Re: Six questions
Alexander Johannesen <alexander.johannesen <at> GMAIL.COM>
2006-08-04 00:16:53 GMT
On 8/4/06, Andrews, Mark J. <MarkAndrews <at> creighton.edu> wrote:
> "Its clear libraries, librarians and librarianship are changing. What they are
> changing into is not so clear." What do you think?
Yup, we have no idea where we're going or what we're supposed to do ;
we're going to new places with an old map. (And boy, libraries have
the most amount of old maps I've ever seen; LG1 is stacked to the roof
with the darn things, pretty as they are)
> How do you identify changing user needs in your organization?
Some whinging, some screaming, mostly discussion. Seriously though,
user testing as often as I can. Usability ; test your users, test your
assumptions, and adapt your ideas, strategies and technology based on
> Having identified changing user needs, how to incorporate these new needs
> into you leadership, management and planning?
Look at the old systems and change their definition and specification
over time, discuss with partners, adopt new plan, perform an upgrade /
decomissioning, rinse, repeat. But the thing is - and this is the big
one! - you have got to have the right people to do it. You need people
to embrqace the idea that their world is changing, and I'm not sure
you can enforce this type of thinking through any means of coursing,
cursing, pushing or shoving. If people are allergic to change, they
shouldn't be in a position to make strategic decisions (pet theory on
> How do you meet the new needs you've identified? What part does technology
> play, if any, in planning to meet the new needs you've identified?
Test your users, adapt your technology. There are times when this
theory fails, but our librarians keep surprising me with their ability
to accept change. To meet the needs of the test results I tend to
directly integrate them into my plans through user-centred design,
which is easy and affordable. If upstairs approaval is needed, the
test results always have a swaying effect. Always. Wave them around a
bit, talk about it. In fact, you should always do this so that this
info trickles into higher-order strategies.
> Who is doing a good job of this inside and outside the library profession?
I don't want to name names here, but simply say that it all comes down
to the individual person in a specific context. There are good and bad
people doing things both inside and out. After all the soap-boxes that
has been worn out lately in our "field" one would have the impression
of a certain group of people being pro-active (and hence good?) here,
but in my experience there's a lot of really good work being done by
invisible and totally silent people, and to tell the truth, I'd love
to give them more praise.
> Bonus question: Are you familiar with David Cooperrider's "Appreciative
> Inquiry" methodology?
Hmm, sounds like a plug. :) I've heard about it, and now reading about
it (creepy website, though ; new age and poor accessibility ... oh,
and poor writing, too :) it's just basically Gaia in management.
There's hundreds of different approaches to try to formalise organic
structures in human organisations, and the numbers I think speak for
themselves (I certainly have very little faith in formalising
something that springs from human chaos, even though there's a lot of
money and fame in it if solved) You can read up on Complex Systems
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_system) to get a feel for what
the basic theory is about (with or without humans directly involved),
and then move on to Complexity theory and organizations
for more readings on the subject. I have no idea if Appreciative
Inquiry works well or not, but I've seen and tried so many varieties
of this that I have no faith in any of them working very well, at
least not under the banner of a system that works well for the whole
organisation. I'll stop now before I *will* pull out my soap-box and
rant ... :)
"Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know."
- Frank Herbert
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