today. He is very happy, but I can’t imagine doing what he does. I am happy where I am, where I am supposed to be.

Through these twists and turns, I am fortunate to be able to discover my personal purpose. I found what really drives me. Simon Sinek said, “Your Why is your purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act and communicate starting with Why, you can inspire others.” In my reflection I discovered, it does not matter what I do, what matters is my purpose. My purpose is “To teach and be known to inspire others”. This translates to professionally (a) To be a thought leader in business and technology and at home (b) To guide my children to be the best version of themselves. When I was asked during my MBA admission interview what I am going to do if I am fully covered financially, I said, “I will be in a university institution or community college, teaching”. I still believe I will be teaching when I am done with IT. That will be fantastic!

During my talk last January, I talked to the high school seniors about Ikigai, a purpose framework to guide their reflective thinking. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. This helped me discover my purpose. If you find yourself struggling to identify what your purpose is and where you might discover personal and professional overlap, here is a simple self-inquiry by asking and pondering answers to these questions might help:

·       What do I love? What am I passionate about?

·       In my view, what does the world need?

·       What am I paid for? (Can I be paid for what I am passionate about?)

·       What am I great at?

By consulting this framework, you may discover your purpose at the intersection of your passion, mission, profession and vocation.

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There is no better time than now to reflect on this and then act on it. After all, you can’t just reflect your way into finding your life’s purpose; you then must act your way into it. Take a mental note from the Nike slogan and Just Do It. The more we act, the more we get clear on things. Reflect and act it out. Start taking steps toward your goals and start trying new things. This will help you get out of your own way. Many people struggle for years trying to find their purpose. Reflection with action will create a deeper sense of clarity. 

Strengthening IT Accountability – Lack of Accountability, a Symptom of Lack of Organizational Clarity

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A very insightful comment in my blog from a well respected IT management consultant, Vaughan Merlyn, motivated me to write this follow up article. IT Accountability is an interesting topic and there is a lot to uncover and delve into. In Part One, I wrote about accountability as something that does not only happen when things go wrong — it is taking ownership from the beginning. It is continuous rather than something that has an end point. There are three important areas where IT accountability comes into play: (1) IT Accountability in Operative Teams; (2) IT Accountability Cost Management; and (3) IT Accountability to improve service delivery. These are just three of the many facets of IT organizations where accountability is an important driver for success. They are meant to illustrate the meaning of IT accountability and to provide examples.

Part Two aims to tackle the challenges on how to deal with the problem of lack of IT accountability. According to Mr. Merlyn, lack of accountability is a symptom of a lack of organizational clarity. I agree withVaughan. The main reason why IT leaders fail to address the accountability issue is a lack of clarity on what the team is accountable for in the first place. Accountability matters as much as any other IT capabilities. The key to directing individuals and teams towards success is to clarify the organizational purpose up front. The organizational purpose is a declaration of what the organization wants to be and, in broader terms, what it wants to achieve. It provides meaning to the day-to-day tasks, triumphs and setbacks that make up the daily operative grind. A lack of purpose will create disconnection among the different levels of the IT organization. Teams and individuals will not know why their effort matters. They cannot connect their work to a larger story. Their work becomes a matter of going through the motions. When that happens, team members lose accountability.

The following statement is Vaughan Merlyn’s assertion on this subject:

“If organizational purpose is not clear (i.e., the goals, values desired business outcomes and guiding principles for a given capability are defined and well understood?) then organizational commitment (i.e., sponsorship and accountabilities) will be lacking or confused. With weak organizational commitment, ability (i.e., clear processes, well-defined roles, competent resources filling those roles, appropriate tools and technologies supporting the processes) will be deficient. And with deficient ability, there is virtually no way accountability (i.e., criteria for success and related performance requirements) can be meaningful.”

Root Cause: Lack of Organizational Clarity

When there is a lack of organizational clarity, it will be harder for IT managers to inspire people because they don’t have a clear direction, performance measures and objectives to follow and to communicate to their teams. This disconnect will open the door for individual managers to interpret directions, formulate objectives and determine their own priorities. On the other hand, for IT team members, it will lead to inconsistent performance of day-to-day operations that will cause low morale and productivity. It will be impossible to expect accountability from team members who may ask themselves the question—“How do we know if we are doing a good job? How do we know if we are fulfilling our obligations to the team and we are achieving results for the company?” Without organizational clarity, chances are you will have a lack of accountability from your people.

Creating the culture of accountabilty starts with the IT leaders – to me this process is always top-down. They define the IT strategy and vision based on the desired results and business strategy of the company (IT to Business Alignment). The desired objective of IT or the entire company could be to: become the easiest to conduct business with, be the most innovative organization in the industry, have technological excellence, increase profitability, or create the best sales and distribution network. IT leaders must clearly understand the business strategy of the firm which it provides services to. They must also work to provide the right IT strategy, platform, experiences and actions to achieve these results. The role of IT leaders is to communicate this organizational purpose clearly to the whole team. It requires persistent effort and a clear message to get the right commitment. By doing this, they can be certain that their subordinates know or are reminded what they are accountable for. This is where IT leaders make all the difference. Leadership is about reminding people what it is that we are trying to achieve—and why it matters.

Photos courtesy of Renjith Krishnan and Sheelamohan

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

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