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5 Lessons Cios Can Learn From Star Trek: The Next Generation
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Avid Star Trek fans and casual viewers alike probably agree that the show’s success is thanks to the moral and philosophical narratives that overshadow the fun science fiction, campy action, and special effects of the series.
Recently I began to notice there were many managerial lessons to take away from the crew of the Starship Enterprise. In tough leadership dilemmas I even find myself asking the question- what would Captain Picard do? That is other than ordering up a tea, Earl Grey, hot. I’m more of a coffee drinker.
The following are 5 Tips from the TNG leadership that could improve any CIO or executive management team.
1. Hire a “Chief of Security”, like Worf, and prioritize the security of your network, data, and fixed assets from attack by insiders, competitors, and criminals. In a recent PwC study “The Global State of Information Security Survey 2014” 18% of the companies surveyed felt their greatest obstacle to improving information security was due to a lack of experience and leadership from a CISO / CSO. Take a lesson from Picard and put an experienced security professional in charge of developing and implementing your security strategies. Worf always put security measures ahead of any other goal and you need a dedicated resource to do the same for your firm.
2. He may not be a beloved character but there is a lesson to be learned from the accelerated promotion of young Ensign Wesley Crusher. There is no place in or outside of the workplace for age, racial, gender, or any other type of discrimination. It is important to invest in all available talent through continuing education as well as to promote inside staff whenever possible. Furthermore young energy and fresh perspective can create an exciting and creative approach to problem solving. There are also programs like All Star Code that can help your organization cultivate new technology candidates in communities that are currently under represented in the field. Well before attending the Academy Wesley Crusher proved himself as an unrivaled problem solver and a key member of the Enterprise’s success.
3. Follow the “Prime Directive” and do not abuse or over extend the power of your technological advancement. The culture of an information technology department should be one that champions service, availability, security, and innovation with the goal of supporting the key mission of the organization. Technology should provide for and enable users and never be utilized to inappropriately collect information, or interfere with the organization’s core operations. The best IT departments will provide service to users with a soft hand and a light presence. A CIO should disseminate a mission statement that matters- give your team a cultural identity and code of operation, and then make sure they live it.
4. During difficult times make sure as a leader you take a tour with the “away team”. An effective leader takes the time to report to the trenches in order to obtain a direct understanding of the challenges the team faces. In the most critical situations Captain Picard or First Officer William Ryker would step into action to ensure success. Getting on the front line of issues now and then will command respect from your employees and make sure you are analyzing problems with a real world perspective.
5. Boldly go where no CIO has gone before. Technology is now the foundation for the success of almost every business or institution. In order for a CIO to be successful he or she needs to be a master of the mundane (think email and help desk) as well as the intellect behind innovation (think analysis of big data, transition to outsourcing and cloud services, and development of core business processes). More often than ever CIOs are being considered for CEO positions as organizations look to the CIO to lead the company's overall direction and drive profitability through efficiency and lean processes. In any leadership role it is important to be free to experiment, change the course, and head into the unknown.
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