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David Lee King

How YOU Get Permission



Here’s my third post on Getting Permission. In the first post, I covered how I get permission. The second post asked for tips from you guys.

Here’s what you said (from my comments):

  • Chris Freeman: “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”?”
  • Chris also said: “identify who the “informal power brokers” are in the organization. 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.”
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Genesis also said: “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.”
  • ananka: “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.”
  • David Whelan: “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.”
  • Lori Reed: “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.”
  • Lori also said: “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.”

I also received some great tips from some of you via Twitter, as well (for another post – yes, I set up a hashtag #getpremission. No, I didn’t save the thing anywhere. Yes, I forgot that tweets pretty much disappear after 1 1/2 weeks. Yes, I waited too long to post this – lesson learned. Drat).

Heather at i_librarian said this:

  • 1. Do your homework.Get evidence. Provide WHY it is valid and what it will do for your library. #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)
  • 2. Mock ups, mock ups, mock ups. People need to see what it will look and feel like. Be as concrete as you can. #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)
  • 3. Get buy-in from others who will be affected. 4. Spell out who and how the work will get done #getpermission @davidleeking (found here)

Laura J. Wilkinson said this:

  • Make it easy for your boss to say ‘yes’ to your idea – think it out and manage any risks #getpermission (found here)
  • Make the business case for your idea #getpermission (found here)
  • Identify success criteria and agree a trial period. Monitor, evaluate, review #getpermission (found here)
  • Be prepared to work on your idea on your own time #getpermission (found here)
  • Get the support of someone in authority. Give examples of what similar libraries have done (works well in Oxford!) #getpermission (found here)
  • Make it easy for your boss to say ‘yes’ to your idea – think it out and manage any risks #getpermission (found here)

Did we miss something? Some great tip on how YOU get permission that isn’t here? Please share!

Pic by JanneM

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • P Leach

    Here are my two additional suggestions:
    1. Depending on your organization, you may benefit from getting buy-in from key people up the organization. I’m a director, and sometimes get ideas from people who haven’t talked over their idea with their direct supervisor or unit supervisor. I need to know that the people who’ll be allocating their time will support the project.
    2. You may be asked to tweak your idea so that it fits better with current initiatives, resources, and planning. Think about how you’ll handle what may feel like a brutal round of questioning without losing your reputation for positivity–things like can someone else do this more effectively? Can this be reworked to require fewer resources and still be effective? Is someone else already doing a good job of this? How will we sustain this?
    And a third–If the answer is no the first time, keep your eyes open for another opportunity to bring your idea forward in more favorable circumstances, or to tweak it into a more favorable product.

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