DAILY INSIGHT: Sweat the small stuff

By Steve Young, CIO Advisor

Photo by See-Ming Lee

I read a very interesting blog post on LinkedIn by Jon Steinberg. In his post, he acknowledges that while there is value and a time and place for long-term strategic thinking, the real work gets done when we focus on the details at hand. As he states, “The real work gets done day in day out operating a little bit better.”

In K-12 technology, many districts devote a lot of time to creating a technology plan, often driven by the necessity of having one for receiving priority two eRate funds. These plans can add a lot of value to our organizations, but at the end of the day they can be meaningless if we cannot get our day-to-day activities right. Better yet, we should always be focused on ways to improve what we do, and how our organizations operate. If we can’t master the details of the here and now, how are we going to achieve the long-term goals in our technology plans?

Too often, I see colleagues, business partners, and other schools miss little details or, worse yet, not even worry about the details. Not worrying about the details can make you and your organization look inept and—worse yet—can cause projects to miserably fail. All of this cascades and eventually destroys credibility and ability to execute goals and plans.

In our IT world, with tens of systems being more interdependent each day and thousands of staff, students, and parents relying on us, the details are becoming more important than they ever have been. Missing a step, forgetting a small piece or data, or misunderstanding system inter-dependencies can all lead to huge problems, and slow down projects, kill systems, and ultimately put a bad light on IT.

So there may be good reason why we wake up at 3am sweating the small stuff; that small remembered detail can mean the difference between success and failure.

Steve Young is CTO of Judson ISD in Texas and founder of the San Antonio Area Technology Directors group. He blogs at CTO Technotes, where this is cross posted. Follow him on Twitter as @atemyshorts.