Part 1: Strengthening The Profession

The impetus for a programme of work around ‘Strengthening the Profession’ came from a strategy paper to market the profession presented to Council in 2009. During 2011, Council ran a workshop at the Conference to help scope the work needed, and a subsequent survey of our membership to determine priorities. As a result, Council is now delighted to call for expressions of interest for working groups for three projects . . (Strengthening the Profession projects, LIANZA.) 

I was very intrigued to learn about these projects to see how I could contribute. Upon reading the details I found that they didn’t really provide much further insight into whether this would be worth my time and energy. It all seemed a bit waffly (is that a word?) to me.

But rather than leave it at that I thought it would be remiss of me not to at least seek some clarification to my questions and share them with readers in the hope of encouraging you to get involved (Expressions of Interest close 8am Monday 16 July 2012).

Laurinda Thomas, LIANZA President Elect

So I asked LIANZA President Elect, Laurinda Thomas if she would mind being interviewed for this blog. And, here we are.

This post is part one in a two part series (I had too many questions!). It answers some general questions about the projects – deliverables, terms of reference, role of Council members, selection criteria, time commitments, and skills of working party members.

The interview will conclude tomorrow and will look at each of the three projects – future skills, emerging leaders, and #brandlibraries in more detail.

Sally: Why has LIANZA Council opted for spending at least 10 months working towards delivering a set of recommendations and reports when at the end of that process new technologies, crisis’ and opportunities may negate (or at least disrupt) the implementation of these findings?
Laurinda: To answer that, I’d pose another question – what’s the alternative?  We can be paralysed by the prospect of what’s going to happen in a future we can’t predict, or we can start to take some actions now. I also believe that some of these issues are enduring – emerging leaders for example. As a profession we seem to have been talking about this for a long time – right through a Global Financial Crisis, the rise of ebooks and bring your own device, major mergers in the LIS sector. And it’s still an issue that pushes people’s buttons.

To me, the deliverables and timeframes convey a perception of importance but not necessarily urgency, would you agree?
The timeframes are really indicative. We’re mindful that the teams that work on this are, in all likelihood, going to do it in their own time. The teams need to think about how the projects are scoped, how big that looks and what they can reasonably achieve. There’s also room in some of them for potential activities like consultation which can take a while. If the teams want to deliver earlier, that’s totally fine!  We believe it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

The Terms of Reference are quite vague in terms of approach, breadth and depth of the project scope; will the working parties be able to determine this themselves or has LIANZA Council already made some decisions in this area to guide the working parties?
We want the working parties to have a fair bit of leeway in defining these. Part of the point in having working parties is that we don’t have all the answers!  And of course, there is always more than one way to approach a particular problem. Council will want to see and sign off the project plan – we have an accountability to make sure that the projects are run responsibly, and are an effective use of member funds.

How were Council Executive members allocated to the working parties? Strengths? Interest? Luck of the draw? And how will they drive the projects?
National Council members (rather than just Executive) were allocated on the basis of interest in the project. Their role is to make sure that the project is going to achieve the outcomes we’re looking for, provide guidance, put them in contact with people who can help assist in particular areas, make sure the project is tracking – all the things you’d expect a project sponsor to do. In terms of driving the project – that’s something that will primarily sit with the person chairing the team. The sponsor isn’t there to sit behind the project with a big stick!

Would LIANZA Council consider selecting Chairs and then allowing the Chair to select their own members for the project?
Yes, we’d consider it. If the chair wanted to do that, then they should indicate that in their application. What we would want to avoid is having a very homogenous group working together – we need to be having new conversations about some of these areas, and diversity and new voices can help.

If more nominations are received than places available, what criteria will be used to select members?
Criteria would include: commitment and availability for the project over its anticipated term, complementary skills and sectors are represented, experience (primarily for the chair), what they’d bring to the project.

The skills required by the working party are largely generic would it not be better to target specialists or experts in these fields?
While we’d definitely like the chair to have some expertise in the area, we’ve left the working party deliberately more open. Partly, this is so that members who are motivated, have good ideas, and a range of basic skills but are not necessarily experienced in the area, are encouraged to apply. Also, these projects can be quite cross-cutting across areas of expertise needed. We want the teams to be able to pull in experts where they need them to help with different areas of the project. This could come from a range of areas – the team may pull in someone they know, Councillors can help source experts, or we may have to buy in expertise.

Will the working parties determine how often they meet and the time commitments involved or has the LIANZA Council already made some decisions in this area to guide the working parties?
This is going to depend a lot on scope, research required, consultation the working parties think they need to undertake – and of course, we know that most people are going to be taking this on in addition to their day jobs!  There has to be a balance between it being such a big commitment that it’s too much to handle, and it being so small that the project doesn’t maintain any momentum. Depending on the project – it would probably be a weekly or fortnightly meeting.

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Tomorrow in part two, Laurinda shares her views on each of the three projects – future skillsemerging leaders, and #brandlibraries. Expressions of interest (attached to each project’s Terms of Reference) close 8am Monday 16 July 2012.

If you have any comments, suggestions or further questions about the projects please do contact Laurinda via email: laurinda.thomas@dia.govt.nz or Twitter: @laurindathomas or post a comment below (these can be anonymous).

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