Aug 08 2019

For Better Problem-Solving, Take Advantage of IT Colleagues

Campus leaders recognize the power and potential of bringing staff together to solve shared challenges.

At most institutions, the common wisdom among staff and leaders alike is that if only the budgets were larger, the problems would be smaller. 

There’s some truth to that, but most of us recognize that there’s also an element of wishful thinking. Challenges will always exist, especially in a field as eternally in flux as IT.

In many ways, that’s a good thing. Obstacles are often the proverbial blessing in disguise, pushing us to chart a new course or to reassess legacy systems with an eye toward improvement. In the best case, challenges prompt colleagues to find better ways of working together, because that’s what it takes to solve the problem at hand. 

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how colleges are using AI to support administrative functions on campus.

Oregon State Drives Innovation with Collaboration and Teamwork

The power of momentum often starts with just one person who is inspired to do something different and to enlist others in the endeavor.

Tim De Quilettes, the IT director for Oregon State University Athletics, could have settled for the traditional array of technology support, such as running the data center and handling service requests. His department still performs those services, of course, but he has gone further, building an entrepreneurial team that asks how it can use IT to make a notable difference to athletes and coaches.

Their success, powered by innovative applications of data analytics, has multiplied as they’ve partnered with colleagues both inside and outside the athletics department. 

Savvy leaders also bring staff together to facilitate the sharing of insights and expertise ­— often, specifically for the goal of overcoming a common obstacle. As IT leaders have found themselves in need of more expert-level skills to support cloud deployments, many have used peer-to-peer networking as a ready resource. 

As Cornell University’s Sarah Christen notes, describing her efforts to minimize the cloud skills gap on her campus through collaboration, “We solve problems together rather than reinvent the wheel every time.”

Given the reality that budgets are limited, we should embrace any measure that can ease our collective burden without costing a cent. Joining forces, sharing ideas, applying more brainpower to the problem at hand — all of these strategies cost nothing, yet yield so much. The power of partnership, after all, is priceless.

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