NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center turned 50 this year and so did I. One of Goddard’s commemorative activities was a town hall meeting moderated by Center Director Rob Strain with former Center Directors Tom Young, Noel Hinners, Joe Rothenberg, John Townsend, and Al Diaz. We often learn so much about our future by looking at our past.
It’s appropriate as we enter Mother’s Day weekend for me to reflect that I don’t have to look back too far in the past to learn from my mother. I’ve blogged about this topic before and the calendar warrants further reflections on some more of those learning moments.
As the oldest of four children and as one who probably remembers most what it might have been like for Harriette as a young divorced mother, I marvel at her abilities in the area of teamwork, leadership, business acumen, and project management. This may sound like CIO competencies but they are clearly also maternal competencies.
As I replay the tapes in my mind, I see how some of her clichés and sayings have relevance today in my role as a CIO.
The best way to make a friend is be a friend
My mother raised three introverted children plus a rather sociable baby sister. When we invited kids to our party, we could barely muster 5 guests – and 4 of them were our cousins. Baby Sister Lisa was so sociable, she was coached by my now experienced mother to invite her entire class of 21 girls to a slumber party so that a decent number would attend — 22 showed up.
But the bottom line, is that friendship and customer fulfillment are built on pillars of servanthood, partnership, service, teamwork, leadership, and commitment. Delivering mission value to your customers is the foundation of a credible relationship.
Make your bed and lie in it
Sometimes growing up, it’s very difficult to grapple with the concept of accountability. Often excuses like “the dog ate my homework” or “but I forgot” substitute for adolescent responsibility.
As CIOs, not only do we have to articulate an IT strategy, but we have to implement it and achieve our organizations goals. And we need to hold ourselves accountable for delivering those results.
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you
Any true native Washington, DC resident will recall the graceful branches of the plentiful Weeping Willow trees. Sadly, as some of us “old school” folks will remember, they make formidable switches for poorly behaving kids. I can’t say that I actually remember getting a spanking from a branch of that scary tree, but the thought of the possibility hurts just the same.
A friend of mine recently challenged me about whether or not I actually liked being a CIO. The TRUTH is that this gig, like most leadership gigs, is not very easy. Sometimes, it hurts and often every day is like getting a whipping for something that went wrong or for something you did wrong. Regardless, we must press forward, leading and managing a credible and capable IT organization to achieve what our organizations have asked of us.
In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
Alex Haley makes a good point here. As we live in the PRESENT and strengthen the links to the PAST, our FUTURE offers us infinite channels to success.
Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center