Monday, April 30, 2007

Can Change Occur Despite the Unchangeable Library Administrator?

In his recent rant about changing the unchangeable, David Lee King posted some very important observations and asked for ideas to convince administrators that constant change and innovation is good, and that it’s also a necessity in our new millennial world.

Technology (still!) is a world of mystery for many administrators. Technology happens. The challenge is that if the library administrators do not make technology a critical part of the library's vision it will continue to be an after thought. Any change involving or resulting from technology will continue to be a struggle.

It some ways it is understandable. Given fiscal and administrative functions and responsibilities make it nearly impossible for administrators them to keep up with technology. As an IT professional even I am even challenged to keep pace. Expecting administrators without a technological aptitude to carve out time to understand technology is simply not realistic.

Maybe we need to focus instead on convincing administrators that technology leaders need to be a part of the strategic planning and decision making processes. Make them a part of the senior leadership team. This way the administration is constantly exposed to technology talk and some assimilation could occur. However, getting new individuals added to the leadership team could be as difficult as convincing adminstrators themselves. Being a part of a team also does not assure support for ideas, but at least it opens up new communication opportunities.

In the classic Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers states that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%). Each adopter's willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption.

While Rogers' research focused more on market driven products, I feel this categorization and breakdown also describes how change and innovation is accepted within a library organization. Based on the categorization the innovators, early adopters, and even the early majority are likely to have their own motivations to change. Half of the library organization (the late majority and laggards) is likely to demonstrate some sort of resistance to change. The problem occurs when the administrators are among this group.

To be a change agent one needs to work on the unmotivated people first and get them involve in the change process as early as possible. Through exposure they gain knowledge and understanding and are more likely to form of a favorable attitude that allows the change to move forward. Once this group becomes committed to the change the easily motivated will simply fall into place.

There has been many threads over the last year regarding the concept of Learning 2.0 . I wonder. If we are able to educate the staff on technology and related changes would administrators be exposed to technology and change in most daily discussions? Would even more assimilation occur? Could a library organization learn to embrace and adapt to change despite the administrators? Sphere: Related Content

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