Rebecca and I deal a lot with strategy in our business and this article, Where are the Sinkholes in Your Strategy, from one of my favorites, Strategy + Business, really resonated with me. Here are some quotes, but do check out the entire article.
“My firm was once asked by a CEO to assess the strategy of his company, one of the world’s largest. He wanted to know if there were any holes that he and his board should address. I’ve always thought this showed great leadership and confidence. (Strategy is a lot like IQ for many people: to challenge their strategy is to question their intelligence.) It also revealed his keen awareness that no strategy is perfect.
We started by asking two questions:
1. What distinctive capabilities make the company better than any other at how it adds value to its individual businesses, and how those businesses meet their promises to customers?
2. Are changes happening in the company’s world that could render its distinctive capabilities obsolete or insufficient?”
Rebecca and I have written a lot about value and you can see most of our posts here. But the one thing we encourage our clients to think about is their impact on their clients’ clients — not those you see day to day, but the the clients of those people. It’s a great exercise as is scenario planning like question 2 above suggests. It means you have to be aware of your environment and spend some time looking at different possibilities.
“When company leaders understand their defining capabilities, they can make smarter decisions about what businesses to buy and sell, which markets to enter and exit, what customers to target and value propositions to promise, how to prioritize new product development and costs, where to invest, and all the other choices that are inherent in sustaining a great company.”
“There are a handful of leaders who successfully managed the obsolescence of their capabilities, and in the process breathed new life into their companies. Andy Grove famously pivoted Intel from a memory-chip company to a smart -chip company, Lou Gerstner turned IBM from a hardware OEM to an IT services provider, and Phil Knight transformed Nike from a sneaker company to a sports licensing company.”
Can those in the information and learning industries manage the obsolesce of their capabilities? Libraries, publishers, educators? Technology, and other lifestyle factors, are definitely changing and having an impact. Are we ready?
“Most strategies have sinkholes. Some are obvious; you just need to know what you are looking for. Others develop more slowly, becoming apparent only when it’s too late. The former often come from confusing “strategy” with vision, mission, and purpose statements, or with plans and goals. Companies that suffer from this confusion usually have little to say about that first question above. The latter arise from ignoring the second question until it’s too late. These sinkholes result in strategies that are too static relative to the pace of change in most companies—where the ever-evolving world of customers and competitors threatens to make their capabilities obsolete or insufficient.” Thank you Ken Favaro for this article!
Just got an email from OpenText on enterprise information management (EIM) trends, and what we’ve all got in common. I particularly like what they have to say about digital transformation: re-envision the way you do things, get more value out of investments, use existing strategic assets in new ways, focus on how to drive change and drive that change from the top — takes leadership! Here it is in their words:
Build Your Knowledge, Build Your Strategy
“Digital transformation is basically the use of technology to dramatically improve enterprise performance, and it’s a pretty hot topic right now in just about every corner of the world. Leaders in every industry are using digital advances (such as analytics, social media, mobility, and smart embedded devices) and improving the way they use traditional technologies (such as ERP) to change internal processes, customer experiences, and value propositions. Most industry executives remember how quickly digital technology upset the media and entertainment industry early in the first decade of the millennium, and they know they need to be ready for whatever is coming their way.
Many are now successfully transforming their organizations with digital technology. Here are some of their tips:
- It’s not about having all the latest technology; it’s about what you can do with it. Re-envision the way you do things. The biggest digital transformation initiatives focus on a fresh look at customer relationships, operational processes, and business models.
- You might be able to get much more value out of investments your organization has already made—even if you are re-envisioning things very differently.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use existing strategic assets in new ways.
- Focus on how you are going to drive change more than the exact details of the change. A compelling vision will help teams throughout the organization identify details.
- While organizations in different industries share many of the same pressures from customers, employees, and competitors regarding their digital transformation, there are differing industry priorities and each changes at its own pace.
- Like with every major project, digital transformation must be driven from the top.
So whether your organization is using new or traditional technologies, the key to a successful digital transformation is re-envisioning and driving change in how the enterprise operates. That’s three-headed challenge: technology, management, and people.”
The Learning Challenges for Librarians and Library Managers: a Knowledge Cafe was the last session on the last day before the closing ceremonies of IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress in Lyon. The knowledge cafe, organized by three sections (Knowledge Management, Continuing Professional Development & Workplace Learning, Library and Research Services for Parliaments), attracted 150+ attendees who actively participated in discussing team building and team leadership, peer training, learning strategies for staff, developing and keeping up skills sets for the digital future, staff competencies, mentoring and coaching, and more. The three groups I talked with had a number of common threads:
1. Time — staff have to have permission and time to read/learn/play. In Germany staff had 2 hours/week to read and learn, somehow that went away, and they want it back! Several libraries in Sweden have recently given some staff 20% Google time — the equivalent of one day/week of complete freedom in hopes they will find something of interest for the library. They know that sometimes this happens but sometimes does not — not all good ideas or projects are successful, but the learning is still there. In several countries, Uganda and groups of special libraries had business partnerships allowing their staff to have one day exchanges for learning and renewal. They bring back their learnings and excitement and share with other staff. Some librarians in academic institutions are allowed to take freshman courses so they know what’s happening in their institutions!
