Former VA CIO discusses need for calm, clear decisions in times of crisis

This week on Leaders and Legends, host Aileen Black interviews Roger Baker, former chief information officer at the Department of Veteran Affairs and current consultant and board member.

Interview Highlights:

  • Baker said the need for calm, clear decisions is essential in times of crisis such as what we face today. Baker recalled his favorite saying: “If you can’t keep your head while everyone around you loses theirs, you probably don’t know what is going on.”
  • Many times, change is needed during times of crisis, according to Baker. And he said risks are needed if you are going to invoke change. His advice: recognize when you are taking risks and be open about it with clear communications as to why.
  • “Seagull-style management is bad. Never fly in and just drop the load,” Baker said. Lead with empathy and recognize that it may be your responsibility to think about how the decision will impact the people who work for you.
  • “Taking a big risk in government can be a career-ending move. Commercial companies, for the most part, have a higher tolerance for risk,” Baker said. In order to help the government make greater strives in many areas, Baker recommended a bigger tolerance for risk needs to be gained.
  • Above all, Baker said, “[You’ve] got to have fun. Try to change the world, but don’t expect to. And always try to act so when you look back, you can say that was the best me.”

Baker is a consultant for Roger Baker Consulting LLC, advising federal organizations and federal service companies on government technology issues. Previously, Roger served as the CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs and helped define the role of the federal CIO following the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act.

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