On a + note


#24 2010: It’s the hare and the tortoise

Posted in on a + note by kendal0 on July 26, 2010

I am all about action, and as a typical Baby Boomer, the quicker, the better. No moss on this rolling stone! However, over the last few months, I’ve started to believe that the slow and continuous pursuit of excellence is actually the more sustainable and, interestingly, the most successful action when transforming an organization.

In these tough times, many libraries are looking for that singular massive change that will radically realign their service, improve productivity, and ultimately make the library relevant and essential. However, there are a growing number of progressive libraries who are adopting a kaizen (Japanese for “continuous improvement”) approach to sustainability and organizational change. They are adopting a steady and continuous approach to change that is focused specifically on incrementally improving customer service and productivity. I believe that truly sustainable improvement requires a change in the library’s overall culture, not just a change in procedures. A change that welcomes small incremental steps is the most successful.

It’s like dieting; a radical diet in which you eat just grapefruit and bran will likely come to an abrupt halt after just a few days. However, making a very small change in your diet, like using ½ teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of a full teaspoon, will likely be sustainable and, ultimately, more successful. (In fact, reducing the sugar in your coffee by a ½ teaspoon can result in losing seven pounds in a year! But I digress…)

At every library in which I have ever worked, there has been, at some time, a long and protracted debate about updating the website. Should it be done incrementally every few weeks? Should a whole new site, all ready to go, be launched on a day two to three years from now when it’s complete? Which is the better way to go – for the staff, for the IT folks, for the customers? I suggest that small incremental improvements will likely be more successful.

I am beginning to think that tortoise-like slow and steady improvement wins the race. For a typical Boomer and a hare at heart, this is a radical thought!

Have a great week.

Kitty Pope
kpope @ alliancelibrarysystem.com #24 July /10

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