On innovation & transformation

Phil McKinney offers up some interesting thoughts on business models and innovation
"The ultimate objective of any innovation is to transform business and transform lives. How do you know if your innovation is of that transformational kind? Here are my definitions that I use for the different stages/types of business:

  • If you charge for undifferentiated stuff, then you are in the commodity business.
  • If you charge for distinctive/differentiated tangible things, then you are in the goods business.
  • If you charge for the activities you perform, then you are in the service business.
  • If you charge for the time customers spend with you, then and only then are you in the experience business.
  • If you charge for the benefit customers (or "guests") receive as a result of spending that time, you are in the transformation business.
I would argue that to win in the market, you need to aim your innovation efforts towards creating a transformational business."

Although libraries don’t usually “charge” for services, activities or experiences, it’s easy to identify with the business models of goods, services, experiences and transformational. And to echo Phil's thoughts ... I would argue that to excel in the public services market, we need to aim our innovation efforts towards creating transformational libraries.

I had a feeling it wouldn't take long ...

meebo in the catalog
Originally uploaded by davidking
Meebo Chat widget in the catalog ... Yay! :)

Congrats David King! I knew this was an idea that was well within reach of implementing - especially with some of latest free IM tools. It's so great to see it in action.

BTW: That's what I love completely about throwing great ideas out there. You can share 'em (even when they're really not your's -- thanks Lori -- or even when you don't have all the parts figured out). And then someone else, like David, can improve on upon the idea and make it work. :)

Less than just a decade ago, most ideas like this would have taken weeks - or even months -- to bounce around (via the few avenues available like conferences and printed journal publications) before they became anything. But with the blogosphere, etc., you can share ideas and brainstorm out loud and as a result... it only takes a mere 48 hours for someone clever, like David, to figure it out. :)

Thanks Lori for blogging this idea in the 1st place (it's so logical).
And thanks David for so easily demonstrating it in action. Can't wait to hear about the results.


On reinventing reference libraries ...

A year or so ago, I had the pleasure of working with a great team of individuals on a SSP (system- wide strategic priority) project about the Future of Information Services.

FIS for short, this team focused on exploring trends and implementing ideas (IM reference for example) to help keep the library’s information services relevant. At the time a few of our staff also referred to this team as the “reinventing reference” team, but to me this title (which btw imho seems to have been a bit overused in library land) never seemed to fit properly.

[-- fast forward 14 months or so --]

I had completely forgotten about this annoyance until a former colleague sent me a few questions to answer for a visioning project his library system is working on. The questions he posed from the committee really made me think about this word ("reinvent") some more. Here's why ...

How and why have you reinvented yourself or your organization?

I don't think reinvent is the right word. I think of it more as "evolving" to keep up with the information and cultural shift that is already happening. Why? that's easy ... it's *imperative* to remain current and relevant.

As for me personally, I have always viewed "lifelong learning" as a personal pursuit and not a just a library mission moniker. It's a personal responsibility to keep up on trends and be as close to the top of my game as I can. And as public servant, it’s also an expectation and community obligation.

To me the word “reinventing” implies that the model is broken. I don’t think of "it" as being “broken”. But rather “it” (aka, libraries, information services, etc) need to adopt evolving philosophies and practices that ensure they remain relevant.

On a similar note, was also this question -- which makes me wonder that perhaps, sometimes, we really don't ask the right questions …

Do you feel that products and services are determined by need, or do people develop needs based on products and services available?

Hmm... this is loaded question which to me seems based upon some assumptions. It's like the chicken and egg - which came first? The answer lies not in the choices themselves, but rather in realization that products and services are an *evolution* of the constant adjustment to changing customer needs. As users become more savvy and sophisticated (because of their exposure to better products and services) their expectations change and mature and it starts the growth cycle all over again. "

How about you… do you think “reinvent” is the right word we should be using with reference in libraries to talk about the cultural shift and changes in customer expectations that are affecting us? Or is there a better concept than "evolution" to hang this conversation on?


