How do you make a good case for your library?

We all have been there and experienced it: the utter frustration at seen a proposal for change or development turned down by your line-manager or the Headteacher. I have been at the receiving end of many refusals before I realised that something had to change in the way I was preparing my presentation. So the big question was: how can I be more persuasive next time? How can I sway the key stakeholders on my side?

This is how my personal campaign began…

In my research for a better way to change management, I have come across a number of useful resources that have made me see my problems from a different point of view or given me practical tips that I could apply in my workplace.

The first resource that has opened my eyes to other alternatives is definitely the book “The Library Marketing Toolkit” by Ned Potter (Facet Publishing). There is a fantastic website which acts as a companion to this book and which I urge to visit and explore: http://www.librarymarketingtoolkit.com/ .

Proactive vs reactive.

The chapter that has absolutely revolutionised the way I think about tackling any obstacles in my way is the “Marketing and People” one: full of tips and case studies, it really made me realise how the ability to influence people had to become my constant priority, use the the power of Word of Mouth as well as regularly reaching and outreaching. Our colleagues as well as other stakeholders in our service, big or small, can become our champions in our campaign for change. They can assist you in establishing your professional reputation and they will probably be your biggest supporters in pushing your agenda. What I really learnt in applying these priorities is that you need to constantly nourish your support network and not seek to create one just when you most need it: this will probably not come organically and support may arrive too late!

Battle Plan.

When preparing to make a change or submit a proposal for a major re-development, one model is highly recommended to ensure that you are successful: the 5 case model. The five elements of this model ensure that you are really prepared for your upcoming battle: I find it easier to see every element as an extra arrow to my bow. This model includes: The Strategic Case, The Economic case, The Financial Case, The Commercial Case, The Management Case.

If all these elements are carefully considered, investigated and analysed, you not only considerably increase your confidence in delivering your proposal but you also prepare solid grounds for your proposal to be accepted more easily.

The Strategic Case

What is the strategic context of you proposal, namely why do you want to make this change? How does this change fit within the existing structure of your organisation, including goals & strategies, existing practices and resources? Does the change that you are proposing allow the organisation to exploit new opportunities or respond to new threats?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. A clear description of what is proposed and its fit with the business strategy
  2. The key objectives to be met and benefits to be realised
  3. Key performance indicators for those objectives
  4. A resource overview

 The Economic Case

How does your proposal deliver value for money? How does your recommendation/proposal clearly provide a return on investment? How does the option that you are proposing deliver better that the other options considered?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Critical assessment of the options considered, including cost-benefit analysis of each option: for example, a risk impact assessment of each option.
  2. A final recommendation based on a balance of cost, benefit and risk

 The Financial Case

How affordable is your proposal? How will it be funded and to what extent can your business/organisation afford it?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Total cost of your proposal
  2. Impact upon cash flow
  3. Source of funding
  4. Possible considerations regarding the business affordability gap. If this is the case, considerations about borrowing additional finances and at what rate.
  5. Analysis of the split between revenue and capital expenditure

 The Commercial Case

What is the commercial viability of your proposal? How will you source and ensure a steady and secure supply of the commercial elements of your proposal?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Identification and sources of the required internal and external resources
  2. How continuity of supply of those resources is to be maintained

 The Management Case

How will the proposal be project-managed to successful completion?

Essential elements to be included:

  1. Clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  2. Delivery plan, including contingency plan, progress reporting and evaluation procedures

 

 

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