Amtrak got me into Boston on time today and I am sitting in the Seaport Hotel’s Plaza Ballroom waiting for the day’s keynote speech to begin. The address today is by Stephen Laster, chief information officer of Harvard Business School. He will be speaking on The Road Ahead: Driving Innovation in the “New Normal”. Once again I am running on battery power; I will need to remember to use time between sessions to find an outlet and charge up. It makes me realize that one benefit the conference organizers could offer, but don’t currently, is a secure recharge area. It would be a place where you could leave your laptop or smart device to recharge while you do something like eat lunch.
The new normal is the same as the old normal; tight budgets and large demands. Plus, we have new demands. Higher education is ripe for criticism and due for consolidation. How can colleges demand higher tuition while there are high drop out rates.
Innovation is not about creating new technologies, but it is for using technologies smartly that produce results. How do we form an environment to address all of these issues?
He is dyslexic, so his mind worked differently, he could take things apart in his mind and remember lectures. Wasn’t until high school that he was introduced to an Apple computer which he could identify with its screen layout. The physics teacher who introduced him to the computer convinced his father to buy one. His grades grew greatly.
There are 8 factors of success.
#1 Hire and mentor a great team: technology is a people business –
- Hire nice, smart, adaptable and skilled skilled is last because if you are nice, smart and adaptable you will learn to become skilled.
- Manage the whole person – know their hopes and what they want to do
- Make the work rewarding
#2 Run the Shop as a business
- What is my competitive advantage?
- Where do we add value? What businesses are you good at.
- What business can I get out of?
- What can I offer to remain stickey?
#3 Leverage Planning and Governance – the key is transparency in operations and governance – don’t take on tasks that can’t be handled efficiently – communicate issues such as querying how they want IT to expend the hours budgeted for IT support.
- What is my capacity – operational, maintenance, project, support -
- Prioritize backlogs with customer
- Plan for the semester and the year
- Involve campus leaders in governance
#4 Take Smart Risks – during difficult times IT can become risk averse and then you are doomed.
- Look beyond core services
- Preserve time for innovation
- Deliver on the art of the possible
#5 Actively Measure – compare similar products and defects – provides a way to steer operation
- Track deliverables
- Live by your scorecard
- Include “soft” data
- Customer perceptions
- IT employee engagement and satisfaction
#6 Capture the Customer – we try to adopt 10 administrators to hear what frustrates them about us, does our message get out, if you have a friend in IT you will not shoot the organization and IT will help you.
- Walk in their shoes
- Leverage relationships
- Speak their language
- Understand business needs
#7 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – need to talk to your customer in their language.
- CIO as CTE (Chief Technology Evangelist)
- Demonstrate IT’s value
- Share vision with IT team
- Invite feedback
- Make 10 friends
#8 Leverage Trusted Advisors – network can be former bosses, mentors, and advisors – ask them to review what we’re doing wrong and how we can improve and then I share that information with my boss – takes courage because you are opening a window.
- Build an external advisory board
- Be proactive
- Periodically review business to address potential weaknesses.