But I Blog

But I Blog

 

I am often asked why on earth do I blog; why would a federal CIO want to blog; and where do you get the courage to do this. All fascinating questions that I thought about when I started and revisited as I got an email from a CIO colleague last week.  Here’s the email:

 

Hi Linda,

 

I saw this article in Forbes and thought of you.  I have been very impressed and amazed at your level of comfort sharing details of your job and yourself with the world.  I am learning a lot by reading your Blog and Twitters, and I hope to get as comfortable writing (not to mention as skilled) as you are.

 

Jim

 

http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/13/cio-mesh-collaboration-tech-cio-cx_dw_1014mesh.html?partner=email

 

I read the article which challenges us on the fear of blogging.  Jim shouldn’t have been so impressed.  I’m scared to death. The truth of the matter to Jim and to others is that I am not comfortable and I am afraid.  So, why do I blog?  Here are my reasons:

  • To learn and demonstrate the value of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the spirit of innovation that should be required of a NASA CIO
  • To communicate to stakeholders and customers the activities and issues related to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center IT Transformation
  • To focus my thoughts and learning to the things that matter in my role as the CIO
  • To increase my leadership abilities to those I serve by providing a means for them to get to know what the “real” me is like

 

To learn and demonstrate the value of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the spirit of innovation that should be required of a NASA CIO

 

Web 2.0 and social networking provide amazing technology innovations that empower the end user and gives us the ability to make quantum leaps in IT.  Using and understanding this technology is helpful for me to learn and demonstrate its capability and helps me walk the talk as a CIO.  The CIO of the future must learn and behave differently.

 

We know the solution to acquiring this knowledge and these abilities is largely through training and experience. It may require a significant investment of time and effort; it may take CIOs and aspiring CIO’s out of their comfort zones, but it is learnable – Colleen Young, The Futuristic CIO, Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2008

 

To communicate to stakeholders and customers the activities and issues related to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center IT Transformation

 

Leading extreme change requires extreme communication through many channels in many ways.  This is just another one. From the feedback that I’ve gotten, my message is getting out, but I’m not completely satisfied the efficacy of this as being an interactive medium.  There are more effective ways to do that, at least so far. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and many ideas that have been helpful to the transformation efforts.  This isn’t and shouldn’t be the only communication channel.  It’s just one of many.

 

To focus my thoughts and learning to the things that matter in my role as the CIO

 

I’m a kinesthetic learner and learn best by doing.  I want to: learn about Web 2.0 technologies, hone my leadership skills, and think through NASA’s burning issues relative to my CIO leadership agenda.  The act of writing down my thoughts and wrestling with key concepts and issues gives me additional clarity and understanding. Before I take the plunge of putting my words into the world, I will take the time to analyze and think.  I strive to pause and think on a weekly basis: what I did and what I need to do to take one byte (sic) at time out of the elephant called IT Challenges of the Goddard Space Flight Center; what did I do and what do I need to do to inspire and motivate a workforce; what did I do and what do I need to do meet the mission needs of the organization that I humbly serve.

 

To increase my leadership abilities to those I serve by providing a means for them to get to know what the “real” me is like

 

The road to hell is littered with well-intended and capable NASA CIOs.  There are many reasons why these challenges look so easy to bystanders.  But the leadership stamina required is tremendous.  (As an aside and on a personal note, I recently lost a lot of weight.  Anyone who is overweight knows how hard this is … and have also heard from many bystanders how easy it *should* be for us.  But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean we should whine and make excuses.  Suck it up and do what needs to be done.) A CIO needs trust in order to be an effective leader.  People need to know who I am and what my intentions are in order for me to be an effective leader.   But this is just one means, no silver bullet here.

 

It takes a whole lot of time, but I blog.  My writing skills are passable, but I blog. Personal communication is critical, but I blog.  I have to produce results for NASA rather than words, but I blog.

 

The note from Jim came on the heels of a hurtful criticism of my blog.  I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was a teenager.  I had to play a Mozart French Horn concerto.  I made a mistake, freaked out and ran off the stage crying.  The band director made me play again.  I practiced more and made it through, but barely.   I don’t think I ever recovered from that stage fright; and there are many times when this blogger wants to run off the stage crying, but I blog.

 

Linda Cureton, CIO NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

20 thoughts on “But I Blog”

  1. Plato’s “The beginning is the most important part of the work” quote comes to mind.

    One of the things I like about reading blogs is *I* get to choose when/how to read it. And whether or not to drudge through all of the comments. The next trick of course, is to find something good to read.

    I hope more leaders start to blog. I hope most of them do it as thoughtfully and smoothly as you make it appear.

  2. Linda-
    I’ve read your blog postings for some time now, and just wanted to express my thanks for your taking the time from your life to write these notes on life, and life within NASA. Although I’ve never worked for NASA, I’ve written about the space program for more than a quarter century for every medium in existence. I’ve found NASA’s biggest problem (in addition to lack of $$)is that most Americans don’t feel connected to the space program.
    It seems to me that if the space budget is to survive in the fierce upcoming competition for federal dollars, than its exployees and saff must make a greater effort at “connecting” with the public.
    Your common-sense blog notes are a breath of fresh air, and I hope you continue to shed light on your work and why it is important.
    Ad Astra-per aspera!
    -Frank

  3. Saw Jim today. You go, girl! I appreciate the walk the talk part, and how regularly you post. (I find the regular part particularly difficult, personally). One of the keys to communication is keeping it up under stress and when you’re busy. So good job and keep it up.

  4. it’s really a nice post.
    I really enjoyed reading every bit of it.. it was so interesting.
    keep up the good work..

  5. I too like blogging! I appreciate you blogging so people get to know the other aspect of the blogger. We're real people, the oral communication is very important, but why not to use this technology to let other people from other side of globe know about one's life?

  6. I LOVE you honesty.

    You share from your heart which connects with me, your reader, and this inspires in a BIG way.

    This is a great post – you dare to be vulnerable and real and show yourself to the world. I applaud you for your courage – know that you have inspired this South African now living in the UK. Thanks.

  7. I applaud your courage. Opening one's thoughts, opinions and ideas up for comments and criticism is not an easy thing to do.

  8. Linda, I’m the Editor (since Jan ’09) of the Commercial Space Gateway (http://commercialspace gateway.com) and really appreciate your willingness to be truthful about how scary it can be to let people know how you really feel on your blog. I especially admire your courage in doing so as a NASA employee and the CIO. You provide a great example to all of us who are trying to do the same thing. Being honest is always disarming and I believe is the basis for stimulating positive change. Best of luck in your new role and NASA deserves kudos for appointing you.

  9. Blogging has gotta be the best thing to happen to the internet, ever, IMO. It's created little offspring, such as Twitter, which has created a much more truthful view of the ongoing's of the world.

    I too have stage fright, so this is definitely a much more practical way of being able to express ourselves.

    Excellent post!

  10. Good blogs keep people coming back for more. If your blog is good people are willing to add your blog to their home page to await your updates.

    Blogs are niche topics you can't get from your news paper or tv stations.

    No need to be scared. Just continue to share your thoughts with us.

  11. Blogging is something that can never leave.. I just love it and do it at least 1 hrs every day..
    It makes me feel happy to connect with my readers..

  12. Linda, don't be scared to blog and I strongly encourage you.

    I would like to know how so far how you evaluate the results of your blog experiment of a Government agency since it's been a year since this post.

    Thank you for getting back to me,

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