Proof that I work with some great people (& thinkers) …

Earlier this week, PLCMC trainer Lori Reed (who btw is also the mastermind behind the popular online tutorial, 7.5 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners) blogged this:

"Earlier this week I was unable to log in to Bank of America’s site. I thought about calling, but I hate navigating through phone trees (plus there is the fact that I do not sound like my husband–whose account I was trying to log in to–but we won’t go there). I was just about to give up until the following window popped up on my screen:

My first thought was, “How cool, I don’t have to talk to a person!” Yep, I am officially a geek. My second thought was, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we offered a service like this to patrons using our catalog.” After so many attempts to find an item a window would automatically pop up and offer to let the patron chat with a librarian."

Read Lori's full post, Learning from Corporate America.

I absolutely love this idea. There's nothing more frustrating to many of our customers then trying to navigate the online catalog. Imagine if you could easily engage them in a chat session and walk them through the process from inside the catalog itself - connecting with them at their point of need and frustration (& before they are totally disenchanted and disappointed)... Hmmm

Yup, Love it! ... but would love it more to see it implemented... Hmmm [scratches head] :)



New Rules of Innovation

FC magazine is monthly must read on my list and their “expert blogs” aren’t far behind. This week, Richard Watson offers up a post on The New Rules for Innovation:
  1. None of us are as smart of all of us
    ” When it comes to innovation, a collective effort is more usually the norm... innovation is largely a result of networks… Having said all this, the best way to kill a good idea is to involve a committee, so ensure that there’s someone in charge to bang heads together and, if necessary, dislodge the gridlock.

  2. Pioneers get scalped
    “The theory of first mover advantage is bunk according to Nicolas Carr (author of 'Does IT Matter'), who says that when a disruptive technology arrives the real growth opportunities lie in fixing the disruption.”

  3. The more you try, the luckier you get.
    ““The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Innovation is partly a numbers game. Fail often and fail fast and learn from your mistakes.”

  4. Don’t confuse ideas with innovation.
    “Organizations think they can be great at ideas and innovation, when generally speaking they're either good at one or the other.”

  5. If you love something, give it away
    “Got a good idea? Then give it away. In my experience too many people (especially lone inventors) hide their idea from the world in the belief that someone will steal it. Someone might. But at least if you talk to people it gives you the opportunity to polish the idea by rubbing it between your brain and theirs (see rule #1).”

  6. Innovation is about breaking rules, so ignore any or all of the above.

Full post here.


Closet Conference Bags

dated conference bagsAt the last conference I attended two weeks ago, I told the registration attendant to just keep the bag and only give me the program. Why? Because I’m tired of dated conference bags. They only seem to collect dust in my closet. Here’s proof. And this is just half the stash I pulled out from the top shelve in my continued quest to go through the closets and pare down before the move.

So here’s my question… why do conference totes* always have to have a date on them? To me, this makes the bag undesirable to carry around the minute I step on the plane home. As you can see from my stash, they get such a tremendous amount of use [cough, cough]. In fact, the only time they ever do seem to get pulled out of closet is when my mother visits and needs a disposable bag to carry the girls' art work and “grammie treasures” home in.

Anyway, the asterisk (*) in my question above does have a caveat worth sharing. For when I spoke at the New South Wales Public Library Conference in Australia in July, I actually received a conference tote worth keeping and using. What made this bag a keeper was ...

1) is was not printed with the conference name or date on it.
2) it was designed by a local artist and
3) (perhaps most importantly for the conference sponsors) it contained two small plastic removable slip covers that
    a) allowed the conference sponsor to promote itself &
    b) accommodated a business card so that people in crowded conference room could tell whose bag was whose when they were piled up on the ground.

Photos of the "keeper bag" are here and here.

I don’t know if this is standard for all library conferences in Australia, but I gotta say that this is an approach I’d love to see adopted by conferences over here. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive a bag that was artistically attractive? Or at least one that wasn’t dated the minute you hailed a taxi for airport?

