Where developing the Strategic Plan was something of an exercise in visioning of an ideal state, implementation has proven to be more of a reality check. Where I had assumed the transition between development and implementation would be a simple baton pass, I have instead come to better understand the oft-repeated business trope: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Six months into our new planning cycle, I observe that UW Libraries sustains a culture of waiting: top-level administrators waiting to hear from their directorates; staff waiting to hear from leadership; campus liaisons waiting to hear from external stakeholders; waiting for new hires, new programs, new resources… Unquestionably there are benefits to a “waiting” approach that connotes patience, caution and certainty. But I’m still waiting for someone to grab this baton!
Tempering my personal tendency toward impatience, I can report a significant amount of good work on advancing our strategic goals:
- Some level of strategic goal-setting has happened in nearly every area of the Libraries, including Research & Learning Services, Distinctive Collections, Administrative Services, Collections & Content, the Health Sciences Library, UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and various tri-campus committees.
- Libraries Cabinet has prioritized near-term goals related to IT infrastructure, communication and equity, diversity and inclusion.
- All Libraries portfolios are in the process of articulating near-term strategic actions to achieve in 2019.
- Across the organization, we are pursuing opportunities to insert strategic-goal language into accountability documentation like project proposals, performance evaluations and annual reports.
- Cabinet will build out specific actions with definitive leads, milestones, timelines and success measures—and will establish new channels to sustain communication on our progress.
As much as has been happening, I still feel like we could do more. My amateur organizational-behaviorist perspective is that we haven’t yet completely embraced our aspirations toward becoming a learning organization, one that continuously transforms itself and values exploration, experimentation and even failure in the face of a waiting culture.