Friday, January 17, 2014



For the personal leadership plan I interviewed the CIO (B), Manager of Records and acting Manager of Information Delivery (M), and the Manager of the Library (A).


Question: “What do you feel the vision of the library of the future to be? How do you plan on meeting this vision?”

(B):”My vision is simple, which is the concept of, know thy customer. We should know our audience and anticipate their needs ahead of time. We need to be at the forefront of their information needs. I believe that by truly knowing your audience and being available to them, they don’t know what they don’t know and we can be there for them.”

(M):”Because the library is already primarily electronic, our collection that is, and we will still continue to have librarians, we will need to change the tools the libraries use to be more automated for our customers. Librarians will help sift through a lot of data in an easy and convenient way. Because budgets are going to impact us, we need to be smarter and change our current process to make sure we have the right tools necessary to provide to our customers”

(A):”Because our library is different than a traditional academic library, my vision for the library is that we’d be much more embedded throughout the organization and less than a team of librarians. I envision that different staff with have different expertise and knowledge. We would be working closer to projects and with our clients. We have some growing pains we are getting through and we have a long ways to go.”


Question: “How would you define our organizational culture? Formal/informal, open communication, people friend, bureaucratic, competitive among staff, trusting relationship with ourselves and with our patrons? What are our barriers that affect our culture?”

(B):”If we are formal in our culture it causes bureaucracy. Too much formality can be annoying to get work done. If we have a more informal culture it equals agility or agile behaviors. People are more willing and open to be flexible. This is something we need to fix. We don’t know what they need, we need to establish a good relationship with our customers. Our customers are the end-user, therefore we need to be very customer-centric.”

(M):”Our culture here in the library has long been established now. I don’t know if I have any influence. Where I think it is and where I think it should be is different. I’m new to this group so it is hard to be completely immersed in their culture. Having been in IT for 20 years we had a different culture than the rest of the lab. IT has been my family for quite a bit of time. We had a lot of activities in the evening, summer, and with our families. We had a very family atmosphere where we were constantly looking out for each other. It has changed recently and across the lab. We are taking on corporate America’s ideas of procedures and policies. If Harvard believes it then we follow the band wagon. I think PNNL has always been different, researchers face a cut-throat industry sometimes too. If you bring in money, then we will look the other way if you are bending the rules. The barriers the library faces in respect to our culture is affected by the constant hunt for a work package number, hopefully the culture will change with the librarians being embedded in groups that they can work with the researchers in finding work. For some people they think that the PNNL way can be every man for themselves, I’m not going to share what I know, knowledge is power. I’m not necessarily in agreement with this.”

(A):”I think our group is can be any of what you mentioned. We can be formal or informal, open or closed communication, we definitely face bureaucratic policies . We are not an island to ourselves. The larger the organization it affects us, it can potentially influence us and others. It depends on who you talk to on any given day about our culture. We are matrixed into PNNL in a different way than other groups are which can be considered a barrier.”

Human Resource

Question: “Change is always hard for staff and with the big change the librarians’ have made being spread out across campus, now new organizational changes, and rapidly changing technologies. What methods will you use to help direct the staff in terms of training and staff development? Will they be offered to all staff or select few? How do you determine which staff will benefit from training and staff development? How do you recognize staff? Do you think there are some staff that are burned out, stagnant, or are stuck in a rut? If so, what ways do you try to get them out of this?”

(B):”I believe strength and passion go together. You want to invest in the people who are proactive. Those who are proactive have an increase in knowledge. Knowledge is power. For the people who have plateaued in a work place you want to restart their engine. If you set the bar high you reward the up and comers. You want to surround talent around talent.”

(M):”The library is much better than IT in understanding what training and development needs they want. It is up to the individual to want to grow and take initiative. The problem is where is the work package number to pay for it? A way to recognize staff could be done through offering to pay for training, but budgets affects this. If an individual shows a vision and how they fit in they should go for it. We should address gaps and come up with a new vision. The bus will leave them if they don’t jump on board. Knowledge equal power and if people are stuck in a rut they need to take initiative to grow. It is up to you to want to grow and direct your future.”

