Professional Development

In the '2008 Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians' Category...

One Last Leadership Institute Session to Share

Friday, August 8, 2008 6:00 pm
Graduation SpeakerJoe Zolner

Our final session this morning was designed to pull together everything we have been learning this week and get us thinking about how we can use what we’ve learned to develop our ability to become change agents at our institutions.

Joe Zolner, our program leader and primary instructor this week, shared his thoughts on “The Science and Art of Managing Change.” He talked about common themes that he sees time and again as he studies organizational change. Here are some that resonated with me that I’d like to share with everyone:

The Science

  • Change agents get “outside the box” regularly. They interact with people different from themselves. They find ways to cross traditional institutional and intellectual boundaries.
  • Idea champions make change happen, nurture and support them.
  • Change happens collaboratively. Understand the intricacies of group process.
  • Change always spawns new logistical complexity, anticipate and plan for it.
  • Information is power and should always be transparent to all involved in a change process.

The Artistry

  • Satisfaction derives from mastery of process, not ownership of content.
  • Change has both scope and pace – balance “big” transformative change with “little” change that tinkers and incrementally improves.
  • **(my personal favorite): Every change looks like a failure in the middle – perseverance and persistence count.
  • Think kaleidoscopically.

Final Days at the Institute

Friday, August 8, 2008 5:40 am
Our discussion group at Harvard Faculty ClubOur Discussion Group at Breakfast

Yesterday was another full day of sessions and learning. We worked on two case studies – the first was about the Boston Lyric Opera where we examined how a non-profit organization used a specific tool, the Balanced Scorecard, to improve its organizational performance and outcomes. I could see how this can be a very helpful tool because it provides a framework to detail a complex strategy in a straightforward way. The scorecard puts things into four perspectives, customer, instrnal business, financial, and learning & growth. Each of these perspectives then has four elements to develop: objectives, measures (of success), target, and initiatives.

The second case was an examination of the MBA curriculum change made at Babson College in the late 1980’s/ early 1990’s. We were working with the definition of innovation as being the process of putting new, problem-solving ideas into use. In higher education change is often a prolonged process and this case illustrated all the complexities of the process of implementing substantive change in that framework. We will continue to talk about it in this morning’s session also. A couple things that caught my attention were the contrast in definitions used in this session: creativity as “new idea generation” versus innovation as “new idea implementation.” And the view that “ideas are useless unless used.”

In our afternoon session we turned inward and used and talked about why, personally, change is so difficult. We learned that people typically have “immunity to change.” We spent 2 1/2 hrs working through a specific behavior we would like to change in ourselves (well, call it a self-improvement goal) and examined what is standing in the way of being able to do that. It was like a fast-track therapy session!

As I write this, I just finished packing up my room so I can check out and head off to meet my group for the final morning. We plan to have our last discussion over breakfast at the Harvard Faculty club, so everyone is looking forward to that. The Institute continues until noonish today. Although it seems like I just arrived in Cambridge, it has been a richly rewarding week of learning and reflection.

Next time you hear from me, it will be from Minneapolis where I am heading later to day to meet up with Lauren P. and Kevin. We will be presenting at the Merlot Conference tomorrow afternoon.

Leadership Institute: Monitoring Institutional Performance, Vision & Voice and More

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 6:04 pm

Susan's In! Widener Library Virtual Tour Screen Capture

Today, a full day of discussion and presentations continued. In the small group discussion this morning, we spent an hour trying to frame a mini-case written by one of our group members. Earlier this summer, each person was asked to submit a mini-case in which we described a challenging situation in which we are involved. Each morning, we pick one to “dissect.”

In the large group presentations today, Jim Honan led us through a case study that helped to teach how to monitor institutional performance. We looked at case written about UNITEC Institute of Technology‘s plan and process to systematically evaluate the viability of their programs as part of a strategy to be competitive and gain university status. In examining the case we talked about contexts for planning (external environment and competition, leadership, resource allocation, and governance & decision-making) and how these contexts are all occurring simultaneously so all must be included as you consider how to proceed.

Our second session, with Joan Gallos, was spent talking about 4 leadership challenges

  • How do we find vision for ourselves so that we can offer it to others?
  • What do we bring to advance that vision?
  • How do we identify and involve others to advance a shared vision?
  • How do we give personal voice to the vision so that others take up the call?

