When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

We have all had those days, right? Woke up late or ran into traffic on the way to work or maybe even got a flat tire or had a dead battery. How do you cope when things don’t always go according to plan?

“It’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s how you respond to it.” Viktor Frankl

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Why I Give – Good Sam I Am

In my professional career, I have never really been a specialist, but I do consider myself good at a variety of things. And so it is in my personal hobbies, I have various things I truly enjoy, but no one thing I have perfected. I dabble in writing this blog, photography, painting rocks, volunteering, and all these things I do give me joy, fulfillment, and serenity in my life and help me be the best version of me. I love finding inspiration in every day life!

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

~ Pablo Picasso

But one thing I have found that I both enjoy and am fairly good at is strategy development and plan execution. And so it is that I joined the board of a local non-profit last year, to help them succeed in fulfilling their mission, while helping to develop a strategic plan and stay focused on plan execution. This is the gift I have developed that I am able to give away. #lovewhatyoudo

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Why I Volunteer

Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.

Lately putting together a blog post has been tough, as I have been incredibly busy while still pushing through my neck pain, which then flares my fibromyalgia. I feel like I have lost some of my zip. Work, volunteering on the board of a non-profit, and life in general keeps me busy and tired. But as this is National Volunteer Week, I thought I would share a collection of my favorite inspirational quotes bring the point of volunteering home. I wrote about this a few months back in a post called I Can Do Something, inspired by this quote:

“I can’t do everything but I can do SOMETHING. I will not let the things I cannot do prevent me from doing the things I can.” ~ Helen Keller

So why do I volunteer?

  • Giving back to small businesses or non-profit organizations helps society. There are organizations that just couldn’t do what they manage to accomplish without the help of volunteers, given their limited resources.
  • Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and the ability to contribute to a cause you care about while sharing your talents.
  • Volunteering helps you build relationships with others who are also passionate about your cause, and gives you a community to belong to.

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Make a Difference 

“One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” – JFK

October 22nd was Make a Difference Day. “Since 1992, volunteers and communities have come together on Make A Difference Day with a single purpose: to improve the lives of others.” Now before you point out that I am a week late with this post, rest assured I know. However, last Saturday, on the actual day, I was volunteering for the Alliance of Technology and Women at their GreatMinds event.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

GreatMinds stands for “Girls Reaching for Education About Technology and Moving in Directions for Success” and it is an outreach program to encourage young girls to learn about and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This year the event was held at Southwest Airlines’ training center and gave young girls an opportunity to tour the facility and hear from some of their female employees. Now I did little more than help set up, hand out T-shirts and goody bags, talk to the girls during the exercises, and help clean up. But I myself was inspired by some of the speakers they had, as well as the girls. Continue reading “Make a Difference “

Leading from Within

How exactly do we as managers and leaders, or even as parents, get people to open up and step up?

A few years ago I attended a user conference for a software company and one of their keynote speakers was Dr. John Izzo. I was so enthralled with the story he told about the origin of the Starbucks’ frappuccino and his message of “Stepping Up” and personal responsibility that I attended another session he gave at that conference and started subscribing to his newsletters. He always has several nuggets of leadership wisdom that I love to share on social media sites, and he inspired a blog I posted awhile back on my company’s intranet site. So I thought I would expand upon that and share some thoughts on finding our own simple ways to lead.

Continue reading “Leading from Within”

IT Leaders Rise to the Challenge

I find myself reflecting and considering what IT leaders are faced with and how we need to change to take on the challenges in this brave new world.

Originally posted on my LinkedIn profile under the title “IT Leaders Must Change to Meet the Future,” September 22, 2016.

I have just returned home from two business trips in recent weeks – the Smart Water Summit and Disaster Recovery Journal’s Fall World – and next month will be attending my seventh year in a row of Gartner Symposium (marketed as the “world’s largest gathering of CIOs and IT leaders”). Symposium is like a Woodstock for Geeks, as some of the brightest analytical minds gather to talk about technology trends and the technology and operational challenges these leaders face. The theme last year was “Rise to the Challenge” as analysts were talking to CIOs and IT leaders about the skills, tools, and mindsets the need to move into a digital future. This year they are promising to tie together that last several years to give a clear vision of what they have been trying to communicate, through the theme “Lead 360. Drive Digital to the Core”. As my thoughts are focused on Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, and especially Cybersecurity and its ever-growing threat landscape, I find myself also reflecting on past Symposiums and considering what IT leaders are faced with and how we need to change to take on the challenges in this brave new world.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

We are surrounded by connected technology both at work and home. Security breaches are all too common headline news, which threaten our personal and financial information. It is not a matter of “If” it will happen, but rather “When“; and it is not just an IT problem, but rather an enterprise problem which IT leaders must convey. At work we deal with legacy applications while trying to keep up with the changing technology landscape. What are these IT leaders to do to stay current? CIOs and IT leaders need more than just technical acumen. What are those skills, tools, and mindsets they need to move into a digital future?

The Top 5 barriers to Innovation have really remained constant: The lack of skilled resources, funding, enterprise culture, misalignment of IT and the business, and legacy challenges. IT leaders face these challenges daily, and must become creative to overcome them. CIOs must lead organizations that are able to be Guardians who look out for threats and provide security; Operators who deal with digital disruption and keep the lights on; and an Innovators who can transform the business. Big challenges to overcome, indeed!

