How agile is your library?

Sometimes it’s good to return to an article/blog post/presentation and see how it stacks up after some time has passed. For example, I just found a print of this from a 2001 LJ:

Roy Tennant writes in April 2001 about building agile organizations and suggests three key factors to have a grip on: Communication, management and staffing.

Through my late 2005 lens, this resonates:

Good communication within the organization – both from above and below – is essential. Communication should not be stifled by overcontrolling management or by resentful staff. An agile organization offers many avenues of communication. Line staff must have ways to bring issues to management’s attention, and managers must promulgate decisions without delay to all staff.

Nothing harms the esprit de corps of an organization quicker, or with worse effect, than regularly hearing about an internal decision from an external source. Similarly, management should not have to discover front-line problems from customers.

Yes. Indeed. This is Cluetrain stuff as well. Businesses — and organizations like libraries — should be having internal conversations at all levels and with no roadblocks or barriers. How do you communicate in your library? I’m all about new tools, so yes an internal blog or wiki might work wonders. I’m also about the face to face. How effective are your meetings? Are they tangential, crowded affairs that seem to disentegrate?

Tennant writes: “Librarians are better consensus builders than leaders. That makes us inclusive, cooperative, and willing to build on the work of others. However, we don’t always rise to the occasion on an individual basis. In an attempt to include everyone in decision-making, we end up watering down the decision.”

Read Death by Meeting. Now. I’ll wait.

Finally, Tennant urges librarians to examine staffing issues, creatively as possible and to look at funding options for new endeavors. This is a good read. Give it a look through your ’05 glasses and let me know what you think.