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Radical Acts of Self-Care

Acts of self-care are radical acts. We hear the term tossed around so much that self-care may very well be the most popular buzz-word of today's world. Despite that ubiquity, we may all have different definitions in mind. To me, self-care is one of the greatest forms of Mindfulness. Listening to ourselves, striving to be as honest as possible, and making time for ourselves are all essential elements of effective self-care. The world we live in, despite the popularity of the phrase, is one filled with challenges that undermine and conflict with self-care.

We are plagued by "notification fatigue" to the point that one of the first steps of making time for ourselves is often silencing all of our devices. We are often expected or expect ourselves to work long hours, skip meals, operate on fewer hours of sleep than is probably healthy, and over-caffeinate ourselves just to make it through the day. We use a slew of over-the-counter remedies to mask the symptoms of the common c…
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Finding Collaboration through Best Practices

Today I want to talk a bit about what I'll call, for these purposes, standards and best practices. What constitutes a best practice sometimes can be handled with a degree of subjectivity, depending on the environment. Best practices often include the "tips and tricks" of seasoned employees as well as the more public-facing recommended best use of supported services. What we call standards or policies are generally able to achieve a bit more objectivity through the codification and agreements from which documentation and training practices would presumably be informed.

I've been thinking a lot about these issues following a couple of months filled with hiring, training, and motivating employees before and carrying into our start of the school year. As we prepare to move forward with promoting a team member to a more management-level position, I'm using the time available as things gradually start to slow down to make sure our "house is in order," so to s…

Transcending Dichotomy and Championing Diversity

Dichotomies are employed a lot in my writing and planning efforts as a frame of reference or lens to analyze what I see going on around me. This is particularly true, of course, in the presence of forces or structures that contradict or otherwise differ greatly from one another. Even so, our understandings must go above and beyond dichotomies. So much more to observe and focus our energies also exist.

So, the middle ground between the poles in a dichotomy is where we often have the most complete understanding. As such, our preference should be diversity of opinion. To achieve that, we need to venture outside of the echo chambers that live on each side of any dichotomy. With that said, diversity shouldn’t stop there if we really want to transcend all the dichotomies in our lives.

Relatedly, one of my main priorities (if not my primary priority) is inclusivity. It's hard to really be inclusive if you're always focused on "us vs. them" instead of "both/and." I…

Balancing Collaboration & Autonomy with Effective Management Practices

Here's another dichotomy to ponder: collaborative & project-driven structures that encourage innovation versus authoritative & hierarchical structures that ensure we're reliably offering the services we've agreed to provide in the manner and time-frame we've agreed to do so with the populations we support.

If you've ever heard of the Enneagram test, my personality type is #9 (Peacemaker/Mediator), which makes a lot of sense if you know me. One of those reasons is because I'm always trying to avoid conflict & mediate when possible instead. The political theory of my former life as an academic also centered on the thought of Michel Foucault, particularly with regards to his teachings on Power-knowledge. So, it's not a big surprise that I'm not especially opposed to diffusing power-structures and power-dynamics through conflict resolution and decentralization.

With that being said, I'm starting to realize that the collaborative and non-hier…

Hammers & Silos

Let me start off by painting a pair of vignettes paradoxically in juxtaposition: In one, I’m standing behind an interior wall with a sledgehammer raised above my head ready to cause the barrier that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember to come crashing down all around us; in the other, I’m kneeling behind another interior wall, building it up slowly brick by brick. In both, I’m gleeful. This is my life right now.

I’m in this weird position because I’ve been taking steps inward in my personal life while spearheading a project that I call “digital desiloing” at work. Our Service Desk is comprised of two main teams who together do the work of many unified teams at other service desks. The silos inhabited by these teams have been around so long that I’m not sure anyone remembers why they got built up in the first place.

What I know for sure is that everyone who I collaborate with to manage the work accomplished by those teams is ready to desilo. As the recently transplanted ou…

Dichotomies: Agile vs. Siloed & Self-care vs. Self-motivation

I haven’t blogged much here lately, but a lot’s been changing in my life, both professionally & personally. I’ve just shifted roles back into the management of service desk leadership & gradually starting to channel my strategic planning energies toward that capacity. In short, I’ve been gradually losing altitude in terms of the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ in which I was resting during my last post while gaining an opportunity to utilize more of my full potential. Of course, I’m delighted in my new role, but it’s taking time & effort to shift my perspective as needed. In the meantime, I’ve been learning a lot about the culture of the team I supervise & the ways in which my talents & perspectives may fit.
As I’m settling into this new role, I’m thinking a lot about dichotomies that I keep seeing pop up in the workplace. I normally focus more on ambiguity & middle ground than I do on dichotomy, but the juxtaposition is proving to be a helpful lens to characterize what I’m…

The Bird's Eye View

What follows builds on what I discussed in my latest post, but the current dialogue will extend to a broader topic. It's not so much the second part in a two-part series, but the other part of the conversation that needs to be addressed not just in professional IT, but also in life.
Last week, I talked about seeing the forest instead of only the trees to highlight shifting our focus toward the more long-term strategic view rather than the immediate and responsive view of what's before us in which too many of us spend our lives entrenched. With the bird's eye view, we don't just notice the forest along with the trees, we notice everything.

In that sense, what we're discussing here is a kind of omnipotence most us can never expect to experience in totality solely by ourselves. The bird's eye view refers to a kind of strategic master plan most often woven together by the collaborative analysis and planning efforts of people who have allowed themselves to notice an…

Looking Beyond the Trees

A very dear friend of mine is fond of referring to a saying that has many iterations, but goes something like this: ”You’d notice the forest if you weren’t so busy looking at the trees.” I think this friend first provided this advice to me while I was conducting graduate research when the primary intention was encouraging me to take a step back and consider the "big picture" of what was occurring. 
Too often, whether in academia or in a professional setting, we all may at least occasionally feel a tendency to focus on the specific details that are most immediately soliciting our attention rather than the systemic causes and the greater circumstances in which those details exist. This has real implications for technical support and managing IT departments.

An unavoidable necessity of providing IT support is responding to the technical issues that arise on a recurring basis. These issues may require extensive troubleshooting or may be simple cases of directing people toward the…