Quality in the Web 2.0 World

I took a road trip to NASA’s Independent Validation and Verification (IV&V) Facility this week.  It is nestled in the rolling hills of Fairmont, West Virginia.  Other than an unfortunate encounter with one of my Directorate’s Associate Directors, Carl Johnson … the van he was driving … and an unfortunate bunny rabbit … it was an inspiring and successful journey.

The mission of NASA’s IV&V Facility is to provide services that help provide increased assurance that software will operate dependently and reliably.  The Director of the Facility, Dr. Butch Caffall, took me on a marvelous journey with his pen and a legal-size yellow pad on how injecting quality processes and doing the right verifications in the right point in the software project lifecycle, can result in successful missions, lives saved, and reduced risk for catastrophic failures.  The work that Butch and his organization perform helped me understand NASA’s commitment to quality.   But, he got me thinking about quality in a Web 2.0 context.

Quality is something that many folks are struggling with.  But, what exactly is quality? 

“… quality cannot be defined. If we do define it we are defining something less than Quality itself”. – Robert M. Pirsig

I spend a lot of time thinking about this as a writer of a blog and as a CIO. As a CIO, I wonder about how we define quality in the Web 2.0 world? For example, how do I judge the quality of my blog?

Is it the number of visits? Well, not really.  In the nearly 3-hour drive to Fairmont, West Virginia from Greenbelt, Maryland, there was a lot of road kill along the way.  Just because this silly girl looked at every yucky thing on the side of the road, doesn’t mean it was interesting and worthwhile.

Is it the number of comments? I’m not really sure about that.  This seems to be more a function of controversy.  Is there life on Mars? Is that why we are emailing Mars?   I got the most comments in my post Email to MARS.  But, most of the comments had nothing to do with the content of the blog! This led me to doubt that number of comments were relevant.  Two other posts, IT Governance in Government and The Goddard CIO Blog: One Year Later probably drew the most “offline” comments (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc) – yet they both had zero comments.  Not quite sure what that means.  

Is it how often it gets quoted, or re-posted, or re-purposed? I think not.  This is what I call the “Joe-the-Plumber” effect.  Just because everyone is talking about you, doesn’t mean you’re worth talking about.

Alexander Wolfe, in his article, In A Web 2.0 World, Quality Is Irrelevant, notes that the best bloggers know nothing about the qualities of good journalism.  Yet, they create quality blogs.

Using Twitter, the goal is brevity, telling a story in 140 characters.  Here’s an example of poetry, in 140 characters or less in the poetic styling of Pam Baker in The Poetry of Changing Presidents.  Federal Computer Week ran a contest to create a 140-character job description in Rewrite Your Job Description as a Tweet (listen up HR Specialists!).

Crowdsourcing suggests quality is derived from collaboration and collective wisdom of the crowds.  It suggests that we can derive innovation from amateurs or volunteers as opposed to a team of experts.  This may be counterintuitive, but there seems to be evidence that this is true – Wikis are an excellent example.

Wolfe goes on to say that in the Web 2.0 world “…quality is now measured out more in engagement — videos, pictures, short and pithy commentary — than in llooooooonng, boring blocks of dense text. Which nobody reads anyway!”

Does this mean that quality in a Web 2.0 doesn’t really exist? I think quality exists, but it’s in the corner of your eye. If you look right at it, it goes away.  It exists in the periphery.   

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


The Goddard CIO Blog: One Year Later

One year today, I made my first blog post.  Today, I want to pause and discuss my experience, my learning, and my path forward.  This will not be a sterile reflection of the efficacy of this Web 2.0 technology, but rather, this will be an expression of what this experience meant to me as a CIO, a leader, and as an individual.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

A friend (I will just call him K) convinced me to start blogging in October 2007.  He was passionate about it.  He told me I would absolutely love it. I said ok, but he said, “No, you have to promise!”  I said, “OK!”  I decided that I would make it my New Year’s Resolution.  It was on the list right before “stop procrastinating”.  Thus, I didn’t get to until May. 

