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Folks - 

In two weeks I will be giving a presentation to the academic deans and various vice provosts on OIT's (Ofc of IT) 5  year plan. This is basically a budget for major upgrades on the radar as well as needs driven by our university Strategic Plan.  However, as we all know, making these plans actionable at the level of executive and senior management is a greater challenge. I'm struggling with how to make this extraordinarily complex environment digestible to folks who lack deep knowledge without simplifying to the point of cartoon-like explanations. My goal is helping them understand the trade-offs around customization, the transactional costs of poor business process design, the needed skill sets to address looming integration needs, and the multifactorial  issues around data management without watching their eyes glaze over.  I meet with these folks weekly (as a group) and so have a familair relationship with them. However, I need to shift them from a device-centered view of technology to one  focused on the behavior change (institutional and individual)  required to harness technology's value without scaring them too much.

Can anyone suggest some major themes around which I might organize my materials? Or suggest concrete examples that I am sure we all have had that would be illustrative? 

Ann

_____________________________
Ann Kovalchick, Ph.D. 
Chief Information Officer 
Dial Center 
(o) 515.271.2345 


Drake University 
2507 University Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50311 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Ann,

 

This may not help with all of the items but my general recommendation would be to see if the language in the Educause top 10 issues and in the New Horizons Report frameworks might be of help. Particularly the latter is written for a more general audience.

 

Ilya.

 

Ilya Yakovlev

CIO

University of Wisconsin-Parkside

 

What a great question and circumstance we all deal with….On question you might ask yourself is “Do they really care?” So cartoon-like might be all they need (or want.) A second approach is to keep the discussion in their frame of reference…what it takes to support a particular school or discipline…that sort of thing.

The final thing to remember is they are accustom to their kids fixing all the technology in their personal space have no idea of IT at the “organizational” level….so almost anything you say about infrastructure…they won’t get… Good luck…

 

I’d be interested to hear a: what approach you take and b: how it was received….sort of a post mortum.

 

Best,

Rob

 

Dr. Robert Paterson

Vice President – Information Technology, Planning and Research

Molloy College

Rockville Centre, NY

 

Ann,

Focus on business needs rather than technology.   Talk to them in their language.  If you are talking about improved business process, indicate how this will free up their staff to do more of what is needed – advising, tutoring, high touch customer service etc.    If you are talking about integration, what does that bring them and how will it help them?   The cost includes the additional staff or training, but don't make that the focus of your conversation.   Talk about what OIT is going to do to help them meet their goals in the strategic plan.  If IT's 5 year strategic plan doesn't help them meet their goals, it is the wrong strategic plan.   It is about them, not about IT.

Julie

Julie Ouska
CIO/VP of IT
Interim Executive Director CCCOnline
Colorado Community College System
Julie.ouska@cccs.edu
(720) 858-2781 

Message from alfred.essa@gmail.com

Ann,

You might also consider organizing your presentation using the concept of portfolio management, which aims to answer three questions:

  • Did we spend the right amount on IT?
  • Did we spend it in the right places?
  • Did we get the right return on investment?
The core idea is to prioritize and track IT investments in asset classes. Here's a brief slide deck that illustrates the concept. It's based on Peter Weill's work at MIT' Center for Information Systems Research (CISR).


Best,
Alfred Essa
Dir. of Innovation and Analytics Strategy
Desire2Learn


Ann,

 

I've had the best results in using scenario/narratives to explain plans and tech "stuff".

 

In your particular example, perhaps sending them real-world examples (news stories - scenario/narratives - not by any tech trade-rags) of what happens to tech projects when the issues of customization, the transactional costs of poor business process design, needed org/dept skill sets are not taken into consideration.  That should at least/hopefully get their attention.

