Examining the ongoing challenges of delivering high-quality, value-added ERP services in Higher Education.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Leadership Lessons...

Two weeks ago I attended a great event at MIT Sloan, subject of an overdue blog that'll hit the blog later this week (honest). But despite all that I may have learned from sessions on negotiation, IT Metrics, operating models, and more, perhaps the best 3 minutes of the event came at the very end, when MIT's Jeanne Ross hit play on this YouTube video: First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.

There is a lot to think about here: I'd like think that I'd rather be the lone nut or first follower rather than one of the bandwagon jumpers later in this video. How about you?

Monday, January 21, 2013

(Belated) 2013 Preview

I may be a bit late in assembling my preview of the new year. Here we are, three full weeks gone, the Patriots ingloriously eliminated last night by the Ravens, and I still feel compelled to publish a few thoughts on the year ahead...

Social Media

Last year, I made it my goal to add 100 new followers, follow 100 new people, and write 1,000 tweets. There was not a lot of science behind those figures (I have a strong preference for round numbers...) but I managed to hit them, I think -- just one minor issue in the fact that I didn't capture where I was starting from! Whoops. Like trying to define target IT metrics without benchmarks or a means for capturing and tracking those metrics... Not that I'd ever put myself in that situation, either.

It is interesting how often I find myself explaining the value of Twitter to someone in my own field, and I found it curious that at a CIO Leadership Institute event last week (subject of another blog-to-be) I was the only Tweep... For me it is an invaluable source of information, perfect for ingestion while waiting for elevators or buses. So I vow to keep with it, aiming a bit higher at 2,000 tweets for the year. Would like to cross the 400-follower mark by December 31st... In which case I had best start creating content of value on this here blog!

Agile / Scrum

Last year I learned a few things about Agile. I went to formal training, did a lot of reading, and participated in my first sprint. We hired a full-time Agile expert and have started trying to figure out how/where we are ready to embrace the full Scrum. I look forward to seeing how the transition proceeds -- as teams step outside their comfort zone, managers learn to let teams organize themselves, business owners join daily stand-up meetings, and more. It should be interesting. At the minimum, I look forward to increased transparency and collaboration, even where waterfall rules the day for one reason or another...

Business Intelligence

I am betting big on business intelligence... Although I think what we are trying to accomplish in my shop is far from the trendy (#bigdata, predictive analytics, advanced visualizations) end of the spectrum. We just plain need better reporting with nimbler and more flexible tools and architecture. OBIEE is the tool we've chosen and it has been fun for me to dabble here and there... I still plan to pay it forward and post lessons learned to this blog from time to time. But I hope over time to post stories about impact -- how the availability of the new technology and capabilities has made a difference in our business. That's why we do what we do, isn't it?

So what is my tactical "resolution" for the year? Nothing short of transforming the state of reporting at my University. Just that. No biggie.

Professional Development

I am already a step ahead of whatever goal I planned to describe here, having attended a great session at MIT Sloan School of Management last week... I have only about eight weeks to write three presentation decks for this years Higher Education User Group (HEUG) Alliance conference, I'm finishing a year on the Program Committee for the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Leadership conference in St. Louis, which promises to be an exceptional program, and I need to come up with awesome proposals for EDUCAUSE Annual Conference and Oracle Open World in the next week or two. So that's the usual stuff -- nothing extraordinary (though 3 presentations in three days at HEUG will be exhausting). What stretch goals do I set for myself? How about 50 blog posts (one per week; already two behind schedule)? And at least 2 submissions somewhere for publication... Gotta tap into that wannabe writer this year!


Last year was insane with major projects in my shop -- in one calendar year we completed major upgrades of both PeopleSoft HCM and Oracle E-Business Suite Financials while also implementing brand-new modules for research compliance and strategic planning. We also assembled rich "roadmaps" for each line of business to figure out which big project to do next... This year we are still busy with projects, including a complex Fixed Assets project kicking off this month, but hopefully the pace is a little slower and we can focus instead on "exploiting" the capabilities these upgrades give us.


My goal this year in this arena is simple: to be more accessible and available. I have these moments where I realize how far I am from the day-to-day, how little opportunity I have to see my team in action, provide feedback and praise, etc. In these next few months, I want to do something about this... It starts with 1:1 conversations with all my staff -- 43 half-hour meetings that are causing my executive assistant serious heartburn every time a "real" meeting swoops in to knock four of those meetings off the books... It is easy to forget how much I learn by talking to people, hearing their motivations and pains, interests and challenges, favorite books and movies. But the key is what I do with what I learn. I will keep you posted...