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2. A dynamic change agent with skills in:
(c) Public relations/Communications

2c1 Reflective Notes and Annotated bibliography

Development Plan Portfolio Documentation
Prepare a bibliography of journals, web, and books. Include the annotated bibliography, together with observations on the value and relevance of the readings.  Reflect on what I learned, how it changed me, and how I promoted and communicated what I learned.
  1. Notes
  2. List of References
  3. Bibliography

1. Notes

"The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age" by Sven Birkerts (1994) is one of the books suggested by Leadership faculty for the Dynamic Change-Agent competencies.  As an information technologist, I find it kind of ironic that I include this book in this reflection on public relations and communications.  There can be no doubt that the use of technology has resulted in orders of magnitude improvements in communications over the last century, so why am I referring to a book that seems to be anti-technology?  Firstly, because I disagree with the notion that technology is intrinsically bad for reading, but secondly because I agree that high-tech reading does eliminate the usefulness of hardcopy media.  This is illustrated perfectly by something that happened just this week (April 1, 2003).  I am reading the book "Great Controversy" by Ellen G. White on my iPAQ handheld computer (or PDA - Personal Digital Assistant).  Reading e-books offers many benefits over reading paper books - PDAs are smaller than books, and easier to have with you while waiting for appointments, etc, and are good for making searchable, digital notations and highlighting.  In this sense, technology has simply provided another reading medium.  But this week, my wife asked if I would read her some of what I had been reading.  Well, the reading software easily located sections I had highlighted, but I just longed for a real paper book so I could flick through the pages to locate other sections I had not highlighted.

The advent of radio was seen as the end for newspapers, and similarly, television was thought to spell the end for radio.  But the newer technologies have only added to and enriched communications experiences - they have not replaced the older technologies.  Similarly, the "electronic age" has the potential to supplement and enhance existing reading technologies.  Whether reading is enhanced or diminished is related more to an individual's entertainment and lifestyle choices than to the technologies of the electronic age, as such.

When I first read "Virtual Leadership: Secrets from the Round Table for the Multi-Site Manager" by Jaclyn Kostner's (1996), I found it to be a refreshing view of communicating at a distance, building teamwork and sharing vision.  Kostner builds powerfully on the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable.  While the message is especially relevant in enterprises distributed geographically around the globe, the very same issues of isolation and supposed favoritism can exist between offices in different buildings on the same site, even different floors or different ends of the same building.  The book builds on the notion of trust and openness, creating an environment that facilitates the sharing of ideas.  I like the way Kostner puts this on page 60:

"Camelot's real glory came from the leadership of every one of the knights.  Their ideas and their perspectives enriched Camelot and made it great.  Remember, leadership is something a leader does for the knights.  What the Round Table did for the knights was to give them many opportunities to learn, grow, and demonstrate their leadership.  It gave them many chances to work together and build trust.  As leader, I could not afford to ignore any knight's ideas."

A significant part of the role of a CIO has to do with communication.  In the November 1, 1996 issue of CIO Magazine, there is a special report on the CIO career.  The article "Survival of the Fittest" on page 48, mentions "communication deficit disorder", the "personal demon of many IS executives".  In "Fitness Training" on page 56, one of the "Techniques to promote CIO success and longevity" is to "Communicate effectively at all levels."  The magazine includes a CIO Position Description, and one of the Skills Needed is identified as "Ability to communicate with and understand the needs of non-technical internal clients."

I found these articles to be very helpful when I was first appointed CIO for Andrews University and was trying understand what was required in my new position.  During the time I served as CIO (1998 to 2003), I discovered just how important communication was, both from personal experience and from further reading.  For new ideas need to be disseminated effectively and for positive changes to result, the best of communicating, marketing and promotional skills need to be used.  It is so important to develop relationships with the individuals you need to communicate with, to develop trust and understanding on both sides.  One example of reading that has helped me in my development in the role of CIO was an article by Gary Williams and Robert Miller (2002) in the May, 2000 issue of the Harvard Business Review.  The article is called "Change the Way You Persuade".  It analyzes decision-making styles in administrators and identifies five or six different styles.  The authors summarize the characteristics of each of the different styles, and advise that decision-making styles be taken into account when attempting to persuade someone to your point of view.

