The Power of Change: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

At Evanced, my job is to work with other librarians who are implementing our software in their library.  Usually, this goes pretty smoothly, but there is the occasional call that goes something like this:

“I’m implementing your software, but I don’t have the time right now.  We’re experiencing a lot of change,” they say.

“Really?  Budget crunches do that, can I help?,” I respond.

“No, our budget is okay.  We have a new director.  EVERYTHING is changing.  It’s exhausting.”

It’s exhausting.  That was the exact phrase I was told recently.  I was a library director once.  I went in, and I changed everything.  Oy.  It must have been exhausting for my staff then too.

I look back and with my glaringly clear 20/20 hindsight, I realize that in any management role I’ve ever been in, I could have done things differently.  I wouldn’t call them regrets, but definitely valuable lessons that I keep in mind now.  If I could do it all again, I would have…

…sat back and watched for a few months before jumping in and creating change.
…listened carefully to understand the background of “why things are the way they are.”
…dropped the “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” attitude.
…integrated major changes over a span of several months, instead of implementing them in a week or less.
…built-in “downtime” from change for both my staff and I so that we wouldn’t burn out.  Which we did.

How have you managed change at your library or organization?  What lessons have you learned?  I’m interested in hearing others perspectives on this!

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4 responses to “The Power of Change: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

  1. Oh my gosh, it’s like you’re reading my brain. When I came to PDL I said I wouldn’t change anything major for one year. I would just learn how things are, the history of how they got that way, and get a feel for changes the staff already wanted. Well, my year is up. Change is a-comin’, but it is change the staff already wants, change that won’t repeat mistakes of the past, and change that puts the patron experience above staff convenience. Nice post!

  2. Thanks Holly! I love your attitude! I think that is the way to go – waiting also builds trust and let’s your staff know what to expect from you. I can’t wait hear about (and see) the changes you make at PDL! Good luck!

  3. Finding the lay of the land before you bulldoze it is a good idea. I have to follow the swings of the policy pendalum. The new idea sounds fine, but if interested, that was implemented long ago by ancestors. It brought up those problems. To solve those problems, the predecessors undid the new idea. Now the new leadership is doing the new idea, and is about to discover the problems. I have been here too long, in that I remember the problems that will now happen. Maybe if I get old enough, I will forget what happened before, and mutter less.

  4. Forgetting as form of change tolerance. It could work! 😉 Ah, sitting back and watching the inevitable must be a bit tough. I bet some staff meetings are deja vu all over again, huh? Thanks for sharing…hang in there!

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