Recipe for Digital Transformation Success

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 Digital Transformation: A Recipe for Success

Lenny Schad, CTO, CETL, and CoSN Board Member, has been working in digital transformation since 2008. First at a district implementing BYOD, and now as CTIO for Houston ISD. In talking with numerous districts that come to him for advice, and in partnering with other technology leaders, Lenny has identified a number of similarities among districts that are successful implementing digital transformation, and a different set of similarities among those that struggle.

In collaboration with other district and education technology thought leaders, Lenny has developed a "Recipe for Digital Transformation" that identifies these commonalities and shares his insights in the videos below. The elements of the recipe can additionally be found in this checklist.

Schad is also the author of Bring Your Own Learning.

Lenny Schad

Lenny Schad has been in the technology field for 25 years.  During that time period, his career has taken him into many business sectors where he has established a very successful leadership and management track record.   His range of business sector experience includes hospitality, government, oil & gas, investment banking, and education.  Highlights of his career include managing and leading technology departments for the 1991 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations and the 1992 Republican National Convention, as well as creating and managing technology departments for joint ventures and global organizations.   He is a recognized leader who’s innovative and process oriented management styles have led to highly effective Information Technology departments.

For the past 12 years Mr. Schad has worked in the K-12 Education space and is currently CITO for the nation’s 7th largest school district, Houston ISD.  His recognitions include:
National School Board Association's "20 to Watch" educators for 2008
CoSN 2011 National School District Team Award 
CIO Leadership Forum “2011 Next Level Leadership Award” 
Center for Digital Education – Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, & Trailblazers 2014 Honoree
Education Week 2015 Leaders To Learn From Honoree


Part I: Introduction

"Let's stop doing those things that consistently derail digital transformation projects"

Part II: Leadership

When most districts are asked why they are implementing a digital transformation program, they immediately start talking about the "what" and the "how".  Without a clear understanding of the "why" it is impossible to gain the widespread traction and ownership that is necessary for success - implementation becomes fragmented and fragile in the face of bumps in the road.

Part III: Strategy

Don't consider implementing digital transformation without a dedicated, experienced project manager. And absolutely ensure that a cross functional team is in place from the very beginning. Make no mistake, you are embarking on a change of culture and philosophy that is going to take time and patience. And in the end, the absolute linchpin to success are the principals - the leadership in each building will determine whether the new culture and new instructional approaches are adopted.

Part IV: Expectations Management

If you don't manage expectations perfectly, it will kill your initiative every time, even if your other leadership and strategic elements are flawless. Parents and the media will create a backlash if false expectations are set, or if you are unable to communicate clearly and effectively about bumps in the road.  Teachers will not listen to what you say unless they see clear expectations that they know they can meet - setting a 3 year time frame for adoption gave the teachers and staff at HISD the time and support they need to see a path to success. In the end, though, the expectation at HISD is, "You grow or you go."