“Some of you are reading this material as part of a required management course may be thinking something like, ‘I do not expect nor do I want to be a a manager. All I want is to be a good ___ librarian.”, Management Basics for Information Professionals, Chapter 1. Evans & Alire
The above quote was the first part of the prescribed reading that leapt out at me. It described my feelings on taking a management course with pin point accuracy. I think my attitude towards management came from an unclear idea of what management actually involved. As I continued with the reading I realized management was something I had been practicing my entire life. I have always been in the habit of trying to schedule the various activated of my life, both professional and recreational, so I have enough time to do everything that needs to be done. I have always tried to look out and prepare for the various crises that might occur. Despite this I have often found myself overwhelmed with everyday tasks. If management is the science of muddling through as Charles Lindblom says, than management training is something I could definitely do with and not just for my professional benefit!
The Sensemaking paper,”Faith, Evidence, and Action: Better Guesses in an Unknowable World” by Karl E. Weick also resonated with me. I find myself locked into a number of set reactions to various issues in my life. I try and fit problem into a labelled category for which I have predetermined responses, meaning I sometimes don’t asses situations accurately. The idea of being tight around key structures and loose about everything else seems like a good solution.
Management has also been described as an art, the art of reading the problems between two apparently two apparently similar situations and adjusting appropriately. Learning this worried me slightly as I am not the best at reading nuance and have a tendency to believe that a solution that worked once should work every time. As such I think the management concept that I should focus on is Contingency Theory. Due to it’s emphasis on dealing with problems on a situation by situation basis, I think it would give me a better mind set when it comes to thinking about management.
I try to prepare for various problems that I imagine might occur from day to day. Therefore the section in Chapter 2 of Management Basic for Information Professionals regarding forecasting the environment caught my eye. My own attitude has been to try and predict and fully prepare for everything that can go wrong in any particular environment in which I find myself. This isn’t very helpful when a completely random unexpected problem occurs. The approach given in the book indicates it’s more important to be aware of what might happen as and use the ambiguity of a situation to judge how much time and effort should be put into preparing for it. This seems a more sensible approach. Another way of preparing for problems is the Anti-Enviromental View, which involves choosing and modifying your own environment. This approach acknowledges the role randomness plays, which I feel is a useful attitude to having for dealing with unexpected problems.