That’s the name of the best blog post I’ve read (and, most importantly intend to use): Ruthless Prioritization. For years I set priorities with various projects, and advised clients to ‘rigourously’ set priorities. Manage priorities. And I will now readily admit that managing priorities in a busy, small consulting firm was relatively straightforward; priorities were set by the size and significance of the client. But now, in library operations, I struggle with priorities day in and day out. Struggle? Ha! I don’t just struggle — I flounder – I fail. Miserably.
So as soon as I saw a post on “ruthless prioritization” I clicked on it! Admittedly, I expected to read a mamby-pamby post on the “importance of focusing on what’s important”, but hallelujah! This post gives a workable framework. Yes, the framework is designed and used by tech firms. But isn’t that perfect for libraries to adopt? Think about it — our products and services need to have the same urgency and life-span as those of tech firms, don’t they? Aren’t we competing with tech firms in many ways — to seize and retain people’s attention? Consider this statement:
Show me a team that has no bugs at launch,
and I’ll show you one that should have shipped a long time ago.
Doesn’t that apply to library services and products? Don’t we keep refining, refining, refining to ensure there are no issues, no implications, no problems? Yet the only way to identify issues, implications and problems is to get the service/product OUT there for people to experience.
There’s no point in me synthesizing Brandon Chu’s post; read it and adopt the framework.
This is post #3 in a short series to ready us for the #Summitclimb. Are you working up a sweat yet?
The rock we must cut through.
Continuing with the terrain analogy, let’s consider a particularly tough question. And that is about the rock or rocks.
Water is essential for life. The rivers that have helped build countries and have provided the life-nourishing water have had to cut through rocks to flow broader, wider, faster. I see a significant analogy here. We talk of libraries (public, academic, government, corporate, not-for-profit) as essential for democratic life and as life-changing. And yet the growth, flow and abilities of libraries in all types of environment seems perpetually slowed and, in some cases, blocked. There are, indeed, rocks preventing libraries from flowing freely.
Jim Watkin’s quote, “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” is appropriate for libraries. Libraries are incredibly persistent. Funds and attention are cut for the library – and yet it forges on and re-surges. Have libraries cut through rocks in the past?
As libraries forge into the future – into the digital environment considered in post #1,
What is the rock that libraries and information service functions must cut through and be persistent?
This is post #2 in a short series to ready us (channel training….) for the #Summitclimb.
Post #1 gave an article that poses some difficult questions leaders must address as they #futureproof their libraries in the digital environment. What Jane wants from this Library Leaders Summit, and I fully agree with, is that the Summit focus more on coaching than on presentations: coaches tell it like it is – and set the bar realistically and high. Sometimes people don’t like what the coach has to say. But a good coach is readying individuals for future moments – future endeavours.
Three respected leaders in the library sector will help kick-start the dialogue regarding future-proofing our organizations: Mary Ann Mavrinac, Gina Millsap, and Mary Lee Kennedy. In the January/February Computers in Libraries we asked them to comment on strategies entrepreneurs use to future-proof their organizations. Read their insights.
Then take these questions to your leadership team, or reflect on them yourself.
Entrepreneur November 2015 proposed 5 ways to future-proof an organization:
- “Think partnerships, not transactions”; use partnerships to scale initiatives more quickly.
- “Change how you’re structured”; go flatter with smaller teams.
- “Think bigger”; impact more people with solutions to bigger problems.
- “Offer experience, not product”; distinguish your organization by delighting people.
- “Help Millennials develop”; formally mentor the next generation.
In post #3: what’s the rock libraries deal with – or must deal with?
I’ve been away from this blog for 18 months while I’ve focused on my role in the Branch services and operations of a busy, growing, incredible (if i may say so) #publiclibrary (@BramptonLibrary). The opinions I have expressed and will express in this blog are purely mine. I am honoured to work with some of the finest, intelligent individuals – and they may or may not agree with some of my perspectives (which is what makes them so fine and intelligent!).
It is time for me to start writing again as I increasingly consider the issues we in the library sector need to think deeply about – need to think critically about (with critical thinking not criticizing), engage in probing, provocative and perhaps disturbing dialogue, make decisions and take actions. As she has so many times in the past, @jdysart has arranged a venue at which some of this thinking and dialogue can occur. Library Leaders Summit: Future-Proofing Strategies & Tactics, held in conjunction with Computers in Libraries @CrystalCity in Arlington, VA, provides 2 days in which speakers, provocateurs and participants will consider developments, experiences and questions that influence their library’s decisions and actions. Near-term and long-term decisions.
Getting to a ‘#summit’ is not easy.
Yep, it’s easy to actually come to this Leaders Summit. But the point I’m trying to make is for this venue to truly be a ‘summit’ people need to prepare in the same way they would to climb to any summit. Think about it. We climb hills or mountains to reach a summit. Some of us do it for the sheer exhilaration of the exercise and traversing tough terrain. Others of us do it to see different horizons and perspectives that can’t be seen from the usual roads or elevations. Whatever our driving force, if we haven’t prepared and don’t have the water, food and equipment to keep us going, we’ll never realize our desired result.
Information Today is the best at providing the equipment (wonderful rooms, tables, wifi, chairs, etc.), water and food to keep us climbing during the Summit. As facilitator I’ll do my best to keep our climb on track and motivating. Together the speakers and participants will create the engagement and encouragement to keep going – especially when the dialogues and topics get tough. And they will get tough. They must get tough. Otherwise we won’t reach the Summit – we won’t have the different views, insights and willingness to make decisions and take actions catalyzed by the climb.
Readying for the Summit.
Here’s an exercise to ready for the Summit or for future-proofing discussions at your library. Consider that the environment or terrain in which libraries exist is not a library environment; rather it is a much broader terrain. And it is an environment in which technology has significant implications and that is increasingly, a digital environment. With this in mind, read McKinsey Quarterly’s, “The Seven Decisions that Matter in a Digital Transformation”. We’ll be considering 3 of the most challenging questions:
- Where should the library position itself in the digital ecosystem – or environment? Think about this question in terms of the library’s position vis a vis other organizations?
- How do you decide on governance and escalation rules as your organization is implementing its strategies to allow for inevitable course corrections? In other words, just as form follows function — how is your library’s governance and ways of managing issues helping or hindering the library’s ability to move forward?
- How do you, or the leadership team, allocate resources rapidly and dynamically to implement various elements of the strategy – and tactics?
If you can’t attend the Summit, do join us as we prepare – and offer your insights regarding these questions & others that we’ll pose over the next week.
In post #2: future-proofing considerations
As program director for Computers in Libraries 2017, March 28-30 in DC, I have delivered the program to Information Today, the producer of the conference. The program with sessions and workshops should be online in a few weeks and you should receive your snail mail copy after that! In the meantime, our theme is Upping Our Game: Taking Libraries to New Heights with Technology and here’s a few early highlights to peak your interest:
- new full day Searchers Academy workshop on Mon Mar 27 with many other half day workshops on change management, grant seeking, outcome measures, putting a press room on your website, hands-on video lessons, makerspaces, library tech update, engaging teens, Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure and apps, innovation, fundraising, monitoring tools & dashboards, tech trends, UX, security, and more!
- popular Games & Gadgets networking & fun evening on Mon Mar 27
- Opening keynote speaker Gina Milsap, CEO, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Library Journal Library of the Year in 2016 on Tues Mar 28
- New full day streams/tracks of sessions on funding strategies & practices as well as upping our marketing game
- a talk about winning with Pokemon Go in a special library
- co-located Library Leaders Summit on the topic of Future Proofing Libraries with terrific speakers & lots of time for discussion with your colleagues
- put the dates in your new 2017 calendar & stay tuned for lots more exciting topics and speakers!
Frank Cervone on Metrics
The University of Toronto iSchool Symposium, Social Media & Public Libraries, included many interesting discussions and I hope to share many of them here shortly! In the meantime, I’m hoping you will be able to share more stories about the tools and practices you have with social media metrics and analytics. Frank Cervone, IT Director, School of Pubic Health, University of Illnois gave a presentation on the topic and you can see his slides here. All our practitioners (from Toronto, Hamilton, East Gwillimbury, Topeka & Shawnee Couny public libraries) shared the tools they used, the most common being those from the social media platforms themselves. TPL uses 11 different platforms including Reddit, SoundCloud, YouTube & Periscope, Tumblr & Instagram. Two other popular tools are Google Analytics, and Hootesuite Dashboard & analytics. David Lee King mentioned he also uses Tweetbot, Google Alerts, Talkwalker. What do you use?
Both Rebecca and I have written about author David Baldacci. In 2010, Rebecca wrote a post about supporting libraries, Rock Aid for Libraries:
“So many of our leaders, authors, speakers have known community libraries as a safe haven and education hub that you would think they would step up to the plate to find creative solutions to funding community libraries, the cornerstone of an informed democracy. Author, David Baldacci (I’ve written about him before) is very impressive with his Wish You Well Foundation which has funded many family literacy programs. But we need many, many more foundations and other funding sources for libraries.”
I mentioned him in a 2008 post on project management, “Thanks, David, for a great summer thriller and illustration of how the net can further PM in a nanosecond. Discerning what is true (facts) and finding quality information will always be a challenge and information professionals will always have a role in the process and in teaching others to beware.”
I just read Baldacci’s new novel, The Last Mile, and was pleased to see him include, “…they built a public library. You know people who read are a lot more tolerant and open-minded than those who don’t.” “Great, so let’s get everybody in the world a library card”!!! For sure, I agree!! And of course the librarian added, “Make a reader early, you make one for life.”
Every little bit helps and it was great to I was pleased the see that Knight News Challenge is funding a project to help libraries find funding, increasing understanding of funding sources and tracking funding trends through a data visualization tool! AND I’m hoping you will hear more about this at Computers in Libraries 2017, March 28-30 in DC!