Developing a Practical Approach to Change

Brad Warren


Forecasting and attempts to predict what will happen is an innate aspect of the human condition that transcends the walls of the organizations in which we work or the careers that we have chosen. As academic libraries enter into the 4th (or 5th) Industrial Revolution, we are awash in trends, futurists, analysts, reports, innovations, bold initiatives and a plethora of people attempting to get many of us into the headspace of what will and can happen rather than the mundanities of the present. While I am glad that the trend of asking about the 21st century library is waning now that we are 20% of the way into it, I am also in a new position of administrative responsibility and authority in which I am quite lost as to how to find a direction and help steer the organization within the current environment. I do not believe that I am alone in the struggle of figuring out trends, but I find that I am in a bit of an existential crisis in trying to determine what to do next. The promise of Plan S and a wonderful future of openly accessible content is not enough to sustain me into the near or distant future without thinking about a pragmatic approach to the constant winds of change. I feel that much practicality and pragmatism is getting lost in our continued chase after the ‘next big thing.’ It is important that our visionaries and idea generators connect with the people who can make sure that ideas are actually implemented and usable to our changing constituencies. I believe that this connection, however, is tenuous and the strengths and skills that many of us already possess are often lost or not applied practically to the various changes upon which we are embarking.

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