I’ve had earlier posts discussing Why I Blog. Loved ones expressed concern that caused me to be just plain afraid of doing this in the discussion Is Web 2.0 Worth the Risk? One year later, my conclusions are yes, it is worth the risk.  You can’t get innovation or any significant return without any risk; you can’t have risk without uncertainty or doubt; and you can’t have courage without fear.

One of my favorite leadership books is The Leadership Moment, by Michael Useem.  Life is made up of an infinite amount of moments.  Some of those moments in a leader’s lifetime are significant and some of them are learning moments.  May 30, 2008 started what is to date a series of at least 50 monotonically increasing learning moments which converge on the lesson that the only way to truly embrace Transparency and Naked Leadership to be armed with the confidence of faith,  the audacity of courage, and the competence of experience.  Then, and only then, can you face with humility the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that transparent and authentic leadership truly requires.

Oh, The Pain … The Pain!

One of my favorite TV shows used to be Lost in Space.  One often-used quote from one of the characters Dr. Smith was, “oh the pain…the pain”.  There is pain associated with this. 

I am reminded of an incident that happened when I was in the 8th grade.  There was a girl down the street who I did NOT know – she told my sister that she couldn’t stand me.  It made me cry because I didn’t know her at all.  How could I have that effect on someone I don’t even know? My little pubescent feelings were hurt.

One commenter called what I thought was a cool post nonsensical dribble.  Another time, I got an anonymous letter from an employee informing me that I was the worse leader on the planet, an embarrassment to my directorate, and laughing stock among my fellow NASA CIOs. Boy, how quickly I reverted back to the 8th grade.

Pain is not necessarily a bad thing.  Pain helps us protect our fingers from a hot stove; it protects our soul, spirit, and character when we do the wrong things; and new life springs forward through the pain of childbirth.  The pain reminded me to be careful; it reminded me to be humble; it reminded me to learn; and it reminded me of my purpose in the nation’s space program, in this profession, and in this life.

The Final Conundrum

One of my blog readers, RT, likes to challenge me intellectually. One of his favorite quips is … “Oh, the questions we ask … the answers we seek”.  In life, sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking we find solutions in great answers when in fact, we find solutions in life’s great questions.

I gave a leadership talk to the Society of Information Management Regional Leadership Forum. I talked about Power, Passion, and Purpose.  One student asked me if I found my purpose.  I told him I wasn’t sure. He told me he thought he knew his purpose, until a traumatic divorce.  Then he realized he found his purpose only through continuously searching for purpose. He wrote this comment card, which I kept:

Purpose — you have it — keep on searching for it. Thank you … Tony

So, in my original purpose for this blog … I wanted to be relevant, to reflect my true self, to communicate, and to learn.  And in searching to satisfy this purpose I learned of puzzles to life’s great questions – to inspire is to BE inspired; communicating your ideas means listening; the teacher learns from her own instruction; you find your purpose by searching for it.

I once made a remark to my statistics teacher at Johns Hopkins.  Though I intellectually understood the concept of “random” and it’s foundation to statistics, I didn’t really believe in it.  He looked at me in a knowing way and said, “Of course you don’t.”  I will leave the rest of his comment unstated. But, he was right.

I find it no coincidence nor a random event that learning what I have from these past 12 months happened at this time of my life, at this agency, and in this manner. Perhaps Web 2.0 was created just to be critical in the implementation of this Administration’s technology agenda; perhaps it was created just to enable collaboration at NASA within the science and engineering community; perhaps it was created just for me. 

The last time I saw my friend K was November 2008.  We had the opportunity to speak a few weeks after that.  I was passionately recounting my 6 month’s worth of blogging experience.  He told me he noticed that I changed. I was more extroverted.  Well, he was sort of right.  But, I’m still the same shy little girl that doesn’t want to come out and play … but now, I’m outside in a world of discovery and learning that amazes me every day.

