It has been an incredible first month of school, with so much to celebrate in the University of Michigan’s 200th year. President Schlissel highlighted many accomplishments of the university community in his annual Leadership Breakfast this week, as well as challenges we are working to overcome and bold plans for the future.
The university’s new Precision Health research initiative presents new challenges that Michigan is uniquely positioned to tackle with its breadth of expertise and excellence, in order to provide new insight into human health and disease. The state-of-the-art networks, computing analytics platforms, and secure data enclave environments we partner with researchers to deploy are important to making this work possible. From genomics to wearable tracking devices to monitoring environmental factors, IT’s ability to support this work will only become more challenging and critical.
Put simply, we need to be one step ahead, which can be challenging because our researchers are moving so quickly. One of the ways we can do this is through innovative thinking. In last month’s 200th Anniversary Celebration, I had the opportunity to hear Nancy Gioia, a retired Ford Motor executive, speak about the five skills that are critical for innovators:
- Associating – Break out of typical silos and workgroups to interact with people across the organization, throughout U-M, and outside the university.
- Questioning – Ask difficult questions without being afraid—ask why, how, what are the impacts and dependencies, and what is possible.
- Observing – See what is out there. What does our university need from us, and what are the most difficult problems we can help solve?
- Experimenting – Try all sorts of things to determine what works and what doesn’t, as well as what adjustments can we make.
- Discovering – Synthesize our questions, observations, and experiments to produce transformative innovation—sometimes a leap, sometimes a small step forward.
By consciously exposing ourselves to a diversity of thought and new ways of doing things, we can become an even stronger, resilient IT community.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.
Vice President for Information Technology and CIO
University of Michigan