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New KLS Lecture Series Gathers Experts and Staff on Improving Services

HBS Knowledge and Library Services held the year’s first Forum session.

Shih teaching class.

October 7, 2014—The Knowledge and Library Services (KLS) team at Harvard Business School (HBS) kicked off the FY15 KLS Forum series with a case study discussion designed to encourage staff members to think critically about a culture of innovation through a non-library lens, led by HBS Professor Willy Shih.

Shih selected a case study on a plastics company that illustrated how organizational culture impacts behavior in the face of change. The group discussed what enables information flows, how to successfully implement new projects, how to improve products and services and how to determine and analyze success metrics.

The case study approach, first developed at Harvard Law School, encourages participants to share their perspectives on the case. Shih used the Socratic method, leaving participants poised for the infamous HBS cold-call, when a professor calls on an unsuspecting (and sometimes unprepared) student for an answer.

“Who’s avoiding eye contact?” Shih joked, although he praised the insightful responses from KLS team members. When Tessa Beers, a processing archivist, compared a CEO to an improvisational jazz band leader, Shih remarked, “That is better than the MBAs’ comments. And I’ve taught this case 15 times.”

Closing the Forum, Deb Wallace, executive director of KLS, encouraged staff members to apply the day’s takeaways in the workplace. “What Professor Shih gave us today are ingredients. We have change coming in from so many angles. It’s important not to have a recipe—that will lockstep us into a path—but to have the ingredients to create success.”

Shih gave KLS staff high marks, closing the class with words of encouragement and praise. “You are a wonderful asset, and the best library system I have ever worked with.”