San Diego, California is home of beautiful weather, spectacular beaches- and a group of highly motivated, driven and future-ready information professionals. The SLA-San Diego Chapter is proud to join in the conversation with our SLA peers about what it means to be Future Ready. Our San Diego membership boasts a wide range of professional experience and expertise, and we hope that you find our contributions to the FutureReady365 blog to be both thought-provoking and useful!
by Britt Mueller, San Diego Chapter, Business & Finance, Engineering, and Leadership & Management Divisions
Years ago I was told a third hand story that had a huge impact on how I thought about my career and defined success in my work. In essence, it was one of the best pieces of advice that I have been given to make me “future ready.”
The story was about a person in a large company who was working on a project with a lot of visibility. Quite a few very bright and highly competent people were on the project and worked tirelessly on it for several months. They had great communication skills and worked effectively as a team but in the end the project did not fulfill the objectives that were laid out and failed to impress senior executives. When discussing the project with an executive, the lead described the significant teamwork, the long nights, and how hard people had worked. The executive listened to the project leader and simply said, “You are confusing effort with results.”
Although I was hearing this story third or fourth hand, the clarity and simplicity of this statement rang true. The fact that it came from someone who was in a high level position was also critical in that it clearly delineated what was important to leaders. Getting results counts – both personally in terms of what I deliver as an individual and also for the Library as an entity within the larger organization. I can develop personal and professional skills, my team can work hard, we can be busy – but in the end gaining and developing skills or trying hard is meaningless if you cannot produce results that matter.
I think there is a lot that library and information professionals can learn from this statement. I have attended many conferences, communicated with peers, read our literature over more years than I would wish to admit and I am often disheartened by the emphasis with which we work to define ourselves. I am sure many people would agree that they cannot attend a library conference without some mention by attendees of how nice a group of people we are, that we need to position ourselves for the future and develop new skills, or the oft cited lament on how people outside our profession don’t understand us and we have to get better at communicating our value. These are all good and often true observations in and of themselves, but they should never be how we define our success or our ability to be meaningful. These are attributes, tools and approaches that should help us do the final necessary step – get results that matter to our organizations, our leaders, and our clients.
I personally use the idea of results over effort to define what I work on, what strategic initiatives the organization I manage focuses on, and to communicate value to my leaders. It also requires me to be my own worst critic – to look for continued opportunity to produce results that matter. The outcome of focusing on results creates the best use of resources, assures that the work I do is meaningful and important, and positions the Library as a critical and necessary service – not a nice to have. Never confusing effort with results actually creates outcomes (or results) that we can all consider successes including recognition, support, resources, and growth as we position ourselves, our libraries and information centers as critical to the success of any organization.
Currently serving as President of the SLA San Diego Chapter, Britt Mueller is the Sr. Director of Qualcomm’s Library & Information Services department. Serving a global employee population of over 20,000 people, the Qualcomm Library provides just-in-time information, research and analysis to enable employees to increase performance and productivity for competitive advantage.