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
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Did you know that O’Reilly has published the 4th edition of this seminal work, Information Architecture: for the Web and Beyond, by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld first published in 1998? Terrific! And I just got my copy. The first section introduces IA with definitions and issues then discusses design for finding and for understanding. Part 2 covers the basic principles of IA including organization systems, labeling systems, navigating systems, search systems as well as thesauri, controlled vocabularies & metadata. Peter is a wonderful teacher and speaker about these topics for librarians, info pros, taxonomists, and knowledge managers. He will be participating in Library Leaders Digital Strategy Summit at the DC Hilton, March 8-9.
The first day of our University of Toronto symposium, The Future of Libraries, was filled with talks and discussions about challenges for libraries; what boards, provosts and city managers are saying about libraries; what surveys and research are telling us; what our competitors are doing (and how we might partner with them or learn from them); how we can streamline our operations and gain efficiency; how libraries are dealing with change; and more. Here are the top challenges this group articulated:
* Promotion of library services
* Staff competencies, resistance, culture
* Competitors – alignment vs duplication
* Rationalizing services, sacrifice, stop doing
* Making our case in municipalities
* Balancing Act — electronic vs print, staff in or out of the library, service points/back room
* Future of the profession
I found it every interesting that the top challenges weren’t funding or money. We recognize that we have choices, even if they are difficult, but we can choose where we put our resources.
Brandan Howley gave a thought provoking talk and I’m still thinking about his statement, “Future proofing libraries means managing disruption while proving relevancy.” He discussed how libraries are cultural triggers that activate networks — very powerful! He recommended the book, A Pattern Language, about UX (user experience).
“More libraries & their staff “get it”, understand that serious change is necessary, and ask for our help as partners not just vendors” Edmund Salt, President, Whitehots Inc.
Ken Haycock framed the event by starting us off thinking about
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My “must” reading for the past 15 years has been Harvard Business Review. About 6 years ago I added Rotman from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to the “must” list. To be honest, there’s nothing else on that list. Just these two journals. The articles are often based on solid research, usually incredibly interesting, and frequently force me to think differently. These journals target business and management leaders. Many of the influential stakeholders for libraries in the public, academic, government and profit sectors are business and management leaders. We need to know how they think. And we certainly need to think differently.
Joe Rotman, a highly successful, respected businessman and philanthropist died recently. Roger Martin, renowned management author and thinker, and the 1st dean of the Rotman School, wrote in the Spring 2015 Rotman issue of how Joe Rotman “rewired” Martin’s brain. Given that the library sector is essentially shifting below our feet, it behooves us to consider the 4 fronts on which Rotman changed Martin’s thinking and use these to change our own thinking:
Nothing is Not-doable
There’s 2 parts to this truism: first, that if you want to “do” it, then do it. In 1998 when Martin became dean of Rotman, that management school wasn’t even in the rankings or the radar with its competitors. Joe and Roger envisioned it in the top 5 – which most people thought was crazy – ‘not-doable’ for sure. Yet Joe taught Martin that anything is doable so long as
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Wow! This article from Strategy + Business, How to Seize the Opportunities When Megatrends Collide, has articulated what I like to do! “… tap into people’s natural curiosity about external factors, to broaden and deepen the resulting conversation; and to translate the general understanding of megatrends into a more practical framework that companies could use to seek opportunities and reduce risks.” For years Rebecca and I have talked and taught about the big picture and thinking strategically. Here’s an earlier post on the topic too!
More from the S+B article:
“The megatrends framework can help any private- or public-sector leader think more clearly about complex external trends, and help develop an ordered, prudent, and proactive strategy for facing them. Its basic building blocks are five historical patterns active in the world today that have left their mark on all aspects of the world’s economic and social fabric.
1. Demographic and social change: the combination of greater life expectancy, declining birthrates in many parts of the world, and unprecedented rates of human migration, accompanied by a gradual increase in the status of women and greater ethnic and social diversity within most countries.
2. Shifts in global economic power: in particular, the much-noted expansion of prosperity in emerging economies at faster rates than in the industrialized world, leading to momentous changes in consumption patterns and a rebalancing of international relations.
3. Rapid urbanization: the massive expansion of cities around the world, through a combination of migration and childbirth, with major implications for
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Scott Hargrove, CEO of Fraser Valley Library System, Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director of Culture for the City of Markham and I will talk about 4 models and tools used by corporations and non-profits that libraries need to be using as well:
Sites & sources to track trends Gartner Group Model Service Portfolio Review, originally from the Boston Group, Logic Model
Have a look:
Business Models work for Libraries Too! from Rebecca Jones
Most people assume that strategic planning involves strategic thinking. Oh…..if only that was true. Unfortunately most organizations view strategic planning as a way to answer the question, “how do we keep doing what we’re doing better – or more effectively – or with higher value?” Too few engage in any strategic thinking. Why? Because strategic thinking is scary….and difficult. To “think” strategically an organization must:
Look beyond environment or market it usually looks at – beyond the borders of its profession or industry for signals of what’s impacting other professions and other industries and other markets….that will send waves up onto the organization’s beach Reframe current assumptions, beliefs, mindsets & situations – and is there anything more difficult than asking if your current and long-held beliefs hold true? Analyze information & data from multiple sources to identify patterns & interpretations Use this information to decide what is valid, what isn’t valid… and, what they must continue to do and not do Determine trade-offs and alliances that will move decisions forward; that’s right – trade-offs; what the organization will hold to and what it can bend on Learn – constantly listening & looking for the good, the bad and the downright ugly – & incorporate what they find into approaches, services & decisions
This is hard work and requires diligence and exercise. An organization doesn’t learn to think strategically overnight.
You can imagine, then, the pains in my stomach when I’m asked to lead a large group of 175 people through
Continue reading Strategic thinking in 90 Minutes?
Strategic planning relies on strategic thinking. To think strategically we need to explore beyond our common environment, the usual places we look and the usual way in which we look at. The “Did You Know” series of videos is an excellent tool to use at the beginning of any strategic or planning discussion. And it’s been updated! Have a look – and start your next staff discussion with it:
Mike Ridley & I are getting ready to facilitate the Library Leader’s Digital Strategy Summit held in conjunction with Internet Librarian in Monterey, October 27 – 28, 2014.
The beauty of co-locating the Summit with the IL Conference is that those participating in the small, intensive Summit have the keynote speakers for one-on-one sessions that are always relaxed and incredibly insightful. Having heard the keynote presentation, those in the Summit engage on a much deeper level with Brendan Howley and Nina Simon about digital worlds and radical transformations.
Peter Morville is not only joining the Summit again this year to lead the discussion about the drivers of digital strategy he’s also equipping participants with copies of his latest brilliant work: Intertwindled – Information Changes Everything. Mike purchased the digital version of the text, so I’m not sure how Peter will autograph it, but knowing his way around the digital environment, he’ll find a way.
Based on feedback from last year’s session the Summit has more time built in for participants to discuss issues and possibilities in small targeted groups, and to further explore the concepts of strategy and strategy mapping. We thought those unable to participate in the Summit might be interested in the “Summit Pre-thinking” provided to those attending. The following videos, blog posts and articles are intended to kickstart participants’ reflections and conversations regarding the digital strategies they are developing and implementing: Here’s a few videos, posts and articles selected to prompt your thinking: One of the
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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
Continue reading No Strategy is Perfect!