Working organizations

Lorcan 1 min read

Via @psychemedia I saw this advert for a CIO at the Open University in the UK. I thought it was interesting for a couple of reasons. The first was the language which seemed more ‘upbeat’ than you normally see in academic institutions (but maybe I am just out of touch ;-). For example:

First-class communication skills must accompany a global mindset leveraging strategic skills but accompanying them with a real propensity to action. The obvious challenge of this role, in this organisation, will ignite your enthusiasms. [Job details – Chief Information Officer]

The second was the emphasis on being able to succeed in complex organizational settings, and the influencing skills required. As you would expect the job requests a focus on results, customer focus and a sense of strategic direction. But it was interesting to see how some of the organizational issues were discussed …

This individual must be able to empathise with the differing demands of leadership where both commercial and social missions need to be clearly understood. They must possess a strong executive presence and be capable of engaging with, and,
where appropriate, pushing back on business unit leaders in a way that is constructive and positive. They should not use the language of technology with their peers, but focus more on the implications for the University. They should naturally simplify the complex when they explain initiatives and projects.

And then the explicit mention of organizational boundaries:

Being prepared to break down existing organisational boundaries through collaboration and cross staffing by building strong relationships based on trust with peers. [Candidate brief – PDF]

I should note that I don’t have any understanding of the internal specifics here.
A couple of obvious things. Getting things done in larger organizations – where an agreed direction may depend on buy-in from multiple stakeholders – is certainly very different than it is in smaller ones where decision-making ability may be more concentrated. At the same time, it seems to me that an ability to actually get things done, and to make organizations better able to get things done, are things that have come up more in the occasional discussions I have with recruiters.

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