Monday, July 13, 2009

Lemonade: Day 1

This morning MPOW's leader held a meeting to discuss how we continue on. Some factors influencing his plans:
- we lost 19% of our full-time staff to retirements on July 1st, many of them being managers & supervisors
- there is still a hiring freeze on
- the budget reductions
- impact of web technology
- changing pattern of library usage
(in-house usage on the decline in the past decade while online usage has seen a considerable increase) - clearly, our users are migrating to the online environment

When you've lost 3 of your 5 top managers, the hierarchy necessarily breaks down. So, though our leader had been working for quite a long time on an orderly succession plan, he's had to be a bit more creative to try and hurriedly create an organization that can still ensure we serve our mission with such a lean staff while:
- being more responsive to change
- increasing collaboration among employees
- delivering more of our services and collections via the web
- offering a more user-centric / self-service approach with patrons
- eliminating the siloes
- looking at the library as a whole, the organization
- replacing the hierarchy with a matrix-based organization
- empowering staff
- seeking greater efficiency, use of technology/tools (e.g., online meetings)

The matrix is divided into service groups and functional units. It attempts to address the need for fluidity and collaboration, while providing enough structure to continue in our mission. I've heard that the big organizations, like Microsoft, work in a matrix-based environment. Projects are often led by someone who's not necessarily everyone's supervisor. Still, the project team leader has the ability to harness the time and talents of a group of colleagues. It's not like each move the project team's members engage in must also be approved by each member's supervisor. I think our leader foresees that committees will come and go over time and participants will be designated more by their technical skills relevant to the task at hand than by their official title.

Personally, I'm very excited by the ideas our leader was articulating. He has this powerful vision that brings the organization more in-line with today's reality. A decade ago, it might not have been so needed, but honestly, the web has changed everything. And those changes = opportunities...

What strikes me most about these changes is that they respond to the needs I've heard articulated by so many of my colleagues throughout the organization since I began here 3 years ago, the needs that are so glaring among the newbies on staff. So I believe that our leader both heard us & addressed our concerns in his plan.

The challenge for all of us will be to be really supportive, flexible, and open to these changes. We'll have to carry these ideas to fruition.

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