 

Using scenario/narratives may get good/better results in regards to at least helping folks understand what is possible w/o having to understand the tech complexities.  Hoping it helps, I've attached two example scenario narratives where:

 

- one was used to help understand the tech needs in regards to new building construction

- one was used to help understand the IT Strategic/Master plan

 

Regards,

 

Jim

 

James M. Dutcher - Chair - SUNY Council of CIOs

SUNY Cobleskill - CIO: PMP, CISSP, SCP/Security+, CISA

EMail : dutchejm@cobleskill.edu

EMail : jim@dutcher.net (personal)

Office: (518) 255-5809

Cell  : (518) 657-1056 (work)

Cell  : (607) 760-7455 (personal)

Skype : james_dutcher

http://www.cobleskill.edu

 

 

 

 

Message from mike.cunningham@pct.edu

I would love to see your presentation

 

Good morning, Ann!

 

I agree completely with moving from a device-centric view and focusing on the overall performance. Of course that implies transparency and accountability from all parties and that… well, that requires trust. J

 

<soapbox> I have a great deal of concern regarding the lack of attention to data management and data quality that I have observed in Higher Education. It seems that everyone wants to be “data driven” and “competing on analytics” but when I probe I get the impression that they see only the 15% that lies about the water line while the 85% below the surface is where the value is generated….and where the bulk of the risk is. From what I can tell, folks seem to miss the relationship between processes and data. Poor processes produce poor data and poor data leads to poor decisions. In addition, when you change a process, you change the data that the it produces. This creates difficulty with year-over-year comparisons, among other things. </soapbox>

 

With all that said, I hope you find the following useful. If not please feel free to ignore.

 

Based on my experience, I would suggest organizing around the following themes: Risks, Benefits, Costs, Options, Constraints, Capacity, and Change. My approach is to structure information to facilitate decision-making, and I try to keep the discussion within a functional/capability context rather than a technical one. I inform the group at the outset of our discussion what I am seeking (an endorsement for a particular approach, input to further develop an idea, acknowledgement that my colleagues are aware of a particular issue, etc.) and the timeframe in which we need to operate (within the next hour/week/month/year). Finally, I make a point of calling out assumptions explicitly along the way.

 

By way of a concrete example, I recently presented a three-year forecast regarding one of our major software applications. It is an extremely complex decision space. I asked the group to endorse an approach that I could develop further. We started with constraints (regulatory, vendor, and internal/external partner constraints). Then we looked at the risks and our options to mitigate them, weighing the tradeoffs of the various options. For each option we discussed the underlying assumptions, probed, poked, and prodded to gauge sensitivity from multiple viewpoints. I used a single diagram I had developed  to help structure the decision-space. Trying to simplify that diagram to the appropriate level is still to me more art than science. I did solicit and incorporate feedback from several colleagues as I created the diagram.

 

I’ve introduced to my colleagues the notion of a “change budget” (how much change can our stakeholders absorb versus how much capacity can we devote to change initiatives). I am a firm believer that we ignore change fatigue at our peril. I am developing a more formalized model, but a “small/medium/large” attribution of the impact of an initiative on a group of stakeholders is a fine place to start the discussion. In my example, we have a move to a new facility that would occur at some point during the change to our software application and business process--three large changes aimed at the same group of stakeholders. This topic generated a great deal of discussion and had a significant impact on the outcome—something I had not anticipated prior to our discussion.

 

We discussed the resources (and their timing)required to create the necessary capacity to undertake the various options along with the associated benefits. At the end of our thirty-minute discussion I had what I asked for: a preferred path and a list of assumptions that need to be monitored moving forward.

 

I hope this helps. I would be happy to follow-up off-list. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing about your success!

 

--sean

 

Sean Jackson, D.M.A.

School of Medicine & University Physicians Group Chief Information Officer

 

sean.jackson@virginia.edu

 

University of Virginia School of Medicine     V:  434-243-1919

3115 McKim Hall                                                      F:  434-924-8173

PO Box 800796

Charlottesville, VA 22908-0796

 

University Physicians Group                              V:  434-980-6176

500 Ray C. Hunt Drive

Charlottesville, Virginia  22908

 

Hi Ann,

I applaud your efforts in helping your executives understand the intricacies of running Information Technology but this will likely take more than one presentation or conversation. Pepperdine has five schools, each with its own culture and set of needs. Like you, I have made group presentations for the deans and other university leaders on various IT topics but think I am most effective in my one-on-one touch-base meetings with them. With one-on-one meetings, you have their attention (hopefully undivided), discuss matters that are most important to them, and demonstrate how what you are doing in IT translates to value their school can benefit from.

