After we’ve had this big, beefy conversation about our name–about our identity really–we can’t put the genie back in the bottle, close Pandora’s box, or put the toothpaste back into the tube (choose your metaphor). 

Collectively, we’ve aired out our concerns from every perspective and because of that we’re all looking at S-L-A differently. It’s like the cup of coffee you left on the counter in the morning, when you pick it up in the afternoon—it’s different. What is that film on it? And why does it taste so tannic? It was fine a little while ago, but time passed, and something changed.

Even if you really like the name SLA, you’ve got to admit, it looks different on this side of the discussion.

 Change Adoption

I feel that we are widely spread out on the change adoption curve. In fact, if we were a Boy Scout troop hiking on a trail, the front of the pack probably would not be able to see the back of the pack. And the back of the pack is having a hard time hearing what the front of the pack is saying. But we’re all going forward. And if we don’t change now it’s a lost opportunity.

 Lost opportunity

Guy St. Clair, author of SLA at 100: From Working with Knowledge to Building the Knowledge Culture, has this to say regarding SLA’s reluctance to change:

Both in the book and in the presentations, one of the points I found myself making related to how close – as an association of professional knowledge workers – SLA came to taking a leadership position only to step back when confronted with the challenges the proposed change would require. Indeed, it was sometimes quite disheartening to research a topic and learn how people so talented and so smart – when they really needed to exercise their leadership – were not able to do so.

I’m put in mind of these several situations, what I’ve come to think of as SLA’s missed opportunities, as we engage in our discussions about the name of the association. I can’t help but wonder if once again we are going to not recognize a very special opportunity that is right in front of us. 

Noble calling vs. expanded opportunities

I can’t speak for the Board, but I know that people in leadership have your best interests at heart. They genuinely want you to succeed and are trying to balance the noble calling of librarianship with the fact that in many instances it is limiting in terms of salaries, job opportunities, and business priorities.

SLA leadership has been studying, contemplating, and reflecting on the issue of our name/positioning/branding for a very long time. We know there is controversy and doubt. From the Alignment Project research we have compelling evidence that the words “special libraries” do not get you what you told leadership that you want. We have all the proof we can muster—for some of you the next step is an intuitive leap.

As you can see from the following quote, by Roger Martin author of The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the New Competitive Advantage, we are not alone in the challenges we face.  

By pushing the principles of scientific management too far, corporations are short-circuiting their own futures, says Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management. “The enemy of innovation is the phrase ‘prove it,'” Martin says.

Vote yes for our association’s future. Let’s make the most of this momentous opportunity. We’ll be positioning ourselves for value and growth with the name the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals.