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MLA’s Culture Revolution

Did I mention the heaps of diagrams and scribbled notes at the board's February strategic planning retreat? Here’s the first one we looked at, posted by Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn:

DreamBig_HaveFun.jpg

[Source: The Three Qualities of People I Most Enjoy Working With]

This deceptively simple diagram sums up the essential qualities of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to help you do in your own career.

MLA has spent the past month dreaming big by expanding our definition of what’s possible for us as an organization. Board members are asking “What if?” and “Why are we doing this?” If the answer is “because we started doing it in 1898” (the year MLA was founded), it’s time to take a closer look at how that activity is relevant in an age when we care more about tweets than telegrams.

Dreaming big (vision) is the map. Getting sh*t done (execution) is the vehicle that gets us there, steered by MLA staff, committees, and other volunteer leaders. Our challenge is to stay on track without getting our axles stuck in the weeds by the side of the highway. To make the ride smoother, MLA staff are examining many internal processes to reduce time spent on administrative “stuff” so they can dedicate more time to creating value. They’re also creating detailed project plans outlining how we can get from where we are now to where we want to be.

As for the board, since we know our big dreams will require more frequent check-ins, we actually volunteered to have more meetings: the executive committee is now meeting virtually every two weeks, and the board will meet twice more virtually before the annual meeting in May.

Having fun is the seaweed wrapper that holds all this sushi together. We are serious about thinking big and having fun. If we’re not having fun—both on the surface, through laughter and occasional silliness, and through the deeper satisfaction that our efforts should ultimately create—what’s the point?

This is MLA’s culture revolution.

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