And that’s what I learned from 12 months of blogging.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

How Extraordinary Golf Leads to Extraordinary Leadership

I had to give a talk recently at the Society for Information Management Regional Leadership Forum.  Someone asked me what I did in my spare time.  After wondering what the heck was spare time, I babbled some stuff — reading, Sudoku, golf.  Then the guy interrupted me and asked incredulously – you like to play golf? Well, the answer was absolutely NOT.  However, considering some have said that g.o.l.f. stands for gentlemen only ladies forbidden, a lady CIO in this town and in this industry needs to get some pink balls and a pink golf glove and stand on the red tees on behalf of information technology. Garry Gaukler, Linda Cureton, Gary Cox, Mark Hagerty 2007 NASA HQ Golf Event

So I was intrigued by the topic Making Today’s Dream Tomorrow’s Reality: What Golf Can Teach us About High Performance, Learning, and Enjoyment at the Goddard Space Flight Center Exploring Leadership Colloquium.   The talk was given by Fred Shoemaker, golf professional, coach and author of the book Extraordinary Golf. 

He started the lesson with a small group the day before.  He challenged us on our notion of what our goals were in the golf coaching session.  The responses were not surprising: stop my slice; correct my form; hit more solid shots; etc. However, his coaching focused on two things: being “present” on the course and knowing your target. 

Staying in the Present

In looking at the things that golfers are working on to improve their golf game, Shoemaker notes that on average, this takes up about 5% of the time that players spend in a round.  The other 95% of the time is spent walking or riding around to your next shot.  He discovered that the people who are most likely to improve are the people who have mastered that 95% time between the shots.  This is what he calls being present on the course.  Not living in the past of your historic performance … nor the future of wondering if you will look good … but the present of being committed and enjoying the game.

What is your target?

The second learning moment was understanding what our target is.  As we address the ball, is the target the ball? The plane on the backswing? Or that hole under the flag in the distance? He video tapes golfers with their normal swing. Then he removes the ball and has us release the club towards the target.  This was transformative.  Suddenly, everyone developed swings like the golf pros.  In just a few seconds, it was like the Golf Channel.  What a difference the right target made!

Fear, trust, and courage

In order to learn and grow in anything, it requires the willingness to explore and take risks and experience some amount of discomfort and confusion.  We label this discomfort fear and then start to narrow ourselves through the limitations that fear imposes. 

But the good thing about fear is that without it, we wouldn’t need courage.  Courage helps manage the fear, but trust keeps fear from recurring.  Developing trust in yourself, and in this specific example in your golf swing, gives us the ability to execute with confidence.

Are you committed?

We all have our purpose in playing golf … just as we have our purpose in life.  We confuse performance or the goals with purpose.  We are there to enjoy the game, not to execute the perfect drive.  Are we committed to looking good with the perfect drive? Or are we committed to enjoying an amazing sport?

We do this in the workplace as individuals, managers, and leaders.  Are we committed to the purpose of the project?  Have we lost sight of the organization’s target because we are overly focusing on performance? Now certainly performance is critical, but we don’t want a successful operation and a dead patient!

So in the putting exercise that Shoemaker had us do I learned something about golf and about myself.  As I addressed the ball, dressed smartly with a pink shirt, pink glove and a pink visor, I wasn’t thinking about the pink shoes that I forgot and left in the trunk, but I was thinking about the fact that for the first time, I focused on the ball as my target and was actually enjoying the sweet sound of a well-struck ball and the feeling of a good swing.

Linda Cureton, CIO NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

ITIL We Meet Again

ITIL We Meet Again

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides a detailed description of important IT practices with comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that can be tailored to any IT organization.  Implementing ITIL is a critical IT strategic project for Goddard Space Flight Center.  It is also a critical aspect of implementing NASA’s upcoming agency-wide IT acquisitions, I3P.  Because of its importance, I asked the NASA agency lead, Cliff Ward and my center lead, Esmond Marvray to give my leadership team an overview at my leadership retreat last week.

