My Bad

I wish decisions that didn't work out were as easy to dismiss as a simple, snarkily insincere, "My bad!". We all strive to make great decisions - at least I've never talked to anybody who started out their day planning to make nothing but bad choices. We weigh alternatives; look at what has come before and then look out at what's coming; listen to and talk with co-workers, patrons, colleagues and stakeholders; consider the impact library-wide and department- specific; and wrestle with how the decision will affect and be perceived by patrons and community members.

For me, decision making is a complex stew of the above factors...and time.  Sometimes the simmering takes an hour; sometimes a month; sometimes a year. The more rushed decisions under unexpected deadlines leave me trepidatious - the mixture is a bit underdone - is this going to work or we all going to be chewing on some hard and rather indigestible tidbits that make us sick sooner rather than later? Even on long-simmered decisions, the whole thing may simply refuse to boil. Whichever way the decision is made, the results are weak and unappealing. You make the best of it, hoping that you still are getting some nutrition.

When a decision outside the box is made or one that sets service on an entirely different track, the stew becomes immeasurably more complex. Some flavors you are trying for may be familiar and some a shot in the dark (I think this will blend in well). At first the finished product seems appetizing - but then you discover only for certain tastes. More people than expected are holding their noses, loudly decrying their hatred of lima beans or politely setting aside their stew .  You realize that this decision stew is truly a bad one.

Although some might force people to keep eating that dish, there is only one thing to do in this case.  Apologize, scoop up the bowls, toss the contents and admit that you used the wrong ingredients and that the stew is bad. Starting again and making smaller adjustments to the recipe may help everyone enjoy the experience more.

Decisions and changes need to be made to stay on top of great library service.  But knowing when to say when; owning and apologizing for the poor decision and being able to halt work resulting from a decision that isn't working out is just as important. That reflection and readjustment is part of life. Don't fear it, but face it. And, as my mother would say when we went to her with the results of our tasteless or badly done stew, "Oh, don't worry. Just try again and I think everything will come out OK next time." Such a wise woman.

Image: 'chicken stew'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/35034346243@N01/261246550 Found on flickrcc.net

1 comment:

  1. Fun metaphor! Sometimes we are looking for an individual specialty dish rather than a stew, but overall there comes a time when we have to serve (and eat) the meal we cook!