Monthly Archives: October 2007

Doris Kearns Goodwin on Leadership

Doris Kearns Goodwin opened the EDUCAUSE general meeting this morning, recounting her years as an intern in the Johnson White House and talking about Abraham Lincoln. She received a standing ovation at the end of her talk – the first that I have ever seen at EDUCAUSE.

Her talk was full of great stories from her time as an intern along with stories from Abraham Lincoln’s and Johnson’s life. She brings great humor to her subject and the ability to reflect historical facts against current events and current issues.

She recounted her list of leadership qualities that she learned from researching Lincoln:

  1. Listen to disparate opinions. Allow debate but once a decision has been made, move on. Seeking consensus can be disabling.
  2. Learn on the job. Learn from mistakes.
  3. Share credit for success.
  4. Shoulder the blame for your subordinates.
  5. Set deadlines for action.
  6. Lincoln wrote hot letters that he would not send. He would vent his anger but not act on it.
  7. Possessed the strength to adhere to his fundamental goals.
  8. Know how to relax and re-energize yourself.
  9. Managed by walking around. Lincoln visited the troops in the field.

At the end of her talk, I instantly put her new book in my Wish List. I wonder if there was a mini-rush on the book at Amazon.

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Fishing Lessons and I.T. Leadership

Chris Holsman wrote an article on I.T. Leadership traits for our internal newsletter. One part struck me as a lesson that has been hard for me to learn…

A third leadership trait I’ve cultivated is to fish where the fish are, not where they aren’t. This seems obvious but I find it astonishing how many of us (including me) spend much of our time pursuing objectives that don’t align with those of our organization or our customers.

This has a different variation for me as an Architect. For me, it is to fish where the fish are actually catchable. There are lots of projects or “improvements” that I see that are not attainable. The are out of reach for technical reasons (when we first started our SOA initiative many of our apps and the standards weren’t mature enough), for cultural reasons or budgetary reasons.

It has taken me several years to really learn to pick my fishing spots. I have had to learn to walk away from projects where I will have very little input or impact for a lot of effort needed. I have also had to let go of certain ideals because they need the organization to be more “mature” or “strategically aligned” or different in another way.

It is interestingly circular: I need to apply leadership to my own time. I need to figure out how to use my effort in a strategic way. I do this with projects and technologies – figure out how to use them strategically in enterprise. I guess I also had to learn how to do this to myself and my time.

One of my first meetings with Chris when he took the Director of EIS position was to talk about the fact that I had 28 projects on my radar. I knew I could only really work on two or three and track two or three others. He was great about the issue and let me talk myself through it. I guess that was my first fishing lesson from Chris.


I was talking my good friend Richard about this lesson. He also mentioned that you need to work with people you like and respect. When I think about the projects that I enjoy, it is because I also enjoy the people on the team. Those people I enjoy working with are those who are open-minded, creative, energetic, cheerful, collaborative and positive. These aspects also make them more open to creative solutions.

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.edu as an underground?

Lifehacker ( has an article they are running called Discover the .EDU Underground

Little appreciated outside the world of academia, there are literally thousands of .edu sites bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources.

Interesting list of finds about Art, Science, Space, Humanities, Photography, History and everything. Interesting that learning about the web projects in higher education is such a “discovery”. There is a story here about our outreach efforts.

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