Leading the University as a ‘Platform’ (EDUCAUSE2009)

Great session by Lev S Gonick (Case Western), Adrian Sannier (Arizona State) & David J Staley (Ohio State). Apart from anything else, the slides just had pictures, they didn’t have many words, which is always a good start.

Looking at the University as a ‘Platform’ ie what it means/might mean to be a new form of organisation suited to the networked economy. A new organisation featuring:

  • unplanned activities
  • low entry levels
  • resistant to command & control
  • open to unauthorised behaviour
  • comfortable with surprise
  • behaviour determined by the inhabitants

Some of this sounds pretty close to existing Universities to me, in part if not in whole.

Anyway, the discussion was around ‘what does this mean for leadership & organisation’ – working the Wiki Way. New leadership needs to leverage the net’s bottom up approach, aligned to the networked economy where collaboration is everything. Suggested modelling this new way of leading & organising within the IT department!

Books mentioned: The Hothouse Effect/Barton Kunstler; Here Comes Everybody/Clay Shirky; The Three Ways of Getting Things Done/Gerard Fairtlough.

& then of course there’s the all important Stone Soup/Marcia Brown edition. Particularly liked this part of the presentation by Adrian Sannier. Stone Soup as an approach to developing an IT strategy. Getting the rebel army, involving the people who operate underneath the radar. Old way of doing strategy – work it out in secret & then try & slip it in. New way – bring them all in, bring it all on, prototype the strategy. Thought: this does seem a little more like hard work than the traditional approach, but then ‘nobody said it was gonna be easy’ (Mark E Smith).

A prerequisite condition for all of the above is a commitment to openness & transparency – & please note that it really was a very thought provoking presentation, to which this blog does not do justice.


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