KM Today

No Strategy is Perfect!

sinkholeRebecca and I deal a lot with strategy in our business and this article, Where are the Sinkholes in Your Strategyfrom 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!

Digital Strategy: A Challenge?

In my opinion, digital strategies are a challenge for all organizations with our fast changing world and even faster changing technology.  Our consumer practices with technology are constantly evolving and we demand the latest and greatest from all those organizations we touch — including libraries!  I am really looking forward to the Digital Strategy Summit taking place Oct 27-8 in Monterey CA co-located with Internet Librarian 2014.  This year’s summit features wonderful & knowledgable speakers including Peter Morville who has a new book  out, Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything.  

Deputy Director, National Library Board, Singapore at IFLA, Lyon 2014

Deputy Director, National Library Board, Singapore at IFLA, Lyon 2014

While at IFLA‘s World Library & Information Congress last month, I heard the Deputy Director, Kia Siang Hock, discuss the digital strategy of the National Library Board of Singapore.  The National Library Board includes one national library, one national archives and 25 public libraries.  Here’s their digital strategy:

* Unlocking the richness of unique Singapore content

* Improving findability through search engine optimization & OneSearch

* Reaching out to digital users at their preferred spaces

* Connecting content for contextual discovery

With 156% mobile penetration in their community/country, they used responsive web design to improve their site and have adopted it as a standard requirement for online services (as well as government services).  They have lots of mobile apps!  The National Library Board’s  focus on contextual discovery stems from the fact that their users collectively contribute 10s of millions of entries per year in many different languages. The National Library Board is using:

  • text analytics to identify related content
  • automatic clustering techniques to handle large data sets
  • open source software

Lessons learned that were shared:

  • start with a proof-of-concept (PoC)
  • established & affordable software in text analytics are available
  • do not simply add more hardware when hitting performance issues
  • beware of the potentially steep learning curve

With their role of connecting people to knowledge, the next steps for the National Library Board are to make it easy for information seekers and  do less searching and more analyzing.

Transformation: Re-Envision & Change

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:

From OpenText

From OpenText

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:

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use existing strategic assets in new ways.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”

Learning Strategies for Libraries

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!


MOOCs IFLAMOOCs — we are just seeing all the wonderful opportunities!  There will be lots more in our future.

Yesterday the Continuing Professional Development & Workplace Learning section of IFLA hosted a terrific program called MOOCs: Opportunities & Challenges for Libraries.  Sandy Hirsh of San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science started off with a look at what academic institutions are doing with MOOCS — she had some great stats and information.  I’m hoping that her slides and the others from this  session will be available.  ! will update this post when I have the link and if I don’t get the link I’m hoping that you will see much (and more) of this program at Computers in Libraries 2015, March 23-5 in DC.  And if you have experience with MOOCs, please consider joining us at CIL — the call for speakers is still open!

Michael Stephens, also from San Jose, talked about the successful MOOC for professional development that he did for the global library community last year with 400 participants.  Called the Hyperlinked Library, this MOOC was successful even if all the participants did not finish (only 15% did) — 76% said they got something out of the experience.  What they liked included global networking, learning about their own learning style, renewed thinking and a fresh outlook.  Michael also talked about the roles for librarians within MOOCs including learning guides, access providers, creators and learners.  The participants of this MOOC continue the conversation on a Facebook page that the course alumni started themselves.  I believe that the course will be given again this fall.

Wendy Newman from the University of Toronto iSchool talked about the MOOC she created and ran earlier this year on Library Advocacy.  More than 4,400 people participated. She echoed Michael Stephens comments about people getting lots out of the MOOC even if they didn’t finish.  Course completion is not necessarily a good metric at this early stage of MOOCs.  I loved her term, “designers of learning”.

John Szabo, City Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library, talked about how public libraries are the engines of development in their communities. He sees lots of opportunities for MOOCs in public libraries and acknowledges the strong role that PLs can play in active learning organizations — which his library, and other, definitely are.  He sees public libraries not only as MOOC providers but also developers — we’ll certainly see more in the future as public libraries embrace the role of eCampus in their  community.

Loida Garcia Febo talked about the use of MOOCs globally.  Jan Holmquist talked about other open education initiatives, especially the 23 Mobiles Things which he started in Denmark and which has been adopted in many other countries.  It is based on Helene Blowers‘ (here’s my post from 2007 about that) original 23 Things concept, but updated for the current information and social media environment.  I loved Jan’s discussion of “unlearn, hack, learn”, the hidden treasures of gamification and different platforms for different types of learning.  If you want to create a 23 mobile things education platform for your staff or community, he’ll be leading at workshop at Computers in Libraries 2015 on March 22nd in Washington DC.  In addition. that conference will likely have a whole day of presentations around MOOCs and other innovative education opportunities which have exciting new roles for libraries!

More Metrics!

ROSS pic JD ParisI 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 LuxClaudia 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.

IFLA 2014 Management Workshop

Photo tweeted by @moirafraser of @jdysart making good points at the IFLA 2014 Management Workshop:

Leading Change Management

Itlay 2009 013Another 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!


Books & Mortar: Library as Place Presentation

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!

Branding for Success: Lessons from the World Cup

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

I was just reading this fantastic article about Adidas’ use of social media during the World Cup.  They sent a 40-person team to the games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“So far, its strategies seem to be working – on Twitter, Adidas is the most mentioned brand, with more than 1.6 million tweets, retweets, and replies about it. Plus, its hashtag #allin is the most used brand hashtag right now, with about 570,000 mentions.  On YouTube, it’s doubled its audience by adding 200,000 new subscribers since the World Cup began, and on Facebook, it now has another one million fans.”

Adidas put a lot of effort and planning into their social media campaign and there are a lot of lessons for other companies, associations and industries!

“Building a “Content Bible

A year before the World Cup ever kicked off, Adidas tapped a social media agency called We Are Social to gather content on 100 Adidas-sponsored players. The content includes about 1,000 images and 160 videos that can work with whatever happens during gameplay. By the time December rolled around, We Are Social had set up an hourly calendar for the 32-day World Cup, building content around the games.”  And yes, the bottomline is “Reaching the right people with the right message at the right time” and “Being ready for moments and story options”.

Libraries have so many great stories, so much research that points to their positive community impact.  But they have trouble speaking with one voice so they can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.  And they certainly don’t build an integrated “content bible” so they are ready for great opportunities and moments to share their stories.  We have a lot to learn from Adidas.  Great story.  Check it out.