Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brain Dots: Connections for Acting in Change Leadership Roles

Our Educause CIO group had an interesting exchange on change leadership. Khalil Yazdi, CIO in Residence at Internet2 NET+ Services, offered thought-provoking comments.  Excerpts of his statements that jumped out to me were:

Change management is not something you have to or even can do on your own. 

The problems we face individually are near identical (regardless of size or type of institution, ineffective and out-of-date legacy is a mind-numbing, budget busting experience for everyone and actually more acute the larger you are). 

Historically, that (i.e. "change management initiatives") was an exercise that was largely bounded within the institution and while we had much we could learn from one another, at home we were quite on our own.

Of necessity, change management is now a communal task, demanding that we find ways that allows us to speak with amplified (shared) voice to both internal and external constituencies because without it, we will simply not be heard.  

I had to think about this for a while, as it changed my perspective for how I was considering change management.  I had to step back and ask "so what is keeping me (and my organization) from participating in collective change management?"  One the big obstacles is the cost of participation in those communal efforts.

My thought process started with consideration for places where I think change management works for our campus.  Actually, as I reflected on that, I think we do that pretty well in our ERP environment with our ERP community (Banner).  Not great, to be sure, but acceptable and adequate.  One reason is that the community has broad campus representation, not just IT representation.

But then my brain-dots flowed to "what is change management?".  And the next brain-dot was that there is an internal perspective and there is an external perspective.  

Things happen outside our institution that affect and impact what we do; the news on 3/7/14, for example, about Google Classroom may require we think about that option for learning management.  Other things, like Heartbleed, require that we take a set of technical actions.  In neither case was there an opportunity for us to change the course of action by having a communal voice.   

In other settings, where we have elected to be part of a community, we have had greater success in having a communal voice that leads to a technical direction or implementation.  Our relationship in Apereo is one such avenue for us.  We have significant benefits working with that community providing uPortal, uMobile, and CAS initiatives.  Another positive community is the REN-ISAC, which gives us specific security directions and to which we can raise our own voice.  For the community to be successful in change management, we have to be part of the community in advance of, and in anticipation of, change.

Internally, change management is less about a vendor or product direction, and more about getting our internal community on board a change train.  I suspect my success as a CIO as evaluated by my campus constituents is more about measuring my success on the internal change train.  It is about presentation and management skills: delivery, communication, advocacy, negotiation, listening, reacting.  Also, the pace of the action needs to match the pace of change:

 "The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades – John P. Kotter"

So to demonstrate change leadership, each special change diamond needs careful review:
  • Is there a community to which we belong that can help with an action response?  
  • Which path is more cost effective:  communal response or individual response?
  • Which path matches the pace of response to the pace of change in the most effective manner?
  • Is this a change initiative that requires broad campus participation or narrow IT participation?
If I reflect on those questions, I may be able to lead through change pathways most effectively.  Are there other points to the diamond?