Get Ready California: Teri Takai is Coming to Town

  On January 1, 2008, Teri Takai will become California’s new Chief Information Officer (CIO). Fasten your seat belts and get ready.

 There have been plenty of articles announcing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new appointment: First, Government Technology reported  the Governor’s remarks:

 “Two years ago, I introduced my Strategic Growth Plan to rebuild and improve California's crumbling infrastructure," said Schwarzenegger, "but our state's infrastructure isn't limited to the physical roads, bridges and levees that need repair. We also have to expand and improve California's technology to meet our future needs. Teri is the perfect person to do that. She has over 30 years of experience in this field and possesses the vision necessary to make our great state a leader in the effective use of information technology.”

 Governing Magazine noted a few of Teri’s many accomplishments:

“IT in Michigan made solid gains during Takai's tenure. Nineteen agencies were consolidated into one, and the relationship between the IT department and other agencies strengthened.”

 Back in 2005, Governing also named Teri as the Public Official of the Year.

 Converge Online added this:

“Takai has led the state to being ranked number one four years in a row in digital government by the Center for Digital Government."

 Even Reuters ran this story around the world: Gov. Schwarzenegger Appoints California's First State CIO; AeA Celebrates Involvement...  

 As Michigan’s CISO, I was on Teri’s executive team and reported directly to her throughout her time in Michigan government. I quickly learned that I was working with perhaps the best CIO in government anywhere.

 So here are ten perspectives and recommendations for my California state government colleagues and the contractors who will be working for/with her. I hope these shed some more light on what to expect in 2008 and beyond.

 First and foremost, we will miss Teri in Michigan. She did an outstanding (even incredible) job, and Michigan’s pain is California’s gain. Fortunately, we can still work with Teri in her continuing roles with the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO).

 Second, I’ve never met anyone in my life that works as hard as Teri. Not a one. She tirelessly devotes her time to ensuring success. She is beyond a go-getter.

 Third, Teri is very smart. If she doesn’t believe what you are telling her, she will question your data, assumptions, sources, and just about everything else. Prepare well, and get your facts straight before the meeting. Also, make sure you have a written agenda. 

 Fourth, Teri is very kind, and she cares deeply about her staff and their personal lives. She will absolutely go the extra mile to help those on her team to be successful and make a difference in their career and in life as a whole. One example of this – she totally surprised me by showing up in Dallas when I received a security award from ISE.

 Fifth, Teri has high expectations. She will push you. She will challenge the status quo. She’s not afraid of speaking her mind.

 Sixth, Teri is persistent and resilient. If something doesn’t work, she quickly adapts. She learns very quickly, so don’t plan to fool her (at least not for long).  

 Seventh, Teri is a winner. She will be successful. California State Government is in for a shake-up that will make them better. You will improve. Anyone who doubts that you will be doing more with less underestimates Teri. Get on the bandwagon – quick.

 Eight, Teri rewards success. She likes to build a team that works well together – even without her in the room. If you are not a team player, she will try to convert you into becoming a team player. She listens when you bring her good ideas.

 Ninth, If Teri trusts and respects you, she will let you manage and get you the tools to get things done. If not, Teri’s not afraid to discipline non- performers.

 Tenth, Teri is a great boss. She understands individual and group dynamics, and she cares about the little people in the organization and not just the executives. She will shake everyone’s hand in the room, and she will jump down lines of management to get the “front line” perspective (by walking around).

Finally, some are saying, “California is different.” Teri may have changed Michigan, but California is decentralized, or too big, or … (whatever). 

I disagree. Teri is like a great college football coach who will succeed because she implements best practices in pragmatic ways. She’s disciplined and knows what plays to call in different situations. She motivates excellence in others.

Don't worry about Michigan government IT. We're still on a winning path, and Ken Theis is another great leader.  He is the right person to keep things going strong, and will make an excellent new CIO. 

But Governor Schwarzenegger, you made a great choice. You’re getting a fantastic new leader.

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