When I review the acts of my best leadership role models, I notice that they have certain “leadership moves” that set them head and shoulders above their peers. One of those leadership moves includes the ability to frame challenges in a way that is positive, open, transparent while keeping the focus on successful resolution of another’s plight (e.g. why did you sit on that technical support job for a month when you could have gotten help from the team? Don’t be afraid to admit where you need to grow if it means those we support suffer).
Instead of digging into the why, the focus is to learn enough to resolve the problem and move on. But that’s not the leadership move I’d like to focus in on.
Another leadership move that I admire is a willingness to jump into the fray, to provide hands-on leadership of what needs to be done. That is what Doug Johnson–who, by the way, will be keynoting the TCEA TECSIG Spring Meeting (see agenda) on April 14, 2016, note you can still sign up!–is doing when he describes leading change in his District in response to this blog entry I wrote recently:
As technology director, I’ve always felt I should use the same equipment that our department asks teachers to use. If we go cheap. If we go less powerful, if we skimp on memory, if we buy heavy devices, if we don’t upgrade operating systems, if we don’t replace on a regular basis, I believe I should experience the consequences. I would hope all school leaders would adopt this practice. Read more “Dropping the Old Stuff” at Blue Skunk Blog
Like Doug, I am leery about going cheap with the primary computing device teachers and students have access to. But we are moving to increasingly cloud-based computing, and the money saved on going with Chromebooks for the masses can be strategically used to provide high-powered workstations in shared areas, as well as other mobile devices (e.g. iPads) that provide features Chromebooks lack.
How Things Have Changed: We installed thin client across the District, and it wasn’t long before the CTO was called into the Superintendent’s Office. Apparently, nothing was working for anyone. “Why can’t we have a computer that has all the programs we need on it when the network fails?” Now, cloud-based computing and ubiquitous access mean that we don’t need to have every app we need on our primary computer…we just use the cloud.
If you need to do serious heavy duty intensive work on traditional applications (e.g. Adobe, MS Office suite), then you may want to stick with a device that runs Windows or Mac. For so long, though, we’ve bought “the best we can afford” because it was the prudent choice. When I set that advice aside to buy my Acer C740 Chromebook 11, it was after a year of using an Acer C720 Chromebook 11.
Leadership Move Praise: Kudos to Doug for making a leadership move that evaluates the needs of those he serves, then walks the path before they do, checking for obstacles and challenges.
A For Fun Conversation
“But what if you need to print?”
“Well, on my Acer C740 which I own, I’ve loaded GNU/Linux and switch to that when I need to do audio editing, use a different browser (e.g. Opera, Firefox), and/or print to a network/USB printer.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a Chromebook?”
“Not at all! It means that I get more value out of the hardware I have.”