BTW: If you’re wondering what I’m going to do with the 14 bags I hauled out of the closet today, it’s this … I’ve decided to give them to the library’s outreach services department. With all they haul around and leave here and there, I figure they could use a handful of disposable canvas bags.

How about you... how many dated conference bags do you have in your closet?


1st Presentation (aka slide tray skeletons)

Note: Since I've been doing a lot of presentations this past year, I thought I might share my first ...

Slide 1- my 1st presentationGetting ready for a move means going through boxes in deep closets that you haven’t looked at in awhile ... a looooong while. Today’s closet cleaning trip revealed a tray of slides that I had all but forgotten about... and the contents of which contained my very first power point slide presentation.

Yes, I hate to admit it, but I’m old enough to have slide tray skeletons in my closet – literally!

You see, during my junior of high school I received a NSF Youth Grant (with thanks from a little proposal writing guidance from my dad – a college professor and accomplished grants writer himself) to record the stories and experiences of native Scandinavians who had migrated to northern Wisconsin in the early 20th century. It was fun project to work on, but as I recall it really consumed all my free time. In fact, so much so, that I had to give up my position on pom-pom squad – alas, high school days...

Anyway, no regrets giving up that. One of my best friends, Lori, got my slot which made me happy and I also got to keep my “letter” which was even better – although I never did get around to ordering a jacket to put it on. :)

So back to my youth grant … after several months of interviewing, research and spending lots of hours going through microfilm at the local public library (this was in addition to working there as a page), I ended up doing several months of speaking to local groups like the Lions Club, Optimists, School Board and even the Busy Bee Sewing Club – yup, I knew I hit big time when I found myself speaking to a quilting circle. :)

Anyway, if you’re curious to know when all this was … the last slide of the 80 on the tray contains the date. Note: I was shocked myself to realize I’m really that old. :(

Ok, that's all for now. I'm heading back to cleaning out the closet.



From next week's Newsweek (Nov 26th) The Future of Reading:

"Though the Kindle is at heart a reading machine made by a bookseller—and works most impressively when you are buying a book or reading it—it is also something more: a perpetually connected Internet device. A few twitches of the fingers and that zoned-in connection between your mind and an author's machinations can be interrupted—or enhanced—by an avalanche of data. Therein lies the disruptive nature of the Amazon Kindle. It's the first "always-on" book."

Hmmm... like iTunes and iPods, it will be interesting to watch where this development goes.


Just say "Yes"

I grabbed a photo of this image from an ad in Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine tonight. I love it because it reminds me of Lois' golden rule of innovation ... "say YES!"

Say No to No


Webkinz in the Library

Those of you that read my blog on a regular basis might recall that I have at least one daughter (but actually it’s now two) that are Webkinz crazy. So when Tony Tallent, PLCMC’s Youth Services Director told me about the Matthews’ branch latest programming success for kids, I just knew I had to share …

Via Tony @ Yes to Know
“Yesterday was Webkins Day at the Library! This meant a whole bunch of fun, chat and getting to know a group of kids in a very new way. Matthews Branch Library (Thanks, Trish!) here at PLCMC hosted two back-to-back Webkins Club programs for kids…”

Read the full post.

Tony makes some excellent points about opportunities “to meet kids (read: our whole community) where they are by reflecting their delights, their fancies … It creates connections, makes "our" world and theirs collide in meaningful, deeper, and yes, FUN ways.”

Great job Trish & Matthews children’s staff. Let me know when the next Webkidz Day is. I have two young fans that would love to join you.

Thinking Guides

Best stumble of the week ... Exploreatree's Thinking Guides. The design interface for the templates walks you nicely through the "thinking process" and once you create a free user account, you can save, send and collaborate with others all you want.


Feel Good Thoughts

Michelle Mclean’s post a few weeks ago made me smile...

"If it hadn't been for library bloggers I would never have:
- started reading blogs
- started reading the library literature more widely
- started writing book reviews for the library literature
- started reading outside my profession for parallel experiences and new ideas
- started my own blog, to share my own experiences …

I have progressed more professionally in the last 3 years, than I had in the previous 19. Even though my job title hasn't changed much, the work that I do, my love of it and my wider knowledge of the profession has grown exponentially (and there is potential in the job situation, so that may better reflect this development soon too).

