I've had a few other articles in the works for a few weeks, but I cannot seem to get my mind to the point of finishing them. Instead, the thing that is on my mind is the way that the University community is reacting to the changes that we must face. I've been following the auto industry's travails and I think the University is on an identical trajectory.
GM and Chrysler chose to ignore the reality that they were not competitive. What we are seeing with them now is the inevitable crash after years of running their businesses in unsustainable ways. Ford fared better because they realized they were headed for a brick wall a few years ago. They started correcting their course before the bottom dropped out of the industry. GM and Chrysler, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge that their ways of doing business were outdated and they've suffered for it considerably more than Ford.
At the University, at least in the little corner where I work, it seems like there is a similar refusal to accept that things have changed. I started in 2000 at the Carlson School of Management and moved to the Office of Information Technology in 2006. We did fine while things were good, but now that our funding sources are diminishing we are facing some challenges. I remember being amazed both when I started at CSOM and later at OIT at how lax the policy was on acquisition of hardware and software, and how careless people were with those resources. What is more amazing, or maybe it is more unfortunate, is the refusal to acknowledge and accept that we can't continue that way.
The way things were done at the University last year or last decade are no longer viable. We cannot throw money at problems any more. We need creative solutions to problems in OIT. Isn't that why we're in the IT industry? Adding disk space or buying a bigger server are not IT skills but they are common solutions to problems here. It seems like we reactively do these things because that is the way we have always done it. And tuition will go up and people will be laid off as a result.
It is a brick wall. The longer we avoid dealing with it, the harder it will hit. The game has changed, so the sooner we accept that the better we will be able to cope.