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.

Technorati Tags: ,