In the last issue of Ariadne, the Minotaur column called for a different way of doing things, and in particular for the development of different organisational forms. Issue 17 suggests a few answers to some of the questions about the shape of future organisations.
In the main feature, Clive Field, based on his experience at Birmingham, sets change in information services in the context of broad educational change, and advocates a structure which erodes traditional boundaries, a non-hierarchical approach, financial flexibility and a recasting of middle management based on a team culture. Phil Brady articulates a different approach from the perspective of the computer manager now managing a library service as well. His change theory is based on respecting existing specialisations, devolving decision making, using structure as a reassurance in times of change, some judicious redrawing of boundaries, and multi-skilling and teamwork as possibilities where the services need to coalesce at the front desk. Field and Brady between them might be seen as laying down the essence of change management in information services. Unreconstructed old financial centralists (like this editor) will view the idea of devolved budgets as akin to Old Labour's view of giving the Bank of England power to set interest rates. It has to be said that this idea will be a key factor in the way information services develop in the next few years, and it might be said that devolved budgets will stop any form of coherent development. It can certainly be said that the cover story indicates that devolved budgets can be made to work. The final research report is due this month, and will be read with interest.
The implications of technical change in general on organisational structures are not yet clear for information services. Kathryn Arnold of De Montfort looks at electronic delivery of information. This is another issue that will significantly influence the shape and character of our organisations in the medium term.
One thing that will be needed as the change process unfolds is continuing debate, and in A New Publication For a New Challenge two of the Ariadne editorial team consider the establishment of a new forum to do this. Lyndon Pugh