by Amanda Sarratore
[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Amanda Sarratore, IT Director, Academic IT Services at the University of Notre Dame. She is a MOR alum. Amanda may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I find joy in working with my partner areas to build relationships, and I am grateful for my position. I feel lucky that most days, it doesn’t feel like work. Even in light of the pandemic and crisis management situations of the past two years, I still find this to be true. Discovering services and solutions that align campus priorities with available resources is challenging and rewarding. Supporting teaching, learning, and research with technology is impactful to the University’s mission, faculty, and students.
However, in a recent conversation with a colleague about resilience and fatigue, I was reminded of an interaction with a faculty member who had a green light for a new University initiative and approved funding. She was so excited. I got caught up in all the fantastic things she wanted to accomplish and was in awe of her big ideas and the impact this was going to have. I felt we connected, and I admit it, I may have been a bit of a fangirl for a moment. At least until she said one sentence that instantly brought me firmly back into reality and reminded me of my role, “I want to roll this out next month.” My ever-optimistic self asked, “You mean next semester,” to which she enthusiastically replied, “No, next month!”
Fortunately, thanks to MOR leadership training, I could pause and get on the balcony. The faculty member and I talked about what was good enough to roll out next month, and we were able to adjust our focus and her expectations. I remember an article I had read in preparation for a MOR workshop, Managing Yourself: Zoom In, Zoom Out, and went back to reread it. I found it to be applicable to the situation, and it helped me navigate our conversations. In the article, Kanter discusses the importance of making room to zoom in and out to see the challenge from varying perspectives. “The zoom framework offers a dynamic model that can help current and aspiring leaders increase their range of vision and establish conditions that enable others’ success.” (Kanter 2). By zooming in once the timeline was established, I was able to really understand the initial requirements and the needs for the upcoming semester. Once we are off to a successful start, we will meet again and zoom out, to discuss those bigger picture items we were both so excited about.
During my weekly reflection, I realized that there was another opportunity here. Understanding when “good enough” meets both requirements of being “good” and “enough.” Viva Bartkus and Edward Conlon introduce this in their book, Getting it Right. They present a framework for problem-solving that includes “deciding intelligently about trade-offs between analysis and action.” Their methodology is an iterative process that moves you toward a solution that meets both requirements of being “good” and “enough.” Bartkus goes on to share that she thinks a great leader must have three things:
Clarity of thought
Tenacity in action
As a technology leader in higher education, we see this every day. There is a constant need to balance resources with execution and to do it all without compromising our values. Limited staffing, budget cuts, and the continued impact of COVID require us to focus intentionally on the initiatives that will have the most impact and on solutions that will meet the requirements of being both good and enough. Following MOR strategies for leading change, learning the landscape is essential for success. This will require us to build support and engage with our teams and with our campus partners. Here we can fall back on what I consider to be a MOR foundational practice, the Four I’s: Initiate, Inquire, Invest, and Influence.
Implementing MOR strategies for leading change helps find that spot on the spectrum where we move from analysis to implementation. This week, I challenge you to practice the 4 I’s for relationships and use creativity and analysis to partner in finding solutions that are both “good” and “enough.”
Bartkus, Viva Ona, and Ed Conlon. Getting it Right. Jossey-Bass, 2008.
Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. “Managing Yourself: Zoom In, Zoom Out.” Harvard Business Review, vol. HBR, no. March, 2011, n/a. hbr.org, https://hbr.org/2011/03/managing-yourself-zoom-in-zoom-out?referral=00060