For me, this was the session where I felt less experience. We were asked to talk about our greatest leadership moment and our most disappointing and then try to describe what differences we saw between the two.  We heard terms including: “soul”, “creativity”, “values”, “charisma.” The example shown to us was Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. How can you ever think you’d compare with that??

But there were some good, practical aspects also. We were introduced to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference. We learned about important people alliances to help deliver your message (the power of social context): connectors (people who have major social relationships established across many different groups), mavens (people who are seen as knowledgeable and respected), and salespeople (those who are seen as charismatic and influential). It made me start to consider who those people might be at Wake Forest?

Our afternoon session was led by Maureen Sullivan, who focused us in on library-specific issues. We spent 2 hours considering critical forces for change in the academic library; actually, things we are all familiar with, thanks to our strategic planning process: students as customers, shifts from teaching to learning, changes in the nature of our collections, scholarly communications, changing demographics, ownership to access, etc. Maureen showed a You Tube video, A Vision of Students Today, that helped to get her point across.

The nice surprise for the day, however, came with the news that one of the Widener librarians in the Institute had made arrangements for all of us to be admitted to Widener Library for a tour. As I mentioned a few days ago, one needs a Harvard ID to gain access. Any other exceptions have to be specially approved. So you’ll see the picture above shows my special pass. The other picture is a screen capture of the virtual tour of the library on the Harvard website, as  they do not allow photographs. The building is beautiful, but our access was restricted to a very small area. We were able to admire the Memorial Room, which is in honor of Harry Widener, for whom the library is named.  As we learned on our campus tour yesterday, Harry was a graduate of Harvard, and was a bibliophile. He obtained a copy of the Gutenberg Bible which is on display in the room. Harry perished on the Titanic and his mother donated the money to build Widener Library. It had a few strings attached: The footprint of the library can never change, or else ownership of the building reverts to the city of Cambridge. This means that they are not able to add on or alter the outside dimensions of the building. So stacks go underground 5 stories. The Memorial Room I mentioned above is dedicated to Harry. It is a requirement that fresh flowers are maintained in the room and nobody is allowed in there to read. That is because the room is reserved for use by Harry’s ghost! But we got to stand at the entrance, see the flowers, and the bible. It was an impressive room. We also got to see two murals painted by John Singer Sargent.

The other areas we were able to see were the reading room and reference on the second floor, and the periodicals room and circulation on the main level. I must make mention of the fact that, in the circulation room, there is an information desk staffed M-F from 9-5 by a reference librarian, to help users who might be intimated by the prospect of 50 miles of shelves and 3 million volumes.

Leadership Institute: Reframing and Frame Flipping

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 6:43 pm
Large Group ClassroomLarge group class time

The past two days have been filled with in-depth discussion and analysis using the four frames (perspectives) for making leadership choices. As I mentioned in my overview a few days ago, this week is being structured around the framework of Bolman and Deal’s four frame model of organizations (structural, human resources, political and symbolic). After our Sunday afternoon overview of the model, Monday and Tuesday have been filled with studying and discussing various case studies of scenarios where we have been asked to apply each of the four frames to examine the different perspectives you would want to consider when deciding how to handle the situation. Our instructors for the two days have been Joan Gallos, Joe Zolner and Maureen Sullivan.

One of the first things we did was a self assessment to find out what our preferred frame really is. We used a self-rating survey to accomplish this. Most people found that they had one or two strong frames, and then the other two were weak or almost non-existent. As you might expect, the strongest frames were structural (after all, it is a group of librarians) and human resources. The other two frames, political and symbolic, were very under represented. As one moves up the leadership ladder, these two frames become the more important ones to master.

