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BBSLG on leadership and the future

July 12, 2009

I’ve been back from Dublin and the BBSLG conference for over a week now and have fully digested what I heard. From the first day two quotes have stuck in my mind and I’m going to use them to muse upon the themes of the first two keynotes.

“If the future is uncertain there must be more than one future”
— Anon.

The first keynote was given by the futurist Oliver Freeman who focused on what librarians need to consider when planning for the future. I’m not going to delve in to the details of what he said (when I get the slides up I’ll link to them here) but more my observations on the theme. In contrast to most of the presentations at the conference this dealt with big ideas rather than focusing on specific examples or experiences. I was immediately drawn in to the thought that there is more than one future and when making plans for the future of our library service we must consider that depending on the influencing factors there is more than one possible outcome. What I found difficult however was how to take this away and apply it.

Uncertain futures Freeman gave a good example from a project he’s currently working on with public libraries in Australia. Basically, you take two factors, e.g. the value of libraries and the future of the internet, and compare them against each other. By doing so you are presented with four futures which should all be considered possible realities when planning for the future. I found drawing this helped me understand it better.

“What counts cannot always be counted; what can be counted doesn’t always count”
— Albert Einstein

The second keynote was given by Nicholas Janni from Olivier Mythodrama who gave us some leadership lessons as inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry v. The key links to Henry V can be found on their website. For my liking there wasn’t enough focus on the Shakespeare, the main issues facing Henry as a leader were presented but I didn’t really feel that how they were dealt with was considered. Having said that I did enjoy the session and the discussion of positive and negative leadership potentials. This basically puts you in to one of fours categories based on your leadership style: Good King (ordered, logical), Warrior (task focused, inspiring), Medicine Woman (creative, visionary) or Great Mother (nurturing, empathetic).

The point of the quote above is that we too often focus on what can be measured, but whether you’re a good leader is not just about outcomes or what you know, it’s about authenticity and the relationships you build.

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