Kevin Pashuk en Directors and Executives, IT - Information Technology, beBee in English Chief Information Officer - Appleby College/ beBee Brand Ambassador • Appleby College and beBee 3/10/2016 · 3 min de lectura · 1,9K

The Competency of Being Current

The Competency of Being Current

You are the head of technology for a large organization.

You are in the annual meeting for your company at an offsite location with the other members of the executive team.

The guest speaker comes to the podium.  There is an awkward silence.

He can't get the presentation on the screen.

Suddenly, every eye in the room is on you.

"Well!!??" the piercing glazes say. "Aren't you going to fix it?"  "You are the IT person!".

You move to the front of the room, having never seen the particular podium setup in this hotel before. "Step one..." you mutter to yourself... "Turn it off and back on..." (Insider Secret Revealed!: This fixes 80% of the problems, and you look like a hero).

If I had a nickel for every time I had this happened to me, I could likely buy a cup of very good coffee.

Because you are associated with 'technology', there is an inherent expectation that you are up to speed on every bit of technology, and familiar with every gadget that hasn't been invented yet.

I find this consistent for most IT leaders, from both large and small organizations.  For the most part, we do keep up to speed on these matters.

But this is not enough.

Not if you want to break into the upper tiers of leadership.

Not if you want to be invited to the table where strategy is developed.

You need to be current with much more than the latest technology.  That will help you make great operational decisions, but it won't prepare you to develop effective scenarios for the future.

You need to know what is going on in your world, in the industries that impact your world, and global factors that might impact your world.  You need to be up on the latest trends, as well as the buzz in your industry.

All without losing sleep or your head exploding.

It comes down to budgeting time (I block of a portion of every day) and being highly efficient when you do it.

Gone are the days when you could linger over a newspaper for an hour. But every effective leader has found one or more qualified resources that can synthesize and present key issues and breaking news items.  (Hint: Follow BreakingNews as a starting point).

I've discovered Twitter to be most effective for this.  If you look at who I follow on Twitter, there is a mix of journalists, pundits, industry executives, bloggers, and news media.  I can skim the topics and dive deeper into what interests me.

Twitter is also great at breaking news much earlier than the mainstream news agencies (although you will want to be careful with the actual facts right away).  I've typically seen a 2-3 hour lead on breaking stories.

LinkedIn is a close second in its timely breaking of key issues, particularly from the large media organizations.  I'm a little more discerning who I follow on LinkedIn.  There is more of a trust factor since I generally limit my LinkedIn connections to those I have done business with, or respect their opinion and reputation.

Following the right person or media organization will give you the advantage of currency, the ability to have your finger on the pulse of things without being consumed by it.

I should say something about beBee.  It's a new platform, and while the personal and leadership posts are great, those who write on current affairs do not seem to be a staple of content. This is a good lesson that a social media platform should find a niche, and in the case of beBee, it's affinity networking.

In some ways, Twitter and LinkedIn have become the 'ticker tape' of the 21st Century. Giving me up to the minute status about the things that impact my world.

By the way, you will still be asked to fix the projector.


'Staying Current' in practice looks like this:

  • You have time blocked off to keep yourself informed on trends, ideas, news items that impact your industry.  This is not "surfing the web", but rather strategic mining of data and information.
  • You are able to speak about how these trends may impact your industry, or offer competitive advantage.
  • You have a well developed network of resources on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. that are great at synthesizing key information.
  • You have an educated opinion of the significance of how Artificial Intelligence and robotics may affect manufacturing, or how the current Syrian refugee crisis might impact your industry.
  • You are not a myopic IT geek who stares at your shoes when in meetings.  You are able to engage with non-IT people in conversation, negotiations, and debate.
  • You can still 'wing it' when the projector breaks.

How do you stay current?

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Image: Used under creative commons license.

NOTE: A version of this post has been previously posted on LinkedIn


About the Author:

The Competency of Being CurrentI’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee (www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream atwww.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk 



John White, MBA 3/10/2016 · #14

#10 @Randy Keho: We had a chalkboard built into the side of one of the cabinet walls in our kitchen. It serves as kind of a family messaging board and the kids draw on it, etc. We also got one of those old school desks with the opening tops from my wife's grandparents house. Our kids use it now.

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Kevin Pashuk 3/10/2016 · #13

#11 I hear you Phillip. There's a potential long post coming up... the way our society puts value on titles, and what people do, rather than who they are.

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Kevin Pashuk 3/10/2016 · #12

#10 Have you ever had a chalkboard, but no chalk Randy, because other people hid the chalk so they would have some when they needed the chalkboard? Even the simplest technology can fail us (especially when we need it).

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Phillip Hubbell 3/10/2016 · #11

@Kevin Pashuk titles can also work against you. I used to be the technical guy. My title was Technical Support Manager...then I became a Project Manager. I was still just as technical, but nobody asked me to fix the projector...even though I could see the plug lying unplugged on the carpet.

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Randy Keho 3/10/2016 · #10

I miss writing on chalkboards. Another lost art. At least they didn't malfunction. @Kevin Pashuk

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Kevin Pashuk 3/10/2016 · #9

#7 Twitter is a great news feed Marta, but always comes with a caveat... the facts aren't always accurate at first. But it certainly draws your attention to events as they unfold.

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Kevin Pashuk 3/10/2016 · #8

#6 Gert, the method we use to stay current is much less important that the act of staying current. Skimming headlines is a good way to see trends.

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Marta García Quijada 3/10/2016 · #7

Twitter didn' t convince me so much, so I created my profile very late, this year. But now, it' s one of my favourite, as you say it's the New ticker-tape of this century...i don't need to read the newspaper or see the news on tv. Twitter give us news in real time.

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