Connect, Create and Collaborate pt 3
In thinking this week about collaboration, connection and creation– in all its forms, this article in Forbes — about how most groups don’t truly collaborate got me thinking about times that I thought I was collaborating â€“ even partnering â€“ with other staff or community partners â€“ but what I was actually doing looked more often just like listening patiently, tolerating, or convincing.
To enter a room of possible collaborators and acknowledge you might not have the best idea yourself â€“ or that you need their help to do work differently and better can be a scary and risky endeavor. Scary because you might not be able to do it â€œyour wayâ€ and risky because you have to give up more control than you might be comfortable withâ€”and that this could change your outcome. Living in this place is a hard balance and I work on it almost every day because if it’s an idea with mutual investment â€“ something a group came up with — you have that many more people invested in its success and sustainability over the long term.
In my library right now we have three new strategic change focus areas â€“ students, seniors and readers. These are groups that we’ve always served and will continue to do so â€“ but we’re identifying them as â€œchange priorities,â€ meaning that we want to look for new, different ways of thinking about how to serve these groups throughout our libraryâ€“ ways that engage all our staff about things that they can each do in their work. In order to enter into this work in partnership with my colleagues, I had to back up and acknowledge I wasn’t the only expert in the room â€“ that everyone around me had new and different ideas that I hadn’t heard before.
Like many of us, I’ve been following the news of elimination of telecommuting at major companies like Yahoo and Best Buy . In both cases the desire for increased collaboration, among others, were cited as reasons for these changes â€“ it made me wonder what other strategies these companies â€“ and others â€“ were using to embed or reinforce a culture of collaboration â€“ which is way harder than just sharing a cubicle.
What can libraries learn from other organizations about what a real culture of collaboration could look like? If we could figure it out among staff, it would probably be easier to teach it to young people.