Monday, August 21, 2006

Is Your Library Organizationally Healthy?

I have had several interesting discussions recently about how a library's organization and culture are critical to its ability to innovate. (This topic thread was echoed in the recent Culture of No posting by Steve over at the Blog about Libraries.)

In browsing around on the topic, I came across a report entitled A Global Check-Up: Diagnosing the Health of Today's Organizations. As I read the report the idea that the "health" of a library (or any organization) is important to its ability to deal with technology made a lot of sense. However, this is not a new concept. It has been discussed in various contexts for decades.

Seven organizational types are identified in the report with three considered being "healthy":
  • Resilient: Flexible enough to adapt quickly to external market shifts, yet steadfastly focused on and aligned behind a coherent business strategy.

  • Just-in-Time: Inconsistently prepared for change, but can turn on a dime when necessary, without losing sight of the big picture.

  • Military Precision: Often driven by a small, involved senior team, it succeeds through superior execution and the efficiency of its operating model.

The four organizational profiles were identified as "unhealthy":

  • Passive-Aggressive: Congenial and seemingly conflict-free, this organization builds consensus easily but struggles to implement agreed-upon plans.

  • Outgrown: Too large and complex to be effectively controlled by a small team, it has yet to "democratize" decision-making authority.

  • Overmanaged: Multiple layers of management create "analysis paralysis" in a frequently bureaucratic and highly political environment.

  • Fits-and-Starts: Contains scores of smart, motivated and talented people who rarely pull in the same direction at the same time.
In an unhealthy organization:
  • Culture is dominated by a few personalities that plan and act based on their own personal agendas. (Culture of No?)
  • Reactive planning. Change results from managing a crisis.
  • Organization lacks clear decision rights and doesn't share information effectively.
  • Administration does not articulate a mission and vision.
  • Staff and committees are given responsibilities but not given final decision making authority. (Culture of No?)
  • Decision making appears to be participative, but final decisions do not reflect the input and feedback. (Culture of No?)
  • Administration sees a far rosier picture than the rest of the organization.
  • Processes and procedures impede rather than facilitate.
  • Library administration seeks a passive resolution to unhealthy situations. They let the "kids" figure things out.
  • Lack of communication between divisions; lack of sanctions for non-communication.
Does any of this sound familiar? Sphere: Related Content

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