How you can help rev up SAA’s metabolism

On Sunday I was very fortunate to be part of a panel at a Computers in Libraries workshop on change. I’ll be incorporating some of the wisdom of the other speakers into future blog posts, but today I want to cross-pollinate an idea from the workshop with what might have been a standard reminder for people to comment on draft SAA policies.

My co-presenter Leo Mullen, a man with more experience dealing with organizational change than probably all the people who read this blog put together, observed: “You have to adjust the rate of change to meet the organization’s metabolism.”  Far be it from me to disagree with him, but let’s think about that another way. What can you do to speed up an organization’s metabolism? In many cases, that can’t be done, but if the organization in question is SAA, then I think it can.

I think SAA’s metabolism can be changed because in many ways it already has, and that change has been caused by members making it happen. Let’s say you think SAA doesn’t do enough to meet the needs of students and new archives professionals. You can drive that change by forming a new roundtable and then using it as a platform to fill those needs, as a group of SAA members did. Maybe you think the way the annual meeting works needs to be re-thought. That change can happen too, if you push for it (or at least you can get a task force formed; we’re still waiting to see the final results). Or maybe you’re a group of roundtable leaders who want to be able to communicate better with students. You can use commonly available tools to make that happen. My point is that none of those changes originated from “the top.” They came from members saying “we want more” and then making it happen.

And so I come to what you can do to continue that process. You can read and comment on two short documents now available for your feedback. First is the first draft of SAA’s new Strategic Plan, available here: http://www2.archivists.org/governance/strategic-priorities/draftFY2013-18. It won’t take you long to read, as this is just the highest levels. I think there’s a lot of good in this document. Since this document is the result of a collaborative consensus of the SAA Council  it’s not exactly the way I would want it to be, and I think in some places it could be more ambitious. Please read it and share your comments via the channels described on the website. (Note that commenting here on this blog is not a formal comment to SAA.) What do you think? Does it go far enough? Do you like what’s there? Anything missing? Anything that sticks in your craw? Note that the deadline is Tuesday, April 23. (Also note that you do not need to be an SAA member in order to comment. If you’re not a member, is there anything in that document that might make you want to join? Anything that would change your impression of SAA?)

And second, please similarly read and comment on the preliminary recommendations of SAA’s Communications Task Force, available here: http://offtherecord.archivists.org/2013/04/08/more-less-different-preliminary-recommendations-of-the-saa-communications-task-force/. There are just nine recommendations and I predict most of you will have something to say about them. Again, your feedback is important, whether you don’t like some of the recommendations or whether you love them all. This group needs your support and participation. I’ve heard a lot of bitching and moaning (and God knows I’ve done enough of it myself) about these topics, so here’s your chance to either praise this group for moving SAA in the right direction or tell them what you don’t want them to do. The deadline for comments on this is May 4. (And again, you don’t need to be an SAA member to provide feedback.)

But if you are an SAA member, remember that the organization is supposed to be there to meet your needs. So in theory you should be what drives that metabolism. If you want something more or something different then speak up and help make it happen.

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One Response to How you can help rev up SAA’s metabolism

  1. Eira Tansey says:

    Kate, thanks for reminding people to comment on these things. I sort of consider it like voting – show up and deliver your $0.02 in order to earn your right to continued complaining.

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