These are the things everyone needs to have in front of them before we begin. A marker, a plate, a label and a menu. These will be the basis for our activity today. Take a moment to quickly assemble what you need from the table.
All set? Now, what we are going to do with these plates is to work through an exercise where you select “foods” for each of 4 sections on the plate that represent goals and ideas you want to work on. These will be things you hope to improve in your program and perhaps in yourself as a leader. It is meant to be creative and ASPIRATIONAL. You don’t have to have all the answers today, I want you to just listen to the information I present and dream.
So, what’s with the BBQ theme? The reason I went with this particular metaphor is because if BBQ is one thing, it is local. It varies greatly by location and tradition. The way they do it in TX is completely different than the way they do it in TN. The same goes for your instruction programs. Each one is unique owing to its history, the size and culture of the institution, the personalities of the faculty and librarians, the demographic of the student body, literally dozens of factors. So for the purposes of this workshop, I want you to think about your own program, LOCALLY.
So how did we all this get started? When I attended ACRL Immersion in 2007, Craig Gibson led a session where we learned about 4 different styles or approaches to leadership. We worked our way through a mother of a difficult case study calling on us to examine a particular management scenario from each of the 4 perspectives or approaches. After Immersion was over, that session was the one experience I simply could not stop thinking about. I learned so much about the mindsets and skill sets that make a good leader. I literally changed the way I thought about my job.
The book the Craig used for his session. Reframing Organizations by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal. When Char began her talk yesterday and I saw Frames in the title I said to myself CRAP she is going to talk about my frames! Turns out she didn’t. But anyway. What I want to do is give you a brief rundown on the 4 Frames described in this book and those will form the basis for the 4 parts of our activity.
Here are the 4 Frames as described in the book.The graphic is on the back of your menu so you can refer to it later. The citation to the book is also there. Theories that seek to categorize or organize our thinking about the world. (Personality for example) often break things down into fours. Just as with Personality, most of us fall into one frame or the other based on temperament and natural ability. The structural = skill sets and projects that fall under this frame involve process, this is our wheelhouse. The human = skill sets and styles that fall into this frame focus on peopleThe political = leaders in this frame are skilled in relationships, negotiation and power. The symbolic = leaders in this frame are those who are gifted at the vision thing.
So how do we relate this to our jobs and our instruction programs? Here are the words I mapped out for each frame to make up our RIBS acronym. You will see them across the top of each section on your menu handout. So the gist of this menu and encompassing all 4 frames is that I feel strongly that in order to be good leaders, we need to step out of our wheelhouse and work on functioning in all 4 frames. So as we work through the plate activity, keep that in mind. What can you improve in each of these frames.
So now let’s get started with our plates. Start by dividing your plate into 4 sections. Go ahead and draw a cross in the middle of your plate with the marker to divide it into sections you’ll fill with foods. You’ll get to be the artists drawing your own foods. You’ll also need your menu handout that describes each possible dish to add to your plate as we move through the frames.
Ok, ready to get started? As we go through each frame, I will give you a bunch of food choices. I want you to CHOOSE ONE from each group and draw that on your plate. Only ONE. It is tempting to look at the choices and see 3 that appeal to you. Just pick the one that jumps out at you as something you relate to – that you can see yourself doing. Go with your impulse or your gut instinct.
Our first frame is the structural. In this frame you find the components that make up the organizationalbones of the world of work. Librarians are VERY GOOD at the things in this frame. At Immersion pretty much every one in the room identified as a structural manager. Just take a look at those words. It’s as if they were written JUST FOR US. Start thinking about your program. What in these areas might you work on in the year ahead?
So some of the structural things that make up an instruction program might be these…
So you can take a look at your menu and follow along as we go through these. What structural things are you going to REFRESH?Steak – could be your composition curriculum. Something really at the heart of your program that you want to refresh or redo. We redo our curriculum every single year. Chicken – is there something you haven’t been doing or are afraid to try? For me this would be assessment.Pork – is there something you need to cut out? Outdated? Cumbersome? Something you need to eliminate or reallocate? If so, choose Pork.Shrimp – what gets the least of your attention? If there is an area that has been overlooked for years, that you need to commit to working on, Shrimp is your choice.Tofu – this is just a wild card if you’ve got something that doesn’t fit the other categories. Could be something like our zombie game. Not core, but the odd thing that could use a redo. Redo it.
Okay, now on to our second frame, the Human. This is the frame of leadership includes the skills and mindsets concerned with nurturing and improving things for your people. By that I mean the group of folks in your library who do instruction. If you are a solo person, the only one doing instruction, then this frame is all about improving yourself and your own skills. A few of the things that fall into the Human frame are listed here. Just as with the last frame, start thinking about your own program and situation. Which thing are you going to aspire to improve in the year ahead?
So some of the specificaction items in this frame would include nurturing and building skills, strengthening your working relationships or bringing your team closer together, or possibly just providing room for folks to try new things. Our action word for this frame is INVEST, the I in the Ribs acronym. So let’s take a moment and look at some foods we could possibly add to our plate to spark us to improve in this frame. You’ve got your menu choices to follow along.
