A relentless pursuit

When I think about how technology influences every aspect of our daily lives – personally and professionally – it stirs a feeling of awe. For me, the evolution and impact of technology over just the past five years alone is simply astounding; think how Apple has harnessed technology to transform the music, movie and communication industries – it’s mind blowing. The consideration of what’s next and how it could evolve lives is inspiring, specifically in how it relates to learning and our kids.

As an Information Technology (IT) professional for more than 25 years – 12 of them as Director of IT for Surrey Schools – I am driven to realize the power of technology for my organization as it prepares its students to thrive in the global economy. Through this blog I hope to positively contribute to the already robust IT + K-12 conversation while inviting others to join-in on my exploration of the beliefs that guide my relentless pursuit every single day.

I believe to truly realize technology’s power I need to be a partner with the organization and its stakeholders while also being a leader of my team and those within the IT portfolio. I believe you can’t just have IT operating or succumb to “shiny gadget syndrome.” I also believe I need to be part of the solution (not the problem), a pioneer that’s progressive in my thought leadership, and someone that strives to ensure the organization is doing the right things at the right time as it relates to IT.

While there’s more than enough to consider and discuss within each belief, I have also gained tremendous clarity that the pursuit of truly realizing IT’s power in the K-12 space naturally brings with it wicked problems as technology (a binary world of 1s and 0s) collides with human beings (and their individual needs, perspectives and motivations).

Over the years, I have been immersed in understanding the impact of IT + K-12 wicked problems on organizational clarity and success. We have come a long way and there is much to share, but even more to explore as technology options explode and the “under the hood” pieces become increasingly complex and “wicked” in nature. It seemed only fitting for this to be the frame of my exploration and reflection.

To kick things off, some context: a wicked problem describes a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, interdependent and/or changing requirements that result in the problem being resistant to resolution. It has many stakeholders, most of which have differing – if not competing – perspectives and motivations. At best, we can hope to improve the problem and to better understand it. In reality, a solution to a wicked problem (an oxymoron by definition, I realize) may result in new problems – often wicked in nature themselves.

While the theory of wicked problems was introduced in the social policy planning field by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber in 1973, its concept and defining characteristics have gained relevance within other industries, including K-12 education and technology.

I’m excited (with a healthy dose of nerves) about entering the blog world and I choose to have faith (thanks to Chris Kennedy, Brian Kuhn and others) that the writing improves and gets slightly easier with each post.

4 thoughts on “A relentless pursuit

  1. Welcome to the blogging club! It is wonderful to have you sharing your thinking with the rest of us. The IT world is really complex and I do not think most of us have any appreciation for the wickedness of the problems, the complexity “under the hood” or the unrelenting requests for IT departments to “do/fix something.” The past 2.5 years in Surrey have been an amazing journey as you and your department have had to respond to increasing demands from the system for deploying mobile devices, providing quality wireless, and solving a multitude of other challenges. The fact that it is going well it truly amazing. I look forward to your next post!

    • As we approach 25,000 wireless devices on our network each day sometimes I will find myself wondering how things work at all, let alone the amazing experiences we have been able to witness via site visits. There are many stories to tell and even more to reflect on as we strive to find solutions to continue supporting the great work happening in our schools. Thanks for the note Elisa.

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