Learning Log 146: Discovering Cultural Architects and Cultural Assassins

Number: 146

Date: 20th October 2019

Significant Experience: Discovering and exploring the concepts of organisational/team ‘Cultural Architects’ ‘Cultural Assassins’.

What Happened: Whilst listening to a podcast (from the podcasting great Ian Boldsworth), he brought up a Rugby League podcast and how the conversation on it about cultural architects and cultural assassins can be make or break a team really resonated with him. His resonation (is that a word?) also resonated with me, so I began to investigate it myself! It seems that they have come into prominence thanks to the work of Damian Hughes, his book ‘The Barcelona Way’ and his motivational speaking (fun fact: Damian Hughes spoke in Bolton earlier this year – but I wasn’t eligible to go due  to not being senior enough). He is interviewed about his book and the concepts within on the ‘Changing the Game Podcast’ and John Stein also presents a useful overview in this blog post here but very briefly differences look like:

  • Cultural Architects: leaders from within, moving forward focusing on what needs to be done and representing the organisational culture effectively;
  • Cultural Assassins – quietly undermining the culture, sharing their unhappiness with others;

There’s also a concept of decisions being made by individuals on 2 criteria – the cost-benefit analysis to the person and their sense of identity to the culture within the organisation and these impact on what role they play!

So What: I don’t think these concepts are particularly new, I am drawn towards this particular packaging of them, in a similar way I was many years ago I was to The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. I have some understanding of team role and dynamics (yay Belbin!) but am interested in finding out more about it as I believe it shall help support development in my new role and shall support the development of my engagement and advocacy skills. I am going to be developing my understanding of these of architects and assassins roles (and the wider concept they are part of) and how they impact on my work both as an individual and as part of the wider team. I am also interested in reflecting on whether I am as much of a cultural architect as I think I am!

Now What: By the end of November, I am going to read the Damian Hughes book ‘The Barcelona Way’ as it seems to be the central point for this theoretical approach. By developing my understanding in this area, I shall be able to increase my effectiveness in developing strong relationships, which enable us to produce better quality work.

When/Where: 18th-20th October 219, Home.

Learning Log 142: Talent/Career Conversations

Number: 142

Date: 10th October 2019

Significant Experience: I had a few talent and career conversations. This is a synthesis of those chats…

What Happened: over the past few weeks I have had a few meetings, conversations and catch ups (new line manager x 2 including ‘insight exvhange’ aka PDR, DPH – once individually and once as part of intelligence function, and also externally with a library person I consider a mentor) with a similar focus and instead of on reflecting on them indivually, I felt there were common threads running through them so I grouped them together! (As these were all confidential I wont go into any great detail). The themes of these meetings were:

  • My role in public health is evolving and the focus in my skillset will need to change also;
  • The role of knowledge and evidence may be different to what I envisioned – and how does my vision for public health and public health evidence, intelligence and knowledge compare?
  • There are development opportunities to be had…if wanted;
  • How do i see my short and longer term future?

Other interesting conversations were had as well about confidence vs competence (vs co-operation) and the my belief in the wider work life balance…

So What: I think its clear to see that my role is changing, and there is opportunity there for me to shape this into how I can see effectively deliver in it.

I think there has been an (over) extended period of readjustment for me coming back. There was no clear vision or idea of my role/purpose when I came back. If things had stayed as they were I would have drifted as I had before my secondment – so to have support and belief in that I am an asset to the team is welcome even if it a bit of a different role! I also think now I have a better picture of what is expected of me.

However…It is a step away from my area of expertise and a clear cut from my ‘classic’ librarian skillset (though obvious crossovers still remain) which I enjoy, and am good at. I need to consider if this is what I want – from an information specialist to a more hybrid role with more defined business and development aspects to it. There have ben greater library talents lost to the sector than I, and the library world still keeps on turning

Whatever happens, I dont want to standstill, drift or reverse – as what is past is past.

Now What: I need to examine my current skillset to ensure that I am armed with the requisite skill set to effective deliver in my role and be able to best support the organisation in achieving its ains In the longer term I need to decide what I want to – I know of a couple of ex-librarians who’ve made similar moves. I shall contact them to seek their experience.

