Be the CTO They Need

When I saw this earlier this week, it immediately reminded me of a Twitter exchange I had with the incomparable Alice Keeler (Teacher Tech blog) earlier this month.

While I don't remember the exact details of the conversation (wait, a quick google search and voila!), and that was a few thousand tweets ago, I remember that the main problem was simply that technology directors are mired in fear, uncertainty and doubt, keeping people they allegedly serve stuck in static learning environments.
In fact, Alice later tweeted, "Many of them are and there are some wonderful IT depts and others are shivering in the corner with fear."

If one were to make a list of the objectionable actions technology directors make, what would comprise the list?

Here are some ideas:
  1. "Starting with locking down email/youtube/tools teachers want/need" (Alice Keeler)
  2. Locking down social media tools.
  3. Making software and hardware decisions based on their perspective not that of teachers and students
  4. Virtualizing all the desktops so the CTO has absolute control and end-users cannot load software or customize anything
  5. Make getting help or support too complicated
  6. Fear of change
I suspect that the one that scares me the most is choosing expensive solutions over free ones (e.g. MS Exchange/Office365 vs GoogleApps for Education), an inflexibility to try new solutions that may yield powerful benefits.

Some guideposts for CTOs based on my experiences and need to grow:
  1. Plan for what you can, be open to possibilities.
  2. Communicate and build relationships to the best of your ability.
  3. Know what leadership/management style best fits your team.
  4. Read voraciously, throw innovative ideas and solutions out; don't wait for the best moment because you'll be waiting a long time.
  5. Recognize you have a short time (2-3 years) to make things happen before things started happening back. (the power of the system to fight back a la Peter Senge)
What would you add?

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


Unknown said…
Good post! I particularly love #3 (Making software and hardware decisions based on their perspective not that of teachers and students). Everyone in the district needs to have a mindset that we are here for students to learn and teachers to teach, how can we help make that happen? If the technology hinders innovation or causes the teacher/students to spend more time and frustration... time to rethink that.

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