Friday, October 12, 2018

New Rules for CTOs: Trumping Leadership

 “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon?”

― Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
History is a fable we all agree upon. Hmm. As a tech director, you see that when you take over and everyone blames the previous CTO for all the problems. Alas, there is no mercy in it. "Bless her heart, she was great but she screwed things up royally." In the end, our history of the past is revised by who is left, who comes in.

You ever wonder if there are some new rules coming as a result of changes in presidential leadership? Instead of cool calm and collected leadership style we all appreciate, a different style is emerging that cares little for old approaches.What happens when new leadership styles modeled in "real life" find their way into the microcosm of school districts?

It may not be too far away. Let's imagine a fictional world where different rules apply. Come away with me and let's consider just 5 of the 7 Trump Rules of Leadership as applied to being a CTO.


With that in mind, I absolutely laughed my head off at this AXIOS article, The Trump Rules of Life and Leadership.
The Trump lessons of leadership, like his approach to the presidency, are radically and ruthlessly different.
Now, setting aside this piece as a criticism of our esteemed President Trump, imagine if these so-called rules were applied to running a technology department in K-12 schools. I've [sanitized] these a bit since, well, I'm not comfortable with some of the language.
  1. Your brand should [tick] someone off.
    Yeah, isn't there Scripture that says lukewarm folks will be spit out? As a CTO, you should be pushing people's boundaries. When people say, "Technology Department," everyone knows that they are using the technology tools that best suit the tech department. What's that? The CTO likes Macs? Buy everyone a Mac and tell the Superintendent he's a dope if he doesn't think it's the right platform. Love Google? Make the Business department use Google Sheets instead of Excel. Love Office 2016? Make everyone use the Desktop versions and email those PPTx, XLSx files rather than work on them online.

  2. Crisis is a powerful weaponfire it indiscriminately. "I don't have time to cater to the Curriculum Department today, I'm too busy cleaning up the Food Services servers because they, get this, loaded some ransomware. It's going to take a few days to clean [stuff] up." The next day, push for a new budget line item for several hundred thousand dollar anti-malware software.

  3. You can create your own truth."We ordered that equipment months ago, but the vendor hasn't delivered it yet. I'm on the phone with them every day. In fact, let me go call them again." The next day: "I let them have it yesterday and they promised results, but we're going to have go out for bid again. That's going to take another few months!"

  4. Accuse the accuser. "What do you mean we're not cooperating with Curriculum Department? They're not cooperating with us! We've been after them to tell us exactly what the special ed system vendor wants but we just get fingerpointing. I'm not saying it's their fault but if they can't talk to the vendor now, what is gonna happen when they sign off on the PO? Wait, they signed off already? No wonder!"
  5. Fear trumps friendship.I can imagine some CTOs setting up technical staff to fight each other. "I have more certifications than you! We need to configure Active Directory right after we purge it!"
    "You can't purge AD, we'd lose all our users! Are you going to answer Central Office when it's all gone?"
    Whew, can't you people figure this out? What's up with you?

How can these perspectives shift our thinking about what is right to do in the workplace?

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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