Friday, July 27, 2007

Leaders, Managers and Neither

I just came from a 1 hour presentation on our organization's CIO search committee. The report was fairly brief, and decidedly non-controversial.

One of the presenters of the report repeated several times the statement "We need a CIO with vision, that will lead our organization to greatness".

After approximately the fourth time he repeated this, I mentioned that there was a difference between leaders, visionaries, and managers. I suggested that we did not want a visionary/leader, that instead what we need is a good manager. "That is what I said" he replied. But, of course, that isn't what he said.

I used to get these things confused myself, until I listened to this talk by the father of modern management, Peter Drucker. He has since died, but I think this was an important moment for myself, where I realized that I would never be a manager. I am just not that person. But managers are very important -- it is just that their role has changed, but not as much as some would expect.

What we need is not a leader with vision, but an organization with vision. This is a critical difference. One is a one-trick pony. It is Steve Jobs. The other is a sustained culture of innovation, where a CIO protects this culture, and lets it flourish, even it means that things have to change in ways that make people uncomfortable. It is a bunch of Steve Jobs in an ecosystem that can support them, let them do what they do best.

This does sound a bit overly optimistic (and a bit corny) when I read it just now, but I think it is what makes some schools better than others.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I can't complain based on politics. That is the problem. The expectation is that logic, reason and facts can somehow *be* biased. History is indeed open to interpretation. It is continually revised -- but for the better,for the worse, or simply spun?

Post Modernism tried to approach this problem, and in the end became a victim itself.

Blindly accepting anything written online without substantiation is a critical problem. It is a problem with wikipedia, or any service that offers "information" -- but is it manifestation itself -- or is it how the information is presented?

That is what confuses me about Conservapedia. Why does it need to exist? It seems to me that what wikipedia could always use are people who are willing to rigorously interrogate content -- make sure that it is clear, the citations are clear, that it meets muster intellectually. This is not a conservative or liberal thing. These things have nothing to do with whether someone is liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, christian, buddist or agnostic. It is necessary to think clearly and critically.

But, sadly, the folks that set up Conservapedia think differently about this. That separate can be equal. Or better.

Frankly, I find this sort of thinking quite scary.