Technology Stewards

There’s an excellent commentary by Barb Brown on the role of Technology Stewards.

Being a technology steward has very little to do with being an expert
technology user, instead it’s much more about understanding the
connections and interactions of human networks.

In The Full Circle Online Interaction Blog, Nancy White along with Etienne Wenger and John Smith define Technology stewards as: “people
with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its
technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take
leadership in addressing those needs.”

I think this hits it squarely on the head.  I would only add that it also requires a lot of ‘soft’ skills, such as  patience and diplomacy. Based on my own experience with the Improvement and Development Agency’s communities of practice, I spend more time explaining to current and potential users why we shouldn’t be embarking on some particular technical enhancement – which  may meet the needs of one or two users at the expense of aggravating several hundred others – than getting on with ensuring the overall environment is fit for purpose. A recent request was to enable postings by ‘proxy users’ – i.e. for someone to submit a blog or a forum entry in someone else’s name. Quite where this would have left us legally if the ‘real’ person had disagreed with the content being published in his or her name by the proxy is anyone guess. Thus I think the ‘stewarding’ is probably more important than the ‘technical’ part of the job title!

One Comment

  1. Dan Champion said:

    In the private sector that would probably be seen as a business analyst’s role, but whatever you call it and whatever the purpose of the technology, that conduit between the business/user requirements and the technologists is critical. I’ve worked in organisations with and without that interface, on both sides of the technology fence – it’s much better with it than without it, for everyone involved.

    February 21, 2007

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