Great presentation at IFLA last month in Singapore by Andrew Wells, University Librarian at the University of New South Wales in Australia.  He talked about agile management as being adaptive, flexible, responsive and able to change rapidly.  He listed the five ways of agile management as:

1. use peripheral vision — monitoring trends and industry changes, use scenario planning

2. encourage dissent — debate & challenge thinking (critical thinking as Rebecca and I have talked about in earlier posts)

3. experiment — and you might need to stop something (always a challenge)

4. simplify and flatten — push decision making to the front line, clear the lines of accountabilility, maybe use outsourcing

5. act quickly

With a 60% growth in enrollment from 2000 to 2010, the library spend per student decreased significantly.  Andrew’s university library embraced the digital transition which enabled innovation in space and other opportunities to experiment.  For instance, study seats have increased 26% over the past decade and are supporting other learning styles.  In terms of structure, the library used scenario planning and came up with ways to reduce duplication across specialized libraries in the system, centralize services, eliminate technical services (acquisition and cataloging), replace service desks with a help zone.  Self-help support resulted in a 90% increase in borrowing from the library.  I was particularly impressed with what Andrew’s library stopped doing including face to face literacy classes (they’re all done online now) and what they created: new services — research impact, research data management, research publications management, and direct support of academic staff with faculty outreach librarians.  Although Andrew and his team did not start out with the principles of agile management in front of them, that is what they have used over the last three years to achieve improvements and customer satisfaction.  Well done!