Beyond authority – beyond late

Where is the time going?  Without the discipline of the CILIP Update backlog and with other competing priorities this blog has been something of a ghost town.

The academic year is also fast approaching it’s end and there are a number of tasks still to complete for the PDR.

One of those was to consider the book Beyond Authority: leadership in a changing world (2007) Julia Middleton.

I had picked this out as addressing a particular challenge for me in my leadership role in that I currently operate with no direct reports.  For my service to improve I need to affect change but this has to happen by working through partners, with limited funds and with people who I do not have particular authority over.

The book itself considers how leaders can operate beyond the traditional forms of authority granted by position or control of funds.  It considers how circles of authority relate to your place in your wider organisation and society in general.  When we move into the outer circles we need to lead beyond authority.  My role places me frequently in this position. Indeed I can feel like I am outside my circle much of the time while working to deliver a service for one sector from within another and as the employee of an external organisation with those I frequently work with most closely.

Key sources of power when operating in the outer circle are identified as communication / networks followed by personality and ideas.  It has certainly been my experience that good ideas will win people over but that you need to get a lot of people on board for them then to advance.

The book explores different roles for those leading beyond authority.  I am attempting to be a transformer in driving change and the book is useful in highlighting the potential to be used as a useful idiot or expert idiot.

The bulk of the book considers what is required to lead beyond authority.  I was generally encouraged by these. Elements around the right approach fitting my perception of my character.  People are key and it is important for me to build my networks but also to get outside my professional bubble.  The right methods section was where I have most work to do – this is about the long game but particularly about building strategic coalitions.  To do this a clear strategic message is vital.  Having been introduced to Strategy on a page as part of my NHS Leadership programme it seems a good place to start.

All in all a worthwhile read – I suspect that even those who feel they operate firmly within their own organisation and with the ability to direct a team to achieve their strategic goals would benefit from considering how they might reach out and work effectively beyond the library bubble.

Update November 2016 (and March 2015) and the end of the road

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It has been a long old struggle but this post covers the current issue of Update and the last of my backlog. The plan is not to let it get out of hand – there is no doubt that a current issue of Update is more interesting than one a year plus old.  While not always the most thrilling of publications I have continued to find the odd thing I have not heard about elsewhere and some really helpful brief articles on a wide variety of topics.

The October issue has a timely article on privacy and the Library user. My catch up reading meant I read another article by the same author (Paul Pedley) only the other day.  There is a handy list of potential paths to take to work with users around privacy issues.

I have already spoken to colleagues about the article by Wendy Morris on the Big Read at Kingston University. We are currently engaged on a mass reading project and there are valuable ideas here on how to build on the possibilities this offers.

South London colleague Sian Aynsley updates on the KfH Learning Zone. I heard a verbal update on this at #NHSHE2016 so this is more a reconfirmation of details of this helpful resource.

Finally in this issue I enjoyed reading about the experience of Sue Willis on the Libraries Taskforce. It is fascinating to have a glimpse at this task of influencing within government. The importance of adjusting communication styles to suit audience was an obvious take away.

And finally – May 2015!

I had already seen the Design Thinking for Libraries toolkit but this is well worth a look if you are interested in user experience and design thinking. There is a free book with all sorts of tips and ideas on how to learn more about users. I will probably read this again ahead of a project I am managing to use external consultants to help with this at work.

Finally there is an article explaining obligatory revalidation – sadly it didn’t make the case strongly enough to get it past the members!

Getting engaging at #NHSHE2016

The #NHSHE2016 conference was more than just a poster competition and a chance to catch up with good colleagues.

There was the usual full programme of talks. It was useful to hear about some of the new structures in the NHS around STPs (Sustainability & Transformation Plans AKA Sticky Toffee Pudding AKA Secret Tory Plans) with Local Workforce Action Boards (LWABs) a new one on me and seemingly a useful place to seek involvement.  Within the developing STP picture there is less emphasis on organisational boundaries.  A big drive for a digital ready workforce should also have implications for us – support for effective working in an online environment is something we could plug into.

Louise Goswami gave a good run through on KfH progress.  The patient and public area was the newest on me and it was good to get a view of the breadth of work in this area. The patient and public is not a natural match for HE based libraries – it was good to see ideas for how we can support the Trust in their work with these groups rather than perhaps taking a direct patient facing role.

Sue Lacey-Bryant gave a great talk on efforts to advance “mobilising evidence and organisational knowledge” AKA Knowledge Management. There are concrete tools and training coming that can help us make this a reality which is great as I have long maintained an interest without advancing very far (see this since abandoned 2008 blog where I read Learning to Fly). There will be a campaign  #amilliondecisions advocacy championing expertise of librarians and knowledge in mobilising evidence.

I was really pleased to participate in an innovation presentation session.  I spoke about how I made our annual reports for NHS partners more engaging and useful for all concerned.  The slides are pretty simple in that they consist largely of a lightly edited version of the report.

