• shane@countryexec.com
  • Seguin, Texas
2022 Greatest Hits And What To Expect Next Year

2022 Greatest Hits And What To Expect Next Year

2022 was quite the year. Memorable in many ways, both positive and negative. It has been my most challenging year to date as an executive, forcing me to grow as a person and as a leader. It’s a good thing. Quite honestly I needed it. Looking back I think I was a bit rigid in my ways. Maybe too confident in my decisions when navigating the hurdles of senior management. Totally ok in my book. Nothing scandalous or unmanageable happened. Far from it, just a tough go of things beyond the realm of technology. So here we are. I learned some things, I’m still standing, and I can state with confidence I am a better executive today than I was a year ago. With that in mind let’s chat a little about 2022’s greatest hits and what to expect next year on countryexec.com.

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2022 Successes – Telecom

I was so looking forward to 2022. My organization had decided to fund the last major piece of technology infrastructure that had yet to be touched in my tenure with the city. The telecom infrastructure had not been upgraded in more than a decade and it was time to bring it up to speed with the rest of the amazing technology innovation investments made citywide.

My career began in the Air Force as a 2E6X2, which in Air Force speak is a telecom troop aka a “Wire Dawg.” 26 years later I still love telecom. I was very much looking forward to giving my adopted hometown a telecom facelift.

Unlike most of our previous infrastructure upgrades, telecom was going to be simple. We were only going to refresh the nodes around the city with a newer version. Same manufacturer, same vendor partner. Older desk phones were going to be replaced. That was it. Simple!

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2022 Successes – Telecom Headache

We scheduled a citywide outage for a couple of hours on a Thursday evening in Spring of 2022. We’re the Country IT all stars, compared to our previous efforts this was going to be a walk in the park. It wasn’t!

A two hour migration wound up taking 14 hours. Throw in the previous work day and a few of us wound up putting in 24+ hour days to complete the upgrade. As an IT professional I can tell you this happens sometimes. You can prepare to the best of your ability, and one minor mistake can hold up the entire show.

For us that meant a single IP addressing error. Literally, one numeric character assigned to a telecom node. It took a while but we found it. It made for a rough night, but we came out on top as always. Maybe not as smooth as we are accustomed, but there’s nothing wrong with a little adversity from time to time.

We did wind up saving the city quite a bit of money in perpetuity per this effort. Approximately 10k in reduced costs for telecom circuits annually. As part of the ramp up we audited our telecom billing and found in excess of 20k in savings there as well. All told 30k in savings annually moving forward. I could write a book on how personally frustrating this is for me, but at the end of the day we called it a win and moved on.

2022 Successes – Website

Another project we have been working on behind the scenes for several months is a full on website revamp for seguintexas.gov. I am incredibly excited to show this off to the world. I believe we have something our citizens will be proud of, or at least I hope anyway! We’re set to go live with it the last week of 2022.

The part that I truly love about the new website has nothing to do with the site itself. We’re using grant money to fund the project. It’s been a collaborative effort from day one which has been great. What I really enjoyed about this effort was the vendor conversations early on. Let me explain why.

I’ve known I work in a special environment for quite some time. I’m very confident about that. Relaying the fundamental culture that would eventually lead to the new website design we were emphatic that Seguin, TX is different. Cookie cutter just wouldn’t work for us. We wanted something special.

Come to find out, according to our new website partner CivicPlus this was a bit unusual. I took that to mean most folks had to take the safe route. The path of least resistance to ensure everyone would be happy. Not us jack! Apparently it is rare to have an org with the highest levels of leadership willing to roll the dice. I knew Seguin, TX was special, but hearing this was a nice reminder.

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2022 Successes – National Recognition

Nearly five years in and it still blows my mind my small rural city continues to raise hell through technology. I’m in the middle of it, I instigate much of it, but I still cannot believe the attention we receive. I absolutely love it. The magazine articles, interview requests, and awards have not stopped.

Fact is we receive all this attention because everyone in the organization is on board. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. My boss, the City Manager, continues to support IT. Our Mayor is incredibly wonderful, and our City Council has never said no to any of the technology advancements put before them. As a professional I may be the luckiest tech exec in Texas local government. I believe I am.

Because of that continued support, my group of Country IT all stars keeps hitting homeruns. Not barely over the fence type stuff, like Yordan Alvarez blasting this World Series pitch into outer space type work (Go Astros!!!).

In 2022 Seguin IT won some serious hardware. We were recognized as the only local, state, or government entity to receive the prestigious CSO50 award for cybersecurity. CompTIA, a major name in technology, awarded us 2022 Solutions awards for GIS and cybersecurity.

As if that were not enough, in December 2022 I had the distinct honor to be awarded the LocalSmart IT Leader of the Year. Pretty amazing this keeps happening. And like I always say, we’re just getting started folks. Wait till you see what we have in store next!

