Why Nations Fail

My mother, who knows about the work I do in libraries around culture change to produce vibrant organizations, sent me an article from the New York Times Magazine online called “Why Some Countries Go Bust” (http://tinyurl.com/79vylps). The article reviews a new book by Turkish M.I.T. professor Daron Acemoglu and his collaborator James Robinson called “Why Nations Fail,” What seems obvious to me is that the principles they present apply not only to nations but to organizations, as well. As the author of the NY Times article says,

 “Their great contribution has been a series of clever historical studies that persuasively argue that the cheesiest of slogans is actually correct: the true value of a nation is its people. If national institutions give even their poorest and least educated citizens some shot at improving their own lives — through property rights, a reliable judicial system or access to markets — those citizens will do what it takes to make themselves and their country richer.”

 I say “hooray” for these guys. Yes, the true value of an organization is its people. As cheesy as it may sound as a solution, improving communication skills throughout the organization and involving all staff in determining the library’s future just may be the answer to keeping libraries relevant. Since we’re not likely to get a large influx of money soon, why not consider a solution that’s right in our own backyard?  For starters, how about a staff day run as “open space” or using the world cafe method or as a facilitated meeting .  Those would all be a step in the right direction and can be done with almost any number of participants.  If all staff get empowered to contribute to making themselves and their communities “richer,” who knows what can happen!