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A CIO Who Masters Disasters

Turning Disaster Into Education

Imagine this: you as a CIO have just been informed that a doctor in your company had his new MacBook stolen. The MacBook is loaded with a PowerPoint presentation including data for 3,900 patients. What do you do?

If you’re John Halamka, you issue a press release explaining how you’re using the very serious situation to bring about positive change within the organization. This is not necessarily the standard way that CIOs present catastrophic problems, but that’s not to say that it’s a bad way, either. By making the problem an opportunity, Halamka refocused the situation into a better light.

Reinforce Positive Aspects of Bad Situations

This article by Patrick Thibodeau explains how Halamka’s particular use of refocusing and openness flavors his role as CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. For instance,  after the Boston Marathon Bombing, his hospital received the Tsarnaev brothers, and that made the hospitals IT systems a target for hackers:

The hospital's compliance officials wanted IT engineered in such a way that they had real-time views on everything going on with the records, said Halamka.

Again, Halamka used this crisis as an opportunity to bring reform. A consulting organization was brought in to look at the hospital's security policies, and the hospital embarked on a three-year program to improve security, with the goal of making the hospital a national leader.

The Response is what Matters

So what can we learn from Halamka? To put it simply, bad things happen that are outside the control of IT or of the CIO—but it’s the response to those situations that counts. While it’s easy to only focus on the negative aspects (and even easier to shift the blame to someone/something else), it’s more effective in the long-run to see what can be learned, changed, and gained from a mistake or challenging situation.

To read the full article, click here:

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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