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Posted: 25 August, 2019

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I was looking at another CIO's web page the other day and noticed he had a link to a short PDF of his principles. Initially I set this aside for later reading, and found that I came back to this concept a couple times in the last week. He described how he ticked - what he wanted to spend his time on - how he wanted his staff to prioritize things, and I started mulling over to myself, "where have I ever written down my philosophy?" I also found a number of other leaders around me who had taken this journey as well - we have a unit at the University which puts out their mission for hospitality to students, I had one leader slide a piece of paper across the table at our first meeting of what he saw as his guiding statements in our future relationship, I found another woman who announced these at the start of every talk she gave. Signs that I should take a pass at writing this down, so here goes!

This short list is a list I have to acknowledge comes from both my own experience and lessons taught to me by more senior leaders. Your mileage may vary.

  1. Customer is #1 – be prepared as a technology leader to listen, understand and collaborate in serving their business with technology; no metric substitutes for talking with your customer

  2. Be transparent in your decision making, by using organizational data and priorities, and a clear process; be a good role model and have clarity in communication. Outcomes may be final, but have a time window for reevaluation.

  3. Be honest with one’s self, be open for feedback, and be accountable for both good and bad outcomes; nobody is perfect; be willing to have constructive dialog especially when you do not know the right path to take (don't decide in a vacuum) and don't avoid the hard conversation or pointing out the elephant in the room by taking the easy road for your team.

  4. Solve the right problems first (impact matters); do not band-aid something which needs a real solution; and have a bias for action (see Grace Hopper's famous quote on not tolerating people who say "we've never done that here")

  5. People are important; be a servant leader and don’t just “manage up”

  6. Look forward not back; seek out the latest techniques and be a champion for change - that will make some people uncomfortable but you will find who wants to go on the journey and has their heart in it

  7. Be a role model for diversity and inclusion, in hiring, in decision making, in strategy, and publicly for the betterment of your team

I was recently with a group of architects from Boeing who were some of the most humble technology leaders I have met, almost Zen, which when you consider the criticality of their systems is pretty amazing. To a person, when asked how they made decisions, they stated - "first, we look at what the right course of action is for our customer, then we look at what our shared business of Boeing needs, and only finally do we consider what preserves our work group." Look around your team and see what their priorities are and define your principles, if even only in your mind.

If these are helpful in any way, or if you find that one needs to be added or changed, let me know!


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