Michelle here. A family friend passed away, and I will be attending the opening of his archives at a university this spring. I looked up the definition of “archives”—a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. Thinking about what would go into an archive about our learning institutions can help us gain perspective on what is most significant, not just what in the moment seems notable. There are many documents and records to choose from:
- budget documents that illustrate how our institutions have operated on a shoestring
- employee profiles that highlight the diversity of skills and perspectives needed to run an institution
- marketing ads that reflect how programs were pitched to employees
- mission, vision, and values statements containing our aspirations
- photos that show how employees and staff changed over the years
- needs assessments that document how critical skills over time changed
- notes from sessions that record how a course morphed over the years based upon employee and instructor feedback
- recordings of training sessions to highlight the humor and passion that infused the learning atmosphere
- testimonials that present how employees thought training affected their careers.
We can be myopic even when we think we are being strategic. We are often so mired in the day’s emergencies, and strategic meetings are just about taking a respite from the current deluge. We don’t think about what we want our future best institutions to be and how that will translate into our day-to-day activity. By focusing on what we want in our archives, perhaps we can take a more intentional approach to strategic meetings. What documents and records will show how we worked every day to shape the future we envisioned?
Marykate here. Archives are one way to be remembered. When I contemplate how our organization will be remembered, I can’t help but reflect on this Lynn Schooler quote: “. . . it does not matter if we are forgotten; what matters is the effect we have on those around us and those who come after us. What matters is how our own lives affect the larger, perpetual community of the living.” I think especially when serving such a large community of civil servants who affect the lives of so many of our citizens, I love to consider the ripple effect that we are having in our communities. What does that look like for you?
And while we more intentionally shape the future, we also should take some time to celebrate today. In the words of Andy Bernard from The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
What would you put in your archive? How are you affecting those around you? And how do you celebrate your learning organization today?