The style is very much based on that used by the University of York for their action plans.  The talk was well received – both in terms of winning first prize in a public vote but also in terms of people discussing it with me afterwards. I had a similar experience when I shared it with colleagues in my local network so it was great to be able to spread this further.  I plan to follow up in the Spring to see if any NHS colleagues have gone with it following the talk.

Making Metrics that hit the MARC

I always enjoy preparing a poster for the #NHSHE2016 Conference organised by London Health Libraries (now with added KSS).  There are always good prizes and the chance to create something to make the office look less dull while sharing a piece of work.  We were tasked with the theme of Knowledge for Healthcare which was pretty straightforward as this encompasses pretty much anything you care to look at professionally these days.

My main direct involvement with KfH has been around metrics.  The presentation I gave at HLG2016 Scarborough brought home to me the need to make the materials we had produced in the Metrics Task and Finish group more accessible.  It was also clear that people were interested if things were put to them clearly. So a poster on Metrics was the obvious outcome.  I went with trying to hammer home the message about the four principles and what they mean in practice. Using MARC as an acrostic had the bonus of chucking in a feeble nerdy library pun.

The poster was well received. While it came only 6th out of 9 in the popular vote this was a step forward on last years metrics poster which was a rare non prizewinner. A few people verbally told me how clear and helpful they had found it. I was really pleased to see a tweet afterwards sharing the poster with a group of other libraries after it had been raised at a network meeting.  I am hoping that people will share with me examples of how they have used the metrics work.

Next steps are to create a version of this post for the KfH blog and move on with the plans to set up a national metrics collection tool.

Well fellow there?

I have pondered applying for Cilip Fellowship a few times.  The latest provocation was the realisation that under the old revalidation scheme the third round would have made me a Fellow.  I appreciate the new scheme is less of a job than the old one but the discipline of revalidating made me very aware of the range of development I have completed over the years. Generally I have been put off by the slightly minimalist guidance available on the process.  I have also been busy learning about life in HE and completing the AKC (final year of this at present).

A timely event organised by Cilip in London in October helped quell some of my doubts about the process. Hail Fellow well met brought together potential fellowship candidates, those already in process, some Fellows and those involved on the assessment side.  While there were some useful materials available it was predominantly the opportunity to have a conversation with those who understood the nature of the process that made the difference. There are alos a good few people I know on Twitter who are engaged in the process at present so I have a ready made community to discuss things with.

I had mooted starting the process next year to my boss but have ended up plumping for just getting on with it so there will be a bit of Fellowship commentary on here in the coming months.  In the first instance I am all registered, have found a mentor and found a copy of the portfolio book in the work ebook collection (the paper copy is not on the shelf and not issued – tut).  Anyone know where I left my CV?

#HLG2016 cutting through the fog

A few thoughts while #HLG2016 remains fresh in the mind.  Hopefully there will be a good number of reflections shared in the coming days (Abi Alayo has been quick off the mark with her thorough posts for the first and second day.  I am likely to be less thorough!

The conference had a packed agenda but it is the window to talk to so many colleagues that really makes it.  This started ahead of time on twitter with the depth of adoption of this channel continuing to grow (NodeXL analysis of patterns of use, language and so on). The journey up offered time for initial conversations and the world was partially set to rights with Ben Skinner on a later than hoped for train from York. One of the topics was around the challenge of liberating the data that we hold and need to use (more on this in another post).

Safely arrived at the Royal there was time to help some guy push his slush puppy cart into an arcade and to buy three pints and half a coke for £7.70 (Seven pounds seventy pence London pub drinkers vidiprinter) down on the harbour side.

The next morning started with the pleasure of finally meeting Michael Cook after years of being in contact online.  Running along the sea front was a great way to open the day and to get a feel for the fog. This was one of at least a couple of semi organised runs by delegates and it would be a nice thing to continue at future events.

The conference venue was the Scarborough Spa which had a slightly faded glamour but met our needs overall (the wifi worked!). The shifted date was less successful with the Higher Education contingent clearly reduced due to student inductions already being underway or looming.

There was a strong Knowledge for Healthcare theme throughout the two days which may have been off putting for some.  This is balanced to some extent by the extent to which the products of KfH workstreams are publicly available and often widely applicable.  The volume and quality of work going on is impressive with tool kits in all directions.  Work on increasing the role of centralised procurement rang some alarm bells for me – we have moved from £2mill spent centrally to £4mill but the view is that some £12mill could be spent this way.  That money is unlikely to be new money!  Efforts to look to the future of staffing are also welcome with another leadership programme and a development path for senior managers on the way.  I suspect there are non NHS health folk on the current leadership programme and I really hope so as it is important to get a wider perspective where possible.

I forget how long it is since the introduction of “Do once and share” but duplication of effort remains stubbornly persistent.  The work on Current Awareness illustrated this clearly with over 700 bulletins under production just from the people who responded to a survey on this. Approaches around consolidating these while establishing best of breed models feels overdue.  The guideline on good bulletin production will be one to watch for.

