Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Don't Dictate, Facilitate"

Last August, Andrew Barbour (see "An Issue of Credibility"), executive editor of Campus Technology asked me if I would be willing to write an op-ed on the changing nature of IT leadership in higher education. This is a real honor for me personally and professionally. It was shortly after the start of this year that I turned to the task of writing this piece, doing so while I was also putting together a planned keynote for February on the changing nature of higher education. The topics dovetail well: both IT and higher education are in a symbiotic relationship and are working through the ramifications of shift from a world based on one-to-many relationships to a world based on many-to-many relationships. The final piece, "Don't Dictate, Facilitate" hit the physical shelves and online world today. Here's a brief introduction.

As IT professionals, we are just starting to come to terms with what the internet has truly wrought. For the better part of 10 years, we viewed the internet age as a shift from a bricks-and-mortar world to an online, digital world. CIOs and their IT organizations expected to be at the forefront of the resulting transformation of higher education. We were wrong.

To a large degree, "Don't Dictate, Facilitate" creates context for understanding the principles on IT leadership and organizational change first laid out in "A Roadmap for IT Leadership and the Next Ten Years" and "Technical Skills No Longer Matter". I do strongly believe that we are just at the cusp of radical change for both IT organizations and higher education. What we have been through the past five years doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what is to come. IT organizations, in my view, have a simple choice: adapt to the economic scarcity, decentralization, and decentered authority flowing from today's many-to-many world or wither on the vine. This, I believe, is the challenge for IT leaders today.

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