Attention GIS Managers: New Strategies for New Times

Overcome the Challenges of Your Role by Learning New Skills and Applying New Strategies
[Note:  This is the first post in our new series about Managing GIS.]
Defining the role of a successful GIS manager today is vastly different from how we would have defined a successful GIS manager even five years ago.  If you are using the playbook from five years ago, the odds are stacked against you.  This conclusion comes not only from my personal experience as a GIS manager, but from my professional experience at Esri working closely with Local Government GIS managers.
Most GIS managers have worked their way up to manager positions from GIS technician/analyst positions, and many have GIS/geography or similar academic/professional experience.  While this background is great for being a successful GIS user, it does not necessarily provide you with the skills necessary to be a successful GIS manager–and this is exactly what I have experienced in my career.
In my twenty-plus years in the GIS industry (spanning the public sector, private sector, and academia), and twelve years as a GIS manager, I have come to some conclusions about the challenges that face GIS managers.
An enterprise GIS is a mission-critical IT system.  Because most GIS managers began their careers as GIS technicians or analysts, they do not have a professional IT background.  Being a successful manager also means you need a general business background, yet most GIS managers I know have no business background.  So we have GIS managers, an entire class of critical employees who lack many of the skills necessary to successfully execute their mission.
To be successful, GIS managers in this  situation need to proactively work toward filling in the IT and business skills gaps.  From my experience, here are some of the strategies and skills I see as most relevant to overcoming these gaps and being a successful GIS manager:
IT strategies and skills:

Business strategies and skills:

In future blog posts, I will dive deeper into many of these and other topics to help GIS managers beat the odds.

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