(This is part 16 in a series of 16 posts about IT leadership in higher education titled Everything I Need to Know about IT Management I Learned from Star Trek. See Part 0 - Introduction for the full list.)
Every episode of the original Star Trek began with the proclamation to "Boldly go where no man has gone before!" For folks working with technology, this statement is a natural assumption. But there are two caveats.
First, I’m a big believer in early to beta, late to production. What I mean is that it is good to experiment with new technologies in beta test mode. But we have an obligation to our organizations to treat production as sacred. Experiment to learn but be cautious about what you give to your clients who trust you for reliable production-ready solutions. No matter how much we like cool new toys; we must ensure they will work reliably in production.
For example, I worked at a Canadian organization where one of our peers moved some services to a foreign cloud computing service. At the time there were huge potential privacy and legislative compliance concerns about moving personal data out of the country. Although we wanted to do something similar, the legal and technical analysis was expensive and time consuming.
Pioneers have arrows in their backs, so we let them go first. They figured out the privacy issues, they sorted out legislation concerns, and they pioneered the first contract of its type in Canada. Once the first-mover problems were sorted out, the way was paved for cheaper, quicker, and less painful implementation at other similar organizations.
That was caveat #1. The second caveat is related to the time and period when the original Star Trek was aired. It was a product of the mid 1960's when political correctness was only beginning. You should boldly go where no person has gone before!