44 Research Library Issues 292 — 2017 was all the more painful to see that we were not going to exhaust the full allocation. On a scale of one to ten, it was tempting to feel like zero. But how had we failed exactly? It wasn’t a clear picture, because as it turns out, the same thing had happened the year before. And the year before that. It might have been tempting to chalk it up to a retirement in the finance office. But we knew that wasn’t the truth. The truth was much more complicated. We could see that good intention and force of message do not clear invoices on their own. They don’t move licenses through an approval process. They definitely don’t resolve bugs in the integrated library system or create visibility between that system and the enterprise finance system. We were going to have to do some real work to understand why our plan to spend everything did not come to fruition. What happened next, for us, was game-changing. Part III At this point in a case study, a reader might pause, reflect, and suggest a course of action. So I’ll ask, if this were your budget, what would you do? Would you “recall” unspent allocations from individuals at a designated deadline? Would you take more of the process into your own hands? Cross your fingers and hope it all didn’t happen again? Would you delegate to a few smart people, frame some goals together, and then take a step back? How would you build confidence that things could be different? We knew that success in the coming year would require doing something no one could remember doing before—spending all of our allocated funding within the fiscal year. We had some hypotheses about why this wasn’t easy, and what was holding us back, but those hunches Association of Research Libraries But how had we failed exactly? It wasn’t a clear picture, because as it turns out, the same thing had happened the year before. And the year before that.