When/Where: Various x 2

Learning Log 145: Updating my PKSB…

Number: 145

Date: 17th October 2019

Significant Experience: Whilst on the train down to attend CILIP Member Network Forum and fully updated my Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB)

What Happened: Influenced by a few factors – recent talent conversations with departmental leadership, a rekindling of interest in continuing my fellowship, and speaking about development with the MMU Library students – I had felt the need to reassess my PKSB. So I took the 2 hours on the train down to London for CILIP Member Network Forum (writing this on the return journey!) to capture where I am in October 2019, and where I need to develop over the next few months as an information professional

So What: I found this quite a useful, and at times, cathartic experience. It has helped clear my mind in what i need to do to get on the road towards where my organisation needs me to be.

I feel that my role has quite a clear split between what do as an embedded information specialist and as a member of public health. Within this, I feel I can split my library skillset ways:

  1. Core information retrieval and knowledge management skills still in use;
  2. Traditional library skills that I no longer use (such as collection development) that haven’t been used for a long time;
  3. ‘softer’ inter-personal skills (working with decision-makers, advocacy etc) which I may need to develop my competence and experience in;
  4. Library skills that I have that I can transfer over to this evolved role which I may have felt skilled within a library position but have to gain confidence in using out of that particular setting.

(These alongside non-library skill development areas discussed in my talent conversations – if you can believe such a thing exists!)

Now What: I am going to share this with my leadership to see if they agree with my assessment. Once that is done I am going to produce a development action plan for the next 6 months to try and raise these figures!

I also need to consider if I am willing to let all my traditional library skills slide, and if I am not, what can I do to combat this loss of librarianship I am feeling….

When/Where: 17th October on the train…

Learning Log 141 – ‘Guest Lecturing’ at MMU Library School

Number: 141

Date: 15th October 2019

Significant Experience: I spoke to students on the new Health Library module at Manchester Metropolitan University Library and Information Management Masters Course.

What Happened: The presentations themselves went fine – it was a new experience speaking to an audience with limited knowledge in both health AND libraries (as normally speaking to a room full of specialists in either), and also working in partnerships – the first presentation about PKSB and development needs with Mary, and then with Amy about working on a national scale was also a novel experience as I tend to present on my own,  or produce part of a wider presentation.

So What: It was a really enjoyable experience – I do enjoy giving back with my mentoring or work with CILIP NW, and to give back to new professionals was a nice change of pace but it was more ‘delivery of information’ than I expected – especially in week 1 when we had more activities planned.

In terms of the partnership working – I was happy being the passive partner (again a change of pace) but I am not sure I am the easiest person to work with – I contribute in bursts and can be quite hard to pin down between these (not through laziness, more through spreading myself to thin and trying to fit 12 hours work into 8!). I imagine this can be quite frustrating for equally busy people, who have a more regimented or prescribed workload.

Now What: I would love to speak to the students again next year if the module is still running. I am going to reflect on how I work with others (and my role within teams generally) and speak to my fellow presenters to get their opinions to ensure that I am being most effective in my approach to this.

When/Where: 2nd/9th October 2019, MMU Library School (room 201b GM Building)

Learning Log 144: Conversational Leadership Webinar

Date: 30th September 2019

Number: 144

Significant Experience: I watched the webinar on conversational leadership by David Gurteen via CILIP Leaders Network

What Happened? The webinar looked at the concept of ‘conversational leadership’ and was hosted by the legendary David Gurteen. For full details about conversational leadership check out his online book (he describes it as his blook) here: https://conversational-leadership.net/

The session covered the 5 main themes of the blook:

  • Embrace complexity thinking;
  • Take responsibility – in the changes you want to see happen;
  • Become a leader AKA Lead!;
  • Converse – focus on the smaller conversations – decisions don’t get made in the big meetings – they get finalised. They happen in corridors in smaller gatherings
  • Build a community – think about communityship

So What?: As my role develops even further away from an evidence or knowledge based role towards something that using these skills in a business organisation and development setting, I feel it is important that I focus on developing my leadership in settings where I do not have (perceived) expertise, cache or at least a high level of understanding from the outset. Whilst the fundamentals of conversational leadership are not new to me -having read a bit on it already, and knowing David’s seminal KM works, this webinar was very useful in helping align some of issues I face with my preferred style of leadership (*spoiler* its authentic…).