I first met ITIL in the 1980s.  That’s also when I met my then soon-to-be future husband, Doug Cureton.  I was a happy-go-lucky IBM Virtual Machine Systems Programmer.   As a young Baby Boomer with a one-pot-per-day coffee habit sustained by lots of carbohydrates, I excelled in IBM Assembler Language and had great logic and problem determination skills.  He was a process oriented Data Center Manager managing one of the Department of Justice central mission critical data centers.  A Traditionalist with a healed ulcer, he managed a tight ship with high availability and low incidents of operator error.  Oh, the good-ole-days – when programmers wrote real code; 5 nines didn’t mean 6 sigmas; and Data Centers weren’t on people’s desks. Teddy Bear - VM Mascot that makes you feel warm and fuzzy

I remember one day, I was writing an Assembler Language Program.  I was trying to tell a printer to “do something” and had no documentation.  So, I just went through all the half-word hexadecimal possibilities (ok, ok, I know that was real geeky!) and wrote down what happened.  A little dull, but the only way with no doc.  Just storing commands into storage, seeing what happened, jotting it down, and repeating… 0000, 0004, 0008, 000C… etc.  So, to pass the time away, I called my girlfriend Stephanie.  Next thing I knew, the system froze.  Oh, crap girl, let me call you back.  As I’m staring at the screen in shock and horror, Doug Cureton appears at my door. In the delightful drawl of a West Virginia coal miner’s son, he asks … What have you done … this time? Oopsie.

So, in his problem management log, he records – Unknown error systems programmer reviewing core dump.  Whew! Then asks me to do him a favor and look over this ITIL stuff he just got.  He wanted to know if he should do anything with it. Of course after that oopsie, I had to look at them.  Interesting, but if you had Doug Cureton, you didn’t need ITIL.

Recently, I was having dinner with a Twitter colleague, Kevin Behr where we were lamenting the “power-off/power-on” and the “re-boot” generation.  He learned his craft from his father’s knee – a mainframe computer engineer.  Oh, I bet he loved the smell of solder in the morning after preventative maintenance – it smelled like victory.

Looking back to the good-ole-days, the need to capture knowledge and practices from folks like Kevin’s Dad or Doug Cureton seemed clear.  In today’s complex world of large IT integrators (gulp) and diverse sourcing strategies it is even more critical to convert the oral history and tradition of a rich era into knowledge and information that can be shared and applied across organizations.  Furthermore, our ability to collaborate on many levels will be inhibited if we don’t successfully step up to this challenge.

Oh, the good-ole-days.  Though I’ve traded reading hexadecimal dumps for working mega Sudoku puzzles, I haven’t traded the values that I learned in an era gone by.  The importance of this to the learning IT organization is crucial.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

What’s IT Got to Do With It?

I’ve written a few times about the Relevant and the Irrelevant CIO.  It’s rather trite now to refer to the atomic power of Web 2.0 and similar technologies, but what’s not readily apparent is the impact it has on the role of CIOs and other information technology leaders. 

When I was a happy dreamy mathematics student in undergraduate school, I had the dubious pleasure of tutoring some engineering students who really didn’t believe that mathematics was a legitimate discipline.  They believed that it was merely a tool to solve engineering problems.  I trying to explain the foundational theory to one knuckle-head and he said impatiently, “look, just give me the formula”. 

Well, today, as consumers know more and more about IT and as Web 2.0 puts the power of technology into the hands of the end users, the legitimacy of the Discipline of IT may be lost on most and at the very least, the need or relevance of the role of the CIO is dubious at best.  This week, my mother announced to me that she NOW knows what Twitter is and doesn’t need her CIO (and she’s thinking – whatever the heck a C.I.O is) daughter to explain it to her.  And oh, by the way, she heard about it on Oprah.

The following is one of my most favorite CIO quotes:

“Agency executives know that CIOs provide a vital resource to organizations—they just don’t know what it is,” – Dan Matthews, former CIO Department of Transportation and current Lockheed Martin executive

Today, the CIO’s customers only want her to:

·         Make their blackberry work

·         Make sure that email gets delivered

·         Order a laptop or a desktop

·         Just go away


Today, with the advent of solutions like iPhones/iTunes,  gmail/yahoo mail,  and managed laptop services from suppliers like Dell or HP, there’s only one thing left for CIO’s to do: JUST GO AWAY!


So then what exactly is the discipline of IT and what should a relevant CIO be doing?


First, she must understand her organization’s mission needs and goals from a non-IT perspective. If all you think about is email delivery, then you’re doomed. We need to think about delivering our agency’s services.  Oh, but delivering basic IT services is a hygiene issue – if you don’t do it, you stink … but if that’s all you do, you’re ineffective.