It's indeed a challenge to cover all IT aspects in one presentation. May I suggest the theme of "student learning." The first goal in Pepperdine's strategic plan has to do with advancing student learning. In a recent meeting with my University President and his steering committee, I spoke about our efforts on faculty development, engagement and partnership (one of my IT strategic goals), and how they tie to student learning. At the same time, I took the opportunity to address a bigger institutional funding problem related to R&R for classroom technologies (we have none). I emphasized how faculty should not have to worry about classroom technologies but have no choice but to due to the age of the equipment. My CFO was in that meeting and the discussion went on for quite a few minutes. Sadly, the issue remains unresolved but at the very least, I raised the issue before key stakeholders. The conversation needs to continue. Similarly, you can tie the transactional costs of poor business process designs to how it is expending your team's time and preventing them from focusing on important core institutional matters, etc.

Hope this helps. Happy to discuss more offline.

Best,
Jonathan See, CIO
Pepperdine University
310.506.6256


So much good thinking and experience in this thread!  

I'd add: this is not the sort of thing you can communicate effectively in one presentation, or via one channel. For me it is a constant process of learning, from both sides—I learn how my colleagues see their world, and I teach them about mine :-)  Every time a good example presents itself, I grab it and try to weave it into the fabric of the learning. 

The more we develop shared understanding the easier it is to listen to one another, to see the value in alignment, and to realize the need to in invest in things that previously had been invisible to us. 

Ethan


——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT & 
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325   

Interesting discussion and great points!

I'm kind of wondering what it is you want them to do as a result of your presentation.  I read several things into your short message:
  • Approve a 5 year technology plan for technology direction and compatibility with campus expectations.
  • Approve a 5 year plan that is basically a budget, so you are seeking approval for the budget.  Are you also asking for the funds, or do you have the funding commitment and you are seeking approval for the plan to spend the funding commitment?
  • Train decision makers on project risks:  unprincipled customization, poor business process design, inadequate skill sets, poor quality data management.
  • Development of core value agreement among decision makers, with those values being business, academic, administrative efficiency, whatever.

Seems like a lot to do in one session.  At the end of the session, and everyone leaves, what is it you want them to do the next day or in the next week with the information from the session?  Did the development of the 5 year plan involve them, so they really know where you are already, and you are just trying to showcase the outcomes in the plan?

I can't say I have this mastered, either.  I can appreciate the cartoon (or call it the pablum) effect; in order to keep people on board and understanding, we dumb down the discussion to pablum or cartoons - and then they complain  "This is all so simple -why is it so expensive?"  So we try to get into the details of why it is expensive, only to watch the eye-glaze-effect. 

Good luck and do write back and let us know how it goes (we'd like to emulate your success!).


Best wishes

Theresa

Ann,

Like others who have responded, I'm so glad you posed this question—it's a really interesting one and I've particularly enjoyed reading the replies.  My $.02 to add is a bit of a conglomeration of several of the other responses you've already received.

Here is my thought: instead of trying to communicate everything in your plan, you might consider selecting one or two items/projects/issues/case studies and spend the bulk of your time going into some detail on them.  Obviously, if you take this approach, you have to choose those one or two topics very carefully.  I wouldn't necessarily go with the big-ticket items or the sexy items — I'd look for things that meet a handful of criteria:
  • Topics that are going to resonate with the audience—if you're going to focus on a single issue for 10 minutes, it needs to be something important to them
  • Topics that are sufficiently complex — especially those where the complexity lies below the surface such that your discussion will serve as an educational moment for the audience (how many times have we heard a phrase like "why on earth does it take so long to roll out product X when I can go to Best Buy and buy myself a copy and my kid will set it up that night?")
  • Topics that demonstrate the thoughtfulness you and your crew have put into your plan, clearly connecting to the institutional strategic plan
I'm also tempted to add in there, "topics that make them feel good."  I can't justify calling that out as a bullet but it's a fact of life that you'll likely get a better response if your presentation is upbeat rather than doom-and-gloom!

