March 2010

I remember a particularly good example of “bad” Micro Technology Stewardship that I would like to share today.  I was brought in to a company to “turn around” an IT department in disarray by a CEO friend of mine.

The then current VP of technology had worked for the CEO in prior companies as a lead developer and was particularly talented, especially in software development.  But, as we all know talented technologists do not always make the best leaders.

This VP had a particular habit of listening to his peers complaints and thinking to himself, “there has to be a way technology can solve this problem” and off to the internet he would go.  Now in normal circumstances, this would be a great thing, an IT executive looking for ways to solve the businesses issues, but, in this case, this particular executive would not involve the people with enough experience of the workings of a business or department to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs.  Meaning, he did not practice good Micro Technology Stewardship, he was simply deploying technology for technology’s sake.

The result?  Out of control spending, IT out of alignment with the corporation, projects missing deadlines, resources misdirected, frustrated senior leaders….it was a mess.  Had this VP completed his research and then gone to the business to involve them in solution selection and had he then identified key stakeholders and business leaders involved them in the project teams he would have much more successful.  He would have practiced good technology stewardship.

Okay, let’s talk about “Micro Technology Stewardship”.  I define Micro Tech Stewardship as follows:

“Micro Technology Stewardship is the use of people with enough experience of the workings of a business or department to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs.”

Please note that this definition does not specify these people as IT staff.  Nor does it say they are the same person.  It simply employs the concept of leveraging two types of talents within any company:

1. Technology

2. Business

But, I do believe that it is an important best practice that IT leads the way in successfully defining and deploying good Micro Technology Stewardship and treats this process as they would under any good governance process.

Let me give you an example.  In this day of social networking, there are a lot of business people exposed to this technology, be it in their personal life (LinkedIn, Facebook etc) or in their professional career (MedPedia for medical knowledge, Yelp for food services, Focus for general business,  Yammer/Twitter, etc).

Add to their familiarity with some of these sites to the messages the media are constantly sending about how they should be using the technology to further their business and you have a perfect storm.

So let’s look at the Micro Tech Stewardship formula;

Business folks who understand there may be a need for technology; check!

People who have varying experiences to take a leadership role; check!

But, can we let them lose on the organization at this point? No. we need to add process to the mix.  In this case, I recommend that IT lead this process.

In a recent consulting engagement, that is exactly what we did.  That company was a  3,000+ person company, we formed a task force consisting of certain internal “social networking thought leaders”, business folks and IT staff where we met monthly and learned from each other to see what worked and what didn’t.  From Flicker, to Google Mashups, from Facebook to Twitter, to Medpedia we examined, tailed and tested them all the while practicing good Micro Technology Stewardship to the benefit of the organization.

Next time, I think I will talk about BAD Micro Technology Stewardship as that will be much easier to come up with multiple examples.

So, I am pretty sure that you will hear it here first, Tony Lay is replacing Allen Cunningham on the reality television series (still) filming in Dallas, So You want to be  a Poker Star.

Check out Tony here:

And let me say that I am pretty tired from my participation in the show to date.  Some nights we film poker tourneys until 2:00AM

I talked with Allen today (well I texted him) and he said that he was disappointed to have missed out on participating in “So you want to be a Poker Star”.  He said ” it sounded like fun” but added that he had “to many conflicts (over the television show taping period) to squeeze in fun”.  He did not mention sponsorship conflicts, guess we will all see when the show airs.

Allen, Hopefully your conflicts revolve around poker tourneys and if so, I say “Go Allen!”

I have seen this information elsewhere so I think I can post it here.  As I previously reported, filming started on March 5, 2010 for the poker reality show “So You Want to be a Poker Star” and the general premise is that the last poker player standing is the winner.  Poker stars recruit teams of 16 to train and that training is expected to help contestants play better poker in order to survive to the end.  The 4 pros I found reported online are:

John “Tex” Barch

Gregg Merkow

Andy Philachack

Allen Carter

Now, I will tell you that Allen Carter was unable to be one of the pros due to his sponsorship contract so look for me to post the fourth pro when I get approval (or find it leaked online:) ).

So in my profile I say I support and preach  the benefits of “Micro Tech Stewardship”.  Well, what is “Micro Technology Stewardship” you may ask…

In order to understand “Micro Technology Stewardship” I need to provide the  Wenger, White and Smith (2007) definition of technology stewardship which is:

“Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs.”

I also think it would be good to include a definition of stewardship from Merriam – Webster which is:

“the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

So my definition of “Micro Technology Stewardship” removes the community aspect from the Wenger, White and Smith definition and simply applies the concept to today’s businesses.

Next post on this topic will get into this concept at the business level and show some examples.  In the meantime, let me know your thoughts about what you are seeing out there today regarding technology stewardship.

Filming began over this last weekend on the new reality television show “So you want to be a Poker Star”.  I obviously can’t tell you much about this show, but suffice it to say it was filmed in Dallas with poker reality hopefuls  coming from as far away as New Jersey. 

Also suffice it to say that it was grueling!