Friday, May 16, 2014

My Final Takeaways from the SLJ Think Tank

My last few takeaways from the 2014 School Library Journal Public Library Leadership Think Tank in Nashville came from a presentation by Denise Lyons. While Lyons had lots of interesting things to say about her topic--connecting to broad strategic development--the two points from her talk that hit home most to me really come down to staff empowerment. Admittedly, staff empowerment and empowering youth services folks in particular is on my mind a lot these days, what with the whole M.O. of the Storytime Underground. Thus the impact these two statements have had on me.

First, there's a way to move away from the most common roadblock in implementing a new service: "We tried that and it didn't work." That statement forces staff to slam on the brakes, taking away agency from people moving forward with ideas--ideas which, in all likelihood, they've given a fair amount of thought and research. BUT, says Lyons, you can restructure that negative shutdown by empowering the staff members who make the seemingly idea-ended statement. Get the staffers focused on a historical lack of success on the team of people who are figuring out how to launch the new iteration. They'll be able to bring their perspectives of what went wrong to the discussion, simultaneously letting them feel listened to and allowing the project team to take into account and make plans for historical problem points in order to avoid or address them this time around. Empowering!

The other big empowerment takeaway is most excellent: to get staff to do micro trainings, which Lyons called "Mini TED Talks." The argument is that staff don't need hours of trainer certification and experience at conferences in order to talk for 10 minutes about that thing they're really knowledgeable about. If a staffer is good at something and hearing about it would positively impact the work of other staffers, create a platform for micro trainings where that expertise sharing can take place. (That's basically the entire methodology behind guerrilla-style trainings anyway; a rose by any other name and all that jazz.) I've made no secret of my desire to see more folks speaking up about and sharing the excellent work they do, both for personal empowerment, advocacy, and the sharing of best practices that can result. Hearing that call for expertise sharing from another forum makes me very, very happy.


That wraps up my recaps of the 2014 SLJ Think Tank. I had an excellent time attending the conference, and I very much look forward to the conversations that will continue and develop out of the ideas that were shared in Nashville!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the idea of the mini TED Talks. My director asked me and a co-worker to come up with ideas for team-building activities, so I will be asking for that promptly. Thanks so much for sharing! :D