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Keeping Pace with Technology

| April 13, 2009

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading, “Keeping Pace with Technology” comes from ITLP IX’s Vision Team – Beth-Anne Sullivan (Northeastern University), Terry Tatum (University of Texas), Elease Welch (New York University), Randy Standridge (University of Texas), Todd Rheinfrank (Carnegie Mellon University), and Tom Lewis (University of Washington).  Their graduation was last summer and since then they have continued to write, challenging their colleagues in the next stages of their leadership journey.  

I think that you will find “Keeping Pace with Technology” has good advice for all of us.  .  .  .  .     jim

Keeping Pace with Technology

Critical to being a leader in information technology is constantly scanning the technology landscape; to focus on ensuring we are doing the right things.  Our business partners at our universities often turn to us for technology leadership and guidance. If we aren’t aware of where technologies are going and how they apply to our business, then our IT organizations will become obsolete. As such, it is important that we leaders are intentional in developing our personal and divisional technology awareness strategies. Start by taking 10 minutes to create your personal technology awareness strategy. Ask yourself the following:

*  What do I need to be aware of in my field?

*  What trends do I need to be aware of outside of my field?

*  What are my sources for gathering this information?

 At Northeastern, our division has been working on ways that we can continue to stay current on technology trends. With the myriad of daily commitments we already face, this task can be seen as adding one more thing to our ever expanding to do list. For some, scanning for new technologies pushes them outside of their comfort zone. To counter these reactions, we offer some simple practices our organization has adopted to help stay current on technology trends:

* Create a CTO team: A small team with representatives across functions with a mission to (1) regularly scan the environment for new trends (2) try out new technologies and (3) recommend alpha or beta tests of technologies to the division.

* Sponsor an Idea Jam: Using a wiki or blog (or low tech white board), pose a question to your team. An example question might be: “What new technology trends should be considering?” Encourage the team (technologists and your customers) to brainstorm as many ideas in a 24 hour period.

* Create a technology news site that uses RSS feeds linking to articles in your field: Identify the top sources of industry trend information. Take 5 minutes out of a staff meeting to browse the headlines and identify a topic that your group is interested in  reading more about.

* Offer brown bag show and tells:  Have vendors come in and present their technology roadmaps. Invite staff from all levels of the organization and from your functional areas to see what is coming down the road.

* Subscribe to a listserv outside of your field:  Consider subscribing to a listserv that offers a functional viewpoint vs. technical.

Your future value as a technology leader is not what you can do today, but what you can learn to do tomorrow.  These are just some basic strategies to help keep you current in the rapidly changing world of technology. The next step is figuring out how to apply these to your strategy… when you do you, it may alter your strategic direction and what better way to position your organization to be successful in an every changing world. You create the change.

Todd – Non-Judgment, Terry – Decisive, Elease – Discipline, Randy – Trust, Tom – Cooperation, Beth-Anne – Mastery*

* NOTE:  The words that follow each name represent a leadership skill that that individual is currently working on.  When Group IX began to use leadership word, the challenge to everyone was to “be the skill you wanted to have as a practice.”