08NTC: Day 2, From Techie to Leader

Linda Widdop (Director of Tech Services) and Dean Graham (Manager of application services)
NPower Pennsylvania

Strategy, Vision, Communications, Role Model and Team Building for non profit IT staff

Top three takeaways

  • IT Leadership isn’t all about technology
  • 5 key areas of leadership to focus on
  • Tips for developing skills in each of the key areas

“True measure of leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less. ” - Maxwell

Understanding IT Leadership

IT Roles in non-profits

  • Large non profits have org charts that allow technology to be an exec’s decision - CIO
  • Mid size non profits have org charts that allow someone to “deal” with technology - IT Manager - CFO makes decisions and has someone to implement it.
  • Small non profits don’t even have an org chart! - Accidental Techie

Ineffective CIO

  • E.D. has business background
  • New position created - CIO
  • CIO attends exec meetings
  • No improvements seen by management (6-9 month period)
  • Staff frustrated by technology
  • Shouldn’t need a CIO and a consultant to develop a strategic technology plan
  • CIO has no leadership ability. Can’t work with above and not below. No tech skills either.

Ineffective IT Manager

  • Top management comprised of promoted social workers, advocates
  • IT Manager not invited/included in exec meetings
  • Budget developed and managed by CFO

Ineffective accidental techie

  • Volunteer or overworked case worker who knows how to use a computer
  • few or minimal resources
  • React to crisis or programmatic changes
  • Go-to gal

Understanding IT Leadership

  • What was missing in our 3 examples? Leadership
  • To be effective, you need to understand how to be a leader - no matter what role

The NMA ( Leadership Model - can apply leadership principles to technology and they don’t have to be two different things. All models say the same thing

Mobilize Individual Commitment for Change -inspire and engage otheres, share power

  • Set direction - envision the future, share vision,
  • Demonstrate Personal Character - foster relationships
  • Engender organizational capability

5 key areas of technology leadership: Tech leadership = leadership, mapped directly to people

  1. understand strategic technology planning
  2. develop a vision for the org
  3. building the team
  4. communication
  5. role models

1. Understand strategic technology planning - too often the answer is no, orgs don’t consider tech.

  • Roadmap that alins technology with mission and business goals
  • Process to build buy-in from stakeholders
  • A framework for decision-making
  • Tool for budgeting and fundraising
  • Living evolving document

Where does IT Leadership fit in?

  • Broach the subject with management.
  • Understand and communicate the benefits.
  • Lead the effort.
  • Look to the future

Talk to and get info from all folks and bubble those ideas up.

Take a snapshot where the org is - inventory - and then you do visioning. Look to the future.

2. Develop a vision - align Technology with mission and business goals

Think about it: What are your organization’s key, strategic business goals over the next 3-5 years? THEN find the tools.

  • Get involved in developing your org’s business goals
  • fully understand all programs
  • understand the bigger picture

3. Build the team- benefits of buy-in from all levels. If you aren’t asked about it and you aren’t part of the process, it’s harder to do.

  • gain support and user adoption
  • budgets make more sense
  • input from all angles
  • smarter solutions
  • holistic approach

Where does IT Leadership fit in?

  • Ask for volunteers to join effort - build a team and have freedom to do that
  • elicit input from all members
  • include other leaders -give up a bit of control
  • foster team communication
  • don’t let your expertise drive the process

Things to talk about: programs, users, outcomes, vision, growth, etc.

4. Communication - build internal enthusiasm. Cheer people on to work with you. Be a cheerleader for the accomplishments.

  • All meetings must be attended by the team
  • share the team’s deliverables with other staff - executives or full staff
  • develop solid documentation
  • share your enthusiasm for the project with everyone

5. Role Model - continue to provide thought leadership in the organization

  • Reach out to like minded organizations
  • use your headquarters
  • investigate other organizations that provide the same services
  • investigate other organizations that communicate in the same way
  • research and adopt technology “best practices”
  • Lead by example
  • Become a Subject Matter Expert - provide thought leadership in the organization
  • Join and head other tech groups
  • Provide information to other orgs
  • Communicate benefits of organization
  • Express what you want clearly
  • Keep up communications
  • Provide info to other orgs
  • Collaborate when possible

Here’s what we need to do  - How can we get there?
Goals >> Outcomes >>> Benefits for organization
Create a timeline. What are ways for us to accomplish this? Start the dialogue.

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