King Lear at the Shakespeare Theater
Getting things done

The Future Is A Playground

I have this vague memory that it was Peter Drucker who said something to the effect that, "Planning is an exercise in predicting the future.  The odds are you're going to be wrong more than half the time."

I find that to be extremely comforting. 

What paralyzes a lot of people is that they find it terrifying.  It could be a simple test for one's fitness as a library director (particularly in the first decade of the 21st century).   What's your immediate visceral reaction to that statement?  If you're dismayed, you'd best look for a different line of work.  If it relaxes and invigorates you, then dive right in.  You can't predict the future, says Drucker.  So see if you can create it.

We're on an October 1 fiscal year, so July is always the crux of budget and annual planning.  The budget model needs to be finalized by the end of the month and sometime in late July or early August I have my annual planning meeting with the President and the Provost where we sit down and review the past year and try to plot out the key objectives for the next one.  This year, the planning meeting was yesterday afternoon.  I'll finalize the budget model when I get in to the office this morning.

I've got about $4.2 million to play with.   Over half of that goes to salaries & benefits.  Another quarter million keeps the lights on -- phones, office supplies, computer support contract, copier leases & maintenance, postage & delivery charges.  All the mundane costs that are fairly fixed.  So the choices really come down to how to spend that last $1.3/1.4 million.  How much do I need to set aside for upgrading the ILS?  Can I squeeze out another librarian position?  What do we need for computer upgrades, for sending people to conferences?  And with what's left can we buy enough content to meet our commitments to the university community?

And then, given the current economic climate, how much should I hold in reserve in case the governor decides to declare proration and take some of what I think I have back two months into the fiscal year?  And how much do I need to save to cover what the budget cuts for the next year might be?

Of all of the Star Trek movies, my favorite is The Voyage Home.  And my favorite moment in the film comes near the end, when Spock is trying to calculate the speed and trajectory that will get the ship around the sun at the right angle to swing them back into their own time.  He doesn't have all of the information he needs to get the calculations exactly right.  McCoy tells him he'll have to guess.  Spock says, "Then I will try to make the best guess I can."

Story of my life. 


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