Making the tough decisions

We make all kinds of decisions every day. Some are small yet seem difficult at the time. One I sometimes joke about is ordering off a restaurant menu that has too many good choices. When I finally make my order, I tell the server that I have made my “major life decision” for the night.

Sometimes a group makes a decision after weeks or months of lengthy deliberation: many groups have weighed in, expressed their concerns, asked their questions, refined the plan or recommendation, and only then ultimately provided their support.

And then there are the potentially very impactful decisions that must be made in a matter of minutes with the best information you have available after a very quick weighing of the risks. I had to make one of those decisions last Friday.

We had scheduled our Epic version 2014 upgrade for the weekend. The plan was to bring down the production system at 12:30 AM Saturday. The system would be down until 5:00 AM while the final conversion tasks were completed. IT and operations staff were scheduled in the command center to monitor the upgrade and address any problems. Leadership calls were scheduled daily to review issues starting Saturday.

At 11:51 AM on Friday, I got a text Continue reading

Leadership huddles: not just another meeting

It’s huddle time! No, I’m not joining a sports team.  But along with my leadership team, we are taking the next step on our lean journey. In a few weeks we’ll be starting twice a week 30 minute leadership huddles. This is part of Lean in Daily Work which also includes key visual metrics, visual boards, Everyday Lean Ideas (ELI), and leadership walks.

In a post last summer, I talked about the lean journey.  It is important for leadership to set common expectations throughout an organization.  So if we’re going to practice lean thinking as a department, our leadership team has to set the example.

The goals of this lean experiment include the following:

  • Create a common understanding of what our performance is compared to what we want it to be so that we can understand the gaps and improve
  • Make our work visual and actionable
  • Understand our business more deeply by asking questions and looking at trends
  • Surface, track and trend problems
  • Gain experience and practice with lean

Continue reading

Lead by example

How often have you heard that leaders have to “walk the talk”? But how often has a leader you admire disappointed you with either their comments or behavior? We ask ourselves “what were they thinking”?

Being a positive role model and leading by example is something I take very seriously – in both my professional and personal life.

I am deeply touched by the congratulatory notes and kind words I’ve received this week after it was announced that CHIME and HIMSS selected me to receive the John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year Award.

Awards like this don’t happen for CIOs without great teams.  I’m extremely grateful for all the talented and dedicated IT teams I’ve worked with over the years. Special thanks to my MCIT team at Michigan for the excellent work they do every day!

This award is named in honor of John E. Gall, Jr. who Continue reading

Culture change, slow and steady

You start in a new leadership position and you want to make changes.  Should be easy, right? After all, you’re the boss. You call the shots.Culture change

Not so.

You inherit a history and a culture, ways of working and thinking and behaving. You inherit a leadership team and a staff. You inherit a department that works within a broader organization and its culture. Still, you are the leader; you can make some changes, but it will take more time.

When I started at UMHS, there had been a 6 month gap with an internal interim CIO. She had kept things going but was happy to handoff to me. Continue reading

Plan for the future, manage for today

How often have you heard an IT leader say they want a position that’s “more strategic” and “less operational?”

The reality is that there is always a balance of both, depending on the level you work at in your organization. Sometimes, it’s not the balance you’d like to see.

Me too.

As the CIO, my typical day is back to back meetings. Plus, I squeeze in email and phone calls on a range of additional issues. I read and answer email well into the evening after I get home.

In the past week, I’ve reviewed presentations and read articles on health care in the future and how technology enables innovation: reflective thinking and planning.  Continue reading

Leader as conductor

Many leaders use a musical analogy to describe leadership: the leader is like a conductor. I wonder how many of them have actually been part of an orchestra or a choir member? I have been in HIT management for 30 years and I have sung in church choirs for over 20 years.

When I walk into our weekly choir rehearsal, I am just one of about 50 voices ready to take direction from our leader – an extraordinary young man, Glen Thomas Rideout, who just completed his PhD in Musical Arts in Conducting. Regardless of the job we hold or the day we had, we are there to take direction from him, to listen to one another and to make music. Continue reading