A glimpse at my whiteboard:
This is a tool concept that I want to explore. The blue line represents “everything we want to do” in our ideal state. This requires looking across all services and removing (or sunsetting) the ones that are no longer essential. The objective is to gather everything that represents what we should be doing.
The red line then indicates what we can do -- this is our current state.
If we can quantify these two elements it helps us frame new conversations.
For this example I set us at about 25% capacity or basically we are only able to do about ¼ of what we should be doing based on current practices and priorities. I have no idea where my group actually is at yet -- this is just an illustration of the concept. This opens discussions around where we are today and why vs. where we want or need to be. It provides a visual indicator that is easy to understand and offers the ability to set micro-goals.
It also invites the search for: how can we increase capacity? What is holding us back? Are we investing in efforts that are not attached to the blue line? Can we do something different? Can we outsource something? Is it a matter of positions, tools, spaces, partners, frameworks, workflows, time, and so forth? More or less the conversation shifts to: how can we improve?
Finally it allows us to document progress and to determine needs. With a tool like this I can go to my boss and say we want to do XYZ this year but QRS is holding us back. Or if I could add one half-time wage position our team would be able to accomplish ABC and it would move us forward to 30% of our ideal state. Or if my boss (or a partner) asks us to develop a new service I can indicate how it might directly impact our current levels of service. We can do LMNOP but I have to reduce or drop EFG. This could serve to keep us focused on a holistic perceptive-- the cause and effect of (small) changes on the total operation.
This isn’t perfect -- whiteboard ideas never are. It doesn’t address impact, effectiveness, or quality-- just the size of abilities. My unit could be operating at 100% ideal capacity (enough people, space, tools, etc) but delivering very poorly. So there is that. I’m not imagining this as a be-all-end-all tool, but rather, just a simple way to think about programs, document needs, and advocate for growth. This is the type of thing I could use right now in all my daily conversations as we plan for the future.
A lot of times I see libraries with long lists of impressive annual accomplishments, but I would really like to see a simple dashboard that visually shows progress made toward reaching an ideal state.
There also needs to be some type of checks and balances around what counts as essential--- the things that are along the blue line-- all the things that belong in the ideal state category. It might be too easy to focus on tried-and-true programs or things that we enjoy doing or that we think people want or expect us to do. Additionally -- new projects, experiments, or innovative endeavors will be hard to assess. Again, not perfect concept but the most pivotal part is defining what do we should be doing?
This forces you to explicitly outline everything that is essential and then offers a measuring stick for closing the gap between where you are today and where you hope to be tomorrow.
Just tinkering around here. If anything comes of it I’ll post the document on the blog.