Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Five Reasons to Have Hope

Over the past decade as a CIO, I've had successes and failures. I've learned about leadership in a crisis , how to resolve disputes, and how to serve my customers/employees/superiors . As I watch the first few days of the Obama administration, I have a great deal of respect for the initial activity, as seen through the lens of my own leadership experience. Here are five reasons I have great optimism for the new administration:

1. Smart People - Obama is surrounding himself with smart people, regardless of party affiliation or ideology. In my experience, A-level leaders surround themselves with A-level staff, since they are not intimidated by people who are smarter or more experienced. However, B-level leaders surround themselves with C-level staff who do not question the ideas and actions of their leader, resulting in sycophants rather than a strong leadership team. Of course, as we learned from Jimmy Carter's presidency (he's been a great post-president), the smartest people are not always the most successful people, but I have great faith in the new team!

2. Listening - As I've described in my blog about leading change , the most important part of Kotter's principles is to build a guiding coalition. By engaging the stakeholders and listening to their priorities for change, Obama has created powerful grass roots momentum.

3. Doing the right thing - A wise person once said "When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made." Should we drill for oil in the Arctic? Should government decide what therapeutic options doctors and their female patients can talk about? Should government decide science policy based on religious beliefs? The answers to these questions should be clear if we objectively ask ourselves what seems like the right thing to do based on the best objective evidence. The Obama administration is doing that.

4. Let the ideas flow - The web "democratizes data". Ideas need to flow freely and as country we need to come to consensus about our priorities based on open and transparent communications. The Obama team, with the able assistance of Blue State Digital and other technology partners, has created and to reduce information silos.

5. Embrace technology - Obama is the first president to have a computer on his desk. Obama will keep his Blackberry. The communication systems in the Whitehouse will be upgraded to Web 2.0 technologies. Working with better technology will result in better,faster decisions and more enlightened management.

Will the Obama administration be perfect? No. Will the change management ahead be easy? No. Will we get to the right decisions faster and regain the respect of the world. Absolutely.

Have hope.


WDavidStephenson said...

Couldn't agree more, John! Think that his methods, esp. listening to large circle, also will avoid JFK Bay of Pigs groupthink problem, where best & brightest only listened to each others. There will be bad days, but this is definitely the team you'd want in hard times! (& thanks for spreading the "democratizing data" meme!)

John Halamka said...

Thanks David. The Advisory Board Company is writing a report about business intelligence and I encouraged them to title the report "Democratizing Data"!

Unknown said...

I bet computer companies would be scrambling to get the president to use their computer.

I can just imagine the "I'm a mac" commercials if news hit that he was an apple fan. I've heard his staffers are big time apple users.

Medical Quack said...

Get the A Team in action, good points. We need business intelligence today more than ever too, something new to many, but it's what creates the decision making processes and supplies the data, no matter what operating system or computer one uses.

Nice write up too in the Wall Street Journal Blog today too referencing this post!

Trini Sario said...

Thank for the 5 hopes sharing. It's advisable...

Stephen Buck said...

I guess I would say let's make sure the best and the brightest inside the WH do not impede the best and brightest outside of the WH. The latter is far more important to all of us than the former.