The idea here is that if you can get buy-in and understanding on the one or two topics you talk about, you should be able to establish enough credibility that they'll accept the rest of your plan as a logical extension, understanding that of course you didn't have time to go into that level of detail on everything.  

Hope this is helpful.

Eric

-- 
Eric Bird
Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
eric.bird@massart.edu
617-879-7878

Technology staff will NEVER ask for your password, particularly not by email.  Any request for it is a scam and should be ignored.

From: Ann E Kovalchick <ann.kovalchick@DRAKE.EDU>
Reply-To: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
To: "CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: [CIO] how to avoid scaring the Deans?

Folks - 

In two weeks I will be giving a presentation to the academic deans and various vice provosts on OIT's (Ofc of IT) 5  year plan. This is basically a budget for major upgrades on the radar as well as needs driven by our university Strategic Plan.  However, as we all know, making these plans actionable at the level of executive and senior management is a greater challenge. I'm struggling with how to make this extraordinarily complex environment digestible to folks who lack deep knowledge without simplifying to the point of cartoon-like explanations. My goal is helping them understand the trade-offs around customization, the transactional costs of poor business process design, the needed skill sets to address looming integration needs, and the multifactorial  issues around data management without watching their eyes glaze over.  I meet with these folks weekly (as a group) and so have a familair relationship with them. However, I need to shift them from a device-centered view of technology to one  focused on the behavior change (institutional and individual)  required to harness technology's value without scaring them too much.

Can anyone suggest some major themes around which I might organize my materials? Or suggest concrete examples that I am sure we all have had that would be illustrative? 

Ann

_____________________________
Ann Kovalchick, Ph.D. 
Chief Information Officer 
Dial Center 
(o) 515.271.2345 


Drake University 
2507 University Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50311 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Ann,
To address some of your topics, you might consider using a few analogies that will simplify things. 
 
For example, many institutions take pride in a certain kind of architectural design for buildings on their campuses and as individuals, we live in homes that have particular architectural design characteristics.  Everyone seems to understand that when you are building new buildings on a campus or making updates/changes/renovations to your own home that it is highly desirable that the design makes sense and that things go together and work together properly.  I equate this to technology architecture so that it's more easily understood that we must take into account what we've already got in our portfolio in tems of investment, skillsets and complexity when acquiring new solutions to ensure everything continues to work together seamlessly and without a cludgy design.
 
It's one idea that I've found helpful.
Susan
 

>>> Eric Bird <Eric.Bird@MASSART.EDU> 9/28/2012 8:01 AM >>>
Ann,

Like others who have responded, I'm so glad you posed this question—it's a really interesting one and I've particularly enjoyed reading the replies.  My $.02 to add is a bit of a conglomeration of several of the other responses you've already received.

Here is my thought: instead of trying to communicate everything in your plan, you might consider selecting one or two items/projects/issues/case studies and spend the bulk of your time going into some detail on them.  Obviously, if you take this approach, you have to choose those one or two topics very carefully.  I wouldn't necessarily go with the big-ticket items or the sexy items — I'd look for things that meet a handful of criteria:
  • Topics that are going to resonate with the audience—if you're going to focus on a single issue for 10 minutes, it needs to be something important to them
  • Topics that are sufficiently complex — especially those where the complexity lies below the surface such that your discussion will serve as an educational moment for the audience (how many times have we heard a phrase like "why on earth does it take so long to roll out product X when I can go to Best Buy and buy myself a copy and my kid will set it up that night?")
  • Topics that demonstrate the thoughtfulness you and your crew have put into your plan, clearly connecting to the institutional strategic plan
I'm also tempted to add in there, "topics that make them feel good."  I can't justify calling that out as a bullet but it's a fact of life that you'll likely get a better response if your presentation is upbeat rather than doom-and-gloom!

The idea here is that if you can get buy-in and understanding on the one or two topics you talk about, you should be able to establish enough credibility that they'll accept the rest of your plan as a logical extension, understanding that of course you didn't have time to go into that level of detail on everything.  

