Libraries of the future: Assessing existing strategies

Most organisations with an existing strategy have built it with a set of explicit or implicit assumptions. These assumptions are usually based on events in the past. By placing the existing strategy in each scenario in turn and asking ‘how would my strategy turn out if this scenario is the one that evolves, and how would it need to change?’ you can assess the robustness of your strategy. This process is commonly called ‘wind tunnelling’ – like testing an airframe in a wind tunnel to find the weak points. Strategies and policies that are good under all the scenarios are called ‘robust’; those that are aligned to one or another scenario are called ‘contingent’. Contingent strategies should be reviewed.

Essentially, assessment of existing strategies is done by adapting the approach for developing a new strategy. You need to assemble a team who understand between them institutional strategy and the library strategy and its assumptions. One way of proceeding is for a sub-group to identify issues and shortcomings and then discuss these in the context of the scenarios with the full team.