Aphorisms for a Higher Ed CIO

  1. If you struggle to define your mission, vision, and strategic plan, consider how people outside your organization might struggle to justify your funding.
  2. Adversarial relationships between ‘central’ and ‘departmental’ IT are the ultimate in senseless navel gazing and waste resources that should be applied to the campus mission.
  3. You’ll never have an adequate budget because vendors understand funding cycles and make the next indispensable technology just out of reach
    (and while some vendors really do change the game, the vast majority don’t).
  4. What is the highest common denominator between every member of your organization? Why?
  5. When people think of your organization, do they consider it an accelerator or a hindrance? Why? How do you know that’s true?
  6. If you use words like strategy, strategic planning, leadership, and vision, be prepared to define them in simple language.
  7. Teaching with technology needs to enhance teaching with humans by one or more of the following: extend reach, create new affordances, or increase student attention/retention. It is reasonable to request a vendor produce unbiased research that a given promoted technology addressees one of these areas.
  8. Understand your campus really, really, really well.
  9. Collaborate with other institutions/organizations/departments to create transparent common cost models for services. Publish these and expect vendors to meet or beat your numbers.
  10. Consider how, where, and why your organization increases complexity.
  11. Be the kind of person that others are eager to collaborate with in a meaningful way.
  12. Try really damn hard.
    After all, you’re in an important supporting role for one of humanity’s greatest achievements — the modern educational system.
    Try really damn hard to make sure that every one of your employees understands how important their job is.
    Try really damn hard to leave your campus better at the end of your tenure than when you started.
    And, try really damn hard to have a life outside of your screen.

You rock.