Hope this is helpful.

Eric

-- 
Eric Bird
Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
eric.bird@massart.edu
617-879-7878

Technology staff will NEVER ask for your password, particularly not by email.  Any request for it is a scam and should be ignored.

From: Ann E Kovalchick <ann.kovalchick@DRAKE.EDU>
Reply-To: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
To: "CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: [CIO] how to avoid scaring the Deans?

Folks - 

In two weeks I will be giving a presentation to the academic deans and various vice provosts on OIT's (Ofc of IT) 5  year plan. This is basically a budget for major upgrades on the radar as well as needs driven by our university Strategic Plan.  However, as we all know, making these plans actionable at the level of executive and senior management is a greater challenge. I'm struggling with how to make this extraordinarily complex environment digestible to folks who lack deep knowledge without simplifying to the point of cartoon-like explanations. My goal is helping them understand the trade-offs around customization, the transactional costs of poor business process design, the needed skill sets to address looming integration needs, and the multifactorial  issues around data management without watching their eyes glaze over.  I meet with these folks weekly (as a group) and so have a familair relationship with them. However, I need to shift them from a device-centered view of technology to one  focused on the behavior change (institutional and individual)  required to harness technology's value without scaring them too much.

Can anyone suggest some major themes around which I might organize my materials? Or suggest concrete examples that I am sure we all have had that would be illustrative? 

Ann

_____________________________
Ann Kovalchick, Ph.D. 
Chief Information Officer 
Dial Center 
(o) 515.271.2345 


Drake University 
2507 University Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50311 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Thanks to all for your great ideas! I was looking for some new techniques for an approach to what is essentially an executive education effort. We have an absurdly decentralized environment (given our institutional size), so helping folk understand how to optimize IT spending and coordination to reach strategic outcomes is really a culture change effort. It's nice to be able to travel back to my homeland listserv for a refresher course. Some of the key Ideas I picked up:
  • The value of using scenarios
  • Link cost to services
  • Offer some hope and feel good stuff
  • Relevant example may be better than big ticket items
  • Use analogies go common/universal experiences
  • Structure info to facilitate decision-making
  • Highlight the costs associated with change using a "change budget"
  • Don't try to do to much
  • Use a timeline to illustrate progress
  • Clarify the distinction and relationship between between transactional and strategic efforts and cost
  • View this presentation as one part of an ongoing conversation
I'll report back, assuming I'm not eaten by a pack of wolves….

AK
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Best of luck, Ann. You'll do well.

Best,
Jonathan See
Chief Information Officer
Pepperdine University
310.506.6256

This is an incredibly useful summary!  Thanks for posting.
Theresa

Hi, Ann 
Do you have time for coffee or something before the conference ends?

Theresa

On Thursday, September 27, 2012, Ann E Kovalchick wrote:
Folks - 

In two weeks I will be giving a presentation to the academic deans and various vice provosts on OIT's (Ofc of IT) 5  year plan. This is basically a budget for major upgrades on the radar as well as needs driven by our university Strategic Plan.  However, as we all know, making these plans actionable at the level of executive and senior management is a greater challenge. I'm struggling with how to make this extraordinarily complex environment digestible to folks who lack deep knowledge without simplifying to the point of cartoon-like explanations. My goal is helping them understand the trade-offs around customization, the transactional costs of poor business process design, the needed skill sets to address looming integration needs, and the multifactorial  issues around data management without watching their eyes glaze over.  I meet with these folks weekly (as a group) and so have a familair relationship with them. However, I need to shift them from a device-centered view of technology to one  focused on the behavior change (institutional and individual)  required to harness technology's value without scaring them too much.

Can anyone suggest some major themes around which I might organize my materials? Or suggest concrete examples that I am sure we all have had that would be illustrative? 

Ann

_____________________________
Ann Kovalchick, Ph.D. 
Chief Information Officer 
Dial Center 
(o) 515.271.2345 


Drake University 
2507 University Avenue 
Des Moines, IA 50311 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.



--
Theresa Rowe
Chief Information Officer
Oakland University
 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.