Too often, ideas inspired within us during a PD session, remain untried, go undiscussed, and then under the weight of our to-do lists and the post-it notes on our desks, they are crushed into a fine sand and blown away. Forgotten.
Why do we waste PD?
Sadly, a lot of post-PD ideas stay at the ‘discussion level’ and never really make it to the ‘application level’.
This happens because we (the team, the department, the individual etc.) don’t put formal structures in place to ensure such senseless wastage cannot occur. In this post, I will present one possible structure that can be used. With a bit of luck, it might help you to create one of your own, so that returns are more likely to come from your future investments into PD.
A structure for maximising PD returns
This is not fancy stuff. My structure consists of three obvious stages: (1) before PD, (2) during PD and (3) after PD. Each stage involves specific tools and tasks which ‘must’ be interacted with by everyone who takes part in the PD.
Stage One: before PD
Task 1: Create an online form or survey which must be completed before someone is given a place at the PD. Include questions such as the following:
What are the three main, specific institutional needs you aim to meet by doing this PD?
Which key stakeholders do you hope to benefit, and how?
Task 2: Plan for the “what next?” As a team, meet and agree upon the following:
- When, where and for how long will you all meet after the PD to debrief and to create a plan of action (taking the ideas to an implementation level)?
- How will impact be measured and by whom? Someone must be accountable for following up on returns.
- Who needs to receive a report of the impact of the PD?
Task 3: Create a leak-proof idea bucket. In other words, set up a collaborative, cloud hosted, online area where your team can record their ideas during the PD (make sure it is accessible via smartphone, tablet and laptop/notebook). Ensure that everyone has logged in and knows how to use the application before the PD day.
(Note: if Internet fails you on the day, agree that notes are to be stored in an alternative application of personal choice, and pasted into the collaborative space when everyone is back online.)
Stage two: during PD
Task 1: Record your ideas/notes/questions in the online collaborative space space which was set up during stage one. Include photos, audio, drawings and text.
Stage three: after PD
Why do we do PD if not to affect change? This is the most satisfying stage of the process, and yet in my experience it is often the most neglected. This is where we turn our ideas and new knowledge into visible improvements within the library!
Task 1: Meet as a team.
- Review the ideas and other information captured during the PD.
- Map the ideas to the post-PD survey questions.
- From here, the team should be able to agree on at least three key tasks or projects that can be implemented as a result of the PD, and which will produce ‘measurable’ positive change or improvement.
- Decide what ‘measurable’ means in each case.
- Decide who will measure what, and how, and for how long? Will software be required? Do milestones need to be applied?
- Set a deadline for results. Will both qualitative and quantitative measurements taken? Will executive be able to understand the results (if you plan on sharing)?
Task 2: Delegate
Attach names and responsibilities to the tasks that collectively constitute your three key projects/actions. Agree on dates by which updates are to be given either via email or as part of a meeting. Set a deadline for task completion.
Task 3: Measure the impact.As per the process agreed upon during the first post-PD meeting, measure the success of the post-PD changes. Write it up, share it with the group and other interested parties. Use it to inform future PD choices.