Senior staff of the NWU Library and Information Service gathered recently at the Botanical Gardens in Potchefstroom, for a two day Indaba. The purpose was to reflect on 2018 and plan for 2019 in the context of the University’s direction and the LIS vision, mission and the six strategic goals.
Prof Ronnie Lotriet, MBA Program Manager at the NWU Business School, set the scene with a session: Effective strategic management going forward. He stressed the need for the LIS to focus on services that can make a meaningful impact on the core business of the university. We need to move services closer to user communities (Faculties) and become even more visible as an integrated support team in connection with stakeholders. We need to tell what is unique about us, get regular feedback from users and tap into collective wisdom of staff.
We need to raise the bar with the following practices:
- build trust, have honest conversations about challenges
- don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – some evidence is better than no evidence
- asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers
- persistence and repetition are key to changing behavior
- celebrate or reward success
Some derailers in the process can be: overly critical of others, negativity and inflexibility.
He recommended that we need to do a brainstorming session and do a SWOT analysis to determine our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (the previous SWOT analysis was only done in 2015 before restructuring). This analysis will inform our strategy going forward. He emphasised that a strategic plan paints the bigger picture – it’s a directional document which should last 3-5 years. It should be complemented by an operational plan which focuses on shorter term goals, ranging from 3 to 12 months detailing who should do what, why, how, by when. He congratulated the LIS with progress up to now, and for the initiative to have this session.
Representatives of People and Culture gave informative sessions on Performance Management and Staff Development, followed by a productive question and answer session.
Also on the first day, there was an opportunity to reflect on 2018 regarding Research Support, Library Systems, Client Services, Shared Services, Outreach, Projects and Quality. In these reflections there were opportunities to feature highlights as well as challenges experienced during the year.
The 2nd day was all about planning. Dr Moyo indicated that we need to be aware of what is trending in the LIS environment:
- community involvement
- we need to focus on all user groups
- reinvent library spaces and services (with mentioning of coming technology commons in all libraries)
- we need to know more about library users
- create an image of the library (challenge wrong perceptions)
- focus on emerging technologies (makerspaces, self-service and social media)
With the challenge to deliver action plans for 2019, there was an opportunity for group discussions where after representatives focused on activities within the strategic goals which need to be addressed. This will form part of the LIS Annual Plan for 2019. The draft LIS plan which was developed, was the main outcome of the Indaba.