Open Conference Systems at Dalhousie, International Association of University Libraries, 2016 Conference

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Charting our Course through Reframing – Library Leadership in a Sea of Change
Bruce Fyfe, Catherine Steeves, Nicole Nolan

Last modified: 2016-03-22


Research shows that academic leaders fail for two primary reasons. One, they see a limited or inaccurate picture and as a result set the wrong course, and, two, they fail to take people with them – implement change too fast, act too unilaterally and or without an appreciation of the culture of the organization. Reframing is an intentional process of changing conceptual viewpoints, or frames of reference, in relation to a situation that uncovers additional perspectives, realities, and meanings.

In their book Reframing Academic Leadership (2011) Bolman and Gallos, two well regarded researchers of organizational behaviour, have addressed the complexity of leadership in higher education and have identified four frames through which leaders can examine situations: a structural frame, a human resources frame, a political frame, and a symbolic frame. If leaders are mindful and explore situations through the lens of all four frames, then fewer barriers are encountered when leading change. In our paper we will apply the practice of reframing to current Western Libraries’ organizational change initiatives; the implementation of a new strategic plan and an organizational re-design resulting from a workforce analysis project.  The frames will guide the development of strong change management process that will be the key to a successful implementation of our plans.