Death to Governance... Embrace the Chaos


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Web governance… it’s 2013 and we’re still throwing that term around like it will solve all our problems with the web and how to develop content and manage resources and lead people. But it hasn’t and it won’t.

So the question then becomes, how do we make sense of the chaos that’s inherent in the practice of making the web? Better yet, how do we prepare for the further chaos that fragmented systems and silos, shrinking budgets, and growing requirements – both governmental and organizational – throw in our way?

Tonya Oaks Smith and Ron Bronson argue that – by embracing the basic principles of chaos theory we can improve our approach to the web and the communication and information we get from it. We’ll start by learning about what chaos is and how that idea relates to our concept of governance. Next, we’ll focus on how to embrace the disruption caused by our changing higher ed world.

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Death to Governance... Embrace the Chaos

  1. 1. Death to Governanc e Tonya Oaks Smith James Montgomery Flagg, via Wikimedia Commons Death to Governance… Embrace the Chaos #hewebPITT Ron Bronson and Tonya Oaks Smith Open
  2. 2. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Ron + Tonya = Ronya ! ! #hewebPITT Here’s the story… it’s a story of two folks working solo in the higher ed web world. They were all alone until one day they met, and
  3. 3. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith ! HIGHEREDSOLO ! #hewebPITT Higher Ed Solo was born.
  4. 4. But Ronya still longed to be part of a team. Even though they were committed to the solo work life, they wanted more. So they got jobs leading teams.
  5. 5. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Then one day, Ron and Tonya found that team life was not all it was supposed to be… ! #hewebPITT
  6. 6. Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith All was not well… #hewebPITT What happened? Was the shine of team life so easily diminished? Yes, and no. Team life is certainly a different thing, but it’s not all that different from working as a solo with help from vendors and other areas of the university.
  7. 7. What we expected to be a beautifully constructed puzzle, with order and perfect placement and lovely zen - yes, completed with plenty of ready governance that makes the wheels move without squeaking
  8. 8. turned out to be a complete jumbled mess. The puzzle before it’s assembled. Chaotic and apparently without form and coherence. But chaos isn’t always bad, right? And that’s what we’re going to focus on today.
  9. 9. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith What’s up today? ! Getting to know the humans Governance Chaos Theory in practice What’s that mean for us? ! #hewebPITT
  10. 10. ! @marleysmom by @radiofreegeorgy Who are we? #hewebPITT @marleysmom @hendersonstateu @highedweb @youthhomeinc ! #shoes #positivity #behuman
  11. 11. ! @marleysmom by @radiofreegeorgy Who are we? #hewebPITT @ronbronson @KCTCS @aggregateconf @tennispolo
  12. 12. Who are you? Who are you? Technical or marketing/communication? Both? Main campus or specialty school? Community colleges or special schools? ! How do you feel about governance or chaos?
  13. 13. Governance
  14. 14. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Web governance defines decision-making processes for the web, and sets policies and standards for web content, design, and technology — in a way that respects subject-matter expertise. - A List Apart#hewebPITT
  15. 15. Governance
  16. 16. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith Models of web governance • advisory • cooperative • management team • policy #hewebPITT
  17. 17. A buffet of content
  18. 18. Chaos Ron has talked a bit about governance, but I’m going to focus on chaos. As you might know, Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics that focuses on the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. As a theory, it’s applicable to sociology, or our behavior in social systems like the workplace. Literally, chaos is not complete disorder, but it is an intricate brand of order.
  19. 19. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. - Chuck Palahniuk #hewebPITT It’s this intricate order that - when posed with apparently random behavior, like ten thousand projects being thrown at us at one time or team members who cannot understand project plans- we try to tame. At least on my part I try to tame it. The order should be there, right? I’m working with a team. How did they work before if not with a plan, with a process? ! Maybe the answer is that they didn’t. OR maybe the answer is that as an outsider to their system right now, I cannot perceive the order.
  20. 20. There’s Life Beyond the Four-Year University Shari Erwin,Aaron Rester, and Tonya Oaks Smith In chaos, there is fertility. - Anaïs Nin #hewebPITT Literally, chaos has rules that govern it. Ironic, right? ! A chaotic system has three simple defining features: They have some determining equation ruling their behavior. They are sensitive to initial conditions. Even a very slight change in the starting point can lead to significant different outcomes. They are not random, nor disorderly. Truly random systems are not chaotic. ! Now, we’re going to talk about a few of the basic tenets of chaotic systems and how we can develop that seeming disorder for the best use of our teams and the things we’re supposed to produce…
  21. 21. Please give me butterflies So, the first tenet involved in chaos theory is the butterfly effect. That’s the premise that the slightest change in an initial point can drastically change the system, how it functions and its results. ! So think about the way projects turn out in your area. Do they aggravatingly turn out the same way every time - behind schedule or not meeting desired metrics? How do they begin? ! I’ve been there, believe me. One way I’ve found, with my team, to solve some of the issues is to incorporate a project plan into the scheme of things. Project planning is something my team was not familiar with - in particular the idea that things can be done in a strategic manner. The idea is still pretty foreign, but we’re working through that. It’s made an amazing difference for them - knowing what’s expected and where we’re trying to go.
  22. 22. Unpredictability VYU25dmXBV8/s1600/UNPREDICTABLE1.jpg #hewebPITT
  23. 23. Order
  24. 24. Mix it up #hewebPITT The concept of mixing is a more complex one to apply to the concept of working in a team, but it still applies. Mixing means that two adjacent points in a complex system will eventually end up in very different positions after some time has elapsed. That doesn’t mean we can predict where they’ll be, but it means we have to prepare for where they may end up. ! I find this concept applies to how people will work together on teams. Sometimes, you find that folks will seem to work well together until the rubber hits the road. Then, out of nowhere, one will take issue with what another does. Wow - that’s a hard thing to deal with as a leader, but it doesn’t take a genius to see this happen once or twice and determine that this is a predictor of future behavior - there’s your pattern, right? ! So, to avoid this, we take into account the butterfly effect from the beginning. We see what small changes can make a difference in our way of working. That can mean that we pair different people together, or we can force the two warring factions to depend on one another’s differing expertise in order to complete a task. Either way, we can ensure that our team members can complete a project without killing one another in the process - and causing real chaos.
  25. 25. Feedback AP file photo#hewebPITT
  26. 26. Stuck on repeat The final concept integral to chaos theory is the idea of a fractal - a pattern that looks the same from close and far and that repeats itself endlessly.
  27. 27. Wrapping it up #hewebPITT So,  to  wrap  it  up...
  28. 28. Get with us... Ron Bronson XXX @ronbronson ! Tonya Oaks Smith @marleysmom ! ! ! !