Design Thinking (Part 2 of 2): Think Bigger and Adopt a Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”, Shunryu Suzuki

When I started learning Design Thinking, I knew it was applicable to designing products. Design Thinking has obvious value for creating user interfaces, clothing and cars. What I did not know is that it could be applied to more abstract concepts like sales strategy, data governance, and business models. Yet, those were my first opportunities to practice Design Thinking. What is the most important lesson that I learned? Be creative. Design Thinking is not a set process. (more…)

Design Thinking (Part 1 of 2): Transforming Organizations with Entrenched Cultures

How do we balance a drive for perfection with a drive for innovation? This is a question that is discussed in “What Design Thinking Is Doing for the San Francisco Opera.” That opera company dates back to the 1850s and has a structured organization focused on perfection. Using Design Thinking, their culture has shifted from on that is “very, very, very averse to change, not open to the idea of failure” to one that embraces change.  Their experience is somewhat similar to what many enterprises face when adopting cloud computing. There is a need to change and challenge cultural and organizational norms.

Innovation at the San Francisco Opera
Prior to applying Design Thinking, experimentation from the San Francisco Opera was rare. Their high quality requirements meant costly and therefore few experiments. Working with Stanford’s “”, they undertook a series of rapid prototypes. (more…)

How to assess the maturity and growth potential of an enterprise cloud

Most enterprise clouds are still relatively young. Even so, these clouds represent critical initiatives that support strategic business goals. I have recently begun to field requests to assess the state of cloud initiatives. Therefore, I created a short assessment, a health check, to determine if a cloud is on track to meet expectations.

The mindset for a cloud health check is different from one used to assess a more mature “legacy” information technology (IT) environment. An assessment of mature IT environment is more of a point-in-time analysis, looking for gaps between the current actual state and current desired state. An assessment of a younger cloud environment is more of a dynamic analysis, looking for gaps between the current actual state and a desired future state. 

This is somewhat like our mindset with our own health checks. As children, we get checkups and our parents will want to make sure that we will, in the future, grow up to have positive attributes like height, strength and intelligence. As adults, we want to check that our health, e.g. measures like cholesterol, is within optimal ranges for our current age.

Some are anxious about getting a cloud health check and want to know what happens beforehand. The assessment begins with questions about history, trends and business drivers. Those are followed by more questions about IT process and workloads, aspects vital to the success of a cloud. Then there are evaluations of various capabilities. The goal is to determine recommendations on infrastructure, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities. An agenda might look like this


Sample Agenda for a Cloud Health Check