“Capitalizing on big opportunities and solving systemic problems will require organizations to come together to develop strategies as a group.”
Together with Rafael Ramírez, Trudi Lang, Gail Carson, and Dale Fisher, I have a new piece in MIT Sloan Management Review exploring scenario-based strategy for networks of organizations addressing large-scale challenges, drawing on experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).
For Public Libraries Quarterly, Bronwen Gamble and Melissa Adams of the Reading Public Library co-wrote an article with me on our scenario planning journey through a leadership transition in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It builds on Dale Leorke and Danielle Wyatt’s notion, expressed in their book The Library as Playground, of the library as “a space and institutional order innately imbued with playful qualities” to consider how libraries may be the perfect hosts for scenario processes which “play with expectations, hopes, fears, and desires, in a strategically consequential game of ‘What if?'”
COVID-19 has brought infectious disease, and the ways we fight or prevent it, to the forefront of discussion about the very biggest decisions our societies face. On issues ranging from economics, wellbeing, and sustainability to authoritarianism, democratic accountability, digital inclusion, privacy, and surveillance, the pandemic has become something we cannot ignore.
The paper explores both the use of scenarios, and the benefits of attending to value co-creation, in devising library strategy.
My contribution will be in dialogue with thought provoking papers from Seattle Pacific University’s Michael Paulus and a team at the OCLC library cooperative. We’ll consider what might await for information institutions and the communities they serve; how best to move forward in times characterised by turbulence, uncertainty, novelty, and ambiguity; and what it means to practice strategy at different levels, from the global to the deeply local.
I turned my ankle walking in the park the other day, which is good going for someone who used to hike at every opportunity and now, in lockdown, barely gets more than a block from his house.
It hurt a little, but the more notable thing is that it revived some memories.
Ten years ago, I broke my leg quite badly. It required surgery, and they screwed the bone back together with bits of metal.
It never really gives me problems these days, but any injury to the same leg gets me wondering and even worrying: Have I done something to the screws? Am I going to have to go through all of that again?
I dealt with my park injury as I usually would, but the real problem was the sensation of “having done something to my leg”. Every bit of sensory information coming from that part of my body now goes through the lens of history, memory, and emotion. Does it feel weird? Does it feel different? Is there a problem there? I have to try and separate out my historic feelings from the present experience – not rejecting them, but recognising them for what they are.
Pain is a great source of information, if only you know how to process it.
The great choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote that:
“The dancer learns early to take pain for granted and that there is great freedom in choosing how to respond to its appearance. The thing NOT to do is deny pain. It must be acknowledged. Sometimes the right way of moving forward will be to push through pain. Your choices determine who you will be, who the world will see[.]”
It was Groundhog Day this week. Inevitably that became an excuse for media outlets to return to the 1993 movie, in which Bill Murray’s misanthropic weatherman becomes trapped in an endlessly looped February 2nd. It’s hard not to draw parallels to the rhythms and routines of COVID lockdown.