Thursday, 23 December 2010

Why I launched the MIL

Obviously its been quiet here - launching and running an executive masters keeps one busy! It's been a great experience getting the Master of Information Leadership off the ground.

I've had some leave now and so feel able to write - its no longer painful to get out of bed and I've got my brain back in gear...:-)

I'm about to blog on the MIL over the Christmas and the New Year period. I'll be looking back and reflecting on how I have worked with others to deliver the MIL and the philosophy behind what I've been trying to achieve in developing our future information leaders - heavily influenced of course be colleagues within City and the wider information leadership community.

I'll also be having some comments (minor rants?) over more general IT skills and HE issues: e.g. Ofqual, student funding. So remember the blog disclaimer!..:-)

But first, it may be worth why I started the Centre for Information Leadership and the MIL with my colleague David Chan and others at City University London.

The germ of the idea stemmed from my involvement in the 2006 Developing the Future report. I was into my first half of MBA in Higher Education Management and increasingly feeling that there was something deeply misaligned between what higher education was doing and the direction of the II industry

A large part of the problem was that many computing academics were blissfully unaware of what a CIO is: our world (for a variety of reasons, some valid others bad) has become increasing disjoint with that in professional practice and has withdrawn from itself.  Sure some business schools were acting in the space, but its more than just business: the technology is important as the means to an end.

As I looked into it further, the underpinning intellectual issues became more manifest. There are debates around legal issues where the CIO community is unclear on how the law should be interpreted, or the forms of legal argument needed to have an informed opinion on making better law. The endless debate on whether the CIO should be business or tech focused was increasingly becoming a non-argument (put simply, if you don't understand why your skills will add value to on organisation on what else you need to learn to do provide better value, you won't get paid much). Our technologies are shaping the social dynamics in society, but the social science concepts and arguments that could allow the CIO community to take the lead in the debate to ensure that these are put to best use are not there.

We need information leaders (CIO, CTOs, or whatever the role) that have a rounded education that prepares then for the role (more on this in later posts). We also need universities to engage with the profession. These are areas where universities excel at when are are at our best.

On the upside, I was heartened to find we had a lot of relevant expertise in City across disciplines as wide as computing, law, information science, business, psychology and sociology that could be brought to bear. We also were geographically well-situated in the heart of Europe's IT capital and with close ties to the City of London.

So I was fortunate to get start-up funding to set up the Centre for Information Leadership and hire David Chan, one of the UK's first board-level CIOs, to help bring together the above and start one of the cornerstones of getting the future information leaders we need: the Master of Information Leadership, the UK's first open executive masters focused on the development of aspiring information leaders.

A year and a half later, course design/approval and first cohort being taught. And this is where we are now...

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