‘All change, all change’ or change is the new normal

Change management often involves adapting to your environment and altering plans to achieve goals. As evidence for this the panelists at last week’s SLA Europe  session, entitled ‘All Change! All Change??’ certainly managed to cope admirably with their environment, particularly as the venue had a raucous quiz next door and lacked a microphone. The panelists calm response to these factors proved to be a good indication of how well they all naturally cope with change.

The panel session was chaired by Lesley Robinson with four speakers who provided a series of case studies on change and change management from a mix of sectors: banking, healthcare policy think-tank and a national library.

Ian Wooler, Director of IDW, stressed change ‘is a process not an event’, so be prepared for the next change. He used de Bono’s six thinking hats as a tool to explore change. By using each of the hats Ian highlighted how complex change is. Thus reminding us that we all see change from different perspectives. Ian also stressed the importance of having a baseline of activity before change implementation to measure success against.

While John Coll, Head of Access at National Library of Scotland, used a series of questions (why, where, what, how and when) approach to identify key issues involved in managing change programmes. His key tips were:

  • lead by example (it helps if those in charge have been through the change process)
  • it’s all about people
  • credibility is vital – be as honest and transparent as possible
  • perseverance is essential

Veronica Kennard, Director at Rothschild, is midway through a change programme, so she talked about the importance of appreciating organisational culture when considering change. As part of their current change programme she is having to change user behaviour and mange expectations.

From the King’s Fund, Ray Phillips, Head of Information Services, described the changes the information centre had undergone since 2007: physical move, downsizing of the collection, increasing income generation and restructuring. All of these had been done successfully by involving the staff and demonstrating that their library skills could help solve King’s Fund problems. Examples included collaborating with IT and replacing library management system with open source solution, which was more compatible with other IT systems in the organisation, and saved money. Developing a database of position statements to ensure the King’s Fund could keep track of what was said when on policy matters. For all of these the ‘Library was seen as change agents for the organisation.’

What made the event a success was the mix of participants and their different cultures, sectors and stages of change management, all of which underline Ian’s point that change is complex. The networking following the session was fun and interesting, with lots of food and wine. Thanks to The Financial Times and Swets for sponsoring the event.

Read other reflections on the event by Stephen Phillips and Jeremy Clarke.

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Preparing for SLA conference in July

SLA_2012_Conference_logoI was prompted to think about getting organised for SLA’s annual conference in Chicago  by a combination of things this week: an email from SLA HQ announcing the leadership training session moving from its usual Sunday slot to a new slot on Tuesday; tweets from @Batty_Towers about dreams of missing suitcases and a realisation that it’s just eight weeks until conference starts.

So I need to start organising myself and creating a checklist of what to do between now and then. This will be my ninth SLA conference so I should be good at this preparation bit, but still find it helpful to review what others have offered as tips and hints to getting the best out of conference. Here’s a summary of what I found.

Background reading

Over the years many people have shared tips and hints: Stephen Abram in 2006, Philadelphia chapter (last year’s conference hosts), and this year’s conference website.

It’s also worth reviewing first impressions of others, here’s a selection of reviews of recent conferences from first-timers: Darron Chapman from TFPL on his first conference in Seattle in 2008; Ned Potter; Natalia Madjarevic; Sam Wiggins; Chris Cooper  on their experiences as SLA Europe’s Early Conference Career Award winners in 2011.

Hints and tips for all attendees (these are summary of what I’ve picked up over the years mixed with tips from the blogs mentioned above)

  • Pack – at least one pair of comfortable shoes (you will be doing lots of walking) and layers (it’ll be hot outside, cool and or cold in the air conditioned convention centre)
  • Conference planner use this to set up your schedule either online, or in Outlook. Choose all sessions that interest you and don’t feel you have to attend only those that your chosen division(s) run. I’ve always learnt most when I’ve gone to a session that has nothing to do with my daily work.
  • Sessions – for each session have a plan B in case there are no seats left when you get there, or you decide it isn’t what you thought it would be so you walk out early. Plan B can include visiting the exhibition hall, taking a break, getting something to eat or going to another session.
  • Session etiquette – means it’s ok to walk in late and to leave early (Europeans take note).
  • First-timers and Fellows session is an essential if you’re a first-timer as it gives you a chance to meet other first-timers and gain some tips and hints on how to make conference work for you from the Fellows.
  • Exhibit hall – plan to visit several times and take note of on how to get the best from vendor interactions from Sara Batts and Liz Blankson-Hemans
  • Ribbons – you’ll find there’s space for ribbons on your name badge, do take advantage of any that apply to you, and get them from the Information booth. If you’re a first-timer make sure to pick a ribbon up, it’ll be a great ice breaker. If you’re from SLA Europe don’t forget to pick up our special 40th anniversary ribbon.
  • If you’re interested in how the association works (and we should all be, as it’s our association) then attend the Board of Directors open session on Sunday 15 July at 9am and see the elected board in action. There’s a leadership orientation session from 4pm on Tuesday 17 July at which SLA’s unit leaders and those who might consider a leadership opportunity meet to consider key questions for the association: “If we did not exist, what association model would we build now?”; “Finding and Grooming Tomorrow’s Leaders – Tailor to Your Unit’s Needs”; “How to parlay SLA experience into a promotion, a new job … even your LinkedIn Profile”.
  • Days are long and busy, from breakfast meetings at 7:30am to parties that go on until after midnight. You need to remember to pace yourself, take a few breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
  • Above all else enjoy yourself, immersing yourself in a wonderful bubble atmosphere where you’ll meet some great people, learn a lot and hone your networking skills.

Remember everyone attending has been a first timer at some point and is keen to network with you. You’ll make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime and who knows you might get sucked into doing lots of things for SLA. I never imagined at my first conference in 2000 that I’d be standing as candidate for SLA’s President-Elect in 2012.

CPD23 Thing 3: Personal brand

It’s been interesting to contemplate my personal brand. I’ve been in the information profession for over 20 years so have developed a personal brand which I’ve been careful to manage along with my career. It’s resulted in several awards recognising my contribution to the profession including last year becoming a Fellow of SLA and a Dialog Quantum2 InfoStar .

In fact I realise I’ve been following Ned Potter’s  advice to ‘match your brand to the path you want’, be prepared to take and give advice, share and learn from others.  Up until now I’ve done the bulk of this sharing, giving and taking advice and learning offline (at conferences, meetings, in print), with occasional dabbles online. I now realise I need to do more of it online, and this has been magnified by my standing as candidate for SLA’s President-Elect this year. With the majority of membership in North America and being based in the UK I need to get my message across using social media. So I’m beefing up my online presence. I am already on Twitter (@katefromuk) and LinkedIn. I’ve opted to keep my blog and Twitter names the same for consistency. I originally set up my Twitter account at SLA’s annual conference in Seattle in 2008 and so chose KatefromUK to differentiate me.  I’m jumping into the blog posting in an ordered fashion, helped by cpd23 and SLA’s candidates questions and answers. I’m taking advice and support from others in my plans to use my blog to put forward information about me, my values, what I’m standing for and what I plan to do if elected.

So watch this space….

CPD23 Thing 2: Exploring blogs

I’ve done thing 2, exloring other people’s blogs  and been entertained and informed, plus learnt a few things. I’ve posted comments on a few of the other cpd23ers blogs, and on some other blogs that I’ve read this week. I’ve found it best to either comment immediately after reading it, or to make notes to remind me to respond later in the day. Now I just need someone to comment on my small number of posts to give me the practice of replying! I’m sure that will come with time.