by Bill Fisher, Silicon Valley and Oregon Chapters, Leadership & Management, Business & Finance Divisions
Among the many responses this question may elicit, one that resonates with me is the idea that we need to understand and evaluate our heritage, our history and how we address our current circumstances. This outlook is influenced by an article I used this past Fall in preparing for a presentation on change. The article dealt with two major forest fires — one in 1949 and the second in 1994 and the inability of firefighters at both these fires to anticipate and respond to rapid change — they were not future ready. Thirteen firefighters died in the 1949 fire and fourteen died in the 1994 fire. As the title of the article (“Drop Your Tools”) suggests, these firefighters were not agile and paid the ultimate price for this lack of agility. The author defined tools very broadly to include the professional practices and patterns of thinking these firefighters took with them into the field as well as their axes, shovels and chainsaws.
As we look to be future ready as information professionals, as members of a professional association, or as members of both our work and non-work communities, we need to continually assess our tools and determine if they are viable for what lies ahead. No matter how well a tool has served us in the past, we need to be creative in using old tools in new/different ways as well as search for and perhaps develop new tools to remain relevant in the future.
Bill Fisher is an SLA Fellow and is Professor at the School of Library & Information Science, San Jose State University. He has held numerous leadership positions at the chapter, division, and national level.