Next 180 days

Posted on September 10, 2017 by

 We have all heard the notion of the “first 100 days”. When we start a new position people often look at what we accomplish in the first 100 day and measure success or failure based on this. In leadership roles I think it is critical to think about what you want to accomplish early on, clearly articulate this, and track progress. However, in Higher Education things don’t always move at  speed. Consultation is critical, it needs to be broad, and that takes time. In this post I want to talk a bit about what I want to accomplish in the first year at the University.

Early on I had a meeting with an individual from Deloitte, who I had worked with previously. They pitched an opportunity to attend their CIO Transition Lab. The lab experience was designed to help me navigate the next 180 days in my new role, focusing on three key elements: time, talent and relationships. I was intrigued by the notion of the next 180 days and the focus on time, talent and relationships. It seemed like they understood the leadership challenges in Higher Education Tech, and I decided to give it a shot.

They asked to interview 6 or 7 individuals, in senior roles at the University. In the interviews they asked about how IT was meeting their needs, where they thought we should be focusing and what challenges we would have. The interview list included VP’s, Deans, and Principals, then it was up to me to show up for a day at their office. The day was all about ‘me’. I spent about 7 hours with a team of 8 people and talked about everything from framing the day with quotes from other CIO’s, to my hopes and fears, and the legacy I want to leave. My favourite quote was “It’s hard to be strategic if your pants are on fire”. I am sure many people in IT can relate to that.

We talked about the Operational and Catalyst CIO and everything in between. We evaluated where I am on that spectrum and where I want to be. These were far from being the same. We started to look at various IT disciplines, evaluating the maturity today and where 1 thought we should be. We looked at identifying critical success factors and finally what my goals need to be for the next 6 months. The day flew by and I will say it was fun and draining. In essence I was grilled all day – in a good way. It was an fantastic process to discover, shape and then synthesize  what is already in your head into a plan that you can be tracked. Throughout the process they provided lots of external perspectives and insight from others they had worked with..

As a result of the session, we drafted a 180-day plan based on six (6) priorities identified below. This certainly isn’t all that will happen, but  I think it is activities that are critical to success, and something we need to be deliberate about.


Six Priorities

1. Team Alignment & Cultural Change

  • Ensure team is aligned with the vision of IT org. & ready to embrace the culture of digitization, in a federated model.
  • Plan for Leadership Team Offsite (every two months)
  • Develop an all staff event
  • Mature staff development Program
  • Act on staff engagement survey

2. Build & Launch Education & Awareness Team

  • Create communications (education and awareness) framework and integrate university communications with ITS communications
  • Secure necessary resources and recruit team

3. Cyber Security

  • Develop a short term risk based roadmap (targeting low hanging fruit)
  • Develop a long term plan for cyber security
  • Seed & build ISC
  • Obtain buy in from PAG and stakeholder community
  • Review w/ Audit & Risk
  • Secure funding for the short term plan

4. Deliver Inflight Initiatives

  • Deliver inflight initiatives: Office 365 LME, VOIP
  • Identify SPOCs and receive regular status updates for initiatives

5. Redefine / Re-orient UofT’s role in Kuali Student roadmap & Delivery Model

  • Take on EST Student Chair role

6. Manage Senior Stakeholders

  • Build relationships with key stakeholders to ensure support for key initiatives

Overall I am happy with where this landed. It is an interesting process that I would recommend for others starting a new role, at a new organization. I think it is ambitious in parts, but manageable. Parts of it will challenge the organization, and it will lay a foundation for the interesting journey ahead.