With a staff of around 25 in the IT department (ITS - Information Technology Services) at Andrews University, there were plenty of opportunities for putting communication skills to work internally, in addition to outside the department.  There was a lot of questioning and probing to learn about the issues facing IT, both technical and social, and to understand my staff better and their opinions on the issues.  This understanding helped me to know who to encourage and in what direction in order to make the best progress towards our strategic objectives.  Often, the challenge for me was to assure each member of the team, even when individual team members had quite divergent views on what our direction should be, that change and progress was necessary and it was good, and that every individual would continue to have valuable contributions to make.  There were times when I felt like I was the communication conduit between different schools of thought, as proponents of each side would sometimes come to me to help me see their point of view.  I encouraged this, and rather than agree with one and disagree with the other, I think I was able to offer suggestions in group meetings that were based on the best of what was brought to me.

However, while discussions and meetings about information technology were important, a significant part of my time with my staff was spent on non-technical issues.  I learned the value of being a good listener, and trying to understand the interpersonal issues that were sometimes involved, while avoiding the temptation to promise to take swift action to right an obvious wrong.  Someone once said that there are three sides to every story - Party A's side, Party B's side, and the facts. 

This is so true.  I do not believe in the confrontationist approach to resolving conflict.  I think this too easily only creates further polarization and can allow feelings of personal antagonism to get into the mix.  Addressing conflict and confronting it are not the same.  I believe in working very actively looking for common ground, getting the parties together, communicating about shared goals and visions and working from there.  It surprising how often differences can arise where the destination is held in common, there are just different ways of getting there.

I believe we had a phenomenal team of professionals at Andrews, and that because we enjoyed working together as a harmonious team (in the main), we achieved some exciting IT initiatives for Andrews.

2. List of References

Birkerts, Sven. (1994). The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. (EN-0274)
New York: Fawcett Columbine. ISBN: 0-449-91009-1 (paperback) (editorial reviews)

CIO Magazine. (1996, 1 November). CIO Career Articles. (EN-0002)
CIO Magazine, p48, p52, p56. (extracts)

Kostner, Jaclyn. (1996). Virtual Leadership: Secrets from the Round Table for the Multi-Site Manager. (EN-0038)
New York: Warner Books. ISBN: 0-446-67087-1 (editorial reviews)

Kotter, John P. (1998). Winning At Change. (EN-0151)
Retrieved 17-Jun-2004
URL: http://www.pfdf.org/leaderbooks/l2l/fall98/kotter.html (on local server)

Williams, Gary A. and Miller, Robert B. (2002). Change the Way You Persuade. (EN-0456)
Harvard Business Review (May 1), p64 9p.
Retrieved 17-Jun-2004
URL: http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=R0205D

3. Bibliography

Other Recommended Reading

Alm, Brian R. How to Write a Speech that Moves Employees to Take Action. (EN-0787)
Chicago, IL: Ragan Communications, Inc.

Bauer, Ed. Communication Techniques for Today's Manager: Winning Ideas, Methods, and Strategies. (EN-0781)
Chicago, IL: Ragan Communications, Inc.

Ehrlich, Henry. Humor, Quotations, Anecdotes, and Statistics: How to Use Them in Your Next Speech. (EN-0786)
Chicago, IL: Ragan Communications, Inc.

Gladwell, Malcolm. (2000). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can make a Big Difference. (EN-0282)
Boston: Little Brown and Co. ISBN: 0-316-31696-2. (hardback) (editorial reviews)

Maynard, Herman B., Jr. and Mehrtens, Susan E. (1996). The Fourth Wave: Business in the 21st Century. (EN-0288)
San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ISBN: 1-57675-002-7 (paperback) (editorial reviews)

McRae, Hamish. (1994). The World in 2020: Power, Culture , and Prosperity. (EN-0290)
Boston: Harvard Business School Press. ISBN: 0-87584-738-2 (paperback) (editorial reviews)

Ragan Communications (Ed.). Business Writing Techniques for Today's Manager: How to Make Words Work for You. (EN-0790)
Chicago, IL: Ragan Communications, Inc.

Ragan Communications (Ed.). My Number One Power Secret. (EN-0788)
Chicago, IL: Ragan Communications, Inc.

Sanders, Barry. (1994). A is for OX: The Collapse of Literacy and the Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age. (EN-0293)
New York: Random House. ISBN: 0-679-41711-7 (paperback) (editorial reviews)

Senge, P. et al. (1999). The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations. (EN-0295)
New York: Doubleday. (editorial reviews)

Senge, Peter M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. (EN-0294)
New York: Doubleday books. ISBN: 0-385-26095-4 (paperback) (editorial reviews)

Shenk, David. (1997). Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. (EN-0296)
New York: HarperCollins. ISBN: 0-06-018701-8 (editorial reviews)

Toffler, Alvin. (1980). The Third Wave. (EN-0297)
New York: Bantam Books. ISBN: 0-553-24698-4 (paperback)

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Created: Monday, April 1, 2003 05:05 PM 
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 1:37 PM