Friday, May 27, 2011

Big Ships

A colleague, to whom I was bemoaning how hard it was to make any changes in our library system, said to me, "Our library system is a Very Big Ship, and big ships take a long time to make even small changes in direction."

This was a couple years ago, before the Budget Crisis of 09/10 and the subsequent Great Retirement and Layoffs that left us with a very lean staff indeed.

We are still a Big Ship, but with less crew aboard.  However, we do have some able and energetic visionaries with the power and will to pull us in the right direction.  They are our tugboats, and I try my best to be a tugboat as well.

Tugboats can push and pull a Big Ship along quite nimbly.  But it doesn't mean everyone is on board!

As in any large organization, we seem to have lots of people trailing behind our ship, bobbing along on unseaworthy little vessels and even on inner tubes.  They're getting pulled along with the ship by long and fraying ropes, and it takes them much longer to get where we're headed - if they even get there at all.  Even when our Big Ship, aided by our tugboats, makes a nimble turn, our flotilla of stragglers makes the turn slooowwwlllyyy.

How do we pull those trailing folks on board?  How do we get reluctant staff to embrace Change?  How do we get them proficient on library e-media when some of our librarians don't even like to use email?

No, I don't think cutting the ropes and letting them drift away is a solution! ;-)

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