Second, she must understand what IT can do. The blocking and tackling must be done. And you’ve got to stay on top of your game — understanding the rules and suited up with the right equipment.


Finally, she must ensure that what the mission needs and what IT can do are aligned and in sync.  This means having informed decision-making processes to do just that.  It also means that the organization has a strategy or architectural roadmap to solve the organizations problems with IT. In IT jargon, this would be the discipline of IT Governance and Enterprise Architecture.


I end with apologies to Tina Turner:


What’s IT got to do, got to do with it
What’s IT but a second hand tool … for sweet old-fashioned fools
What’s IT got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a IT when a IT can be broken


(Repeat and fade)


Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Implementing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in the Enterprise

I recently participated as a panelist on this subject for Women in Technology.  It kills me sometimes when us folks in IT are asked the question … how do we implement <insert technology du jour> in the enterprise?  In preparing for the panel, I spent a little time preparing for that inevitable question.

First, let me define SOA – in plain language and not Geek-speak.  It’s a way of developing software by grouping together software functions that perform loosely coupled services or activities.  Examples of such activities might be online booking, guidance and navigation, or online application submission.  NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center successfully utilizes this architecture in its GSFC Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC). The advantages are increased scalability, reusability, and flexibility in IT systems.  This can result in better solutions at lower costs delivered faster compared to traditional development methods.

So, like I said, it kills me when CIOs are asked … how do we implement SOA in the enterprise? It’s the wrong question really.  SOA for SOA’s sake is just plain stupid.  The essential questions are strategic.  What are the needs of your enterprise?  What is your current state from a technology perspective? Can SOA do a better job of getting you where you want to go? Then finally, assuming the answer is yes … how?  CIOs almost always look at three areas when thinking about the answers to a “how” question: People, processes, and technology.

People.  The workforce needs to be trained to understand the suitability, value and benefits of this technology. It is often said if all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.  SOA is just one tool in the technologists’ tool belt.  One must have more and discern when and how to use them. 

Contractors who provide services to the organization must be incented to use this technology as appropriate.  The typical “level-of-effort” contracts incent the behavior of 18-month software development cycle of monolithic systems.  Contractors have to have incentives to utilize the right tools in their tool belt to deliver value and mission success to agencies.

There’s also a “not invented here” culture that may prefer to development home grown code rather than utilizing pre-existing code.

Processes. One big advantage of SOA is the ability to deliver cross-agency services.  Governance talks about who makes decisions; when we make those decisions; what are the scope of things that are decided; how do we inform those decisions; and how do we make those decisions.  But, how do we develop good processes or procedures for doing all that? Who has decision rights? How do we manage service levels? How do we perform release management and configuration management? What do we do if something breaks? Who is responsible for fixing it?

Technology. This could be one of the easiest areas assuming that governance is addressed adequately. We need to think about standards and we need an architectural framework that informs our strategy after synthesizing were we are as an enterprise, where we need to go, and what is the roadmap for getting there.

Yeah, SOA what! I like neat technology just like the next girl.  It’s cool and snazzy, but if it is not solving a problem, we’re probably implementing technology that may not have mission value.  The potential here is great, but first we have to pause and reflect on what particular problem we are trying to solve. And finally, we need to implement approaches that address the people, process, and technology dimensions.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA CIO Meeting: Connecting with Dot

The NASA CIOs had another intense and successful offsite meeting to move closer to resolution of pervasive IT problems that plague the agency.  We also made significant progress in implementing the tenets of our IT Strategy soon to be finalized by Acting CIO Bobby German.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the significant leadership moment that occurred with our friend and colleague Dot Swanson, Deputy CIO of NASAs Johnson Space Center.  Courageous and tenacious, Dot seldom has trouble finding her voice.  To the extent that in our afterhours networking and teambuilding session, the other NASA CIOs and Deputies bet her that she couldn’t be quiet for the whole day.  Pictured here are the items thrown in the pool: a wallet, two pair of reading glasses, $22, a $25 Target gift card, a cell phone, a blackberry, an iPod, a health insurance card, a man-bracelet, and a Washington, DC Metro Smartcard.  Too bad our other colleague Ames Research Center CIO, Chris Kemp couldn’t be there.  Even I would have kept my mouth shut for his watch!JSC Deputy CIO Dot Swanson admires her potential windfall

It was a little scary at first.  After all, I had the blackberry, iPod, Smartcard, and gift card at risk.  But, after a morning full of carbohydrates and caffeine, Dot found her voice again and we all safely retained our valuables. 

