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NASA Goddard CIO Blog: But I Blog

Status Report From: High Country Software Limited
Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008

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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

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