(A):”This is only partially in my hands, there is a division or committee to make recommendations for training and staff development. We’ve requested input for training, roll the input up, rank those requests. We could create funding for training but does it go to overhead to directly to the customer? We have to find a balance somewhere. I would like to think we have a voice in this matter. Or organization is very IT centric, getting ideas out is difficult. We don’t have a budget separate from IT. I believe in verbal recognition in front of others. I believe in verbal recognition or an email or at a meeting to tell others that here is a person doing well. There are and have been people who are stagnant or stuck in a rut. I talk to them about what they would like to do and move opportunities around. I like to see people diversify and grow. The problem with this is communication. We want more people to be self- motivated.”


Question: “What benchmarks do you use to gauge success or failure of some of the projects you have been involved in?”

(B):”I feel that the metrics that matter the least are scope, budget, schedule. These are traditional measures. I feel that the measure of success involves the questions, did you drive adoption of an idea? Did you change behaviors to get different results? Did I achieve transformation and change? In a lot of ways showing return of investment is hard to demonstrate a tangible success.”

(M):”I struggle with metrics. Sometimes I start at the end to know what is considered a success and work backwards from there. If you don’t know what the end result is supposed to be. How do you measure success? It’s easy if you start with the end and work backward because this is what we’re looking for. I would say 99% of the time, the end moves as you move towards that direction. Sometimes we throw away that metric and create a new one because of changes that occur along the way.”

(A):”In terms of budgets, I think about whether I came within budget. Did I get tasks done when I needed it to get done? Each staff member had a goal, those goals may need to benchmarked, but I consider those my goals too. Did they meet their goals? Why did they not meet those goals? Those are tangible questions. However there are intangible ones. Did they move forward with their goals? Are they trying to better themselves? Were they communicative during the process? Were they sharing with the other staff members what they were doing? Measuring and keeping track of goals is hard and for some it isn’t important. The new manager who steps in will have new goals and our goals will change because of that. What will their vision be? You want goals you can control although there are some you can’t control.”


Question: “What do you think your strengths are as a leader? What do you think your weaknesses are? What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make as a leader?”

(B):”My approach to engaging others to drive results and inspiring folks is one of my strengths. I look to get the road blocks out of the way. I like to set the tone and let people fly with their visions. ‘I say’ is not my philosophy, that involves too much pomp and circumstance. My weaknesses are time management, over committing, and I think too far in front and others aren’t following. The most difficult thing for me is tough people decisions. A great team is the sum of its people. If the people are underperforming or are given tough feedback the organization with drown under dysfunction.”

(M):”There is a Ted talk I listened to recently and I liked the message,’Anyone can be a leader, but you have to have courage to come up with a vision’. I feel that communicating the vision can be difficult. Where’s the dividing line? Am I meeting the expectations of everyone above me? I feel that I have enough people who accept my vision so let’s move forward. Not everyone gets on board and then we have to wait. What I find difficult as a leader is how much risk are you willing to accept? I’m willing to take risks, but then you lose the trust of others and then who has your back?”

(A):”I believe my strength is the ability to listen to people’s different ideas and where it should take us. I think that taking all of that information and getting people to own those ideas, lay them down, and encourage them to run with it. My weakness is that I’m impatient. I need more patience. I get impatient and want people to keep moving along and be more self-motivating and looking at the big picture of what possibilities are available to them. The difficult decisions I face as a leader involves reporting up to management and fighting for the team we currently have. Knowing when its best, what fights to pick, and what fights to let go. I also find it hard with the budgets cut with staff. There are a lot of pros and cons to individuals, I offer a lot of justification and then people don’t always see eye to eye. This overall affects the morale of the team.”

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