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CIO Eric Denna: Guest speaker was meant to stir debate

Joel Dehlin's take should make you examine your ideas

The Messier 51 galaxy, roughly 75,000 light years in diameter, is three one-millionths of the sky area imaged by the SDSS. Photo by Sloan Digital Sky SurveyThose who attended last month’s All-Hands Meeting or later watched the video online no doubt noticed a very different approach than in the past. Judging by your post-meeting survey responses, it was a welcome change of pace, and UIT will continue to look for ways to improve and evolve that event. I hope to bring in additional All-Hands Meeting speakers who will offer their perspectives to help us better inform ours.

I noticed that some of your survey comments showed a bit of confusion and concern about guest speaker Joel Dehlin’s approach to IT and whether it’s something the University plans to move toward.

Joel has been a friend for over 10 years, and I have tremendous respect for his views. He has a great mind for technology, and his experience proves it. His presentation was dynamic and thought provoking, and I had hoped it would stir up discussion inside UIT.

If something Joel said resonated with you as an idea that would make UIT stronger, talk about it with your co-workers and managers. Likewise, if something he said stretched your thinking and sparked your own new ideas, talk about them. We owe it to ourselves and those we serve to seek the best ideas and incorporate them into our work when it makes sense. We can’t develop the best ideas by only listening to those whose opinions match ours.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says if you want to be “right” most of the time, you have to be willing to change your mind a lot.

This approach to the quarterly All-Hands Meeting is a shift for us. We have made it a priority to provide organizational updates and other routine information bits, available at your convenience, through Node 4 articles and podcasts [BROKEN LINK], the IT Governance website and the UIT website. I strongly encourage everyone in UIT, no matter what your role, to set aside time often to read and listen to the information we’re making available to you. Doing that allows us to focus the All-Hands Meetings more on professional development and organizational improvement, one of our key themes in UIT.

I expect we will hear more outside perspectives that challenge our way of thinking and prompt us to always examine whether University Information Technology is doing its very best to serve the University of Utah. I hope you will join me in that process. 

Last Updated: 4/13/21