Twelve Habits of Successful IT Professionals

Link to: EDUCAUSE REVIEW | January/February 2006, Volume 41, Number 1

Educause President Brian Hawkins has an article in the latest Review in which he outlines 12 skills that he sees as essential to becoming successful and effective IT professionals in higher education. In the introduction, he makes the key point that there are two processes at work here: having the skill and then building the habits of integrating the use of that skill into daily practice. Imagining the integration piece is the hard when you look at some of the habits he highlights.

They Avoid the Unconscious Conspiracy… of drowning in the tidal waves of minutia, mundane details, and dailiness associated with their jobs, which take all of their time and energy…

Many of his suggestions have more applicability to CIO’s than the mere mortals in the IT world:

  • They Are Cautious When Speaking Publicly
  • They Cultivate Their Advisory Committees

Others seem have more universal applicability:

  • They Don’t Whine
  • They Redefine Themselves

I’ve collected lots of lists like this over the years, and they make intesting reading and engaging conference presentations. They all suffer from one problem, however, that is central to “professional development” in IT and every other field. How does the average IT staff member actually put these prescriptions into practice? How do we create–dare I say it–learning environments where busy staff understand the importance of continuing to learn and their organizations routinely allow the space required to learn the new skills and the support to make it habitual to use them. That space is hard to come by in organizations beset with security problems, never-ending demands of administrative systems users and lack of a clear vision for the importance of technology to the core mission of our institution.

2 thoughts on “Twelve Habits of Successful IT Professionals”

  1. I think it’s interesting to note that these twelve skills are required for success in many other fields. In fact, I think all 12 habits described in Brian’s article are important for nearly all leadership positions.

    Re how the “average IT staff member actually put these prescriptions into practice” – in my opinion, each individual needs to make this happen. That said, some CIOs make this more likely for their teams and having a colleague or mentor who models this is useful. (Gene, you’ve been that model for IT at W&M). To summarize, it’s just one of those things no one can do for you. What you spend time doing is what you value. If you value a culture of continuous learning, you have to search for the organization that is most amenable to that goal.

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