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September 03, 2007

Web 2.0 and the Challenge of Leadership

(Standard disclaimer: The views below are mine, and mine alone, and do not reflect the views of Case Western Reserve University, Educause, or any of the other organizations or agencies mentioned below).

Nearly two years ago, I authored a short thought piece on new models and opportunities for pursuing a new form of leadership style I coined 'open source leadership.' More recently, I penned a challenge in response to the headline-grabbing critique leveled by Walt Mosberg lambasting traditional CIO leadership in universities. This week, a column in Educause Review will be published (vol. 42, no. 5 (September/October 2007): 80
Open-Source IT Leadership for Web 2.0) which further outlines the imperative for changes in University leadership. Given the readership and audience of Educause Review, the message is geared to the higher education technology leadership community. Indeed, a special section of the forthcoming issue (November/December 2007) privileges the voices of more than a dozen CIOs from across the landscape who take on the challenge of the clarion call for new roles and leadership styles on the University campus. It's an excellent collection and range of views that I hope will spark some discussion well beyond the relatively small group of CIOs in the higher education world.

Tapscott and William's best selling book Wikinomics is a must read targeting the impact of web 2.0 technologies on business and the role of leadership in running commercial enterprises (from SMB to large global corporations). More recently, Anthony Williams has begun to share a framework for thinking about Government 2.0. As I have corresponded with former students recently (thanks Adam), the imperative for re-thinking and re-imagining the role of government, public services, and the entire democratic project is timely and much more than 'just' an academic exercise. The challenges and opportunities can not be limited to brain storming on how government can leverage web 2.0 technologies. Inextricably linked to the service line conversation should be (must be?) an exploration on the relationship between the powerful forces of pro-sumer and massive collaboration associated with web 2.0 and the imperative for new leadership and leadership styles. The same set of challenges now confront the University community.

Within the interstices of traditional University organizational behavior, some (limited) new spaces have opened up for innovation, experimentation, and new forms of collaboration that cross some of the traditional silos. Michael Roth from Wesleyan and a dozen other University President's have embraced the blogosphere as a means of opening interactive lines of communication with multiple constituencies of alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff. Provosts and Deans have begun to podcast messages to their constituencies to provoke, engage, and connect in a much less controlled way than the tradition of the university. Strategic planning at universities is always concerned with inclusivity, process, and preserving privilege for university leadership to find voice and to offer direction. Wikis are now beginning to be used as a way of inviting 1000s of voices from across the campus to help build strategic direction as well as assist in the copy editing. Some libraries are encouraging researchers, students, along with library faculty specialists to tag subject matter to help direct ongoing bibliographic searches and help re-invent library sciences. There are many many more examples of these experimental crevices that begin to suggest new ways of delivering and engaging in the process of learning, research, and service. Less evident, thus far, is a theory of leadership that helps to fully articulate the qualities, skills, and experiences that position our leaders for greater degrees of success in the new organizational eco-system.

One of the many leadership learning opportunities here at Case Western Reserve University is the opportunity to work with of our colleagues David Cooperrider designer of the Appreciate Inquiry approach to organizational development and Richard Boyatzis and Emotional Intelligence and leadership competencies. It would be very interesting to ask David and/or Richard (and many others with experience and insight) to reflect directly on the challenges of university leadership in a web 2.0 world.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
September 3, 2007

Posted by lsg8 at September 3, 2007 10:39 AM and tagged

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