Moving Forward—Together

a look down upon a four-man crew rowing down a placid river

What does it take to implement a strategic plan?

Answer: A lot of teamwork. Plus a willingness to look at what we do with fresh eyes.

We’re doing all that right now.

To start, we’re taking a good look at all of our public-facing services, from dbGaP to PubMed to MedlinePlus, from TOXNET to PubChem to ClinicalTrials.gov. We want to be sure the user experience for each of these services is the best it can possibly be. We also want to ensure the infrastructure is robust and sustainable, and that we haven’t ended up with an awkward patchwork on the back end through a series of well-intentioned but disparate fixes and user-driven improvements. We need to launch the next decade on solid technological footing.

We’re also tackling the human side of implementation.

We recently completed the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which provides us with valuable insights into how people view their jobs, the agency, and our leadership. Initial numbers indicate nearly 68% of NLM’s federal workforce responded to the survey, which exceeded both last year’s response rate and our goal for this year and places us 10th among the 27 Institutes and Centers at NIH. We’ll have the survey results in hand early fall or so, and I’m eager to see the feedback we’ve gotten.

We’re also bringing in consultants to conduct interviews with staff members in various positions across the Library to evaluate processes and workflows and to identify opportunities for greater efficiencies.

And we’re recruiting—for scientists, subject matter experts, programmers, and technical support—so if you’d like to be a part of our future, keep an eye on our job openings page to see what’s coming down the pike.

While Mike Huerta, Associate Director for Program Development, is overseeing our implementation activities, we’ll all be working together to turn the vision of the strategic plan into reality. NLM leadership, in particular, will be responsible for bringing the plan to fruition, and an Implementation Council comprised of staff from all divisions will help guide the work.

We’re using sophisticated project management tools to track our progress both to ensure we stay on pace and to avoid overtaxing our staff with too much exciting innovation. We expect to have a public-facing dashboard up soon so you’ll be able to monitor what’s happening as well.

And I’m guessing you will.

Given the amount of interest in and passion for the Library’s work, along with the reach and impact of that work, I know a lot of you are keeping a close eye on what we’re doing. I’m glad.

And, given the level of expertise and the diversity of experiences among our customers and stakeholders, I’m sure many of you have lessons to share from your own adventures in bringing strategic plans to life. Won’t you share those with me?

After all, it takes a whole library to get our work done, and a whole community to make sure it’s done well.

Photo credit (rowing, top): Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash (modified)

Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

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