But innovation can be hard to achieve when the relationship between IT and the business units has changed. IT used to control 70% of the technology budget. By 2017, it is expected that only 50% of that budget will be under IT control. Is that bad? Not necessarily, but IT needs to have a strong relationship with the business units to be able to influence the direction of that spend. Look to Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) to develop that trust and help yield that influence. They can ensure IT’s technology initiatives connect with the business’ strategy, and that business value is achieved.

IT leaders need to have a whole toolbox of skills to deal with the changing technology landscape and working with the C-suite. These leaders are looked to for stability and safety and for driving technology changes. They need to be:

  • Resilient – IT should act like an intelligence officer and not a police officer. They need to detect threats and respond to them.
  • Strategic Thinkers – Know the questions to ask to get you where you need to go. Strategic thinking provides a framework for leaders to focus and provide guidance. Leaders need followers. And they need resources who can be challenged to think as well, rather than just following blindly along.
  • Visionaries – They have intuition and imagination and they can solve complex problems in unusual ways.
  • Transparent – Leaders must be visible, explain the “why” explicitly, and demonstrate cultural values implicitly.
  • Engaging – Request and expect CEO involvement, as they are directly interested in changes to the business. Engage employees and ask questions. Engage the business so you can influence their point of view. Even spend time with competitors to drive industry changes.
  • Cultural Change Agents – The CIO has to focus on changing organizational culture in order to be successful at bimodal or any digital change.

A leader is not a leader without followers or a vision. Use strategic thinking to develop your vision and plan, as well as to empower your team. Use BRMs to help build relationships with the business and communicate the vision. Sharpen the tools in your kit, so you can be that Guardian, Operator, or Innovator with a strategic plan for the business’ digital transformation. By adapting our own skills and mindsets, IT leaders can shape the organization’s future and face the challenges ahead.

 

Are you doing something to take on a new challenge?

Cheers!

Cynthia

The End Results

One Day. Many Hands. Side by Side.

Last week I wrote about my week leading up to “Garland Gives” day with my leadership class GG-KickoffLeadership Garland 35.  To quote the program’s Executive Director, Jan Furtick, “I feel like a proud mom today. With about 140 volunteers led by Class 35 working 8 projects throughout the community, I am blown away! Lots of good things being done and lots of friendships being strengthened. GARLAND GIVES. One day. Many hands. Side by side.”

As a wrap up to the week, I just wanted to post a few pics from the day.  Although I didn’t do much physical labor yesterday, I was part of the team doing the overall planning for months leading up to the event.  There was a lot of mental exhaustion and anguish during that time.  Oftentimes people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes when they only see the end product, which is hopefully a well-oiled machine, but I can tell you it was a lot of emails, phone calls, planning meetings, conference calls, shopping for supplies, and planning of every last detail.  Given everyone’s different strengths and weaknesses, some project leads were more detail oriented and others had more of a “wing it” style.  But in the end, everything worked out.  The weather cooperated.  The mulch disappeared.  And at the end of the day yesterday, I was as exhausted as if I were moving all of that mulch!

The Projects

Prize for the fastest project to finish goes to Salvation Army where the ladies moved playground mulch at record speed. An equipment problem prevented them from power washing the parking lot, so a group will return to finish another day.

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This is how you do it!
Prize for the most fun goes to Good Samaritans where there was plenty of food to eat, a DJ, some dancing, a very questionable “magic show,” and a Ford filled with canned food from a local dealership. They rebuilt the food pantry shelves inside the building and refreshed the picnic area outside the building.

Prize for the best yard decoration goes to Pawsibilities. They refreshed the grounds for the dogs and the volunteers.

Prize for slow and steady wins the race goes to Landmark Society. They were the last ones to finish, but had the tedious inside task of indexing and transcribing photo albums and scrap books. Not a lot of pictures taken because, as their project lead Marty commented, “There’s not a lot of scintillating work going on here.” Although I did hear they had quite a bit of fun with the stories about rising buildings and youth running off to San Francisco in the 60s, from the scrapbooks of Garland’s history.

Prize for best use of Police and Fire personnel goes to Hope Clinic where those guys built a beautiful prayer garden area. Be still, my project manager heart!

Prize for the best disappearing act for making 31 cubic yards of mulch disappear faster than anyone expected goes to Jonathan’s Place, where they did arts and crafts with the kids, planted flowers, collected flip-flops for summer camp, and distributed mulch to several playground areas.

Prize for the best swag bag goes to New Beginning Center where they helped people trying to re-enter the workforce write resumes and practice their interview skills, helped them pick out a new interview outfit, and provided them with a portfolio, a thumb drive, and make-up bags full of goodies. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken due to the nature of the clients.

And finally, the prize for the best workout before the workout goes to Get to Know Garland where a Camp Gladiator trainer warmed the participants up before they were set loose on a scavenger hunt around downtown Garland. The participants all got some swag in the end, as well as prizes such as a Chromebook and fitness trackers.

One Day. Many hands. Side by side. We had over 140 volunteers work on 8 projects for 8 hours on one day, making an impact on the lives of others. There were countless hours spent in the months leading up to this day. There were our share of missteps, differing opinions, and mistakes along the way (Lessons Learned), but nothing stopped us from achieving our end goal of giving back to our community. I am proud of my classmates and the work that was accomplished, and hope everyone that had a hand is proud as well. I am a proud member of Leadership Garland Class 35, we are “The BEST Class!“.

Cheers!

Cynthia