Tag Archives: collaboration

The Year Ahead–2016

Happy New Year!

What’s on tap for 2016?

  • Continue consulting to organizations–especially libraries–that are motivated to transform themselves through leadership, strategy, and innovative organizational design.
  • Integrate a lifelong commitment to community service through service learning advocacy.
  • Explore the possibility of bridging polarized relationships that are obstacles to transformative change.

I am excited about the publication of a chapter on developing service learning programs in academic libraries forthcoming in Service Learning, Information Literacy, and Libraries in April. Publication of the book will follow a working session on developing an assessment framework for service learning programs in academic libraries at the Libraries and Service Learning Embedded Institute before the Campus Compact 30th anniversary conference: Accelerating Change: Engagement for Impact. Involvement in service learning provides an opportunity for all types of academic libraries to participate in their communities at the campus level and beyond in a variety of ways.

Could libraries prototype models for overcoming structural obstacles to transformative change? It would be great to explore possibilities for creative destruction of barriers to change. Many of these issues were topics at the Taiga Forum at DLF Forum 2015 in Vancouver, BC last October.

Colleagues here in the bay area shared an inspiring story about a direct conversation between union member and managers of a local transit company that they facilitated. Drivers and managers met to exchange information about one specific process–scheduling, but left the meeting with their relationship transformed. For the first time, they had communicated directly rather than through lawyers and mediators about an issue important to both parties and about which there was little initial agreement.

Libraries generally include both managers and union members in strategic planning processes, so it is not really the case that union members and managers do not discuss important issues directly. However, sensitive issues that fall under the Taiga Forum topic “employee relations”  are usually omitted from these discussions–sometimes out of fear of grievances or otherwise motivated by conflict avoidance. Even in non-union environments general discussions about faculty status or tensions between librarians and other library workers are rare.

What would it take to try something different? I don’t have a plan, or goal, or preconceived notion about what might create a shift in structure to create positive change but would love to collaborate on an experiment in this area. Ping me if you’re interested!

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Coming soon, more time for consulting to organizations!

I am excited by the prospect of spending more time consulting to organizations with motivation to build capacity, improve effectiveness, and grapple with transformational change. For most of my career, I have been engaged in organizational change efforts as a manager and leader. In addition, I have provided consulting services such as meeting facilitation, strategic planning support, leadership development, team building, and organizational design on an part time basis.

Now, I have the opportunity to focus on this important work. In today’s rapidly changing world, it is critical for organizations to cultivate thoughtful responsiveness, and develop capacity for continuous change. My approach blends natural systems theory, adult learning models based in neuroscience, and well-established organization development processes such as action learning. Although individuals and organizations usually have capacity for transformational growth and change within, sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize the potential.

Nothing is more satisfying to me than collaborating with other people to generate ideas for improvements to a work system, and making plans to implement them. My most positive consulting experiences involve working with leaders to plan meetings or other events that engage groups around particular issues. Although I may write a report with recommendations for action based on the meeting or event, those recommendations are the synthesis of collaborative work, not delivery of disconnected stock solutions from an outside “expert”.

If your work system seems a little stuck, or you could use an outsider’s perspective on a tough issue, I would love to hear your story. Perhaps we can collaborate on a strategy to unleash the potential from within and enable the people within your organization to enact transformational change.

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