I am especially interested in the idea of ‘communityship’ – leaders across the community (whatever that may) aligned with traditional ‘actually I’m in charge’ leaders… which is quite the opposite of the classic rigid, siloed local authority approach. But it gives a name to what I see as an Utopian leadership approach if perhaps not always practical!

In the webinar, David asked us a question – ‘What strategic conversation should you be having right now that you are not having?’ and this is an interesting question – especially within such a political environment, as perhaps it  needs to be re-framed to say what conversation should you be having to enable the strategic conversation that you (or your proxy) should be having…

Now What:  

David discusses how this is a personal commitment not a HR/OD decision, so based on what I was discussed in this webinar, my prior understanding of conversational leadership and my belief in myself as an authentic leader, I am going to look at how we deliver journal clubs within the team and evolve them into something with a greater knowledge sharing approach – not just about evidence but with a focus on the tacit knowledge within the team and then the wider system. Changing this will give me a footing in familiar territory – KM & evidence, to help me build both a platform and confidence. This will build also build into the cross-system collaboration I see as part of the wider portfolio work which requires a whole ethos-shift.

When & Where: 30th September 2019

Learning Log 143: Introduction to Restorative Practice Session

Date: 25th September 2019

Number: 143

Significant Experience: I attended an Introduction to Restorative Practice facilitated by Mark Finnis of L30 Relational Systems

What Happened? I attended an introduction to/awareness raising session around the key concepts restorative practice hosted by L30 Relational Systems lynchpin Mark Finnis. The session itself was really fascinating covering the fundamentals of restorative practice, the four ways matrix (Support X Challenge) and how to lead restorative functions. As Mark said in the introductions, its not a brand new idea – with many of the concepts similar to Adverse Childhood Experiences and coaching. The session as very much focused on those working with Children and within Children’s Services, but I learnt so much from it.

So What?: as a long-term Public Health bod, and a recent convert to coaching, anything relationship and solution focused is of keen interest to me, so this was very much up my street! I don’t work directly with end users, so to see how those attendees who did talked about the challenges they face – and how this approach could benefit them, was doubly impactful. even though it wasn’t of direct relevance to me, I think it can definitely benefit how I communicate with colleagues to ensure I work *with* people to ensure best results rather than a more assertive or submissive role.

Now What: Using the knowledge that I have gained from this session, I am going to continue to use positive relationship led language to ensure more positive outcomes when working alongside workmates and wider colleagues.

When & Where: 25th September 2019, Victoria Halls Bolton

Learning Log 137: How to Read a Paper Webinars…and the need for instant feedback

Number: 137

Date: 1st July 2019

Significant Experience: I presented (twice) for the South West Library and Knowledge Staff – once for library assistants, once for librarians/library managers on ‘How to read a paper’ via webinar.

What Happened: Whilst it wasn’t my first time presenting via webinar, it was my first time doing it to a muted audience, and I felt I struggled at the start of presentation 1 with the passivity of the audience – but then suffered external IT problems for the second one when in the days between them, our IT team blocked the webinar software meaning we had to do a very quick adaptation (I think it was Chloe who ended up being my ‘page-turner!) 

So What: I was thrilled to be invited to be part of such a wonderful development project by Nat and Chloe. I think they have developed such a useful and organic resource – and much like when I went up to the North East at FUSE or excellent folk NLPN, they haven’t waited for people to meet their needs – they have gone and done it. Brilliant!

As for the presentations themselves, I found it a really interesting and challenging set of presentations – not only for the external IT problems, but also the lack of an active and participating audience  (on Skype you can have video-video or even get verbal response) and I didn’t realise how much my presenting style relied on the communication/instant feedback.

Now What: I am going to examine communication techniques for effectively getting my message across when it is 1 way (not just webinar but perhaps to a larger group) where I do not get that instant feedback to ensure I am most effectively get the message across next time I speak in such a setting.

When/Where: May/June 2019, Webinar