A River Runs Through IT
A Geology Lesson in IT Transformation
“Why settle for a modest goal when you can set your sights on something big?”
As someone who doesn’t consider herself a “technologist,” my mother-in-law will be quite surprised to see her name referenced in this technology leadership publication. Margaret Barnes will soon retire from being an elementary school teacher for 25 years. She’s been a gifted educator who has never stopped learning. She’s goal-oriented, takes in what people say and experience, surrounds herself with the right people, and always chooses to make an impact on those around her. Considering she’s a teacher, from time to time she’s been known to pass along some perspective and/or knowledge nuggets for me to ponder, like in a recent geology lesson on the Mississippi River:
“The mighty Mississippi begins modestly in northern Minnesota, feeding Lake Itasca as a narrow ankle-deep stream before it flows to its final destination 2,352 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, its beauty and size intensifies as it takes in 15 major tributaries and approximately 235 minor tributaries. Its impact is profound, as its journey to its final destination touches 10 states – providing home to 405 species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles – and extends its reach via discharge rates of 200 to 700 cubic feet per second to the Gulf of Mexico and its numerous distributaries.”
The net result is a direct geological impact to 31 states and an economic impact of more than $7 billion annually, supporting more than 50,000 jobs.
What began as something so ordinary became something extraordinary.
Like a river, your career and IT organization have their humble beginnings. You start out with more limited values and take your final shape based on the path you choose, what you surround yourself with, and whom you “let in.” Your legacy ultimately becomes defined not just by your intakes, but rather by where you go and whom you choose to influence and impact along the way.
Imagine yourself in a board meeting three years from now and envision the transformation your IT organization will have made. This brings to mind three important professional questions to ask yourself today:
What’s your final destination for your IT organization?
We all know where we began, but where are we going? Are you striving for a big splash in the Gulf of Mexico or for an unassuming end point at a community lake? Always set your sights on your destination.
Why settle for a modest goal when you can set your sights on something big? This is about more than transforming your IT organization … this is about transforming your organization through IT.
Who are your influences in your journey?
Do you have the right quantity and quality of tributaries that will accelerate and broaden your path, or do you restrict your influence? Opening your personal gates to the right resources is essential in enrichment and individual growth. This column is reserved for perspective on alignment to true IT partners versus IT vendors. In many ways, “vendors” act as minor tributaries providing modest impact to your journey. “Partners” act as major tributaries, helping you transform, and enabling you to maximize your impact while accelerating and ensuring your path to your ultimate destination. Always embrace those who provide the value stream and attributes you need to shape your legacy.
Whom are you impacting?
While the Mississippi could never reach the Gulf of Mexico without the mix of tributaries it has, it also couldn’t transform and extend itself for a broader impact along the way. In your journey, if you’ve transformed yourself along the way, it presents more opportunities of influence that you can have on a broader audience. It defines your legacy.
Thanks to Mrs. Barnes for this important geology and IT leadership lesson.