On Defense

Last month, I focused on Playing Offense emphasizing the strengths of our organization to orchestrate change.  I also discussed resistance to change which can result in defensive behaviors such as a lack of participation in decision-making, either due to exclusion or opting not to participate. On the flip side of the equation, leaders must learn not to put individuals in a defensive position, especially when giving feedback.  When and how a leader provides feedback should be more important to the leader than the feedback itself.

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Playing Offense

I am wired to be an enthusiastic and emotional leader by nature, especially when I want to explain or deliver a compelling vision for change. I openly expect change to occur and projects completed successfully at a rapid pace, but try not to show disappointment when they are not completed at the speed I expect. My colleagues might say that I am always playing an offensive role, in the way I make critical decisions quickly and don’t let analysis paralysis set in. I determine the direction...
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The Elusive "Easy Button"

My team knows, I am very cautious about adopting what I call “Hyped Emerging Technology”. I take the approach that taxpayers dollars should not be utilized for adopting the latest technology without first building a solid business case, then researching the technology (which includes a mandatory proof of concept); then, if there is still confidence in the technology, implement on time and on budget.
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Urgency to Fail: Why We Stayed the Course

When the recent health crisis arose and States were being overwhelmed nationwide, technology groups obliged, and in many cases with urgency, to introduce new technology. Each offered something  to address the issues that were commonly impacting the public sector, often the solutions were not sufficiently tested. In some states, the rush to deploy technology without proper testing compromised projects that otherwise might have had successful outcomes. In worse cases, the haste to react inadvertently introduced unnecessary security issues...
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The New Era of Tech Support

As I review the volume of IT requests created for my team during March 2020, I envision how this pandemic will change our view of technology in the future. A brand new operating stage of tech support has transpired, and I believe it is here to stay. I am referring to this stage as the Pandemic operational stage. Once we get back to “normal” operation, I believe we will always need to be ready on short notice to transform again into a Pandemic stage, and this will be the new normal...
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To My Team, Navigating in Times of Uncertainty

I recently had a conversation with Governor Ricketts regarding the actions we would be taking in response to the implications of COVID-19 at the State of Nebraska. From the enterprise Technology perspective, I stand by what I told the Governor last week, we are prepared to support the Agencies who serve the Citizens of Nebraska. Our conversation then turned to a reflective nature, as we both remembered our mutual work experiences during the events surrounding Y2K and 9/11...
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Decisions a CIO Should Not Make

I am starting to realize how my approach to IT has evolved from my Industrial Engineering roots. At the State of Nebraska we focus on introducing efficiencies, consistency and reliability in everything we do. Those efforts resulted in the State’s centralized IT environment delivering dependable services at a relatively low cost....
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IT with a Customer Focus

I frequently blog about our organization’s focus on IT as a service and my expectations of my team to deliver this value. We are all responsible for providing products and services that meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. My expectation is that we put customers at the focus of every interaction, which helps the Agencies achieve their performance goals, which increases their satisfaction with the IT we provide...
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Just Do The Right Thing The First Time

The best thing about writing the CIO blog is hearing back from the Agencies when they have taken interest in a particular topic. We take an enterprise view of the technology infrastructure at the State of Nebraska, and it is nice to know that our blog is serving as a window to that vision. The biggest question to cross my desk this month was this...
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Sometimes it’s the things you Don’t See

Every once in awhile I am asked where I get the topics for my blog. This one came to me in the form of an email. The message, from one of our customer agencies, reminded me of how well we have embraced our mission statement at the OCIO, Respect for the Taxpayers of the State of Nebraska.
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Project Success Factors

In the IT community, we follow trade magazines to keep in touch with industry news and shifting trends. Some of us even go as far as to dig up the research leading to the claims in those publications. For years, I have subscribed to the CHAOS Report from the Standish Group. Standish focuses on software projects, successes, and failures, applying the objective analysis of thousands of projects worldwide. The CHAOS report is the largest and longest-running project research study to my knowledge, for years cited by industry magazines as the standard of research. Over time, I have seen little change in the report’s top factors for success except for one recent addition, “emotional maturity”.
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Technology without a Business Case

I had the opportunity last month to engage with several other State CIO’s at the CIO Confidential conference in San Antonio, Texas. One of the big topics of conversation for State governments was “Emerging Technology”.
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The True Cost of IT

The State of Nebraska utilizes a chargeback accounting model for its shared enterprise IT services. IT chargeback is a financial system for IT departments that works to afford the technology services that are needed by the enterprise business organizations.
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Incremental Innovation

With the College World Series starting this week in Omaha, baseball metaphors are once again on my mind. When it comes to innovation or transformation, I am not looking for the homerun, simply small base hits.
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Government as an Enterprise Cloud Provider

Over the past few years, I have read countless magazine articles with nearly identical statements from different IT Leaders, “Our office is actively working to move everything to the cloud”. We all desperately want an easy button to fix our problems. The hype cycle surrounding the cloud is in full swing and this is why. 
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The Practice of Leadership

I have always thought about leadership in the binary.  I believe only two types of leaders exist, those who react to issues and those who can envision and then articulate forward direction.  When invited to present on the topic of “Leadership”, I normally speak about two different styles of leadership: Transactional Leadership and Transformational Leadership
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Process Improvement: What's in a name?

Sometimes the best process improvement efforts are the least fascinating and easiest tools to implement. One year ago we initiated an enterprise self-service password reset tool and as a result, we noticed some dramatic results. I will share the February metrics as an example:
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Platform Modernization

In my recent career, I have noticed a common misperception concerning legacy systems which strikes my interest. What I have heard said is that, “X system does not meet the users’ needs.” I remember a pearl of wisdom from my childhood, “There’s no tree but bears some fruit”. Translation: there is nothing so useless that it can’t be of some use.
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What Problem Are We Trying To Solve?

At times, every technology organization will struggle to define a problem they want to solve. After four years serving in public sector IT and more than 20 spent in private sector IT roles, I can verify this is a common thread across the field.
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2018 Customer Service Year in Review

Customer service is difficult to quantify, especially for a group that thinks in 1’s and 0’s.
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