Taking care of people is like growing a garden so the dishes for this frame are veggies. Think about what you could do to nurture and improve things for your people.Heirloom tomatoes – what unique talents do you already have on your staff (or within yourself) that you are not using to your advantage? Maybe someone on your staff has a background in theatre and could use that to help develop improv skills in your instructors. Baby carrots – are there new baby talents you can encourage? We have a guy who wants to learn to make apps for the iPhone. Choose carrots if you want to grow a new skill. Spinach –for strength! When was the last time you did something to strengthen the relationships with your fellow instructors? Plan a retreat, have lunch as a group, plan a silly brainstorming session. Do something social!Cole slaw – let’s mix it up. Be open to new combinations and ingredients. Turn over scheduling to someone new, let a colleague run the monthly meetings for a change. Work with someone you have never partnered with before. Switch it up and see what happens.
The political frame is all about relationships and power. The skills and tasks within the frame include creating partnerships, learning to negotiate for what you want, developing concrete strategies for growing your program, and also putting out fires which we all sometimes have to do.
So let’s look at instruction program areas that are covered by this frame. Remember our action word for this frame is BUILD. So what political skills will you work on building? Obviously partnerships are the main component of this frame. But we can also work on skills related to politics including negotiation, strategic planning, and dealing with hot button issues.
The food items for this frame are starches. As you think about partnerships and power on your campus and in your community, see if one of these food can be matched up with something you might want to address in the future. The action word is Build. The choices are on your menu. Mac and Cheese – perhaps one of the most harmonious pairings in the food world. What can you do to make an existing relationship smoother? Is there something you need to do to improve what you already have?Bread – baking bread is a very precise and painstaking process. Has anyone here tried baking bread? It is very easy to mess up and mess up spectacularly. Building partnerships requires careful preparation. What partnership do you need to engineer in the year ahead? If you have one in mind, commit to putting some bread on your plate. Grits – I am from the south so I had to include this one. It stands for the nitty gritty of negotiation. This is something that librarians are often not comfortable with. What do you want to negotiate for this year? Money, people, equipment? Or do you just want the Social Work professor to stop sending her students over to find a print journal article? Big or small, commit to tackling one of these this year. Read up on tactics! Hot potato – my Dean insisted I include this one because every library has them. What difficult relationship have you got that needs dealing with. If it needs facing, put a hot potato on your plate.
Okay, we are almost done. The fourth and final frame, the Symbolic. The symbolic emcompasses the big overarching vision. Good leadership calls for an ability to craft a clear and compelling message. Marketable instruction programs require the same thing. I think we tend to focus so much on the content of our program that we often do not stop and take the time to craft a “brand” or identity. We did this recently in my department and it was a GREAT experience.
So what might you do for yourself and your instruction program within this frame? The action word is SELL. How about defining our identities? Char mentioned that yesterday. How about describing your program in terms your audience can really understand? Craft a message. A slogan! And finally what can you do to spread the good word about what you do and what a huge different you can make in the lives of students and faculty? We did this last summer. We used WordPress to build an online portfolio about our program to share with our university, with the Chattanooga community and with our colleagues areound the country. We described the driving forces behind what we do, created short bios of about each of our instructors, and then packaged the whole thing into a larger sales pitch on the value of what we bring to the university and to student learning. So what can we do to jump start this process for YOU guys?
So what ingredient are you going to put in this frame? What’s the title of this presentation? The secret’s in the…what? Sauce. Now here’s where I want you to really get creative. And this can be tough to do on the spot like this. But for this frame I want you to create you own original sauce name that describes your particular brand of library instruction. It can be funny or serious, aspirational or actual but it should in some way be based on some trait or quality that exists in your program and that you want to advertise. It also doesn’t have to be a BBQ sauce. It can be any kind of sauce your heart desires – a BBQ sauce, a steak sauce, a condiment, a salad dressing, a hot sauce, even a white sauce or a gravy. It is entirely up to you. But it MUST describe something about your program.
Here is MY sauce idea just to show you an example.Now you take 2 minutes and brainstorm a sauce name. Use the label to write down your creative brand name and stick it in the 4th frame.
The Secret's in the Sauce: LOEX 2012
The Secret’s in the Sauce… The RIBS recipe for building ahealthy, balanced instruction program Virginia Cairns UT-Chattanooga
First Frame = Structural • Process / Tasks /Efficiency • Policy / Procedure • Organization / Heirarchy • Measurement
Instruction Program Areas • Curriculum • Policy and Procedure • Scheduling • Data / Assessment
Add to Your PlateSteak: the “center cut” Chicken: what are Pork: have you gotof your program you afraid of? fat you need to trim? Shrimp: the undersized Tofu: The Wild Card, whatever little guy in your program you want it to be.
Second Frame = Human • Staff development • Empowerment • Collaboration • Team building
Instruction Program Areas • Nurture Existing Talents • Build New Skills • Strengthen Relationships • Provide Opportunities
Add to Your Plate Heirloom tomatoes: nurture Baby carrots: what new your unique talents skill will you develop? Cole slaw: give opportunitiesSpinach: Strengthen for new combinations; mix it up.your team
Third Frame = Political • Internal Relationships • External Partnerships • Negotiation • Strategizing • Putting Out Fires
Instruction Program Areas • Partnerships, all kinds • Negotiating for things • Strategizing the future • Coping with problems
Add to Your Plate Mac n’ Cheese: maintain a Bread: baking up a new harmoniousrelationship. partnership is an exact science.Grits: the nitty gritty of Hot potato! Learn to deal withnegotiating for what you want. these We all have them.
Share With Me!• If you have a smart phone, please take a photo of your plate and email it to me at: Vacairns@gmail.com• Include your name in the email.• I plan to post them on my website as examples.