Summary Thoughts

As I considered electives for my doctoral experience, the Technology and Leadership course both intrigued and intimidated me.  Not knowing specifically what approach would be taken, I assumed I would need to learn many new applications and become relatively proficient (thus, the intimidating aspect).  I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and the opportunity to connect with so many colleagues via the respective blogs – particularly on relevant and complex leadership issues related to technology.  The leadership challenges of technology are significant.  The discussions each week drove this point home and demonstrated that regardless of industry, geography, roles, or experience the maelstrom of technological advances impacts all of us. However, we must consider this technology force in a greater context. There are more, equally powerful forces of change in effect today.  Examples of this include globalization, demographic shifts, and changing economies.  These respective forces permeate every aspect of our lives with both positive and negative consequences, and technology’s imprint is playing out in real time.

I believe leadership paradigms have been changing, albeit slowly, for a few decades and it is technology that has been the catalyst ramping up the pace of change.  The past decade of technological advances are not simply cool new tools to implement within an organization to increase market share or decrease costs. Technology is reshaping everything.  Leaders who are able to see, leverage, guide, and use technological applications are ahead of the curve. Further, I think the role of leadership has become more essential – and more challenging – than it has ever been.  Envisioning a future within a spider-webbing or amorphous context is hard to do.

As individuals, we are compelled to participate in using technology if we want to be socially connected, knowledgeable, or contemporary in our relationship practices. As organizations, technology can empower and enable services, increase productivity, improve efficiency, advance quality, and take over mundane or routine tasks.  The most significant challenge, however, is the nexus between man and machine.  The creation and application of technology happens because humans use their divine talents and gifts to create and the result has been breakthrough innovation and advancement of technologies that can change lives.  It is also clear that we have yet to understand how to use these wondrous creations to eradicate the many inequities across the globe.  Whether it is the argument that the world is flat or it is spiky we do not have to look far to identify that the promise of technology to spread opportunity has not been fully (partially even?) realized.  It may still come.

I am a proponent of technology and am constantly amazed at what has become possible because of it. Whether I like or dislike what is happening may not even be relevant (there is always something positive and negative about everything).  What is relevant is that we are in the midst of reshaping and redefining ourselves, our organizations, our infrastructures, our communities and societies, and ultimately our world.  There is a profound transmutation underway.  The most amazing aspect of it is that we are living through it and shaping it as we go. The pace of change was markedly slower in the past and thus, identifying and evaluating the impact of the change took decades or more.  Today, we are doing this in real time. Moreover, every single person on the planet could participate in this co-creation (that is not to say they do, they want to, or they have the access to, but that it is possible).

As we have progressed throughout this course, I have engaged my leadership team in discussions about our shifting leadership responsibilities. We are heavy into the use of technology in our organization and in our industry and believe we are adept at using technology. However, when shifting the focus to the impact of technology on leadership we find ourselves in some uncomfortable and vulnerable situations. I can say we have only scratched the surface of what this means for our organization and for individuals in leadership roles.  One of my most important roles is coaching and mentoring future leaders.  I have been evolving my thoughts about my approach and my thinking about what is important in this regard.  There is no question the role of technology is fundamental to any leadership role.  That said, I maintain my bias (which, I believe infiltrated my comments each week) that the human side of the coin cannot be lost or forgotten.  In fact, it must be front and center.  In healthcare the word “burnout” is used about as frequently as any conjunction (and, but, and or in case you never saw Conjunction Junction on Saturday mornings!). I doubt many people pursue the use of the term to understand what is meant by being “burned out”.  That said, technology is a factor of this phenomenon as individuals attempt to keep up with the pace of change hitting them on every front.  Another key component of my leadership role is to balance the tension of stability and change and that means managing the facets of technology whether devices, networks, wirearchy, ethics, platforms, or any other.  In a few generations this concern may be less relevant. Today, I would argue it remains central to the role of leadership.

Finally, I enjoyed all of the materials we were exposed to formally and informally in this course. Attempting to capture the nature of technology and leadership in eight short weeks is a daunting task.  The right questions and focus surfaced essential concerns that we, as leaders, need to be deeply aware of and involved in.

 

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10 thoughts on “Summary Thoughts

  1. Raven, I have learned much from your thoughtful posts, and really appreciated the mentoring you exhibited through your posts. We are indeed living the change, and I am therefore heartened that leaders of your caliber are part of the process…advocating for mindful use of technology while keeping people squarely in focus.

    Best of luck as you move forward…academically and as a leader!

