IT Should Slow Down to Focus on Fundamentals

Higher Ed leadership get new perspectives on the pace of change.

For many of us, change is a constant companion, regardless of the industry we are in. We strive to adapt to it faster. We push our teams to embrace it. We attend conferences to learn to manage it better. And all the while, we focus on pace: how change seems to get faster each year.

Once in a while, we ought to reorient our perspective toward change. Rather than fixate on all that is different, what if we pause to acknowledge how much stays the same?

I see a few benefits to this. One is the importance of a touchstone we can count on, despite all the challenges we face. These “basics” ground us and remind us what’s important. I think of Coach Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers, telling his team, “There’s fundamentals and defense!” Even if you aren’t a basketball fan, the quote is surprisingly apt.

IT Experts Are in the Service Business

In IT, the fundamentals include the power of technology and its capacity to transform the lives of individuals and institutions; the recognition that IT experts are, ultimately, in the service business, facilitating solutions that empower users to achieve goals and solve problems; and the responsibility we all share to protect valuable data online.

Whatever advances are yet to come, these guideposts can serve any IT professional, in any environment.

A balanced perspective on change also reminds us that, to a great extent, we have more time than we think to prepare our organizations for the future. By the time we notice dramatic impacts, change often seems to have happened quickly. But in reality, the shifts unfold, like everything, day by day. Consider self-driving cars: Eventually, we’ll look around at a line of autonomous vehicles humming along and say, “Wow! How did we get here?” But they’re already here, testing the waters, one city at a time.

We do need to prepare for tomorrow, but not so frantically that we overlook what’s important today. Kevin Kelly, founding executive director of Wired, speaks to this dynamic in his book The Inevitable: “The future happens very slowly and then all at once.” That sounds about right.

anttohoho/Getty Images
Oct 27 2017

Sponsors