And it's all because library bloggers out there unselfishly decided to take the time to share their thoughts, experiences and more. They took a risk, put themselves out there, not knowing whether anyone would read and I again want to say thanks. I am more in love with my profession, my work and the life-long learning process that I am again engaged in, than I have ever been before. They are an inspiration to me, they give me inspiration to make the changes, small and large, to help make my library service better for our users - as a professional, I could not ask for a better gift from my profession."

Thanks Michelle. I feel the same way :)

PS: Four posts in one night... can you tell I’m catching up after two weeks of continuous conference travel? :)

Apple Tuesdays

I love it when I discover neat little customer opportunities that our staff cook up. This one I discovered via a small pink 4x5 flyer at the service desk. Apple Tuesdays …

Apple Tuesdays

“In this exciting collaboration between the Apple Store and the Public Library, an Apple Store representative will present tips and tricks for your Apple products and demo new products.”

PS: Good job Matt :)

Human Sigma

This is the third mention in the last week that I’ve seen regarding Human Sigma, a new book that's only been out about two weeks now. Judging from this except in last week’s Gallup Management Journal ( Yup, the folks that do the polls), I think it’s moving to the top of my list.

Culturing culture

Having a high-performing business culture is a competitive advantage today. Most companies expect every employee to be a builder, because every employee, through his or her actions, either makes the culture stronger or weakens it. Employees, in turn, want to be proud of their organizations and local teams. And, in many countries today, the employer needs the employee more than the other way around. As the world shifts from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy -- and as employees are increasingly valued for what they know as much as for what they produce -- the employer’s power has diminished or evaporated.

So how do we manage people for success and high levels of productivity in the new economy? Too many organizations build management models on the assumption that managers and leaders have the power in the company/employee relationship, but that’s no longer always the case. The answer is employee engagement or the ability to capture the heads, hearts, and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence. Engaged employees want their organization to succeed because they feel connected emotionally, socially, and even spiritually to its mission, vision, and purpose.”

In age where libraries are looking at and experimenting with new management models to help create cultural change in our organizations, this looks like it offers some interesting thoughts and reading.

Mover & Shaker Revisited

If you haven't heard already ... any 2008 submissions for the LJ Mover & Shaker award made before Nov 5th have been lost. If you submitted someone already, don't forget to submit them again. And if you know someone who is outstanding but you haven't submitted them yet for this wonderful acknowledgment, what's stopping you? .... Do it NOW! :)

New deadline for M&S is November 28th.



Hugh MacLeod's Gapingvoid cartoon widget offers up one today that really makes me think ...

Think about it?

Related thoughts.


Hiring for Management Competencies (or better titled "how to know that you've made a mistake")

At MPOW (the current one) we’re in the process of looking for several good people to head up a new CORE leadership team. The task of hiring the right people for these leaderships positions can be daunting, especially given that there are four of them.

Knowing how to hire the “best” can be difficult, especially if you haven’t had much hiring (and/or mis-hiring) experience. Which I guess is why FastCompany's recent article, Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers, seems to hit so close to home. It’s so important to hire the right people. And when you don’t, how do you know? According to the article, it’s easy to see in these top ten incompetent management warning signs:

  1. Bias against action
  2. Secrecy
  3. Over-sensitivity
  4. Love of procedure
  5. Preference for weak candidates
  6. Focus on small tasks
  7. Allergy to deadlines
  8. Inability to hire former employees
  9. Addiction to consultants
  10. Long hours

Well worth the full read.

BTW: My NPOW (new place of work) is also looking for a Regional/Divisional Manager. It also looks like a great opportunity for the right individual at a great library system. -- Disclosure: I’ll admit it, I have a biased towards this organization - but not “against action” :)

PS: Flight delays suck. But thanks to complimentary wireless at Charlotte Douglas airport, the wait time is manageable.


