AVP and CTO Update, November 9, 2020
A weekend like the one we just had feels like a generous gift. Perhaps you enjoyed the weather by walking nature trails, strolling with your last outdoor ice cream, or sitting in your backyard or on your patio listening to the birds enjoying the weather. Even if all you did was sit inside with the windows open, I am sure it had a positive impact on your outlook! Mine, too! I encourage you to sneak in more time outside while the good weather lasts.
I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual Higher Education CIO Congress yesterday so was not outside as much as I wanted to be (windows were open!). One of the presenters focused on innovation and the way in which successful leaders move innovative ideas towards reality. He suggested that it requires persistence, and the freedom to fail, and it also takes an abundance mindset to believe in the possibilities that innovation offers. I found the discussion to be very positive and very applicable to our own activities, as it pertains to our ongoing efforts towards the McMaster IT Strategic Plan, our President’s current activities to Shape the Future of the institution, and our collective efforts to address the changes that have been brought to us by the pandemic.
Abundance is defined as ‘an ample quantity’ and is the opposite of scarcity. At its core, abundance is about capabilities, multiplying, optimism, and even contentment. If we maintain an abundance mindset, we can make immense progress, centred on our beliefs that we will have enough resources, support, time and that we have both the individual and institutional will to be innovative.
An abundant mindset, like a growth mindset, is unconstrained. Peter Diamandis, founder of Singularity University, discusses an abundance mindset and the fact that we are living in a time of abundance in two of his recent blog posts. I have previously written about Peter Diamandis, along with his peer, Sallim Ismail, author of Exponential Organizations. They focus on abundance as it pertains to the potential of technology to solve big world problems. Although innovation can be a challenge, Peter and Salim focus on what is going well and how technology is delivering innovative solutions. Rather than focusing on the negative news cycles, Peter suggests that we look for evidence that exponential technologies are helping us to improve life in many ways. That may feel incongruous while in the midst of a pandemic, however the rapid research and development of a vaccination, and cooperative efforts to find solutions to pandemic related challenges, are the examples Peter uses to focus on the abundance of progressive circumstances around us.
Applying the concept of abundance to McMaster should provide us all with a similarly positive outlook. Our researchers are deeply involved in addressing pandemic related challenges. Our McMaster IT community is focused on supporting new approaches to online teaching and learning. Our instructors are providing their courses in new and innovative ways. Our administration and service areas across campus are moving quickly to address challenges related to the pandemic, as they arise. Together, we are keeping our institution functioning, and even thriving, during a very challenging time. We are working together across campus, collaborating on solutions that can carry us forward. The new EDUCAUSE Top IT Issues 2021 presents its own ideas for the potential to evolve and transform higher education and much of it focuses on digital transformation. It is worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet.
Bringing it back down to an individual focus, abundance can be a mindful practice. If we each look at the world through a lens of abundance, it can bring a sense of peace and opportunity in our daily activities. Like any mindset or way of looking at the world, abundance is a choice and can link directly to gratitude for what you have. That is always easier when we have sunny days and more positive news cycles, and with practice and intention it can guide our thinking at all times.
Have a great week!gg's blog