Exploring CLIC's Readiness for Change

NOTE: This is a working draft of a proposal. Expect many changes! Comments are welcome below. …Eric

On 23 April 2008 the CLIC Board asked me to put together a proposal for a strategic planning process that would help CLIC explore new ILS technology, new organizational options, and new funding models. However, the more I consider the task ahead for CLIC and review the work CLIC has already done planning for the future, the less it seems advisable to start with further planning. Instead I contacted Marilyn Pash, an experienced organizational consultant, and we would like together to propose that we take one step back with CLIC to conduct a more fundamental investigation.

Cooperating Libraries in Consortium (CLIC) exists to support member libraries in the fulfillment of their mission, mostly through the maintenance of a joint catalog and delivery system that allows members of any CLIC institution to find and borrow materials from any other CLIC institution quickly and efficiently. CLIC was founded by college presidents in 1969 and has grown to include eight members. The CLIC Board of Directors would like to take a fresh look at new ILS technology, new organizational options, and new funding models for CLIC. This proposal lays out a process for discovering how ready CLIC is for change, and what hurdles might be present for any such new thinking.

CLIC produced a fine strategic plan in 2003 and yet the board clearly feels that much of what it laid out was left unfulfilled. In fact, that 2003 plan still holds up pretty well and implementing many of its strategies would probably help CLIC meet its current challenges. So what gets in the way of this accomplishment? And if we create a new plan now why would the same the same group dynamics not stymie follow through again? A better understanding of the working dynamics of CLIC would be required to avoid such a repeat performance, and developing that understanding is where we propose to start.

We could consider this “phase one” of a renewed planning process. Even if the CLIC Board decides not to move ahead with other phases of planning, building the internal awareness of CLIC’s organizational dynamics and values would benefit everyone who is a part of the consortium.


Marilyn and I would start by reviewing documents that define CLIC as an organization. These would include bylaws, earlier planning documents, budget models, the CLIC intranet, and so forth. We would use the background provided by these documents as the basis for developing questions for board members.

We would then conduct interviews:

  1. We would together interview the library director at each CLIC institution. We would explore the decision making process and organization structure as it experienced by directors. We would try to understand the expectations directors have of one another.

  2. We would together interview CLIC staff to understand the dynamics of the office interactions with staff and directors.

  3. We would separately interview twelve to sixteen staff at member institutions. In some cases these interviews would be one on one and in others we might pull together small groups of staff. If warranted, and if broader input was desired, we might also develop an electronic survey instrument for staff to complete.

  4. We would also propose to interview the last director of CLIC with an extended tenure, Chris Olson, to learn what insights he may have into the operations of the organization.


From these interviews we would produce an organizational scan, an assessment report that helps CLIC understand its readiness to meet the goals set forth in existing or new plans. This would take the form of a brief report (under ten pages) as well as a report in person to the CLIC Board.

This report would also include recommendations for next steps with regard both to a new strategic planning process and the immediate challenges presented by technological opportunities like those the MART group is likely to pose.


We propose that we embark on the background investigation and the board interviews during the month of June. Staff interviews would be conducted in June and early July. We would endeavor to report back to the board by the end of July. This schedule requires getting started in mid-June. If arranging a contract takes longer than that, the schedule would slip some. Still, we expect the work could be completed in six weeks.


Considerable time is devoted in this process to preparing and conducting interviews, collating what is learned, and writing up the results. The full cost of the project would be $19,000. This would be invoiced in three parts: $6,000 after the interviews with the board are complete, another $6,000 after all interviews are complete, and a final $7,000 after the presentation of the report to the CLIC Board. All invoices would be paid to Eric Celeste (Eric will take care of reimbursing Marilyn). The final invoice would be sent no later than 31 July 2008.

Eric Celeste

Eric brings over 15 years of library and 25 years of technology experience to his consulting. At MIT Eric shepherded the creation of DSpace, open source digital repository management software developed with HP and now deployed at hundreds of institutions worldwide. At the University of Minnesota Libraries he encouraged the development of the UThink blog service, a wiki-based staff intranet, LibData, and the University Digital Conservancy. He works with non-profit institutions on appropriate uses of technology for informing, communicating, and collaborating with their constituencies.

Marilyn Pash

Marilyn holds a Masters degree in Organization Development from Pepperdine University. She has completed numerous consulting assignments over the last 25 years encompassing strategic planning, management development, team development, culture change, process improvement, organizational design, and quality improvement for the financial services, high technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and higher education industries.