Saturday, November 12, 2011

Everything I Need to Know about IT Management I Learned from Star Trek - Introduction

When I was the Chief Information Officer at a large university I found myself in front of many different types of audiences. The audiences I always enjoyed the most were students. I once explained to a roomful of students what a CIO, or Chief Information Officer, did at the university. After I patiently explained the job, one of the students exclaimed, “Oh I get it – you’re the head geek!”

That gave me the idea to link everyone’s favourite geek TV show, Star Trek, to some leadership lessons for the real world. These basic leadership lessons
 have universal applicability, particularly for I.T.

Now I have to admit, I am a huge Trekkie. To prove it, I own a poster with one of my favourite rule lists, “Everything I needed to know about life I learned from Star Trek.” (I told you I was a geek.). The rules are as follows:

  1. Non-interference is the Prime Directive. 
  2. Seek out new life and new civilizations. 
  3. Keep your phaser set on stun. 
  4. Humans are highly illogical. 
  5. There's no such thing as a Vulcan death grip. 
  6. Live long and prosper. 
  7. Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting; it is not logical but it is often true. 
  8. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations (IDIC). 
  9. Tribbles hate Klingons (and Klingons hate Tribbles). 
  10. Enemies are often invisible – like Romulans, they can be cloaked. 
  11. Don't put all your ranking officers in one shuttlecraft. 
  12. When your logic fails, trust a hunch. 
  13. Insufficient data does not compute. 
  14. If it can't be fixed, just ask Scotty. 
  15. Even in our own world, sometimes we are aliens. 
  16. When going out into the Universe, remember: "Boldly go where no man has gone before!" 
The longer this poster stayed on my wall, the more I wondered: how do these rules apply to creating digital information systems solutions at a university? I originally developed some interesting answers to this question in a presentation I gave a number of times. I decided it would be useful to write a series of 16 blog posts to answer the question in more detail.

My plan is to walk through each of these rules in a separate blog post and connect them to IT leadership challenges in higher education. Each rule will have a separate post, and I will update this posting to contain an index of links to each rule as I write them. Each rule in the list above will become a link to the related blog post.


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