A little while ago, I brought up case-based learning and my dislike of case-based management. I often hear colleagues in the field lament that this management style is used so often, particularly from the 'young ones' (if you know me, you know I hate that expression). Mulling it over a bit, I think it is often a knee-jerk reaction of the veterans of the field who see it all as cyclical (which naturally makes me wonder and worry if I too will become like that as I gain veteran status). This knee-jerk reaction so quickly becomes a polarizing one, and when used repeatedly results in bitterness and deteriorating morale. I have wandered around organizations where the veteran leaders carry the "we've done it before, it didn't work then and it won't work now - the old way is the only way" flag like a banner, and the constant refrain from the troops becomes "what's the point of trying anything?" Oooh - not good on so many levels, right? But ask those same veteran leaders if they believe in case-based management and I'd bet good money that they would claim to be strictly against it, reminiscing of the time when they were 'bleeding-edge' and fighting the good fight of progress.* So, what can we do when we encounter this?
Well, if I had the ultimate answer for that question, I'd be getting paid for this blog. It is probably true that many approaches to things are cyclic (the technology/implementation/etc. may change, but the core approach is cyclic). It is glaringly obvious in management approaches - go back to the management books of the '30s and '40s and you will find current popular trends like Lean Management and Six Sigma under a different name. But here is what changes - the environment. The context changes. It does. Doubt me? Go visit your oldest relative and ask them about the younger generation (Oy! These kids today! When I was young we never...) - the environment is constantly changing.
Since I have yet to find even the most die-hard case-based-manager-in-practice support it in theory, you might be able to show them that the environment is different. Context changes, and what didn't work before might work now. It's a hard sell, but with some good research and robust outcome indicators, it just might be sell-able. For those of you/us who keep running into the problem, maybe try a little empathy to make it easier for yourself. If it is a veteran's knee-jerk response, remember where these leaders are coming from - it is not easy to relinquish your hold on being new and innovative and to recognize that times are changing and your role in the environment is no longer to be up on what is new and great but rather to prep the new 'generation' of library leaders. And who knows, while you are earnestly trying to see things from their perspective, you might just find the magic bullet approach to try your new idea.
After all, times - they are a-changin'.
*No really, will someone bet me good money? 'Cause I could really use a new laptop. :)