2. Personal Continuous Learning & Development. Since many organizations have limited budgets they are often not providing financial supportr library staff to take courses or go to conferences. So each of us responsible for our own life long learning and continuing eduction — in keep up our skills and developing new ones. The Australian Library and Information Association, I believe, has taken the lead in this area and provides a fantastic model for other associations. They have a certification program for library skills and recognize that it is the individuals responsibility to keep up their learning and competencies or they will not have a job. They provide many resources for library staff members investing in themselves. They started this initiative in 2000 so have honed it into a very successful program. The Knowledge Cafe discussion groups also discussed the 23 Things initiative as well as the more recent Mobile 23 Things program – again self-paced programs which libraries and organizations use to help staff development. They often borrow from each other. The program developed in the Netherlands has been shared across Europe, Russia and Australia. The groups also talked about conferences that have presentations and papers that can be consulted online even if you haven’t attended the event — like IFLA and Computers in Libraries. The San Jose State University iSchool global online conference, Library 2.014 (Oct 8-9, 2014) was also mentioned as free professional development opportunity with session in your own time zone and many different languages.
3. Champions/Mentors/Coaches. We all seem to learn better with others and several libraries shared their strategies with the group. The Canadian parliamentary library introduced ipads for members and some staff, but all staff needed to know how to work with them. Those with ipads provided a hands on play session for other staff to help develop skills. The Regina Public Library has a “champion” in each branch who acts like a mentor and coach one on one or in groups — and some of the champions are pages!
I was very lucky to be able to spend time with the Library and Research Services for Parliaments section of IFLA in Paris last week, and to share the work of my business partner Rebecca Jones and colleague Moe Hosseini-Ara who have done lots on the topic of performance measures. The slides I used are below. I talked a lot about going beyond stats (which we know how to collect so well, but do we compare them and look for peaks, changes, etc.?). I talked about different types of measures: operational/usage, satisfaction and value. I talked about taking the big picture view — about really considering what are customers’ customers really want/need — not those customers we interface with (bankers, students, faculty, consultants, leisure readers, doctors, lawyers, parliamentarians) but their customers (patients, citizens, etc). The stakeholders. It is from their perspective that we can make a difference or have an impact. Moe’s quote is the best, “If our presence cannot add value to their lives, our absence will make no difference”. I think that says it all! Check out my slides for the logic model which is a great tool to help our thinking about metrics and aiming for outcomes and impacts from our users’ and stakeholders’ perspectives.
Today I attended the Statistics and Evaluation with E-metrics special interest groups’s IFLA program — Telling the Library Story: creating metrics for management, advocacy and community building. It started with Sharon Markless and David Streatfield discussing Recent Developments in Library Evaluation, Statistics and Measures and was followed by 6 lightening talks where speakers hit the high points of their talks in 7 minutes.
Claudia Lux was a hit with, How to make a difference: Using Stats for advocacy. She made the point that you should know interesting facts about your collection and services — largest and smallest books, oldest and youngest clients, size of collections, etc. as well as surprising facts — more people go to the library in Germany than to football games! These create pictures and images in the mind of our stakeholders. Any easy and attractive way to tell the library’s story. Julie McKenna from the Regina Public Library did a fantastic job on measuring spaces — how to access library spaces and behaviour. She talked about space as a public service and had some great slides — will try to get a link to them for you. They included her 11 criteria for space assessment.
Photo tweeted by @moirafraser of @jdysart making good points at the IFLA 2014 Management Workshop:
Another wonderful piece from Strategy + Business. ” The success rate of major change initiatives is only 54 percent.” The piece includes a great short video about why this rate is so slow. Check it out. Here are the top 10 principals for leading change management:
1. Lead with the culture.
2. Start at the top.
3. Involve every layer.
4. Make the rational and emotional case together.
5. Act your way into new thinking.
6. Engage, engage, engage.
7. Lead outside the lines. Includes: pride builders, trusted nodes, change or culture ambassadors
8. Leverage formal solutions.
9. Leverage informal solutions.
10. Assess and adapt.
“These 10 guiding principles offer a powerful template for leaders committed to effecting sustained transformational change. The work required can be arduous and exacting. But the need for major change initiatives is only going to become more urgent. It behooves us all to get it right. ” You’ll get lots more out of the full article!
Jim Morgenstern & I are about to talk about facility planning at OLA’s Annual Institute on the Library as Place. Facility plans and provision standards are rarely talked about because they are not viewed as being nearly as much fun – or interesting – as architectural or interior designs. Yet space requirements will increasingly be questioned in the digital environment. More later!