Thursday, 8 November 2012

From IT Silos to IT Alliance

Despite the free beer and cocktails last night, I'm in the 8am session. It's from the University of Minnesota about a training programme they have run for IT leaders. It's a very distributed University with 5 campuses and many research centres spread across the state. They have a highly distributed IT structure, with about about a third of IT staff in a central IT department, a third in colleges and campuses and a third in admin offices.

They wanted to build a community of leaders, and implemented a leadership programme. Took 30 people from across all IT departments for a couple of days a month for 8 months. They used active learning concepts and applied their learning to real issues. They spent a lot of time investing in relationships to build trust across the institution and developing personal networks.

Taught to look at issues through three lenses, strategic, political and cultural. Consider that feedback is a gift. Get rid of defensiveness, and thank people for it.
Develop leadership skills, important to coach staff. Don't solve their problems but get them to a stage where they can solve their own problems.

Programme was a success, and led to real initiatives, including development of a service catalogue, consolidating Helpdesks ( they had 73!), virtualising servers and implementing Google Apps across the whole University.

Trust has been established, and there's a shared commitment to the institutions goals. Formal and informal communities of practice have been established.

Interesting session, and a good example of how disparate groups were brought together. Hopefully our own leadership programme is having the same effect,

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