by Doug Newcomb, SLA
The late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen once famously said, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” That statement says a lot about how public policy is made, but it’s also an appropriate metaphor for the way our profession (indeed, nearly every profession) responds to changes in the environment.
Big changes make headlines, but small ones are mostly overlooked—until they result in a big change. For example, many economists were warning in the late 1990s and early 2000s that prolonged low interest rates would create a “bubble” in the real estate market. The decisions to keep interest rates low were small, but their long-term impact can hardly be overstated.
Small changes may seem to have minimal impact when viewed as discrete actions, but when combined, they can lead to a new dynamic in our environment. This dynamic can be positive or harmful—cutting spending on information resources can force information professionals to be more creative about finding new resources and help them develop valuable skills in this area, whereas reducing spending on staff training and development can prevent info pros from acquiring new competencies and reduce their value to their organizations.
Being future ready means anticipating, responding to, and making small changes. We need to be aware of small changes in our environment so we can respond before they become big changes. Likewise, we need to take the initiative to make small changes on our own, recognizing that the real-time impact may be minimal but the aggregate effect will be both noticeable and worthwhile. The future comes one day at a time; use each day to prepare for it.
Douglas Newcomb is the Chief Operating Officer of SLA.