“I’m working on my Ph.D. today”

David Heise
Monday, May 22, 2000

At the Roundtable Conference in 1998, the Leadership faculty gave each participant a small marble paperweight on which was inscribed the words, “I’m working on my Ph.D. today”.  I remember thinking that this was really neat, because I knew that participants had to be working in a leadership position to be admitted to the program.  For nearly a year, I took these nice sounding words to be mostly symbolic.  But then I started to wake up to what it really means, and I have been kicking myself ever since that I did not catch the true meaning much earlier.

For a long time now, I have been convinced that data warehousing holds great potential for helping an organization to become more competitive.  One of my goals at Andrews University, where I am Chief Information Officer, is to provide improved decision support via data warehousing, and I have rolled data warehousing right into my IDP.  The objective of improved decision support is to achieve business improvement.  But improvement does not come about from continuing to do things the same old way.  Improvement can only result from making changes, and the changes need to be well informed through good decision support information.  Corporate cultures are typically very resistant to change, and to successfully bring about change through Data Warehousing represents a challenge that will be a good test of leadership.  I have a graphical representation of the relationships between data warehousing, change, and business improvement, connecting it all to leadership.

Data Warehousing to Management Improvement

There are lots of other ways that the work I am doing becomes a part of my Ph.D. in Leadership.  I am using a number of the items in the following list to earn credit towards my coursework requirements.  All of them are written into my IDP and with supporting documentation, will be used to demonstrate achievement of many of my competencies.  My approved IDP is one of the samples on the Leadership web.  Check the entries under Student 4 IDP. 

Here are some of my work duties, responsibilities and projects that I am incorporating into my IDP and my Ph.D.:

Strategic Planning deserves special mention.  There was a time not so long ago when planning was done on a 5-year basis, and a full strategic planning exercise might be done once every 10 years.  The rapid pace of change, largely brought about by major advances in technology, makes such long-term planning exercises pointless.  Information Technology Services (ITS) at Andrews University has adopted an annual planning cycle, where the strategic goals are revisited every year.  The planning cycle includes developing a budget to achieve the plan, as well as reporting and gaining approval for the plan.  An integral part of this process is the support the IT plan gives to the institution plan.  The following diagram captures the essence of the ITS planning cycle.

Planning Cycle