Shaping young minds and tomorrow’s leaders

I was running late in wrapping up a meeting before my next one. I was meeting with a young IT staff member whose manager had encouraged him to get time on my calendar for career advice. We had acanstockphoto14947189 great half hour chat about his future goals. I introduced him to the next person patiently waiting to meet with me – the manager for telehealth – a young man who was relatively new to his position. I figured they should know each other.

The telehealth manager walked into my office after the intro and said “So you’re shaping young minds”. “Absolutely!” I replied.

I have adult children and so I realize how valuable this type of access and advice can be. I saw some of the challenges my daughters faced when they graduated from college and started to navigate and grow their careers. I asked myself, “why not be available to their generation?” After all, each of us can probably remember someone who helped us early in our careers. So I concluded it was time for me to give back; I made a commitment to help develop the next generation of leaders.

Even though I have had a full schedule as a CIO, I have been willing to take short calls and meetings with anyone who wants to talk about their career and get advice from me. They may be staff members in my IT department or in other departments. They may be students who work in my organization and need to interview the CIO for a class assignment. Or they may be someone to whom a colleague has suggested that I’d be a good person to meet. Many such referrals are for young women who want to learn from me as a female executive in IT. There aren’t that many of us yet in health IT but the numbers are definitely going in the right direction.  Continue reading

Learning from leaders

It’s rare that a CIO gets to watch another CIO at work. Yes, we all network regularly at CHIME and other conferences. We learn from each other on topical webinars. And we pick each other’s brains on canstockphoto13851442phone calls about something that is new for us and our organization.

But to see someone working day to day with the executives, their peers and their own leadership team is different: how they set expectations and deliver tough messages; how they make commitments with appropriate caveats; how they answer questions if they don’t have enough information yet.

I’ve been fortunate to watch our new CIO, Joy Grosser, at University Hospitals, at work. I’ve stepped back since she became CIO and serve as an advisor to her during the transition. We look for pockets of time to do transition and turnover.

During these few weeks of transition, we’ve had some production issues and vendor challenges. We are developing next year’s budget. We are finalizing a plan for new hospital integration with the help of a consulting firm. These are big initiatives to walk into, to learn quickly what you need to know, and to lead with authority and confidence.

But that’s what leaders do. They listen and learn. They share their values and vision. They don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. They rely on their team to keep them informed and to solve problems. And at the end of the day they own it. Continue reading

Manterrupting

How can I not comment on the most watched Presidential debate ever? There were 84 million people watching the debate. It was up against Monday night football and in my temporary town, thecanstockphoto10414040 Cleveland Indians were clinching the American Central championship.

For women who have dealt with blatant and subtle sexism throughout their lives and careers, it was the ultimate show.

As my twitter feed and Facebook filled with commentary Monday night and all day Tuesday, the gender politics came into focus.

 “Sexism is a man screaming he has a better temperament than a woman who has been patiently waiting to speak after being interrupted 10 times.” A tweet from @nickpraynerr shared by Hostile Politics

“Finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in.” A tweet from Alexandra petri @petridishes shared by Being Liberal

“And now, a completely unprepared man will interrupt a highly prepared woman, 51 times, only to prove he actually has very little to say!” Ezra Klein sharing a video clip from Vox to prove it. Continue reading

Saying goodbye

“Hi short timer”, “So you’re winding down”, “What’s next?” These are just some of the comments and questions I am getting from people I run into at work these days. Some add congratulations and that it will becanstockphoto27502107 nice for me to see my grandkids more.

 If you’ve kept up on my recent posts, you know that I’m in the final weeks of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The transition to the new permanent CIO started this week.

I only once left a job and organization without knowing what was next. I followed my newly ordained minister husband to a church in central Massachusetts 17 years ago. We moved from Dallas and I went into the job search and was hired as the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Now, I don’t have a firm “what’s next” beyond a much needed break, a couple of coaching engagements, and a number of leads for more interim work. And that’s OK. The idea of this next chapter I started in January was to have more flexibility and work less than full time over the course of the year. As I’ve encouraged others in the past, I am “open to the possibilities”.

In my last two CIO positions, the turnover and transition were to internal interims. I needed to provide key information they needed while recognizing that they already knew the organizations and its history. Here in Cleveland, I’m leaving an interim position after 8 months and onboarding a CIO from outside the organization. Continue reading

Investing in you, the value of a coach

I was fortunate to work with an excellent executive coach several years ago. He helped me gain new insight into who I am and how I lead. I am a much better leader as a result of our year-long work together. canstockphoto32422551And I periodically reconnect with him now to bounce around ideas when going through major transitions.

Deciding to work with a coach can be unsettling.

I told myself, “sure there are things on my performance evaluation I could work on but mostly I’m fine and don’t need any help; after all no one is perfect”.

And I also told myself, “ok, I admit I could use some help but how much do I really have to expose and what will people think if they know I’m using a coach”.

So yes, I had those kinds of thoughts when I started and expect you might as well.

But my coach put me at ease. He got to know me and started helping me look critically at my leadership style and areas I needed to improve. He was not there to judge me or make me feel inadequate. He took me where I was at.