I thought about how Dot’s voice was such an important and valuable addition to Team CIO.  Her perspectives and her willingness to speak up are important ingredients to implementing complex and risky projects.  She has three key attributes which the book Crucial Conversations (Patterson, et. al.) says are required to speak the unspeakable yet still maintain respect – confidence, humility, and skill.

Confidence — where she has the courage to say what needs to be said.  Humility — where she is not only willing to express her own thoughts and opinions, but also encourages others to do the same.  And finally, she is a skilled communicator. 

Once you’ve found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature–physically, mentally, emotionally/socially, spiritually–latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in productivity, innovation and leadership in the market place and society. – Stephen Covey

Connecting with Dot reminded me of the importance of all of that.  She is truly an inspiration.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The Art of Change Followership

Organizational success is clearly linked to good leadership.  But, what’s often forgotten is the need for good followership.  Simply having followers is not sufficient. One of the things that good leaders and bad leaders have in common is that they both have followers. 


Barbara Kellerman in her book, Bad Leadership, identifies reasons why people follow leaders regardless of their goodness or badness.  These reasons range from having their needs met as individuals, as members of groups, or by satisfaction of their personal interests.  But good followership distinguishes itself by certain traits of the followers and of the leaders.  Furthermore, good leaders nurture those traits and qualities in themselves and in their followers.


In Followership: Leading Is A Skill; So Is Following, by Alden Solovy, several traits and behavior themes of good followers are identified: self-management, communication, teamwork, personal development, commitment, credibility, honesty, and courage.  These behaviors and traits are linked to organizational success.  Interestingly, John C. Maxwell, in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, leadership skills associated organizational success are consistent with critical followership skills: self-discipline, communication, servanthood, teachability, commitment, character, generosity, and courage.


Leading in the today’s difficult climate of stress and change demands that leaders pay more attention to this.  One of the key leadership attributes that Woodard and Tager discuss in Leadership in Times of Stress and Change is the need for empathy: the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your followers and to really know and feel what they are going through. 


These soft or people-centered skills may appear to be an inadequate substitute for outcome oriented leadership and followership behaviors – especially in an engineering culture as NASA.  But it can make a real difference to outcomes and productivity during today’s turbulent times.  After all, it was honesty, sincere communication and commitment of a brave little boy that helped the unclothed emperor see the leader that he needed to become.


Linda Cureton, CIO/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Cloud Computing in the Federal Government: On a Cloudy Day How It Will Astound You

I had the privilege of tutoring incredible lady in college Algebra the same week that I had to be on a Cloud Computing panel at FOSE. First, I must say that though we both got very little sleep, I’m so happy that Shakeba did well on her final. But it occurs to me that the advice that I gave to her to coach her through her astounding moment … just take the next step … is the same advice that Government IT Leaders need to follow with respect to leveraging value from this astounding technology. 


Gartner, Inc. did some recent research to discuss the outlook for Government participation in Cloud Computing.  The research, Cloud Computing for Government Is Cloudy (Jeff Vining, Andrea Di Maio), lays out some key issues.:


  • [T]here is little or no evidence of government agencies being ready to move beyond this and move mission-critical datasets into the cloud as part of an enterprise-wide strategy.
  • Government cloud-computing environments have common IT risks in areas such as data privacy, portability, access, loss and security as well as fears of vendor lock-in.
  • Because of cloud computing risks, federated government-owned/controlled cloud computing arrangements may have greater chance for short-term viability.