My own session on metrics drew a larger crowd than I had hoped for with pretty much a full room. It brought home to me the need for additional efforts to explain how the principles we developed for good metrics can be applied. In a similar way to the CAS bulletins I could see the germ of a plan to develop best of breed metrics based around shared templates. There was some confusion over whether this was an additional piece of work or a replacement for national statistics returns.  In essence I hope the principles will be used as part of the national statistics review to inform any changes.  What I hope I expressed strongly during the talk was that the interest in metrics is mostly  the extent to which they can drive useful conversations – with our stakeholders and with each other.  Through out the conference we were reminded of the importance of being active in the boardroom as well as at the bedside. Having something concrete to talk about that responds to the priorities of senior stakeholders must be a good thing. I will make some tweaked slides for the web and blog them in the next few days.

After the rush of presenting we then had a fun conference dinner from which I may have escaped with slightly too much CILIP HLG rock!

HLG Rock(s)

A pair of keynotes kicked us off well on the second day with Nick Poole running through progress at CILIP and recognising the impact of health library and information professionals work. I hope the new model for subscriptions and improving offer will have the desired effect to widen participation and membership. This was followed by a moving talk from Lynn Daniel on the Expert Patient Programme. While I am sure I was not alone in wondering about the evidence base for some of the interventions proposed it was clear that her work has considerable impact on peoples lives with access to information at the heart of it.

The expert work of Judy Wright in supporting research proposals was fascinating and highly relevant to some of the thinking I am doing about search support for my own organisation. This along with a number of discussions I had made we wonder a little as to how up to scratch our skills are in these areas.  While there are some seriously well equipped librarians out there I certainly feel that I know less about systematic review and other advanced searching than I would like.  As we shift to delivering more highly specialist work and automation advances we need to ensure that we can maintain credibility. More thoughts on this to come in another blog post.

Other useful talks were Jo Milton from Cambridge on UX work (experience sharing planned for the future) and Andrew Brown looking at RoI.  The RoI work confirmed how hard this is to do well and the risks associated with starting to move into the realm of putting a price on all things.

HLG committee were keen to hear about ideas for what else we might do. The potential for holding HLG Conference annually was suggested. I wonder whether we might run something like the UKSG one day event which combines a trade fair with a selection of talks? A notable difference is that this is a free event to attend. We could look to make the overall cost lower (no lunch unless a sponsor covers?) to allow this. I would also like to see HLG campaign with members to increase uptake of revalidation. The concept of regular revalidation is understood and undertaken by many of those we work closely with. HLG can lead the way on raising use of this method and normalising it across the profession.

We emerged from the fog as the train whisked us off home. This felt like an important conference and reminded me how much I love working in the health information community. There is no doubt that significant progress is being made across many areas of work. There is also no doubt that financial pressure is going to be intense for most of us. The call to engage with NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans, with the patient information agenda and with making the future we want to be part of has to be heeded.

 

CILIP Update June 2016 and July August 2015

June 2016 Update (plus July / August 2015)

Thought I would have a change from reading about the chaos being unleashed by the EURef and flip through the latest from CILIP (and from them a year back).

June 2016 first.

Bit surprised that the consultation on the new membership model is given just a small news item. This seems a pretty big deal to me.  The new lower price is likely to be welcomed by many.  I wonder how strong the maths is on the number of people likely to take up the “leaders” option and how convincing the package of extra benefits is?  There will definitely need to be some strong recruitment of members.

Positive to hear how the Library at Ferguson supported the community following the shooting of Michael Brown.

Even more positive is the column by Dawn Finch as President on the importance of ethical principles in the profession.  I have been disappointed again by the decision of HLG to suggest conference sponsors should influence the content of the event.  For me this falls foul of the 7th principle

Impartiality, and avoidance of inappropriate bias, in acquiring and evaluating information and in mediating it to other information users.

Meanwhile back in 2015 when we had some semblance of order in UK politics.. Michael Gove was scrapping the book ban in prisons.

I really should have checked out the Impact Toolkit (launched in this issue) by now.  Glad to see Mary Dunne was involved – she spoke really well at HLG 2014 in Oxford.

Over the page is David Gurteen on Knowledge Cafes.  I attended one a few years back at the BDA but found it a bit overwhelming with numbers involved that day.  The focus on conversation is really helpful as we work on driving engagement at work.  A reference is lacking for the Zeldin book on Conversation which I recommend to all as a quick but worthwhile read.  I am very keen on the idea of conversation needing to take place in the physical world – definitely more benefit for me.  The more I can talk to people the better things go.

Interesting to read of efforts at Plymouth to provide core reading material as e-textbooks for undergrads.  It would be interesting to know how strong the actual usage was – a drop in paper circ for purchased titles was mentioned which you would expect.  The preceding article on ebooks was a handy reminder of a few issues and options as I look at what I can do for my NHS users.