I’m going to undress now. Apparently, you like me better naked. The cultural shift toward transparency fueled by the growth of social media has forever blurred the boundary between one’s public and private self. In our hyperlinked, viral, always-connected world, word-of-mouth (think amazon user reviews) holds more sway than any glossy brochure a company could ever create. In this environment, companies, CEO’s and even regular people like me must consciously work to show their authentic self. We must actively manage our reputation, which now involves a solid understanding of Google algorithms and a willingness to get personal. A 2007 piece about the new breed of ‘naked executives’ by Wired Magazine Online, asserts that a sense of authenticity is formed primarily by online exposure and that, “it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t list their dreams and fears on Facebook.” (Thompson, 2007). The idea is that getting real with your constituency means showing everything- your mistakes as well as your successes. This kind of bare it all transparency humanizes the company or the online persona, which translates to higher levels of trust and goodwill. And I want you to trust me, which is why I’m getting naked. (It’s weird, because my mom always taught me that it was you who I needed to trust if I was going to get naked…) Anyhow, here goes:
I can be inflexible. And I’m slow to change. There. I said it.*
These are BIG warts for an aspiring librarian. Libraries that are truly interested in creating positive outcomes for their community- the kind of library I want to work in- tend to place a high value on transparency. And according to two well-known experts in this area, Casey and Stephens (2007), the transparent library is all about three things:
Being open to communication
Adapting to change
Scanning the horizon (trend-spotting)
I think I’m okay with the communication part. I talk, I tweet, I write; I blog; I ask; I listen; I teach; I learn. I love to give and receive input. Check.
But I fear that I may run into trouble on the adapting to change part. I’m the girl who just got a smartphone. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 55% of Americans have a smartphone (Rainie & Poushter, 2014). This means I have only just recently joined the majority. I’m not sure exactly where that puts me on Rodgers’ Bell Curve, but let’s just say, I’m not an “early adopter”.
So, I’m slow to change. I liked my flip phone. I still like Crosby Stills & Nash. To mitigate this shortcoming, I will seek out libraries that provide ongoing learning opportunities and the chance for me be a part of the change rather than have it imposed upon me. Good libraries do this.
Since I tend to be slow to change, I may, theoretically, not be the best trend-spotter. Yet, armed with a clearly defined mission, some good research skills, and a working environment that rewards innovation, I will likely rise to the occasion. After all, that is what successful organizations are capable of: they raise the tide to lift all boats, including both patrons and employees.
As for the inflexible part: well, I’m working on it. I had an employer tell me in an exit interview (I was moving out of state) that I should be more flexible. It stuck with me, which was a gift, of sorts. And now, when Michael Stephens discusses the ‘Culture of Perfect’ I see that there is much to gain from letting go, trying things out, and trusting that my mistakes will teach me what I need to know.
*Full disclosure: this is not a complete list of all my shortcomings, but let it suffice for now.
Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, April). The transparent library: Introducing the Michaels. Library Journal, 132(6), 30. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2007/04/ljarchives/the-transparent-library-introducing-the-michaels/
Thompson, C. (2007, March). The see-through CEO. Wired Magazine Online (Issue 15.04). Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/wired40_ceo.html
Rainie, L. and Poushter, J. (2014, February 13). Emerging nations catching up to U.S. on technology adoption, especially mobile and social media use. [Web log post]. FactTank, News in the Numbers, Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/13/emerging-nations-catching-up-to-u-s-on-technology-adoption-especially-mobile-and-social-media-use/