CTOs Role: The Power of the Same #edchat

The power to make things the same is dangerous, and the most often used tool in a manager's toolbox.

"If the power to make things the same is dangerous, then empowering others to be different is transformational." 
Image Source for Exercise Class: http://goo.gl/6V0JPh

Empowering others to be different can result in values-aligned, organizational transformations. This is critical to organizational growth because it means people can grow in ways that may be the same, or different, but are aligned to the values that the organization holds dear. In education, we want each individual to realize their unique potential. That potential will manifest differently for each person, yet yield a collective value for all.

While not every change will result in something that moves the organization forward, hope endures that it will.

This week, this email landed in my inbox:
I came across an article you wrote for Education World which directed me to your blog from which I obtained your email address....
The school district I find myself employed by is small—eight schools—and our IT department is likewise small.  We find it difficult to support the myriad of technology tools currently available to educators.  As such we are looking for a process by which to have technology projects identified and selected in a formal manner rather than finding out after the fact that another teacher has brought another new technology tool into the district which the IT folks are completely unfamiliar with.  In doing so we hope to better be able to support all our personnel.  Any direction or resources you could offer would be greatly appreciated and thank you very kindly in advance for your time.
What a fun question to ponder! My initial response to the gentleman who wrote me above was simply to say, "Try one of these processes out!" It was, as some of my colleagues might say, the bureaucratic response. Why? The power of bureaucracy is to create a process, a procedure that generalizes individual requests and makes it easy for a few to handle the many. That's important in large systems because you simply be buried by the diversity and needs of requests. Without a procedure in place, you are stuck trying to get things done because nothing is the same twice. You have to leverage the power of the same to get things done, so that means making everything similar. Does that make sense?

Maybe not, but it's fun to try to create a procedure that fits all sizes! After all, isn't that what managers do? ;-)

Ok, a more serious response to this request is:

  1. In collaboration with Curriculum staff, establish what your guiding principles and values are as an organization. Encourage everyone to ask the question is, Does this align to our organizational values? If the answer is NO, then ask, Is this something we want to spend money and time evaluating?
  2. In collaboration with others, leverage technology to make a process for identifying what is aligned to values quick, and easy. Use something like GoogleForms and then revisit the process periodically as a remote team (to avoid too many face to face visits, which is helpful if you aren't in the same building).
  3. Make sure this is a curriculum-driven process rather than just technology.
Some points to keep in mind:
  • Including ALL stakeholders means involving technology and business operations. If you're not included, why not? What conversation do you need to have that you are not having to ensure you ARE involved?
  • How can you systematize awareness of a process that involves all stakeholders?

 Your goal isn't to stop teachers from going after new technology tools, but rather, to ensure they are involving everyone--including you--in the process.

Here is one process/procedure that was developed as a conversation starter in a school district. While you could adopt this as is, remember your goal to empower others to bring forward solutions that align to organizational values:

Solutions That Work
Instructional Programs--including software and educational web sites--are continuously reviewed for instructional use in the District. To ensure alignment with curriculum goals, as well as verify that electronic solutions work with District infrastructure (e.g. network, computer, account management) and budget processes, the following procedure is being put into place.

  1. Identify District program needs and possible solutions aligned to The District Curriculum Goals, then…
  2. Submit proposal electronically (via Google Form). Components of the form include:
    • Product Title and Vendor Contact Information
    • Deadline for implementation
    • Data needs (e.g. will this product require nightly uploads of student/staff data? If YES, a list of required data or Excel/CSV file from vendor is required)
    • Alignment to the District Curriculum Goals
    • Campus/District Sponsor and his/her contact information
    • Funding available for this solution
    • Budget Code (if available)
  3. The District Review Committee will review proposals. The Committee will be convened when necessary to review proposals and prepare a response. Approval is contingent on approval from 3 parties: a) Business; b) Curriculum, and c) Technology. Guiding questions:
    • Will this solution align to and/or comply to District Business practices and procurement processes?
    • Is this solution aligned to the District Curriculum Goals?
    • Will this solution work on district infrastructure? Are there copies of software, if client-based, that can be provided to test solution? Note process below.
    • Does this solution support automated data uploads and can data file(s) requirement be met by Student Information System (SIS)?
  4. Approval for the purchase of the product will be granted and a purchase order will be generated.

Technology Operations Process
For new web-based or software solutions, Technology Operations staff will verify that proposed solutions work with District equipment and network, then provide a recommendation to the District Review Committee. If the proposed solution requires data files for student and/or staff data, the following procedure is in place:

  1. Prior to meeting of the Review Committee, the Technology Operations Office would clarify data file elements that the vendor needs.
  2. Technology Operations will create a Data Projects Form then review that with District Student Information System (SIS) liaison(s) as designated by the Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations.
  3. In collaboration with Student Information System (SIS) liaison, submit the completed data project request form to SIS Provider.

Note About This Post: For fun while blogging, I tried to adopt a "Leadership Freak" style to blog entry. I failed to adhere to the formula Dan uses, so I'll have to work on emulating the approach more. Still, what fun!

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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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