Everyone I talked with at the end of the 2009 IT Leaders Conference had high praise for the program, the opportunity it presented for new learnings, and for renewing as well as making new relationships. We know that many of you couldn't come due to spending and travel restrictions on many campuses. While you couldn't come, we do hope that this Tuesday Reading which focuses on the conference and some of the things I learned and relearned will help bring the conference to you. Toward the end of this note, I'll tell you how you can download most of the materials presented at the conference and join in what we hope will be an on-going conversation.
Ron Burt began our first afternoon talking about networking. You know from ITLP that networks and the relationships they represent are important. Burt highlighted this point by noting that you can use your network to expand your knowledge particularly if your network goes well beyond people who are like you, know what you know, etc. He talked about these network links that go beyond as bridging relationships and pointed out that they represent capital value in that they permit you to bring new information to your organization's work.
Next on our agenda was a panel with Nancy Ware (Stanford), David Burns (University of Texas), and Steve Fleagle (University of Iowa) focusing on "Leading in a Crisis." I think that the biggest take-away for me was that while you cannot plan for every possible crisis that might occur on your campus, you can plan and practice (think flight simulators) for key elements in crises that may occur. And, this planning and practice can be very effective in preparing you and your staff for the real thing. Several big lessons were themes in the three presentations: anticipate, lead by being an example, and take care of people. Nancy's summary was also instructive -- A leader in a crisis must:
- address the situation head-on
- call for help
- be the one to act
- utilize all available resources
- visualize success
Thursday morning, we turned our focus to the current crisis. Brian began the session by noting:
- the world has changed
- that, most likely, this is not a short term change
- that it may not be the same ever again
- that we need to think of change as not something that just happens and is quickly over but as something that is on-going, continuous, more like evolution.
As he continued, Brian raised the point that a university has to determine how much it can afford to spend on IT noting the tension between spending to advance the use of IT in education and the budget reductions dictated by the economy. In the course of his presentation he noted how consumer technology is driving campus technology, how the opportunities for strategic partnerships (both on- and off-campus) are increasing, how computing in research as well as teaching and learning continues to explode, and how support and service delivery is continuing to move on-line.
Brad Wheeler followed Brian arguing that IT now faces the perfect storm -- economic factors, changing technology, and political forces. These forces give the campus a unique opportunity for LEVERAGE (providing widely used services as efficiently as possible), EDGE (providing services near to the customer where "boots need to be on the ground" for maximum effectiveness), and TRUST (between groups who provide all the services). He continued by arguing that there would be new services -- at a level above the single campus -- that will be efficient only across multiple campuses. Brad believes that we need bold IT leadership to take us to the next level which will move research and education forward in the new world in which we now find ourselves.
Bill Clebsch continued this general theme by asserting that a new kind of leader, the collaborative leader, is required to move us forward. Keys to collaborative leadership are the ability to facilitate the solution of problems (instead of solving problems) and collaborating and supporting (instead of commanding and controlling). As a start on doing this, leaders must listen, must make connections between people, and must delegate.
Friday morning, Harry Davis joined us to continue the discussion he began last year on the subject "Leadership as Performance." This year he took us partly off-stage and focused our attention on new three roles that a leader has to play -- playwright, director, and actor. The playwright selects the issue and shapes how the issue will be brought to life for them. The director understands the audience and stages how the issue will unfold. The actor transforms the self to be an effective bridge between the issue and the audience. In being an effective bridge, the actor brings into play various characters that are needed on the stage. Thinking about large leadership issues using this model can be very powerful. All leaders need to continually ask what play they are writing.
You can find the slides from most of the conference presentations at the conference web site.
Also, MOR Associates has created a community site for IT Leaders Program participants to continue learning, share experiences and thoughts regarding leadership experiences, connect with peers, and advise each other. Do join the community by going to community.morassociates.com and clicking "Join Now." We look forward to you becoming an active participant in this new part of the Leaders Program.
We also look forward to having your feedback on the conference and on the community site. In particular, we want this to be your site so please let us know if there are improvements or changes that you would like to see us make.
Have a great week. . . . . jim