The Top 10 Issues of 2015 for higher education technology were announced last fall at the Educause conference in Orlando and officially released recently to the public [http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues]. This entry is my sixth in a series of ten as I share my thoughts on each of the issues.
Issue #6: Increasing the IT organization’s capacity for managing change, despite differing community needs, priorities, and abilities.
Once again we come back to the importance of building relationships and practicing transparency. Change is happening and if you’re not managing it, it’s managing you. Especially in the IT arena.
- Hopefully by now all in our career path have set reasonable expectations about change – that it’s happening, that it will continue to happen and that we can be relied on to smooth the transitions to innovation, every time, in every situation.
- Is your governance structure working for you? Strong ‘administrative technology’ and ‘academic technology’ committees are oftentimes your very best friend as it pertains to defining priority for IT efforts. Why? Having representatives from across campus – this includes administration (academic, too!), faculty, students – identify needs and collaboratively prioritize projects eliminates the perception that we in IT define and rule. We conceptualize, we plan, we test and we execute – we don’t need the additional load of ‘prioritizing need’ across an entire campus of differing levels of need. Let the owners reach consensus on what’s the most important, second most important and so on.
- How’s your staff handling the pace of change? For years the IT department staff lurked in basements, only seen when issues bubbled up. For the longest time, a main attractor for an IT job was peace, quiet and coding. No more. Technology now requires interaction and communication, integration and interoperability, and responsive service to the friendliest degree. Our ‘customer’ now knows what to expect performance-wise. They’ve experienced excellent technical customer service from their very own homes. Expectations have been set for us – and it’s our job to respond. Time for slower-moving staff to pick up the pace and get energized about what’s to come. Truly – we are only as strong as our weakest link. One IT rep displays complacence stymies everyone’s best effort. Adapt. Respond. Enjoy the ride!
Meet with your team members. Find their areas of interest and expertise. Envision a morphing department and be agile enough to match talent with new positions. If this particular feature of IT doesn’t excite you – change – it should by now because: Grumpy Cat.
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