You’re new, let’s (not) change everything

I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being a “change agent” if you will. People call me when they want things changed institutionally and I’m very good at helping move the barriers, breaking down the internal silos and connecting the dots to push organizational change when it comes to the web on campus.

Despite this, I’m always very reluctant to walk in the door with a slew of ideas with an agenda to change things. Not because I don’t come up with them, but rather, because there might be very established reasons for doing things how we’ve “always done them.”

When I walk in the door, I’m first concerned with assessing the landscape. It’s really important to get a strong handle on how things work. From workflow to establishing relationships, I’m adamant about being a visible presence rather than just the web guy in an office someplace that isn’t seen or heard from except when there’s a problem. This makes it easier to get buy-in when you want to do things that might veer off a beaten path, because people recognize and trust you more than they otherwise would.

The real key to any changes is that they can’t be about you. So often, changes are made to accommodate the person steering the ship at that time. I’ve encountered countless scenarios as a staffer and a consulting strategist where a redesign or a project went in a particular direction solely because the person responsible for managing it had skills in a certain programming language or were just more comfortable using something that might not have been the best solution for the school.

Change is usually good, but not for the sake of change itself. There has to be a plan, the big picture has to be part of the equation and I believe pretty strongly in advocating for policies that reflect that philosophy.