Oct 222011

More a picture of my own metaphor than our server room

Many of you know I recently accepted the role of Chief Information Officer for American Laser Skincare.

In coming into this new situation, my current thinking may be more of a bird’s nest than our server room (which is nowhere near as tangled as the picture on the right).

Meanwhile, you may have read that we are not victims of circumstance, or at least we don’t have to be. Getting my thinking straight has to be my first and highest concern.

I have decided that getting clear in my thinking necessarily means fewer public blog posts in the weeks ahead, if in part simply to avoid producing one of the most embarrassing situations imaginable.

Having a lot to learn

In any circumstance it’s easy to say “I have a lot to learn”.

Though I learn a lot from writing and from reading your comments both here and on LinkedIn, there are several “learning points about learning” that have come to mind in my early days in this new role, relative to this blog:

  1. Not everything I learn is blog-worthy, which distinguishes this from “reality TV”
    (though for purely selfish reasons writing helps organize my own thoughts)
  2. It may be arrogant to think I’ve really learned something valuable and effective in some of the choices I make early on… when I could just be wrong about them and they haven’t played out yet
  3. Some of my observations, through which I anticipate learning many things, may not show up well politically or professionally while I am working through my thinking about them
  4. Meanwhile, for your own sake, many of you might really want to know what I am going through and how it is shaping my thinking

A case study in the making

As it happens, a colleague of mine said that my life is “a case study” right now.

I have been working in professional services for twenty years, since leaving the US submarine force in 1992. I’ve experienced extreme joy from some really complicated solutions I’ve delivered in teams over the years, and I’ve built great friendships that have spanned decades.

To be fair to the network guys, software folks can be messy, too.

I’ve also watched my customers carefully and have seen them weather good and bad times, producing accomplishments and developing their own career narratives.

For more than ten years, since a friend and colleague had said “you ought to be a CIO”, I have wondered about life on “the other side of the table”.

He planted a seed that brought forth all sorts of reasons I figured I was not ready, had a lot to learn, needed the help of others. Above all, he planted a seed that changed my vision for the kind of career I might produce. (Thanks, Chris.)

And here I am, living my dream and wanting to make the most of it. I know many who made the transition from career staff executive to consultant, some who moved back and forth, and only a few who jumped from career consulting executive to staff executive as I am doing.

The journey I am on, in and of itself, makes it worth writing about. Unlike a “real” case study, this one hasn’t played out yet, so I can’t say how it ends or figure out its ROI… I will keep notes and write about it if you want to come along. (You can sign up for updates in the upper-right corner of this page.)

Competitive learning through networks of help

If you have made or are making a similar transition, I would love to hear from you in the comments below, or through a message on LinkedIn. We could have a lot to talk about.

  3 Responses to “Living a case study – the other side of the table”

  1. The first step is putting ourselves in position to be the absolute best we can be. The next step is positioning ourselves to be the absolute best we can be at our position. It’s refreshing to know someone else that sees every new opportunity as a learning experience. Too many times people walk into a situation as the proverbial savior and fail out of the gate because they never take the time to first get their legs planted by balancing strategic planning and a thirst for professional wisdom. The three rules I try to stick to: Study it as it happens, better ourselves and those around us with what we’ve learned, and have fun in every stage of it.

  2. […] that I am no longer on the consulting side of the table, I get to share greater ownership of our business processes with the other members of our […]

  3. […] of you know I am the CIO of a company that went into and out of chapter 11 restructuring in 53 days, completing with the […]

Leave a Reply