The emphasis above is mine, but the readiness, fears, and risks belong to each decision-maker.  James Staten, from Forrester writes in Is Cloud Computing Ready for the Enterprise?:


Forrester spoke with more than 30 companies in this market to determine its worthiness for enterprise consideration and found that it provides a very low-cost, no-commitment way for enterprises to quickly get new services and capabilities to market that entirely circumvents the IT department. Infrastructure and operations professionals can try to ignore it as it is just in its infancy, but doing so may be a mistake as cloud computing is looking like a classic disruptive technology.


I’d like to say it a little more bluntly.  If CIOs don’t get ready, manage fears and manage their risk, they will get run over by this disruptive technology.  Your organization is doing it anyway – without you!  So do something!


You don’t have to move your entire enterprise into the cloud, just take the first step and look at some appropriate datasets.  This doesn’t have to be an all or none decision.


When making vendor choices, go in with the end in mind.  I guess no one likes to enter into a marriage with a prenuptial agreement in the event of divorce, but then after all, this is your enterprise.


Don’t confuse control and ownership with security and viability.  And for crying out loud, please make sure that you have a healthy – ok … semi-healthy governance process.


This tracks nicely to the advice I gave Shakeba about her final:


  • Don’t be afraid, but don’t be a hero either.
  • Make sure you have a good sharp pencil with an eraser.
  • Follow sound mathematical principals, and you will always be fine.


CIOs should not run and hide.  The great possibilities in this disruptive technology merit us taking the next stops.  Those of us who ignore it, will fail or be left behind.


Linda Cureton, CIO NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Changeling: A New CIO Organization

The Changeling: A New CIO Organization


It is ironic that as a discipline, IT arguably ?inflicts? more change on an organization and on a society than almost any other discipline.  So, here I am, leading an IT organization through a change and thus, need to give a lot of thought to my difficult task of leading myself, them and us successfully through a successful organizational change. The change affects individuals; it is personal; it is scary; it feels like death. 


The fear of change is clearly expressed in both folklore and fiction.  In folklore, changelings were children who were substituted for parents? real children.  In superstition, a changeling was suspected when any unexplained or bizarre change occurred in a child or infant. 


Evil Star Trek Space Probe NOMAD 

Of course, I have to offer a Star Trek example in ?The Changeling?.  NOMAD ? no, not NASA Operational Messaging and Active Directory Service which offers email, tasking, and calendaring capabilities ? but the deadly space probe launched in the late 20th century by Jackson Roykirk and found over two hundred years later by Captain James T. Kirk. Its original programming, which was to seek out new life forms, was changed by an untimely crash with another space probe.  The programming was changed to ?See the universe, meet interesting people, and kill them.?  [See http://echosphere.net/star_trek_insp/star_trek_insp.html for Star Trek Inspirational Poster]



Those of you who have read earlier posts know that I am a proud introvert.  When I was a little girl, the worse thing that my mother could tell me was, ?Go outside and play!? A fate worse than death.  But, every now and then, in our close-knit neighborhood in Northeast Washington, DC, a new person would move in.  Surprisingly, this introverted little girl would eagerly go outside and say ?Wow, someone new to play with!?  So when I found out that Goddard Space Flight Center was getting a new Center Director, I couldn?t help but revert back to my childhood and think, ?Wow, someone new to play with!?  Curiously, when I made some changes in my leadership team, and changed some positions around, an employee came to complain about why she had to cope with a new supervisor.  Compare and contrast my thinking about my new boss and her thinking about her new boss.  Humm, I am leading people who are not like me.  So, I guess I need to change and need a change strategy that takes people like her into account. 


A leader?s challenge is making an organizational change strategy personal.  What?s in it for me?  Do I have someone new to play with?  What do I get? Oh, and what have you done for me (or to me) lately?  John C. Maxwell, in his book ?Thinking for a Change? says, people change when they:   

* Hurt enough that they are willing to change.

* Learn enough that they want to change.

* Receive enough that they are able to change.  


I like this definition of ?changeling? that comes from dictionary.com:


Philately. A postage stamp that, by accident or intention, has been chemically changed in color.


I need a plan, not by accident, but by intention.  I need a masterpiece that changes the color of the organization.  A portrait that paints a picture of change that transforms me, my stakeholders, and the my organization. Time to get out my palette, colors, and canvas and get busy.