AVP & CTO Update May 13, 2019
Good morning, Colleagues
I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Happy belated Mother’s Day those of you who are Mothers and/or provide the characteristics of a Mother by caring for someone important in your life.
A few weeks ago I attended the McMaster TMG (The Management Group) Retreat. ”Leading Strategically Through Digital Transformation” was its event theme. The Opening Remarks were delivered by Dr. Arig al Shaibah who is McMaster’s first AVP of Equity and Inclusion.
Arig opened the day’s event by mentioning an article she had read, by Cynthia Li, that correlated the advancement of Diversity with that of Digital Transformation. It caught my imagination and I tucked it away for future reference and now I am sharing it with all of you.
The article touches on many of my favourite concepts – strategy, culture change, leading from one’s heart, story telling, empathy and courage. It also talks about how hard it is to move forward Diversity and Inclusion as well as Digital Transformation – and of course at the root of the challenge is my other favourite concept: people, people, people! (thanks, Brene Brown, for that well used quote).
The correlation between these two advancing societal themes and the activities that may help us move them forward may have similarities, but they are still hard challenges and will require those of us in leadership positions to keep our foot on the gas. Clearly there is a great opportunity to connect with Arig and her team on the opportunities we have here. I also greatly appreciated the article’s highlighted connection between IT and Human Resources as I agree this is a critical partnership.
I am pleased that we are working closely on our campus Human Resources’ digitization activities and that we will be working closely with HR on initiatives in the Connected McMaster Community pillar as well. Within our McMaster IT Strategic Plan this includes initiatives like the IT career framework and IT Community and Culture, however the importance of diversity within digital transformation transcends many other initiatives as well: diversity of perspectives and needs and different ideas and approaches towards the implementation of our McMaster IT Strategic Plan will be key success factors. Our engagement sessions are one opportunity we have created to ensure we are hearing from various constituents and perspectives. All of it takes intention and time.
While we can say we are on the right track, there is much more to do. As a companion article to Li’s, there is this EDUCAUSE article which also highlights the connections between ‘Changing Demographics and Digital Transformation’ . It suggests that higher education will be a catalyst for the important future that awaits us. “Equity and diversity are not gifts that higher education institutions impart to somebody else. They are the ways in which we become better, stronger, and fuller advocates for our highest aspirations.”
The article focuses on the fact that our students are pushing change – they are more diverse than ever, and they are more digitally in tune than the rest of us – named as digital natives. “They expect and accept that technology will be an important and helpful part of their college/university experience” and will expect that to be the norm beyond university, too. The article provides a lot of questions that we can use to explore our ability to advance our approach to digital transformation to provide solutions for our diverse students. The best part is that it focuses on the fact that it is “everybody’s business”, just as diversity is everybody’s business. So, we are in it together, just as it should be.
And that is the way I see IT for this week.
I hope to see you at an engagement session in the near future – in the mean time, enjoy the spring showers and stay positive for warmer temperatures, soon!