PLA 2018: Strategic Planning for Culture Change and a Dynamic Future

Auburn Public Library and Plano Public Library | March 22, 4 pm

Auburn, Alabama – Auburn University, 62,000, 20th fastest growing city in USA, top retirement destination, too.

  • $1.9 million budget, 22 FTE, municipal library , advisory board, stable funding
  • Strategic process goals: be intentional, engage employees at every level, and have a living, breathing document
  • Key Questions of the process:
  • Why are we here? Aspiration statement – big picture developed by leadership and board.
  • What do we believe?
    • Guiding Principles: Guideposts to help with decision making – questions to ask. Our community is at the heart of everything we do (don’t plan in a vacuum) and be responsive to the community – yes and maybe to patron requests. We work as a team – Every person at every level contributes to success of organization. People always come first (not that they are always right) – think about people not books or facilities. We don’t circulate the Gutenburg Bible…we can replace books, not people and relationships.
    • Policies and procedures are designed to make the library easier, not harder, to use.
  • Who Are We? We all fill different roles, including the Library.  Service Roles: collection, community connector, literacy and learning leader, place, and technology resource. A way to talk about ourselves and what we do, and to explain what we do to Board and City government.
  • What do Our Patrons Need? Service Priorities: Accessibility and Openness, Literacy and Education, and Community Engagement (partnerships)
  • Their strategic plan fits on 1 page – these 4 questions and all the answers.
  • The Process: Teams, Vision for excellence, Initiatives and activities, Lots of sharpies and post-its.
  • Program of Work – Enhanced To Do list for the year – Initiatives and activities to focus on for each fiscal year – priorities for the year. Owners listed,  and a timeline for each initiative. Priorities for follow through.
  • Never stop planning because planning never stops. Service Roles set for longer term, Service Priorities set for intermediate term and Program of Work for the upcoming year. It’s part of the budget process to update the POW – used to organize statistics, annual reports, and Director’s update – organized around the POW.
  • Results – great communication impact inside and outside. Used to explain the library to new assistant city manager (their boss). Accountability, day-to-day balanced with big picture, and integrates with other plans (department plans, professional development plan, and city department plans).
  • Chris Warren – @cswarrent321. cwarren@aubrunalabama.org

Libby Holzmann (libbyh@plano.gov) Plano Public Library System Director – Groove is in the Heart!

  • 277,000 population, Toyota moved to town, 5 locations, $12 mill budget, 179 staff
  • One Library, Five Branches – same and awesome – goal.
  • New director – started the process by listening to the staff and make it a collaborative process. Hear concerns, questions, ideas – themes popped up.
    • Didn’t understand why, where we are going, don’t know people outside the building.  Now join us with this project
  • Leadership Team (LEAD team) – Us v. They – anyone with manager or supervisor in the title told they were leaders and brought onto this team.
    • iOpt – online 24-question survey to see how people process information.  Needed to understand how everyone works and combat fear.
    • Questions for culture check – strengths/weaknesses of library? What are your responsibilities? What would it take to improve your skills? What are 3 key initiatives you would like to see for your library?
    • Conversation about “us” (what we believe about where we are going together as a team) | Changing “Our” direction | Creating consensus/clarity (Get 20 people on the same page)
  • Team Building taken to staff – asked to answer the same questions. Work as a team to gather info and get it back to LEAD team. Processed answers and found themes:
    • Place | Programs | Community | Development
    • Designated “champion” teams for each initiative
    • Champion teams created goals and actions, including “on boarding” new staff orientation
  • Staff Development Day – staff input
    • Director visited all libraries
    • Champions and supervisors leaded conversations in small groups – cross pollinating and made people uncomfortable – discussions. Staff can ask what the goals and objectives mean – personal understanding.
  • Training a huge component
    • Defined cross-training opportunities
    • Hands-on learning sessions
    • Cross-stem meetings
    • Ongoing & Frequent
    • Food is good
  • Tools: Visual org charts (asset mapping and picture in email) | Intranet | Outside Facilitator | Champions (communication) – authority to deliver | Training (frequent) | Reinforcing the Plan
  • Journey for everyone and bring them along with you. What do you Need from us?
    IMG_3001.jpg
  • Staff can now answer WHY they do what they do.
  • Next steps: measuring the outcomes | Sharing status and progress | Engaging the community
  • Momentum and pulling together | Next year invited to have a table #morethanbooks at community event (pull a fire truck)

Q & A

  • Team building consultant rather than a strategic planning consultant
  • Role of the trustee? Governing Board would have a much deeper involvement – mission and visioning. Staff, front-line involvement impactful (be able to tell the boss they have a bad idea). Director relies on staff to have the good ideas. Trustees speak for the needs of the community and constituents
  • How do you find boundaries – can’t be all things to all people. The plan – who are we, what are we trying to be for our community. Can say “Great idea, let’s connect you with these folks who do this” Mission creep. (Zoolander example). Understand your community. This is what our community needs us to do, not ‘this is what the library can do.’  Awesome at 5, rather than mediocre at 50.
  • We want all the things, but can’t afford all the things.  Asset mapping – using assets strategically to complete projects with existing staff. Using skills and abilities. Do that within your community – find everyone and asset map to the community. Partnerships.
  • How did you engage the community – external input? Auburn: greatest shortfall – didn’t seek as much as seeking for new plan. Surveys and focus groups and using outside resources from other existing plans, including citizen survey.  Plano: Asking the community at outreach – survey on the fly and take notes.
  • Where did capital/building planning fit into this process?  Auburn – parks and rec master plan included capital planning. “Library as place” service goal.
  • Leadership training helped give staff the skills they needed to self-guide through the process
  • Middle-management influence?  People with influence make the case to admin.  Storytelling and influence to get the Director to listen and be on board.
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One thought on “PLA 2018: Strategic Planning for Culture Change and a Dynamic Future

  1. If other parts of government took the tack that libraries like Auburn and Plano take in thinking about how best to benefit their citizenry, we would have much better and responsive government at all levels. I can’t think of another public entity that spends as much time as libraries do thinking about cost-benefit and actual outcomes — which is why I wish more librarians would enter municipal government leadership positions. We need librarian values and thinking in government!

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