A good coach doesn’t have all the answers but knows how to ask the right questions. Continue reading

What to expect from an interim CIO

I am now networking for my next opportunities and need to update my resume. This week someone offered to make an introduction for me and asked me to send a current one. So I did a quick pass and canstockphoto11333368added a section for my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals.

I went right to my CIO focus areas that I had documented back in week 5. I added a few more focus areas a month ago, in response to some new needs.  Good news; with the help of my IT leadership team I either finished or made great progress on all of them.

Interim CIOs can just keep the seat warm and make sure things are running smoothly. Or they can be change agents who shake things up. Or they may help set a new strategy and direction for the permanent CIO to execute.

Basically, University Hospitals wanted an experienced CIO with a fresh perspective to run IT while helping to find the next permanent CIO. The work has been a combination of operations and consulting. Operations means a lot of meetings, long days and plenty of issues. Consulting means there’s an opportunity to look at things differently and make incremental improvements. Continue reading

Puppies and rainbows

“You need to go beyond puppies and rainbows”. That’s the advice this week from a search firm expert. I’m part of the search committee for the new president of a non-profit organization where I am a board canstockphoto15113488member. The search expert was telling us to go deeper in our questioning. Get past the fluff and canned responses. He said it’s ok to make candidates uncomfortable.

I’ve done a lot of hiring in my management career for direct reports. And I’ve been on search committees for executive positions. I’ve also been on the other side of the search process being interviewed for CIO positions.

You review resumes, you listen to the search firm’s summary comments on each candidate, and then you finally meet the candidates in the first round of interviews. It’s a process. And you only have an hour or so to get to know each person.

What you see on paper are the qualifications. In the interview you get to know the person. I said in one of my first blog posts, hiring the right people is one of the most important decisions managers make. For executive positions, the process is more rigorous with more people involved. After all there is much more at stake when you are choosing one of the top executives.

You are all working off the same position description and the organization’s mission and strategy. Yet search committee members come to the process with different perspectives. Continue reading

Lift up women and you lift up everyone

History was made this week. For the first time, a woman was nominated by a major party for President of the United States. Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote and 240 years after the founding ofcanstockphoto4392904 our country, Hillary Clinton has broken this barrier. Did you hear the glass breaking? I did and it was music to my ears.

Across this country, women have proven they can do anything a man can do in any field. Yet women lag behind in pay, in executive roles and are poorly represented in fields like technology. In a longitudinal salary assessment, HIMSS found that women’s share of health IT salaries for comparable jobs is smaller than it was ten years ago. That means we are losing ground!

I’ve written and spoken about this and will continue to do so. As I was quoted in a recent article, Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT, we need to be open about this problem. Naming a problem is the beginning of addressing it. I could sit back quietly but I won’t. I owe it to the next generation of women, my daughters and my granddaughters to speak up. I was influenced by the women’s movement of the 1970’s, so I know that if we don’t speak up, we will never make the changes we need.

At last year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was greeted by a 10-year-old boy with, “I thought only men were managers”. Continue reading

Making the invisible visible – part 2

It’s been 3 months since the IT leadership team here launched a visual management board and started a thrice-weekly huddle. Since then, we have made numerous adjustments to improve our process.visual management board

Initially, the board was in a conference room; we sat around the table for the 15 minute huddles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. While it was not the ideal setup, it was the way to deal with a distributed leadership team. A few weeks ago, we moved the board out into an open area where everyone walks by and started doing the huddle standing up. We installed a speaker phone next to the board. It’s not a perfect arrangement but it works.

No surprise that it is very different when the group is standing in an open area: more transparency and visibility. We can invite people to observe our huddle and show the board to others who want to learn about it.

Working with the leadership team, we refined our goals to be:

  • Reduce cycle time – “get things unstuck”
  • Reduce preventable incidents
  • Ensure ownership and accountability
  • Reduce variation
  • Increase coordination and communication between teams
  • Ensure we deliver on top priorities
  • Focus constantly on customer satisfaction and provide superior service to end users

The sections of the board are the same ones we started with:

  • Production environment – To track major incidents and any open tickets that need escalation. We display the number of open tickets by system, critical open tickets, and approved system changes for the week.
  • Top priority initiatives – To confirm our highest priorities and review issues that need to be addressed. We display the go live calendar, project successes from the previous week, and the dashboard from the Project Management Office.
  • Metrics – To track key department wide metrics. We display metrics including key infrastructure stats, and operating budget vs plan.
  • People – To highlight new hires, recognize staff, and raise awareness on recruitment efforts. We list open positions, pictures of new hires, and employee appreciation awards.
  • Everyday Lean Ideas (ELI) – To provide a central place for staff to suggest improvements.

We have a standard script for our huddles. Continue reading

Teamwork at its best

If you are an IT professional supporting major production environments and applications, you have most likely experienced a significant system outage at some point. We had one of those events thiscanstockphoto16328410 week. As in previous experiences in other organizations, I saw people at their best come together as a team working diligently to restore systems. This team included IT, clinical and operations staff.

I know CIO colleagues who recently managed through a week long outage of their business systems in one case and a multiple day outage of their electronic health record in another. They could probably share similar lessons following those experiences. 

In the spirit of teaching and learning from one another, I offer these key points if you have a significant event: Continue reading