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  2. Raven,

    I really like your comment that the most critical future challenge is the nexus, or relationship, between man and technology. A key concern I used to have is that the Net, through extensive use of social media and networking sites, would create a generation of automatons ineffective in communicating face-to-face and unaware of the world around them due to immersion in the Web. This course made me realize that our relationship with technology can actually increase our personal and professional connectivity with work peers and colleagues. Additionally, the availability of nearly limitless data on the Web, if sorted for reliability, can vastly increase our knowledge and intuition. This new outlook will encourage me to seek methods to lead through Martin’s (2015) notion that the leader may empower her subordinates in order to remove the traditional dependence on the seemingly all-knowledgeable leader.

    Chris

    Reference

    Martin, M. (2015, December 4). A deep dive into thinking about 21st century leadership. Retrieved from http://www.michelemartin.com

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    1. What you are articulating, I believe, is the difference between an attitude of abundance and scarcity. It is hard to be a leader – out in front – asking others to trust us when, in fact, we are taking leaps of faith. This is where the moral, ethical, social compass is critical. This may seem an odd reflection – but I grew up in the upper midwest on the prairie in relatively small town. My grandparents were farmers. Today, when I drive across any of the midwest prairie states and see flat land for hundreds of miles I think about the pioneers – the hardships they faced, the trials of breaking new ground (literally and figuratively), the self-reliance that was required, their vulnerability, and their resilience. They could not have imagined where farming is at today with technology. It is important to appreciate where we come from, how we got here, and where we are going. It’s a continuum, not discrete years or decades. We are like modern day pioneers! And, everybody had to chip in and work in those days!

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  3. As we end this course I think most of us have suggested in our blogs that there is an obvious transition from the old to the new and that we are living through it. Your comment about being in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position during this transition period reminds me of the unshaking feeling that we have one foot in each era. Unfortunately, much of the old doesn’t seem to mix with the new often leaving a difficult decision where to turn. Take the British Prime Minister who foolishly thought his government might be able to ban people from social media during the 2011 London riots. That statement seemed like a long-standing response to a new problem and it just didn’t fit. So I admire the fact that you’ve engaged with your staff to discuss leadership in this new context as it means you are at least cognizant of the need to shift your thinking and don’t get caught trying to place a square peg in a round hole.

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    1. In our world today I suspect any of us good make the same misstep as the British Prime Minister. I have found myself on more than one occasion reversing my thinking about a policy or practice. Timing is often a factor – what can the organization handle, what can staff handle, what are the potential implications? Fear is generally behind the actions to limit, close ranks, etc. As I consider the leadership required in some of these situations (global political upheavals) I realize some of the unique qualities required of these leaders and doubt I would fit that bill. But then, I doubt others may fit my environment. The mutually influencing and dynamic factors of technology and leadership are a game changing phenomenon. I think it is less about how adept one is with technology than it is about opening the door and accepting it and learning and adapting as we go. Despite any of the dark side issues, and our nostalgia for the past I have yet to have anyone say to me I wish we never had this technology!

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  4. Raven:

    Thanks for sharing a thoughtful reflection of the past eight weeks. Like you, I am glad I took this course. I needed it more than I knew. I have developed skills that I would otherwise not have. The knowledge I have gained would certainly not have come had it not been for choosing this elective. As such, I am better off both professionally and professionally. Technology touches every aspect of society, economically, politically, environmentally, globally, and socially. Until reading your application of the learning objectives to healthcare, I had no idea of the implications of technology on healthcare leadership and the future of patient care. Other colleagues addressed the implications of technology in education.

    Healthcare and education are two of the most significant quality of life issues of the future. From a social perspective, communities who have access to quality education will have the greatest advantages and benefits of technology, resulting a better education and better job opportunities than those who do not experience the same level of education that infuses technology throughout the educational experience. Additionally, citizens with access to technology will benefit greatest for healthcare advances through the use of technology. Consequently, patients without access to technology or lack training and education in its use will experience continue risk even though technology has advanced to lower certain health risks. Had it not been for this course, I would be oblivious to these facts.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections over the past eight weeks. All the best as we continue our conquest through dissertation and to graduation.

    Kelvin

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    1. Well said, Kelvin. This course has been provocative in the questions and the content we read and researched. While I have learned in every course, this particular course brings up entirely different leadership issues – in fact, if we took a lot of our content in other course and approached them through the lens of technology we could find some very interesting lessons. And new applications regarding how to use technology. This technology actually enabled me to engage in a doctoral program and pursue a personal goal!

      I wish you all the best as well!

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  5. “ Balance the tension between stability and change….” I find this to be the most difficult to do as a leader. Technological advances occur so rapidly that we do not have the time to be current with everything. I think that as leaders we need to be open to another type of leadership style, one that is more team focus that would allow for a more open communication/collaborative leadership makeup. Do we need one leader responsible for everything or can we share in the responsibilities. For example, who in the organization is the recognized leader in terms of innovation/technology use? Who is known for communication skills, etc.
    I also have enjoyed this course immensely. I have enjoyed reading all of your posts!

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