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3 min read

Social CIO Series: Bruce Maas, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Innovative university CIO uses social to communicate transparency as a core value.

Name: Bruce Maas
Title: Vice Provost for IT and Chief Information Officer
Organization: University of Wisconsin-Madison

1. Tell us a bit about your organization and what it is trying to accomplish.

The University of Wisconsin is a comprehensive public research university that dates to 1848. With external research funding over 1 billion dollars, it has been in the top five funded research universities for many years. It is the flagship institution of the State of Wisconsin and enrolls over 40,000 students each year, with approximately 75% in state and 25% out of state, including international students. Located in the state capital of Madison, WI, UW-Madison is a land grant institution located on approximately 1000 acres, on the shores of Lake Mendota.

2. Tell us a bit about you and how you view your role as CIO.

I have been in the University of Wisconsin System for 35 years, including the last two as Vice Provost for IT and CIO at UW-Madison. More information about me is available at http://www.educause.edu/members/bruce-maas

3. What were the key reasons you started to drive social into your organization?

I just celebrated 5 years as a member of the Twitter community. I feel that Twitter in particular is a great way to communicate both inside my organization and outside for issues that matter to me. Given my long experience with it, I realize that it is a viable channel for sending/receiving information and have actively encouraged my colleagues to explore how it can be better utilized in support of our mission.

4. How did the arrival of social interplay with your organization's culture?

At first, it was only utilized by those who enjoy exploring new technologies. Once more people starting using it, they discovered that it had real business value.

“I would say that in higher education, there is more of a bi-modal distribution of those who believe it is useful, and those who have not experimented. The balance has steadily shifted to higher numbers of those who believe it is useful.”

5. How did you mitigate the change management aspects of introducing social?

I modeled behaviour, and allowed it to be used in an organic way. In a few cases, the use was not appropriate in my view and that gave me an opportunity to engage staff in a broader discussion about roles and responsibilities. This was useful to our staff in understanding that the freedom of expression has personal implications. My approach has been to assume the best, coach when needed, and only control when coaching has not been successful.

6. What do you see as your biggest social "win" so far, inside your organization?

Communicating the value of transparency as a core value, while realizing we are all under the microscope and have responsibilities and accountability to each other.

7. What is your advice to traditional CIO's that are leery of "going social"?

Decide what your goal is before beginning. Immerse yourself in the social media culture, and get a feel for it. This will allow you to decide if you see value for yourself, or individuals in your organization.

8. What question did you want to answer that we failed to ask?

Use of social media is a personal choice, and those who do not use it should not be judged negatively.

“I encourage CIO’s to talk with your staff about their use of social media as it relates to their jobs, so you can understand better what the potential value and risks may be.”

Talk to CIO’s who are social, and find out the do’s and don’ts. Likewise, those who utilize social media should also not be judged negatively. The reality is that each of us acts in ways that make sense to us, and that a range of activities is normal. Seek to learn about responsible use of this communication channel.

About Jostle's Social CIO Series

At Jostle we recognize the importance of leadership in making social collaboration work inside of organizations. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we sought out some of the top social CIO’s in North America to participate in a Jostle Blog series that focuses on the challenges and successes of applying social tools. We are happy to share these success stories with you and we hope it inspires the social champion in all of you. If you know a Social CIO you feel should be included in this series, please contact us at CIO@jostle.me. There is no requirement that they be using the Jostle People Engagement® platform.

About the University of Wisconsin-Madison

In achievement and prestige, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has long been recognized as one of America's great universities. A public, land-grant institution, UW–Madison offers a complete spectrum of liberal arts studies, professional programs and student activities. Spanning 936 acres along the southern shore of Lake Mendota, the campus is located in the city of Madison.


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