Ten Steps to Insure Staff Buy-In for the Technology Projects

A companion to a presentation I’m giving at Internet Librarian 2005.

Download the big old 10MB file here!

Ten Steps to Insure Staff Buy-In for the Technology Projects

“Why are we doing this?”

A few months ago the Reference staff at SJCPL trained the librarians who would be using IM at their service desks. Katie, who was doing the particular session I heard about, asked the group: “Why are we doing this training?”

“IM is cool” Someone said…”IM is so hot right now,” said another (who may read my blog too much!)

“Nope,” Katie said. “We are doing this because it is a way to reach a good segment of our users….” She went on to cite some of the recent articles, studies and surveys out there that make the case for IM.

“Why are we doing this?” may be asked more than you think at your library as more and more projects center around technology. If the question is there, you may be missing a perfect opportunity to create staff buy-in for such projects. What follows are ten hints to Insure buy-in..

#1 Listen to Your Staff

Cluetrain time folks. There are conversations going on in your libraries..some in person (“Elevator talk”) and some via electronic means. What’s beeing said? Are people unhappy? Have you suprised the staff with yet another big project that just seemes to be spending money and time for no discernible ROI? When you meet with folks, listen. The message may come through if you want to hear it: communicate..keep us in the know.,..let us plan with you….

How agile is your library?

#2 Involve Staff in Planning

From the get go, convene a team to plan whatever new thing you are doing made up of staff from all areas of your organization — focusing on the key players and the stakeholders. If they are engaged, heard and actively researching, discussing and decided in stuff, they are wedded to the project. This is particularly true for new buildings.

#3 Tell Stories

I’ve talked about this alot: one way for libraries to promote their value and relevance is to tell the library’s story every chance you get. Beyond daunting columns of statistics, users — and staff — might benefit from a story about “how the library helped its users today?” Ponder a staff exchange where internal stories can be told. You may find a lot of answers to the question: “Why are we doing this?”

This flickr set of “Rock the Shelves” really tells a story for me.

#4 Be Transparent

Don’t be secretive about projects. Don’t ambush staff with a new computer on the reference desk no one was told about. Be transparent with you users and your staff as well. Staff intranets cry out to be used as a means to announce and discuss new projects, with facts figures, COST and outcomes. Staff wikis scream to be used to develop plans and timelines for all staff to access and review.

#5 Report and Debrief


I love this example of the post-conference debrief we did at SJCPL. Staff often wonder what folks are doing trooping off to Seattle or Washington DC or . Reporting from the conference via a blog or posting reports upon returning to work let’s folks see that those attending conference were gathering knowledge to bring back.

#6 Do your Research

There is no excuse in 2005 not to be “in the know” on whatever technology initiative you are planning. there’s no excuse not to have done a literature search for articles in our professional litertaure that will help the discussion and inform the participants of strategy meetings.

#7 Manage Projects Well

There are some great books out there that bloggers have pointed to and discusssed!


You might read this one too

#8 Offer training for All technologies you Roll Out

One of my soapbox topics. You know how important it is to train staff. To keep them in the know. Training doesn’t have to be the formal in a room variety, but you might use any number of method to deliver instrruction about new stuff or changes to current systems.

#9 Let them Play

In our Training Workshop yesterday, one of the participants stressed the need for a “playground” where staff could put their hands on new technologies: terminals running a newe OS, a new ILS or updated software, or new gadgets and devices the library might be evaluating. I love this idea. We also went so far to theorize that the playground might be virtual as well as physical.

For that gaming initiative, take folks out to the arcade or set up the consoles in the staff lounge and do some DDR! Let them expwerience first!

#10 Celebrate Successes

Do you do this? Do you stop amidst all of your ongoing tech projects and celebrate the launch of the new Web site? The new service? Do you congratulate each other?