As you are probably aware, the University Libraries’ executive team participated in a full-day retreat in mid-July, leveraging what we learned from the 360-degree and formative review processes conducted this past spring, with the goals of identifying obstacles to success and actions to be taken to learn and improve.

First, we’d like to thank all of you who participated in these review processes by filling out surveys or providing free-text input. Overall, the feedback provided to us, both individually and as a team, was candid, constructive and useful.

I’m pleased to report that the retreat was successful in meeting its aims, and we are excited about sharing its outcomes. The group engaged in substantive, sometimes difficult, conversations about where we are both as a leadership team and an organization, as well as where we would like to be. We spoke frankly about the state of our organizational culture – as evidenced by the feedback provided by many of you – and about how our behaviors as individuals and as a team enable and sometimes hinder organizational success. We identified areas for learning and improvement and committed to making some significant changes to enable future success, in alignment with our strategic directions and collective values.

You might remember that I shared four themes aggregated from this feedback at our general meetings in July (slides from my presentation):

  • Accountability for action in line with values and strategic goals
  • Enabling people to grow and succeed in their roles
  • Visibility and opportunities for sharing vision and providing feedback
  • Changing our culture is still a work in progress

These themes provided the framing for our discussions, during which we identified three areas for learning and improvement for ourselves and the broader organization:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of what shared leadership means and how to do it successfully
  • Develop a deeper understanding of what participatory decision making is and how to successfully enable it
  • Improve organizational communication by implementing more defined process-oriented communications strategies

To develop a collective understanding of these concepts and supporting behaviors, we will need a shared vocabulary. So, we will begin the process of drafting definitions, along with tangible, relatable examples of what these and related concepts might look like in action. These definitions will be workshopped across the organization, so all will have the ability to ask questions and suggest improvements. From this, we’ll build out a glossary that will represent our common understanding of important organizational learning.

In addition, we anticipate creating some simple scaffolding to clarify processes around decision-making and communications, with the goal of providing some light structure to better support shared leadership and participatory decision making across the organization. Many of you provided feedback requesting a little more structure in these areas. As for the definitional work, these light weight tools will be shared across the organization and made available for all to use and hone.

So, expect to see communications about these efforts in the coming weeks and months, and look for opportunities to engage.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions. Your engagement is both welcome and critical to the realization of our aspirations.

On behalf the Libraries’ executive team,

Damon E. Jaggars
Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries