Business as Unusual: Governance and Leadership

I spoke with a friend the other day who described a governance conversation with his CFO.  It was clear to him that what he thought of as a universal good – an engaged governance process – had come across as a failure to lead.

I was troubled by the dissonance of this.  Isn’t governance as an important part of engaging our customers and having their priorities folded into our institutional strategy?  But what if, in doing that, we are perceived by our leadership as failing to lead?  

In higher education, we have a vibrant CIO community with great interaction.  We meet at conferences, we meet wonderful colleagues, and we build relationships across our universities.  We have wonderful organizations such as Educause and Internet2 to be part of.  And, I think, we live a little in our own echo chamber.  There are ideas universal to our industry – that IT is valuable, that we need a seat at the table, that IT is a strategic asset, that sometimes are not as bought into in by the cabinet as they are in the CIO lounge at Educause.

So for today’s CIO TO DO, check in with colleagues on our key assumptions and principles.  We need to ask them what they think about governance, the role of the CIO, and how they expect us to lead. We cannot be successful if our CIO norms are not shaped by our colleagues and our leadership.  And that is a conversation we need to have regularly. Because even if our boss told us to make IT governance happen, we won’t be successful unless we have a shared understanding of what that means.  #alignment #highered #cio #governance #leadership