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The CTO's Role Series


This series is focused on exploring the responsibilities of the CTO, as well as offering advice as to how to best approach that role.

Introduction

As someone who long wanted to be a CTO (a.k.a. Director of Technology) before actually achieving it, I've been collecting wisdom and advice for years. Being a slow learner, it finally clicked that being a CTO is less about technology and more about working with people. When I started this blog series, my hope was to document all the great advice my friends and colleagues were sharing, as well as capture insights obtained.

CTO's Role Series

  1. CTO's Role - Solving Problems Together - What process do you go through to solve a problem? If it's just you solving the problems, then you're doing something wrong.
  2. "It's the Leadership, Stupid!" - When technology fails in a school district, it's not the technology often that was the problem, but rather, the leadership. This blog entry explores the gap between technology implementation and leadership.
  3. Certifiable - The Uncertain Path to Technology Director - As a tech director wanna-be what advice are you willing to share on what had helped you be successful in your current role?
  4. 7 Tips for Doing First Things First - Over the years, I've had the chance to chat with many Chief Technology Officers--and/or Directors of Technology--about starting out in a new place of employment. This list of 7 tips for "new" CTOs on what to do first is based on those conversations.
  5. Top 5 Tips for Overcoming Network Challenges - A few months ago, I asked colleagues in Texas what their top 5 network challenges might be. Invariably, the responses came back containing one word--bandwidth. Given that BYOD, iOS devices are flooding school systems, it's only natural that bandwidth be a top concern. What challenges would you add, or what would you elaborate on below? 
  6. Advice for Newbie CTOs Some time ago, I asked a Technology Director in Texas the following: If you had to give advice to a novice technology director, what advice would that be? This blog entry contains her awesome answer.
  7. Building a Technology-Supported Learning Ecology - A list of questions trying to get a handle on all the possible jobs that Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) end up having to do or manage in small, medium and large school districts.
  8. Relationships...Matter! It's a truism - Relationships matter, especially, How to build relationships when change is criticalAfter all, human beings are social animals, pack animals, members of a herd, a family of individuals bound together for survival. Yet, for all its truth, getting along long enough to bring about fundamental change can be the hardest act human relationships have to endure. 
  9. Opening Gambit- Creating, not Criticizing Together - About 12 years ago, I found myself facing a tough audience. The Chief Technology Officer for the District had invited me in as a consultant to introduce the design of a web-based system. At the time, he and I both knew that I didn't have the design skills for what he imagined, however, I did have enough to create a mock-up. The mock-up would be an opening gambit in a conversation he wanted to have but held a lot of potential for negativity. . .relationships matter.
  10. Slash-n-Burn: Leadership in the Field - Instead of resulting in high-performing people, slash-n-burn leadership degenerates an organization filled with people doing what they need to survive, the bare minimum to earn a paycheck. We can be so much more.
  11. What CTOs SHOULD Get Fired For - Although technology directors, or CTOs, seldom get fired--usually, they are encouraged to leave due to personality conflicts with the Superintendent (yes, I've actually heard that!) or something like that--what would the list of "What You Should Get Fired For" look like for school CTOs? For fun, let's explore that.
  12. Short-Handed and Resource-Rich - In every organization I've been in, I've always been short-handed. You know, so much so that I wonder if it wasn't perfect training for the kind of world many of us have found ourselves living in as budgets are slashed and we're left trying to figure out how to implement.
  13. Fit In - The Kundalini Equation - Why doesn't technology fit in better with curriculum and instruction? It's a question that I've pondered often over the last 20 years, often wondering if it shouldn't be the other way around. Why doesn't curriculum and instruction fit in more with technology? But, then, I remember my experience driving the highway one day and ask, Is fitting in the right way to look at it? Or, do we need to focus on dynamic tension, the synergy between the 3?
  14. Providing Quality Service with Technology - A friend who works in that school district shared a new initiative implemented in her district--walkie-talkie phones with GPS for staff. The problem, she pointed out, was that several technology specialists were checking in every morning, then disappearing for the day. How would you solve this problem?
  15. Team Building - How do you build an awesome team?
  16. Involve Stakeholders - When one builds relationships with stakeholders, one increases organizational confidence to get what appeared insurmountable alone, done.
  17. Just Jump In What process can we follow that will provide us with that level of assurance for accepting and supporting change in a technology-rich ecology?
  18. Don't Be the Fun Police - Tidbits from a whitepaper on content filtering solutions.
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