≡ Menu
David Lee King

Help Others Get Permission



A lot of people read, commented, and tweeted about my last post, Getting Permission. First off – thanks! It’s an important topic, and one with no easy answers.

More than one commenter asked a similar question – Emily Ford, at the cool In the Library with the Lead Pipe blog, sums it up nicely. She asks:

Do you have any tips about how to try to move forward and get permission and get things done in an organization that has its issues? How can we be proactive without having to leave our organizations to be able to do good things?

My answer to that? I want YOU to answer it! I’m guessing some of you have some great answers to Emily’s question – experiences, best practices, etc. Stuff that worked for you, ideas you read about but haven’t yet tried, etc.

My goal here is to answer Emily’s question … AND to create a list of useful ways to move forward and get permission when you have a less than stellar boss, a conservative organization, a traditional IT department, etc.

And  if you want to tweet your answer, please use the hashtag #getpermission – could be a fun way to share.

So – how do YOU get permission?

photo by flying white

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://twitter.com/civillibrarian Chris Freeman

    I suppose part of one possible answer to Emily's question relates to the particular “issues” at hand. If, like many libraries, issues of inertia and bureaucracy are the obstacles, selling the outcome of the idea as opposed to the “tool” that will create the outcome is helpful. What will be better about our services if we implement this idea rather than “hey, here's a new idea for us to try”?

    It certainly doesn't hurt to identify who the “informal power brokers” are in the organization, either. Having an influential person stating support for your plans goes a long way toward swaying those who control whatever resources you need to accomplish your goals.

  • http://wrongagain.wordpress.com Genesis Hansen

    Don't just ask for permission to do what you want, offer something in return. Our City Council was very squeamish about letting departments use social media. In order to get myself on our City's social media policy committee and be allowed to participate in a social media pilot project I compiled a lot of research on social media policies, organized it and sent it to the Committee chair. I also offered to do social media and policy training for other departments in the City. As a result, I was included in the process, got to give input into policy formation (didn't win every battle, but did win some important ones), and made some valuable contacts in other City departments. And now any department that wants to start using social media will go through training with library staff. Woohoo!

    Always try to demonstrate the tangible benefits your project will offer. If you're in a place where the powers that be are generally resistant, don't phrase your request as “this is something cool I want to try” but “I think I know a way to help the library meet this particular service goal, and I'm happy to do the legwork to make it happen.” Make it as easy as possible for your boss to say yes.

  • http://inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org Emily

    Oh cool, thanks for posting this! I'm excited to read all the comments.

  • Michael Casey

    If you can plug your idea into the strategic plan and highlight any efficiencies the idea might offer — either direct financial savings or staff-time savings — then you're off to a good start. I definitely agree with Chris, don't sell the tool, sell the result.

  • http://twitter.com/lorireed Lori Reed

    It depends what the issues are. If you are in an unhealthy organization then you need to get out. Long term it's not good for your own health.

    Now for ideas…you can look outside your organization as a place to grow. The ALA Learning Round Table has allowed me to stretch my wings and gain experience with skills that I could not use (at least not initially) in my day job. It also allowed me to grow my network of friends and peers. I'll also second what Michael said. Anytime you can contribute to the organization's strategic plan it's a win win.

    I would also start small. Starting with small projects allows you to prove yourself. So instead of a social media makeover maybe just start with a Facebook page for one branch.

    Remember too that all organizations have “issues” even if we don't know about them. Navigating issues and politics is one of the most important skills you can have. What you learn now you will be able to apply to jobs and issues for the rest of your career. Look at it as a learning experience and embrace the challenge!

  • http://twitter.com/davidpwhelan davidpwhelan

    I'm in the middle of the permission flow. Sometimes I give it, sometimes I ask those above me for it. The most important element is to be willing to ask the question. Some of the projects I have started came about because I sat with the decision maker and said, here's what I want to do, how can I do it? It engages them and it highlights where your plan may need work. So once you've asked, be prepared that you may need to ask again. Sometimes a decision maker just need to be asked and you're good to go.

    Don't get stymied by others who say “you won't get permission to do X”. They may not have asked themselves or they may have asked in a different way. I've had a number of occasions where staff or managers mentioned that “we could never do that” and I know that they could, but no-one asked whether it was possible.

    Finally, asking for permission is a bit like whack-a-mole. Sometimes you get bopped on the head and you won't get to do something; just pop up again with something else. Your success column will outstrip your loss column, even in organizations that have issues. Every manager wants things to happen; your asking means you're willing to get something done.

  • http://libraryunderworld.wordpress.com/ ananka

    I agree with the sell the result approach. However, my tactic is to talk to someone who supports me and my ideas first, bounce it off them. It helps if they have some weight behind them with admin. Sell it to them, work out some of the issues that might arise, then slowly (within reason, depending on the scope of your idea) begin telling others about it, working your way up. Pretty soon they will be asking when your program starts. Then submit your formal request for funding, or whatever you need to do to make it official.

  • http://libraryunderworld.wordpress.com/ ananka

    I agree with the sell the result approach. However, my tactic is to talk to someone who supports me and my ideas first, bounce it off them. It helps if they have some weight behind them with admin. Sell it to them, work out some of the issues that might arise, then slowly (within reason, depending on the scope of your idea) begin telling others about it, working your way up. Pretty soon they will be asking when your program starts. Then submit your formal request for funding, or whatever you need to do to make it official.

  • Pingback: Getting Permission | David Lee King()

  • Pingback: Twitter Search Engines | David Lee King()

  • nfl jerseys

    This is what I was exploring for a long time! Thank you very much for this article around college! One day someone pronounce that In union there is power. Our high trained company can support you in writing custom essays.