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The Answer Is In The Room

by Leadership Participant

It’s been a couple of weeks since we were all together in Bloomington and my how the time has flown by.  Having had some time to digest all that we shared and learned, I still have a sense of inspiration and motivation that I hope will continue to carry on into the coming months.  I sincerely hope that you all feel the same way.

Of the various topics we discussed, one of the most impactful to me happened to come very early on in our session.  I believe it was Rick who shared the mantra ‘the answer is in the room’ while laying out some of the foundational concepts as we started the day.  When thinking about this idea through the ITLP lens, it’s clear that the primary emphasis is placed upon relying on each other for our shared knowledge and experiences.  While this is very important to ITLP, I believe this concept is even more important in our day-to-day lives.

Rather than thinking in terms of a physical room compromised of all of us, let’s posit that our room is all areas of the Indiana University system.  What are the resources in this room?  What are our strengths?  What are our weaknesses?  The more and more I think about this, the clearer it becomes that our resources and strengths are nearly infinite while our weaknesses are few.  Within the various IT organizations alone, there are countless instances of innovation and leadership that is rarely found in the business world.  When focusing more on the academic side of the university, we find extremely talented researchers and faculty members who blaze the trail in their respective disciplines.  Even the various administrative and auxiliary units bring tremendous value to our room.

Since we know we have an amazing wealth of resources at our disposal, why then don’t we see more collaboration across all areas of IU?  Perhaps some of the problem lies in the entrenched ‘siloing’ that exists in our various areas of responsibility?  Maybe our room is seen as only those closely related to us on an organizational chart?  Maybe we don’t want others to have the perception that we’re not capable of completing our own work, so we don’t collaborate out of fear?  Perhaps we’ve not done enough to build and grow relationships with others outside of our area?

Personally, that last one hits home in a big way.  The nature of my work as Incident Response Manager tends to involve situations that are critically important to IU which involve hard deadlines that cannot be missed and copious amounts of stress.  Often times, I find myself communicating with others across the university with whom I have no established relationship.  As I’m often the bearer of bad news and associated with the Policy and Security teams, it’s not uncommon for folks to have a defensive posture when the call is made.  I suspect this is because I (and by association my team) are sometimes seen as the bad guys since we often provide explicit instructions that must be followed to the letter.  No one likes to experience or report an incident, let alone to have to be told what to do.  As others on this list can attest (and others not on this list did attest in my 360 degree feedback), I was perceived to be difficult to deal with and unwilling to compromise or change.  I lacked insight into the value of relationships and in doing so, regarded each communication as a transaction to be completed rather than a person to be invested in.

Relating my personal experiences back to our room