Ruthless Prioritization


That’s the name of the best blog post I’ve read (and, most importantly intend to use): Ruthless Prioritization. For years I set priorities with various projects, and advised clients to ‘rigourously’ set priorities. Manage priorities. And I will now readily admit that managing priorities in a busy, small consulting firm was relatively straightforward; priorities were set by the size and significance of the client. But now, in library operations, I struggle with priorities day in and day out. Struggle? Ha! I don’t just struggle — I flounder – I fail. Miserably.

So as soon as I saw a post on “ruthless prioritization” I clicked on it! Admittedly, I expected to read a mamby-pamby post on the “importance of focusing on what’s important”, but hallelujah! This post gives a workable framework. Yes, the framework is designed and used by tech firms. But isn’t that perfect for libraries to adopt? Think about it — our products and services need to have the same urgency and life-span as those of tech firms, don’t they? Aren’t we competing with tech firms in many ways — to seize and retain people’s attention? Consider this statement:

Show me a team that has no bugs at launch, and I’ll show you one that should have shipped a long time ago.

Doesn’t that apply to library services and products? Don’t we keep refining, refining, refining to ensure there are no issues, no implications, no problems? Yet the only way to identify issues, implications and problems is to

Continue reading Ruthless Prioritization

Are you a new manager or team leader?


I just realized that the session I gave at last year’s OLA Superconference is on the web with full video (ew……..), slides and worksheets. The Accidental Manager is an excerpt from a full course for those new to managing a function or team. This 90 minute session focused on the all important and yet often overlooked transitioning from being an individual contributor to being responsible for a group. It also addresses the age-old question “How do I motivate_______ (fill in the blank) ???” The answer, of course, is “you can’t” – always rather disappointing for a new team leader or supervisor. What you can do, and must learn to do as a manager, is create a motivating environment in which expectations are clear, individual’s strengths and talents are recognized and utilized, communication is constant, multi-formatted and geared to various receptor readiness (we all hear things differently at different times), people know where the team is headed, why it’s headed there (even if they may not like it), and are treated fairly and as adults. Ah, there’s many other ingredients required for a motivating workplace, but those are the basics. The slides are here as well, with the worksheets, (and without the video accompaniment), or if you want your own copy, just drop me an email at rebecca at

OLA 2012 Superconference Virtual Experience

Hope to see you at OLA’s 2013 Superconference January 30th – February 2 at the Toronto Convention Centre. I’ll be at the Poster Sessions, sponsored

Continue reading Are you a new manager or team leader?

Take a pie chart to talk with your boss about priorities


Feeling overwhelmed with conflicting priorities, projects, meetings & every day “stuff”? Probably. And, if you are like most people, your frustration & stress level increases because not only are you run off your feet – or seat (since most of us are sitting) – but you know that you aren’t running in the direction you want to be towards the projects & priorities that are most important. Use your calendar and a simple pie chart to track where you are spending your time.

Look at the last month of your calendar; hopefully every meeting/discussion/block of time is in there — or you can fill in some of it. Do a rough calculation of the hours in each of 4 – 6 “buckets” of your job — those main areas in which you are investing your time. These areas should line up with your key responsibilities, but the pie chart will display what’s fact (& maybe what’s fiction).

I coach those new to management, particularly those who have “moved up” into leadership roles within an organization. The rule of thumb is that individuals in a new role have 90 days to demonstrate to their managers & to themselves that the role is right fit for them. Yet, too often when someone moves from one position into a new position they take some of their “previous” position with them. Here’s a case in point:

This individual had been given a promotion to a leadership role responsible for a large operational area including

Continue reading Take a pie chart to talk with your boss about priorities