The kickoff day for the long range technology plan had barely gotten off the ground when the teachers on the committee began to pull back into a shell of distrust and cynicism.
“”How can we be thinking about these new technologies when what we have isn’t working properly?”
It was true, the technology support for the existing network had fallen behind and teachers were frustrated with long waits for technical resolutions, un-installed equipment sitting idle, and chronic problems that had not yet been diagnosed. They rebelled. They wanted nothing to do with planning for new technology.
Rather than stop the planning process, I suggested that we deal with these very real issues as part of the plan. We needed to put together a crisis plan that surfaced all of the known issues. After the full accounting of issues was on paper, we could sit with the technical staff and analyze the problems, put them in categories and prioritize them. Finally, we could look to see what additional resources were available to resolve the backlog, and lay out a plan, with a completion date for the backlog to be resolved. We would then be able to manage the crisis on a day by day, or weekly basis.
As part of the planning process, we decided to create a sub-committee to work with the technical team to develop solid policies, processes, and procedures that might reduce the number of technical issues that occurred and the number of issues that failed to be reported, tracked, and resolved.
We also decided that as we planned, we needed to look at new networking paradigms and products, designed to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate, many common technical issues.
When the technical staff is overwhelmed and behind it’s a very human reaction to lobby for more technical people to be added to the staff. While it’s true that sometimes this is the answer, often it is an expensive and unnecessary expense. Adding staff helps us resolve technical issues AFTER they happen. It’s like there are these bodies floating down the river and they are overwhelming us, so we add more people to help to fish the bodies out of the water.
I’m a big advocate of walking upstream to see what is causing all these bodies that are floating down the river. What can we do upstream to reduce the number of bodies? Likewise, I believe it is worth the time and effort to analyze our situations and find out what types of problems we are having. What might we do to proactively reduce the number of issues with which our staffs must deal.
So, instead of the tech plan being put on hold, or ignoring the teachers’ issues, we used it as a vehicle to deal with the real problems that both teachers and technicians were facing every day.
It may be difficult; but we must continue to develop our long range tech plans, maintain our visions of the future, AND take care of the existing, day to day needs of our staffs. We don’t have the luxury of stopping to do one or the other.
“Take care of today while transforming tomorrow.”