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FCW : April 15, 2013
CIO as communicator As technologists, we often see the world as ones and zeros. We are binary, linear and logical, and (we hope!) communicate clearly and accurately. Our audience is forced to understand our technology, our government agencies organizational structures, and the differences among our agencies and our programs. The new Digital Government Strategy encourages us to look for more meaningful ways to communicate with citizens. I say amen. The time is over for CIOs to grouse about the mission rele- vance of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. The power of this technol- ogy can be found in its perceived weakness. It is skewed, random and disorganized --- perhaps closely mimicking the workings of the human brain. Using this technology, we are thus able to communicate in ways that are more personal and less sterile and bureaucratic. Consider NASA s anthropo- morphic Phoenix Mars rover, which tweeted, "We have ICE!!!! w00t!!!" That has a bigger impact than saying, "At 20:19 PST the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is cautiously opti- mistic that there is a high pos- sibility that ice, and therefore, water exist on Mars. Scientists will continue to analyze the results." So come on, New Federal CIOs --- let s start using this technology in earnest. Don t limit it to check-the-box blogs, but interact both personally and professionally. The world has already passed you by. CIO as mission IT expert Way back in 2005, Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis got it right in "The New CIO Leader." CIOs need to strike the right balance between the supply side and the demand side of the world of the CIO. We have a tendency to get mired in the important but routine supply-side issues of service delivery, team building and risk management. That is clearly necessary but hardly sufficient for the New Federal CIO. We have argued continuously about CIOs having a "seat at the table." But where we sit is not nearly as important as where we stand. And we must stand for leading the tireless and often thankless job of shaping and cre- ating an IT-enabled enterprise. We must stand for weaving and connecting mission requirements and technology solutions using an enterprise architecture that is usable and practical. We must stand for banishing the days of technology solutions looking for problems and cease the creation of reams of paper that barely relate to your ever-changing environment. The New Federal CIO will bring all those roles together and create a new creature. None of this requires legislation. But it does require vision, courage and leadership --- knowing that there is a better future, having the guts to stand up for it and stepping forward with the audacity of hope that energizes people. We will be criticized for the failings of our service pro- viders, the security incident du jour and ever-decreasing budgets tightly coupled with increasing demands. Nev- ertheless, we must have tough skins and soft hearts --- weathering the challenges that are before us but being ever diligent in meeting those challenges and living to face another scal year. ■ Linda Cureton, a 30-year civil servant, was NASA's CIO from 2009 until she retired on April 1. As CIOs, we often try to jam square pegs into round holes without understanding the circumstances of our customers or our organizations. April 15, 2013 FCW.COM 25
March 30, 2013
April 30, 2013