To help visualize the types of issues that might be focuses of the different frames, here are some concepts that the instructors highlighted:

Structural: rules, regulations, goals, policies, roles, tasks, job descriptions, chain of command, assessment and reward systems, spans of control, formal feedback loops, specialization/division of labor

Human Resource: needs, skills, relationships, perceptions and attitudes, morale, motivation, training and development, interpersonal and group dynamics, teams, job satisfaction, participation and involvement, support, respect for diversity

Political: key stake holders, divergent interests, scarce resources, agendas, bases of power, influence, conflict, competition, coalitions, alliances, networks

Symbolic: culture, ceremonies, stories, myths, symbols, metaphors, vision, charisma, values

The structural leader

  • clarifies organizational goals
  • develops clear rules and effective procedures
  • defines roles and clarifies responsibilities

The human resource leader

  • identifies people’s needs
  • offers personal support
  • recognizes participants’ strength
  • provides opportunities for growth

The political leader

  • understands distribution of resources
  • identifies major constituencies
  • builds coalitions
  • assesses risks and opportunities
  • negotiates differences and reaches compromises

The symbolic leader

  • interprets meanings
  • articulates vision or purpose
  • strengthens norms
  • reinforces culture with traditions or rituals

We have been learning that, in every organizational situtation, each of these four frames plays a role. And a good leader will try to examine every situation through each of these four lenses. Instead of settling for the perspective with which we are most comfortable, we can expand our choice of options by “flipping the frame” and looking at the situtation through one of the other lenses.

Sunday: The Institute Begins

Monday, August 4, 2008 6:15 am
Lots of Reading AssignmentsProgram Materials

The Leadership Institute began Sunday afternoon by assigning each of the 99 participants into one of 10 small discussion groups. We will be with our assigned group throughout the week and will start each day off with the group to discuss, share and/or to supplement content covered the previous day or assigned to us to read overnight. The groups aren’t task-oriented, they are designed for sharing. Our first session was a get-acquainted period. There are 10 in my group and the people range from a library director to a person who has just been given a person to supervise for the first time. We shared our professional backgrounds, our current responsibilities and our reasons for coming to the Institute. Somehow the discussion did get around to talking about the popularity of coffee shops in academic libraries and the politics of Starbucks!

The first general session followed. Throughout the week, all participants will meet as a group 3 times daily. One reason is to create a shared group experience. Yesterday’s large group session introduced the concept of the case study, which is going to be the primary way leadership issues are explored this week. Since many in the class have not had experience learning using case studies and with discussion-based learning, this first session was a way to teach us how they are used and what we can do to best prepare to take part in the discussion.

When the 2 hour session ended at 5:30, we were all given Harvard umbrellas (there have been substantial afternoon storms daily) and were led to the Radcliffe Gymnasium for an opening reception. This provided another venue to get acquainted with participants outside of my discussion group. I finished off the evening by going to dinner with two new colleagues where we had spirited exchanges of how things are at each of our libraries. One of the women is a bibiliographer/collection development librarian at Widener Library. The whole decentralized organization of the Harvard Libraries is fascinating, making our consensus building among 3 libraries seem like child’s play.

Small group discussion starts this morning promptly at 8. I’ve been up since 4:30 finishing my reading assignments. Now off to find a good cup of coffee and a cheap breakfast (read, not here at the hotel!).

Saturday Afternoon in Cambridge, MA

Saturday, August 2, 2008 4:46 pm
Looking Out onto Massachusetts Ave.Harvard College Campus

I arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts late this morning to spend a week at Harvard to attend the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians. The Harvard Institutes for Higher Education collaborates annually with ACRL to present this institute. Their goal (and mine) is to increase attendees’ (my) capacity to lead and manage.

The program starts tomorrow afternoon, so I arrived today to get acclimated and be ready to dive into what promises to be a fairly intense week of discussion and study.  Issues that we will examine are:

  • How well positioned is our organization to meet current and future challenges?
  • How effective is my own leadership?

We’ll be looking at characteristics of effective leadership in academic organizations, transformational learning, planning, and organizational strategy and change.

One of the main texts that will be used to help shape discussion is Bolman and Deal’s Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership. It advances a four-frame model of organizations -as factories (structural frame; formal roles and responsibilities), families (human resources frame; organizations as extended family), jungles (political frame; organizations as contests), and temples (cultural frame; organizations as tribes). Each of these has its own image of reality. We will be learning how it is important to understand all four and use all of them to gain a better overall understanding by viewing different perspectives. They maintain that learning multiple perspectives is a good defense against cluelessness (think Lay/Enron).

I’m looking forward to this opportunity to spend a week where I can focus in-depth on issues that are very important to me in my new role and to our library as we start the process of implementing our ambitious strategic plan. I will try to keep a daily update (if we don’t have too much homework!).

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