Change from the inside

I recently saw this cartoon from Gapingvoid and it got me thinking.

Change the system

I don’t believe that I’ve mentioned this previously here but I’m running for vice-chair/chair elect of ITART, the Information Technology and Access Round Table of the Nebraska Library Commission Association. Basically, I’m putting my money (well, my time anyway) where my mouth is.

Folks here in NE have learned over the past year that I find it part of my mission in life, and also part of my job, to shoot my mouth off. I feel that I generally do this when appropriate and with plenty of thought behind what I’m saying but not everyone will agree with that. Since said shooting typically involves saying something along the lines of "why?" not everyone likes what I have to say.

I’ve said some things about the state association in general and about ITART in particular and as a result I’m getting involved. I believe things need to change and in this case they’re best changed from within. (Issue #1: The ITART Web site.)

But, and here’s where the above cartoon fits in, one must be careful not to blend in too much when attempting to create change. Just how much change can George possibly generate when he’s indistinguishable from everyone else in the organization? This is not a problem I generally have, but am still wary of nonetheless.

I’ve met many next-gen librarians in this state and most of them have said the same thing to me in one form or another: I’m trying to change things but no one’s listening. My advice, join with me and STAND OUT. Make some noise. (Just make sure you know what you’re talking about when you do.) Stick to your guns. Join me to work from within. The change will happen eventually.

5 Replies to “Change from the inside”

  1. Michael –

    I’m sure you know that ITART is a round table of NLA, not the Nebraska Library Commission. Just thought you might want to know what you’re talking about while you’re making noise!

  2. Lisa-
    Whoops, total typo on my part. I am aware of the difference and have fixed the text accordingly. Thanks for pointing this error out.

  3. Since you asked –

    It is good to have a direction and to advocate for it and to stand out. The potential problem is that if someone stands out too much, the message they are trying to convey gets lost. They are now the outsider, the interloper, they might be viewed as just trying to stir up trouble. It is now “us vs. them” and the stand out is the “them”.

    To make true, meaningful, change – a person must make sure they do not alienate everybody they are trying to get on board with them. Not everybody needs to agree with the change agent, but they do need a critical mass of people going the same direction for change to happen – instead of just being that guy rowing the other direction everyone else is.

    So my experience tells me that while blending in like George has is not going to work well to bring quick change, being the exact opposite will create more barriers to buy-in and creates a built-in bias against future interactions.

    The secret is finding a good middle-ground. I’m not saying a person has to lose their identity or become part of a homogenous mass, but I am saying that being part of the culture of a group lends to more open ears.

    That’s what my experience has taught me. Your milage may vary.

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