Posts tagged under: Strategy

Connecting your library’s actions to global challenges: How do you stand up?

Working alongside library leaders from around the world, I’ve realized there is an interesting paradox in terms of organizational goals. While libraries around the world serve unique and diverse communities, at the core of their work, they share very similar visions and principles. Libraries similarly, are also able to adjust strategy and tactics very specifically to their users’ needs while keeping an eye on global interests. Finding ways to link these two levels—global interests and local conditions—can be very rewarding—and sometimes complicated.

For the past year, I have worked with OCLC Global Council and OCLC Research to explore such a link. In the fall of 2019, we began focusing on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to determine how libraries can use the goals as a framework to partner, both with each other and outside organizations, to better address global sustainability efforts.

Then COVID-19 struck. And libraries worldwide had an entirely new set of shared challenges to address locally.

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Getting smarter

Imagine sending an unexpected video call invite to ten colleagues at different organizations two years ago. My guess is that most would have been surprised, some annoyed. But after a year of working remotely, the response would be much different. And even as we transition back to working in person, that option will be one used more often going forward. Because in many circumstances, it’s simply a smarter choice.

So, why didn’t we make that choice before?

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Why a “Library on-demand” vision benefits from pandemic wisdom

If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I can safely say I never would have biked the Haleakalā volcano. Well, to be honest, I still haven’t. But while I’ve been mostly locked in my house this past year, I decided to invest in a stationary bike. And I trained for an endurance activity of five, one-hour rides that match the twists, turns, and elevations of the famous Hawaiian volcano.

Of course, it’s not the same as a real ride on a real bike on a real road on a real volcano. But the work I had to do to get in shape was real, the final achievement was real, and the connections I made with some new biking friends were real. And even if I never make it to the actual volcano, I will absolutely do a virtual ride like this again.

My experience also helped me realize something about the transition to a post-pandemic reality that’s starting slowly around the world. We need to carefully consider what we leave behind and what we take forward when we return to “normal.”

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What’s the magic formula for successful change? Communication + planning

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Tyler is passionate about helping libraries turn change into opportunity, and as Director of OCLC Implementation, he supports libraries through diverse transformations, including everything from workflow analysis to library technology implementations.

Depending on who you ask and where you look, change management has any number of important components. However, I’ve found that the actual process of initiating change often falls into two key buckets: planning and communication. Planning is critical, of course, but how, when, and what is communicated can make or break a change initiative. In fact, communication often leads to feedback that helps refine plans, making it even more powerful.

Unfortunately, communication can be an afterthought or initiated only when a change effort is at risk. Sometimes it’s just words on a page explaining the plan. It shouldn’t be, it’s so much more, and can have long-term negative consequences if overlooked or undervalued. Successful change initiatives are communicated like an internal public relations campaign. Every aspect should be orchestrated to increase awareness and buy-in.

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Community engagement: Redefining the library as town square

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Libraries are evolving, leaning outside of our walls, connecting with our communities in new and powerful ways. Defining our “why” requires understanding how to shift our focus from books to people. Our purpose is to support people and their quality of life. While there may be many definitions, community engagement isn’t just about awareness, marketing, and sending staff out into the community. Community is at the center of everything. At Anythink, the public library system for Adams County, Colorado, it is at the heart of everything we do.

Like many libraries, our recent strategic planning research included a purposeful listening tour. We found that our community sees the library as its center, its connector. They asked for the library to become even more focused on creating community. As a result, we have adopted the concept of library as town square.

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Are you managing the emotional side of change?

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Tyler is passionate about helping libraries turn change into opportunity, and as Director of OCLC Implementation, he supports libraries through diverse transformations, including everything from workflow analysis to library technology implementations.

When you’re leading any kind of change, maneuvering to get an ideal outcome can be tricky. I’m often asked by leaders in the throes of change management efforts, “What’s the one thing that can’t be missed?” The one element that could deter all the work to build awareness, acceptance, and action. My response is pretty much always the same: Never underestimate the emotional side of change.

Did I just get all warm and fuzzy on you? Yes, I did. And it’s important, especially because this aspect of change is often overlooked. The reality is that all change begins and ends with human beings—and humans are driven by emotions.

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Sometimes, to change anything … you have to change everything

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Change management is never easy, that’s why it’s often tackled in bite-size chunks. To be successful, it has to be intentional and collaborative. And for a public library, defining change can’t just depend on the director’s vision. It has to belong to the entire organization and be driven by the needs of the community.

We recently wrapped up the challenging—but energizing—task of developing a detailed strategic plan. This was a first step in changing the way we do business. We’ll still do many of the same things we’ve always done, but our perspective has shifted to place the customer firmly in the center of everything we do.

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Get closer to “customer first” in seven days

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Over the past year or so, I’ve started to see new ‘customer experience’ job titles (like Chief Customer Experience Officer and Deputy Director of Customer Experience) pop up in libraries that have been present in the consumer space for some time. Makes sense. Having someone focus on how people use your products and services across the entire range of your organization and throughout their life with you is such an important part of doing business today.

And while developing a truly user-centric strategy may sound like a big, strategic move, you can start to plan small changes that inspire broader transformation in just a week.

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Make the first move: three ways to initiate relationship-building conversations

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Over the past few years, I’ve seen discussions of customer service shift from measurements of individual interactions to programs that track and analyze all of a customer’s activities. That is, rather than focusing on what makes for a good sale or a good complaint follow-up, the trend is toward examining the entire “customer experience.” I’ve seen dozens of programs and hundreds of articles that aim to help us capture every tweet, post, like, click, thumbs-up, visit, and phone call in an attempt to “know the whole picture” for a customer.

That’s a good step forward. No one interaction happens in a vacuum. But I think it also misses the mark when it comes to library services. What we do is still incredibly hands-on and, for many library users, very personal and creates an experience that’s more than the sum of our analytics.

A recent conversation with Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Chief Executive Officer Gina Millsap brought that message home to me. For her library, they’ve moved beyond customer service and customer experience into a relationship-focused strategy.

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Customer Service Week: three opportunities to build, maintain, or break trust

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Trust is emotional, and is built transactionally

Customer Service Week is being celebrated around the world this week, and the theme is “Building Trust.” And while trust is certainly an emotional concept, it isn’t completely immune to training, practice, review, and reward.

It's Customer Service Week: Are you building, maintaining, or breaking trust? Click To Tweet

How do you measure and improve in a nebulous area like trust? I’d like to go through three opportunities that are typical “trust points” for most service-oriented organizations. In each case, I’ll suggest how this moment can either build, maintain, or break down trust between you and the people you serve.

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