I am honored to have this opportunity to share with you what I teach about the relationship of technology within your organization. I am Candace Ryder and I teach freshman and sophomore level Computer Information Systems courses at Colorado State University and I am the webmaster of www.gratitudecov.com. You can find me on Twitter @geekinstructor. The idea presented here originated from the textbook Information Systems by Baltzan & Phillips.
The relationship of technology within an organization has three parts:
- People – who works or volunteers for the organization
- Technology – what technology is available or what is affordable and gives value to the organization
- Data & Information – the ability to gather the data needed to run the organization or to provide to outside stakeholders
These three parts must work together to achieve the goals or vision of any organization. If something the organization is doing with technology is not using the three above parts together to achieve a goal or the vision of the organization, shut it down. I give kudos to New Spring Church for shutting down their Internet campus because it did not follow the vision of the church.
This may almost sound like common sense, but putting this in practice is a big task. Having a road map makes it much less daunting. Thankfully, Jim Collins has done a great deal of research and wrote a fabulous book called Good to Great on building great businesses which can be used for technology implantation in any organization (there is a monograph for the social sectors (NPOs) for Good to Great which is also excellent). Mr. Collins spoke at Catalyst 2008 and his after talk interview with Andy Stanley can be viewed here before reading on (if you want) but below I’ve applied what he said generally about leadership- specifically to technology implementation.
Getting the right people on the bus – Although technology is intertwined in our daily lives, everyone is not technology savvy. Even “Google generation” or “Millennials” do not have the correct technology skills to make them automatically successful in technology related fields. Therefore, assuming the people on staff can implement a particular technology is unwise. The keys here are authenticity and communication. Leaders and teachers, be real with yourself about your technology knowledge and skill. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Volunteers are your best asset when your knowledge and skill level aren’t where you would like them to be. Find someone ‘who has the heart of a teacher’ (I’m borrowing that phrase from Dave Ramsey) who can do the technology for you and teach you about it at the same time. Resources such as this blog www.michaelhyatt.com and www.churchcrunch.com can also help increase your knowledge and skills.
Responsibilities – It is the organization’s responsibility to carry out its vision. A simple statement but sometimes it gets lost especially when it comes to technology. Some organizations implement the latest and greatest stuff just because it’s the latest and greatest stuff regardless of whether or not it meets the vision of the organization. They loose sight of their responsibilities and end up somewhere they didn’t intend to be, or worse they end up hurting the people they intended to help. Always keep the vision the utmost priority for the organization. I remind my staff almost weekly why we are there. We are there for the students – period – and that is the test for everything I do for the courses I teach. If what I want to do technology wise is not in the best interest of the students, I don’t do it.
Stop doing list – Many of us live in “information overload” whereby we are collecting and have access to too much data and information. I believe, at the top of all organization’s “stop doing list” should be to stop creating unnecessary data and information. Identify the mission critical data to run the organization and create information from that data. This will weed out all other unnecessary data and information. Then provide that information to outside stakeholders. If required by an outside agency to collect certain data, work backwards. This is what I do: my college is accredited by AACSB and there are learning goals set by the college that must be attained by the students. I collect the data necessary for AACSB, create reports, and then use the same data for other purposes. I stopped collecting other data, something from my “stop doing list”, and I became more efficient.
I opened my sophomore level class this semester by telling the students that technology is not a toy and showing a clip of Steve Jobs and the introduction of the iPhone 4. It obviously made an impression on one student because in the next class I asked for the main point of the previous lecture he matter of factly said technology is not a toy. What I was hoping for was that there are three parts to technology… people, technology, and data & information and they all must work together to achieve the vision of the organization.