the balance of transparency and inclusion

My library has a very participatory management culture, in which everyone has a chance to make their voices heard on almost every issue.  I wobble back and forth on the fence about this, because at times I think it’s absolutely vital that we continue to be as transparent and inclusive as possible in order to ensure that we make sound decisions about the libraries’ future.  At other times I think that really, the people doing the work need to make a decision that will work most effectively for them, and just get on with it.

Today was a good example of both sides of the fence.  I went home sick yesterday afternoon, missing a meeting on how to implement an upcoming special project.  I felt badly that I was letting down my colleagues by missing the meeting, but the headachey part of me felt like, as the area manager, I didn’t need to sit in on a discussion of the details of workflow implementation.  The staff working on the project are smart, capable, conscientious, and able to make those decisions on their own.

And I was right.  When I got a debrief this morning, I learned that they had made a bunch of smart, capable, conscientious decisions about the project.  Had I been at the meeting, I would not have affected the outcomes of their workflow planning one iota.

I was also wrong.  As I discussed their decisions with one colleague, we realized that there were statistics and reporting implications to the global database change they were proposing to make, and that I, in fact, cared a lot about how that change was made.  Had I been at the meeting, we would have realized that, and changed the plan.

It’s a hard fence to balance on.  Too much involvement from unrelated people is just a waste of time for all involved.  Not enough involvement from engaged stakeholders means things can slip through the cracks.  So I spend a lot of time carefully putting one foot in front of the other, arms held out at my sides, trying not to fall one way or the other with an audible thud.

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