I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better. So here we are. I’ve been at my current institution for roughly seven months. I’m looking at this university and, with each and every glance, I fall in love with it a bit more. The campus. The possibilities. The people. The support. The empowerment. The beautiful slate. And, for the record, my lenses are not of the rosy variety. They are crystal clear. There is tension. There is change. There is fear. There is wonder. There is passion. But mostly, there is opportunity. And there are distractions. I love a good challenge. The more impossible the better.
We know where we are. We have twenty weeks (-ish) until the close of this fiscal year and the opening of the next. As an institution we have goals. As an IT team we have goals that must align to and with the institutional goals.
Focus for Week 2 – PLANNING
Last week’s entry focused on acceptance. Accepting where we are, accepting where we need to be, accepting the resources we have to help streamline our journey.
We have a lot to do within IT. Each next step for the campus that pertains to working smarter, streamlining process and paving the way to less paper starts with us. In preparation, we spent the last six months comprehensively assessing the landscape and developing robust plans to address issues and gaps, building future-proof roadmaps and drafting tight, concise requests to help get us there. In higher ed particularly, few-to-zero institutions can simply throw money at problems and make them go away. Especially as it pertains to #higheredprobs and #technology. In nearly all instances the issues are not the technology itself, but rather the policies, processes and procedures that are splayed beneath, baked into and then sprinkled on top of every solution currently deployed.
By the way everyone thinks the grass is greener next door, but trust me, it is not.
There’s a fine line between over-thinking and being sloppy. That fine line is the sweet spot for success. That is your trajectory. One of my favorite analogies in strategic planning is the hockey concept of skating to where the puck is going to be, not in the direction of where it currently sits.
We know where we need to be. While we might solidify a plan this second, it needs to continuously morph to meet institutional pathways. NOT TO SAY you never let the jello set. SET THE JELLO. But never get too comfortable. Once that jello is set and ready to serve, it’s your NEXT STEP that might need some fine-tuning. Execute AND COMPLETE, but be ok to change next steps here and there.
When unplanned happens. We had an errant, silo’d, not managed by IT server fail unexpectedly. It caused disruption. It’s back up and running and now we use this as an opportunity to welcome this server into our technology environment, learn about its why and will track the business-critical software on it moving forward. These are beautiful opportunities for awareness of what’s out there. We’ve already mapped out and planned servers, storage and backup and this will fold right on in.
That is the beauty of puzzle-obsessed minds. If each step is a puzzle piece, be prepared to re-label scattered puzzle pieces as each one is placed. End result is always the completed puzzle, but it might look different than you think.
My primary role at this time? Empowering my leaders to work their plans while shielding them from the noise. Sure, the noise might impact the look and feel of the unplaced puzzle pieces, but they don’t need to be distracted by that until that particular jello sets. Distractions confuse a plan. They delay a plan. And they lead to analysis paralysis. You know where you are. You know where you need to be. Keep planning throughout. And, as leadership across all levels, always keep your eyes on and protection over your people.
The cover photo is my daughter. We are currently in NYC with her best friend and cousin for a ‘girls weekend’. We planned quite a bit for this getaway but I can easily say, some of our biggest laughs came from ‘the unplanned’. Yes, as professionals we need to focus on the plan. But we also need to learn from and appreciate those unplanned adventures. It’s not uncommon for those events to produce learning opportunities that you can’t recreate with planning. They teach you how to respond, react and improve. If something feels familiar, it’s easier to react to excitement in the heat of the moment.