The Country Executive - Astros 2022 World Series

2022 Failures

Being a people leader I encourage failure in my world because that means a challenge was accepted and taken head on. Trying to do and be better. That’s Country IT, and what we all should be doing as people and professionals. When we don’t learn from previous failures is when I get a little prickly.

By all accounts 2022 was another banner year for my team of Country IT all stars. Technology in general, the infrastructure, cybersecurity, and GIS were all on point to an exceptional level. Again. I have the good fortune to work with an incredible group of folks.

So what failed in 2022? Not technology, of course not the team. I did. I failed to adapt to changing society. It may take a little longer to reach us, but yes we have to deal with these things in rural Texas too. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, and I took some lumps because of my inability to proactively adapt to the changes leaders must make.

2022 Adaptation

I’m a pretty easy going guy, I’m simultaneously an intense guy. I may not look like it, but I have historically run a loose work center. I call it empowerment. Trust implicitly until proven otherwise. I hire big personalities and encourage them to be themselves. Advocate to bring the best out of each and every employee.

Sometimes with those personalities comes problems. I have a strong personality as well. Every personality test I have ever taken has come back as a glowing red type “A.” Quite often the most type A in the room when I have been in these in person training courses. Almost comically so.

Here’s the deal though. Society has changed. The workforce is changing with it. As each year passes I am becoming more reflective of a bygone era. I like to think I have a few years left in me, I’m still on the right side of 50, but make no mistake I am the old war horse in my shop.

I’m also the IT big dawg for the city. That doesn’t mean it has to be my way or the highway. Far from it. I have long thought it is my responsibility to be what each and every employee needs for them to be most successful. Within reason of course. We are all beholden to higher level policies and guidelines by our respective employers. It’s no different for me.

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2022 Lessons Learned

The primary lesson I learned in 2022 was to follow protocol. I made a mistake several months ago that still irritates me. I made the mistake, I knew better, and I have no one to blame but myself. As a result I may have dinged my reputation a little internally. I don’t really think so because the senior leaders I work with aren’t wired that way, but at the time I was really bothered by it.

Obviously I’m not going to go into specifics, but the mistake I made was tied to protecting someone. I didn’t follow protocol for administering HR processes. Instead of following the guidelines I knew would keep me out of the line of fire, I did what I had done for years prior by not putting that person in HR’s cross hairs for mistakes made potentially damaging the career of someone I care about.

The situation was handled, but done so internally. That was my mistake and here’s why. Even though I was confident I was doing the right thing in my heart, selfishly I didn’t make the best decision in my own interests. Through a series of events my version of internalized accountability wound up outside my control anyway due to what I deem is the change in society I previously referenced.

2022 Moving On

In years past it was highly unusual for someone to circle around the person in charge. Honor, integrity dictated you took your lumps and moved on. Fact is, I was living in the past. Doing what I had done for years.

We all make mistakes. I never want a teachable moment to derail an employees livelihood. I am responsible for people. Good people. I wouldn’t be doing right by them if I didn’t look out for their careers. Again, within reason. It’s purely a judgement call as a leader.

This is something I needed to learn in 2022. Way back when I learned how to manage situations in a different manner. Today established protocols will be followed with an exactness. I cannot allow my career or my households livelihood to be placed in jeopardy. It’s a change I had to make. I’m not thrilled about it but I accept it as the way of the new world.

Life moves on. Work continues. Relationships heal, but the feeling of incompetence still bothers me several months later. My own incompetence, no one else. Like I didn’t have control over my situation. I despise that feeling, and I can state definitively I will never allow that to happen again. Hindsight being what it is, I am thankful to have learned the lesson.

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2022 Conclusion

That was my 2022. There were many highs, and a few lows that made 2022 quite the rollercoaster ride. I know I am personally better off for it. I’ll take my lumps, lessons learned, and for the remainder of my career keep this newly ascertained knowledge tucked away for future reference. Fact is I recently used this new mindset to handle a tough employee situation.

It bothered me to follow through with what I knew needed to be done, but there was also comfort in knowing I was doing exactly what I am supposed to do in the eyes of my employer. I’m certain this will get easier in time. I’m not thrilled operating this way because I do care about people and genuinely want what’s best for them, but society has dictated this is a necessity in todays work culture.

Perhaps another way of looking at it is that following established guidelines is what’s best for both the employee and the manager. I have long felt there was value in doing the right thing day in day out. You never have to worry about ramifications if that’s the case and can sleep well at night with that piece of mind. I very much prefer operating with this mindset.

That said I’m looking forward to 2023. I’ve set a few goals for myself, but mostly I just want to keep on keeping on as they say. I wish the same for each of you. I hope your 2022 has been amazing, and I hope your 2023 greatly exceeds your expectations. Until next time thank you for reading, and please take care of yourself and the ones you love.

The Country Executive