Monday, September 21, 2015

Up the Ante on Change!

Deb Wallace, Executive Director
Knowledge and Library Services, Harvard Business School
SLA Conference, Boston Massachusetts
June 16, 2015

Ms. Wallace gave an informal talk on managing/coping with change.  She opened with an icebreaker on how to frame her talk and opted for a book talk.

Book 1 – First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham

Have a passion for leveraging libraries.

What makes a successful work environment?  What do good managers do?

Great managers are not doing what the experts say.  Break with conventional wisdom.  They don’t treat everyone the same.

  1. Select for talent – it’s about the people.
  2. Define the right outcomes – not the process.
  3. Focus on strengths
  4. Develop people in ways that make sense.  Find the right fit for people – leads to life-long learning.

Book 2 - Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, by Christensen, Johnson and Horn.

Technological enabler – makes things better

Value change – coherent economic models

Book 3 - The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries

Intellectual ambition – scholarship of the school.  We are skirting the edges.  We need to dive in.
No baby steps.  JUMP!

  • Build a minimal viable product.
  • Measure your findings
  • Learn
Just get out there and try!

We learn in three’s – three’s the limit, but one more book…

Paraphrasing Mark Twain – The death of the library is greatly exaggerated.

Book 4 - BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, by John Palfrey

Leaders can’t pull – they have to ignite.
It is okay to fail – what is important is to try and learn.
Failure is a drastic term. 
Big failure is when we do harm.  If we aren’t doing harm then we are learning.  But repeating mistakes isn’t acceptable.

As a leader I have to trust myself.  Trust works in all directions.

Responsible: Those who do the work to achieve the task.  You will do this.
Accountable (also approver or final approving authority):  The buck stops here.
Communication (Consulted, sometimes counsel): Subject matter experts with whom there is two-way communication.
Informed:  The people who are kept up-to-date on progress

The greatest act of teaching is to learn.

What does it mean to be a leader?

Benjamin BJ Armstrong, LCDR, USN
SLA Conference, Boston Massachusetts
June 16, 2015

BJ Armstrong gave good talk on leadership skills at the SLA Conference in Boston back in June.  The presentation was sponsored by the Military Libraries Division and the Leadership Division.

Admiral Rickover – the father of the nuclear Navy, asked why Navy journals continued to publish articles on leadership.  The answer came that articles were still needed.

Alfred Thayer Mahan – Godfather of Naval theory. 

21st Century Mahan – by Benjamin Armstrong

Mahan gave a talk to the Victorian Club in Boston in 1905 on the topic of British admiral Lord Nelson and his success as a leader.

The key to Nelson’s success was his trust in his subordinate officers and men.

There is an interplay of risk and trust.  Nelson acted with conviction and confidence in his decisions because he had faith in his subordinates.

Nelson trusted that his men had the same zeal and convictions as he himself had.

He would also get his men the recognition that they deserved – and they knew that.

Nelson was so friendly and nice that his men wanted to do as he ordered.

But there was accountability for error and bad judgment.  Nelson could be impatient with his men as well.

Nelson was able to lead because he was willing to accept risk and he trusted his men.

Vice Admiral William Sowden Sims, Commander of the US Naval forces, WWI, President of the Navy War College.

21st Century Sims – by Benjamin Armstrong
Sims looked at what it takes to be a good junior leader.

Outlook similar to modern day Mission Command theory.

Tell the subordinate what to do – but let him/her decide how to accomplish the task.

Sims: orders are not to blindly obeyed unless the senior officer is present and knows the situation.  Otherwise, use your own judgment.

A junior leader demonstrates loyalty and demonstrates initiative.  At times these can be in conflict.

Senior leadership – trust others and rely on their skill and loyalty and also trust yourself.

Junior leadership – loyalty to supervisors – but trust yourself (show initiative).

Know how, when and whom to trust – this comes through thoughtful reflection.

Synthesizing Mahan and Sims:
Comes down to three elements:

  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Initiative
Being a leader is knowing when to trust other and being loyal to them.

Sims was put in charge of Naval gunnery.  He wrote some guidelines – but left it to each commander to determine how to meet those standards.  There was a competition.  You could do it any way you want, but if you win the competition – you have to write a report on how you did it. 

Sims recognized that he didn’t know everything about the best way to accomplish this – so this was his solution to crowd-sourcing (before that was a term.)

A leader has automatic loyalty to his/her subordinates.
But be circumspect about your loyalty to those above you.  Make them earn it.
Sims was himself insubordinate at times.  Once it paid off – another time it did not.

How do you rebuild trust?

Many people fear telling the boss why/how he isn’t trusting others.  It takes courage to speak up to the boss.

Back to Admiral Rickover – Leadership can be taught.  It is both practical and theoretical.  It will never be simply a matter of checking off boxes to say one is a leader.  There is the theoretical part that goes beyond the lists.

Armstrong made reference to the book/movie The Wonder Boys – a teacher was asked, 

Can you teach writing?

The teacher replied, No – you can only encourage and develop a writer.