Super Patron meet Super Teens

Teens make Fine paying machine in Teen Second LifeWhen Kelly Czarnecki first shared this exciting news with me, it wasn’t the fine paying part that blew me away. It was instead the fact that the teens, themselves, had figured out a way to bridge a real life library service process within a virtual world.

The fine paying machine on PLCMC’s Eye4You island in Teen Second Life allows teens to query their library account for over due fines and then converts the amount due to make it payable in Linden dollars. Nexii Malthus (not his IRL name) is one of the teens behind this exciting development who worked for days in solving the puzzle and scripting the solution. It's an impressive little bit of programming that makes currency in TSL just a lit more valuable and usable. :)

In reading the recent article that was published on (Second Life News Network) yesterday by another teen, Storm Basiat (also not his IRL name), I couldn’t help but be reminded of Super Patron Ed Vielmetti.

Like Ed, these teens are using their talents and creativity to develop new library services. But in addition to this (as the article written by Storm also demonstrates) they are also showing us new ways (& worlds) to market our products.

Thanks Nexii and Storm (& Kelly) for all you do. We have a lot to learn, not only from your talents ... but also from your insights and vision for libraries of the future.

PS: Video of the machine in action found here.


SCLA Keynote w/ Michael Casey

Doing the closing keynote for the SCLA conference this morning was fun. And what made it completely enjoyable was that neither Michael nor I had prepared any speaking notes. Instead we decided to "2.0 it" and just share thoughts and reflections related to "Interesting Snippets" created by Lynette Webb.

In retrospect, perhaps the presentation might have been better titled just simply “unplugged” rather then "a blue sky conversation." But either way it was nice break from the pre-rehearsed package and thanks to all the added audience comments it made conversation even more enjoyable.

Thanks to all in attendance for sharing your thoughts and perspectives. If there’s one thing we can't have enough of within the profession ... it’s just conversation and idea sharing. :)

PS: Lynette Webb’s Interesting Snippets Flickr set & Interesting Snippets book (new!)


A fascinating read @ 35,000 feet

I picked up Wired at the airport before boarding the plane. The cover story on Manga was extremely interesting and offered up some excellent thoughts, especially related to copyright, intellectual rights and the rise of dojinshi :
(Note: Emphasis below is mine)

"This odd situation exposes the conflict between what Stanford law professor (and Wired contributor) Lawrence Lessig calls the "read only" culture and the "read/write" culture. Intellectual property laws were crafted for a read-only culture. They prohibit me from running an issue of Captain America through a Xerox DocuColor machine and selling copies on the street. The moral and business logic of this sort of restriction is unassailable. By merely photocopying someone else's work, I'm not creating anything new. And my cheap reproductions would be unfairly harming the commercial interests of Marvel Comics.

But as Lessig and others have argued, and as the dojinshi markets amply confirm, that same copyright regime can be inadequate, and even detrimental, in a read/write culture. Amateur manga remixers aren't merely replicating someone else's work. They're creating something original. And in doing so, they may well be helping, not hindering, the commercial interests of the copyright holders. Yet they're treated no differently from me and my hypothetical Captain America photocopies. The result is a misalignment between the emerging imperatives of smart business and the lagging sensibilities of old laws."

The full article is long, but is well worth reading from a cultural, historical (manga /graphic novels) and even economic standpoint - Japan, Ink: Inside the Magna Industrial Complex

PS: This distinction between the "read-only" and "read/write" cultures is huge! Just think about the impact to libraries... collection development ... services ... etc. when everything has the potential to become participatory and remixable. Hmmm ... [off to think some more]

IL 2007 Presentation

Murphy's Law is notorious for making a showing, especially whenever I do large crowd presentations, so I've learned to just keep on talking and reply on someone else to troubleshoot the technical part. This year at IL 2007 it was no different. The screen went dark 7 minutes into my talk, but thanks to Meredith and Rebecca Jones the audience was visually handicapped for only 3 or 4 minutes.

Anyway, for those is attendance thanks for hanging in while I jabbered. Here are my slides, in case you missed seeing graphics... Lego Building: Learning Through Play!