Getting Things Done: Unrelenting in Direction

Moving ideas, plans and projects ahead is always a challenge.  I talked today with Ken Haycock who is well known for making things happen.  As a member of the Advisory Board for San Jose State University School of Library & Information Science, I watched Ken grow the program and develop it into the only totally online program of its kind with students and faculty from around the world on the ecampus.  What are his secrets?  Well, Ken was hired to transform the library program at SJSU, and he started with the mission and worked on a strategic plan with his faculty and admin.  Under Ken’s leadership, they looked carefully at their strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities — even those beyond the univeristy — and also the opportunity costs and costs of “not doing”.  They looked at their customers, internal at the university and external with students, employees as well as other library schools.  They set goals, such as being nationally ranked (which they achieved in a few short years and keep improving the rank number).  They changed processes, which is hard as all change is, but used a consultative process with consensus votes.  They met 4 times a year for 2 day retreats (rather than monthly meetings); they brought in more faculty support staff.  They looked at what the university valued (national rankings, generating $$, awards) and achieved those goals.  They found work arounds.  Basically, as Ken says, “we were unrelenting in our direction, although our approaches sometimes changed.”  He mentioned SOPPADA as a way to get things done:  a 1-2 page report that covers in context: subject, objective, present situation, plan, advantages, disadvantages, proposed action.

Subject – Focus – What is to be done?
Objective – Goal – What is to be gained?
Present – Situation – What is happening now?
Proposed – Solution – How can it be different?
Advantages – Benefits – What are the benefits?
Disadvantages – Hassles – What are the hurdles?
Action – Next Steps – How can we help the situation?

If you have studied your proposal from all the angles and can answer all the questions that come up, your changes are much better for getting approval.   Ken also talked about not asking the question if you don’t want the answer (or as Rebecca and I always say — it may be better to ask for forgiveness than permission).

Ken spent time as a library board trustee and councilor, locally elected political positions, and gained many skills from these roles.  His advice?  Build relationships without asking for anything, gain trust — people can’t trust you if they don’t know you.  Gain credibility with your track record, be self confident, confident in your abilities.  Treat everyone as an equal, seek out those with a common cause, and build a network.  65% of jobs in the library and information field are filled through a network.   Peter Newman once said that the old establishment was a club, the new establishment is a network.  And certainly our social networking tools, like LinkedIn, enhance our abilities to network.

Ken gave some interesting comparisons of students in an MBA program and those in a library and information science program (again that self confidence comes up just as it did in the SLA study from years ago); discussed ROTI — return on time invested (is it work X amount of time?); and urged us not to confuse the environment with the profession — many of  use our library and information skills in many other organizations and fields.  Thanks, Ken, and we’ll be following your new blog starting next week!

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