Monday, December 26, 2011

Are You Ready for BYOD?

Really, the question, "Are you ready?" applies to more than just BYOD, right? While equity is often cited as one reason to eschew BYOD, the real reason reflects a far more sinister intent on behalf of school district administration--the desire to make their jobs easier. Imagine yourself a school district admin. The onslaught of external forces seeking access to your users' data results in daily conversations with less tech-savvy, albeit powerful organization leaders who ask a simple question:
If XYZ school district are doing [NAME OF PROGRAM GOES HERE], why can't we?
The implication is simple--if that organization can implement this successfully, why aren't you--or your department dependent on your placement in the hierarchy--up to the job?
Often, however, IT is told or tempted to get involved in every technology, which is a Sisyphean task it can't afford. IT must step back, first to understand what technologies users are owning and to determine where which really need IT involvement. 
What technologies precisely are those in the empowered employees' quiver? There are five: mobile devices, cloud computing services, social technology, exploratory analytics, and specialty apps (that is, apps for the user's specific job, from presentation software to engineering calculators). (Source: Hands-Off IT)
It's amazing that school districts continue to implement practices that shield them from getting things done. One of my measures for new projects is, "Is the only reason I don't want to do this the fact that I don't want to do this?" If so, then it's time for serious introspection. The easiest solution to that kind of problem is, "What's best for the people in the organization?"

In essence, that is the best question to ask. What's best for the organization, which is always the people that are served, the people who serve, certainly provides a great measuring stick. Doug Johnson, responding to a meme I began some time ago, wrote the following:
One of the ironies of being in a “positional” leadership role – a director, a manager, a supervisor – is that one quickly finds out how little power one actually has. Ordering a thing to be done or a philosophy to be believed is usually about as productive as ordering a two-year-old to eat his peas – you might eventually get the peas in the kid, but the mess will be so bad, you’ll wonder why you started the process. Even “positional” leaders soon find they can lead best by example, with humility, and with common sense.
If the answer to a positional leader is, We can't get it done because we lack the capacity to do it, that's a fixable problem. But if the problem to adopting BYOD or any new technology (e.g. iPads for students, GoogleApps for Education, MS LIVE@EDU) involves a fundamental unwillingness of the people to move beyond their comfort zone, tasked with learning something new and let go of the old, then there's a simple question to ask. Seth Godin put it quite well in this blog entry:
If your organization is both pessimistic and operationally focused, then every new idea is a threat. It represents more work, something that could go wrong, a chance for disaster. People work to protect against the downside, to insulate against the market, to be sure that they won't get blamed for anything that challenges the system. In organizations like this, a new idea has to be proven to be better than the current status quo in all situations before it gets launched.
Is the positional leader in your organization asking that question? If not, it's your responsibility.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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