KM Today

Seizing Opportunities

strategyWow!  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 infrastructure, land use, traffic, employment, quality of life, and culture.

4. Climate change and resource scarcity: the rapidly increasing demand for energy, food, and water, in a finite world with limited natural resources and even more limited capacity for carbon dioxide and a wide variety of other effluents.

5. Technological breakthroughs: the transformation of business and everyday life through the development and use of new kinds of digitally enabled innovations in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, fabrication (including 3D printing), cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.”

The article goes on to discuss where those megatrends intersect, or “collide, with disruptive or transformative changes rippling out into nearly every industry around the world.”  It examines “four collisions in more detail: the global Sahara, the pop-up enterprise, supercompetitive cities, and global women rising. Like most of the collisions, they are just now beginning, and can still be influenced.”

I am happy to see that libraries have already recognized the “megatrend of shifts in global economic power [that] has also combined with technological breakthroughs. One of the most noteworthy results is the spread of pop-up companies—businesses that operate for only limited periods to complete specific tasks, and that reinforce (and benefit from) a looser, less draconian overall business environment.” Libraries are popping up in parks, community centers, as well at events to showcase their products and services where their customers are.

The majority of people now reside in cities. “The megatrend of rapid urbanization has accelerated the spread of some social problems such as traffic, crowding, tensions between rich and poor, difficulties in raising children, food and water shortages, crime, and government corruption. But it has also improved the world’s economic growth, environmental sustainability, and cultural viability. Cities that face their challenges effectively gain a high quality of life and strong social networks; they become hubs of prosperity. Cities that don’t manage themselves well spiral down into social and economic decline.”  Libraries are helping to improve their community environments — just look at Library Journal’s 2014 library of the year — Edmonton Public Library!  World class and a great role model.

With respect to “Global Women Rising”, it will be interesting to see if the “changes will lead many companies to shift their diversity-oriented practices, from a compliance-based system aimed at meeting regulatory requirements to a proactive approach that seeks to attract skilled women employees whose high potential might not have been fully realized in the past.”


1. “The first step is to look for your own collisions, aimed at your own industry. What might happen over the next 10 to 15 years when demographic and social change collides with technological breakthroughs—in healthcare, energy, automobiles, or consumer products? How might your company get out in front? What investment would be required? In what time frame?”

2. ” Develop new management skills… become better listeners, better interpreters of meaning, and better catalysts for change. This could mean stepping out of[your] comfort zone on a regular basis and encouraging others to do the same. It could also mean trying new business models or collaborating with other companies, seeking different ways of looking at the world. It almost certainly will mean experimentation, creativity, and modeling the open behavior that they want to encourage.”  or continuous transformation & innovation as I said in an earlier post!

I hope this article makes you think as much as it did for me!  Good luck, may the future be yours!  Can’t wait to hear if this piece sparks some ideas.



OLA Poster: Librarians Co-Teaching 1st Yrs

These librarians co-taught 1st year Pharmacy students at U of Waterloo, focusing on drug and medical information and critical thinking (click on the 1st image for a large view; click on the video below for an interview with Shannon and Kate.)
PS8 How two librarians became coinstructors

Getting to Yes on Conference Attendance!

Conference season is coming and how do you make the right choice for you?  I’m adapting (sharing) this post from one entitled, How to: Sell Your Manager on Attending a Conference.

“Find the best conferences for you. It’s very tempting to attend an event because it’s in a fun location or because all the cool kids are going to be there. If money is no object, then by all means. Conferences need to produce a return on your investment. So think about what you want to learn and then start searching for the right events.

Ask the right questions. Reaching out to respected colleagues about conferences to attend could be a good idea. The important part is asking the right question, “What were your takeaways from the event?”. If you get a blank stare, that doesn’t necessarily mean the conference isn’t worth your time. But do try to find out the value of attendance.

Learning takes place in many ways. Speaking of learning, it’s important to understand how you like to learn (i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic). For instance, there are certain topics that I want to learn by reading a book. I would not attend a conference for those topics. But others, I want to learn differently and a conference is the perfect format.

Learning happens in many places. Yes, learning happens during educational sessions. Don’t forget that learning also takes place during networking and on the expo hall floor. And occasionally at the bar with colleagues.

You’ve done your research and identified a conference you’d like to attend. Before going to your manager, be prepared to answer some questions. These are the types of questions that my manager used to ask me:

  1. CONFERENCE: What organization hosts this conference? How long have they been around? How often do they have conferences? Do they offer regional events? Are you a member?
  2. COST: How much will attending this event cost? How much is registration versus travel? Are you prepared to share in the cost of the trip?
  3. TAKEAWAYS: What do you expect to learn? Is there another way to learn this information? How will it impact your job today? And how will it impact the company?
  4. WORK: How will your work be handled while you are gone?
  5. FOLLOW-UP: What is your plan for sharing information when you return?”

And here are some more tips from Tracy Z. Maleeff on Taking Your Significant Other with you to Conferences.

Do you want to attend Computers in Libraries 2015, April 27-9, in Washington DC?  If you need help justifying your attendance go to the conference site and click on our draft memo, Convince Your Boss!  See you there!

Addendum:  Here are 10 Insider Tips on How to Best Prepare for a Tech Conference!

UofRochester's RCL's Re-envisions Services

Thanks to Solomon Blaylock & Kathy Metz of University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries for sharing RCL’s work in re-envisioning & re-engineering their service model and Patron Services. Here’s their presentation given at OLA 2015 SuperconferenceU of Rochester Service Model OLA2015 presentation, including their speaking notes with many details.For more information, including the Patron Services Service Model report, Kathy Metz (kmetz at or Solomon Blaylock (sblaylock at What a phenomenal job RCL has done in understanding student behaviours and designing their services to match these behaviours.

U of Rochester Service Model OLA2015 presentationSolomon and Kathy presentation at OLA 2015_Page_01


OLA Poster: Public Library Volunteer Programs

Vaughan Public Libraries offers many volunteer programs for teens, ranging from Reading Buddies through to more unique opportunities like letter writing for Amnesty International. This poster shows how they have developed programs that cater to a range of tastes and abilities while still focusing on literacy and community service.

Von poster

OLA Poster: ORCID: Persistent Digital Identifier

ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that helps researchers and scholars distinguish the research activities from those of others with similar names. The identifier is being integrated into key workflows by funders, research organizations, publishers and others. In this poster by K. Jane Burpee see the multi – faceted value of ORCID and explore 6 ways to help you and your library grow ORCID presence with your campus faculty and graduate researchers.Jane Burpee Poster 1

OLA Poster: U of Guelph – Embed with Art

How do you increase visibility of the library’s art collection and also promote campus art as a learning experience? This poster showcased a collaborative project with campus partners that utilized tools and techniques to embed the library’s art collection into the curriculum, develop students’s visual literacy skills, and add a rich context by highlighting the special collection with the digital archive and exhibit. Thanks to K.Jane Burpee, Judy Wanner, and Linda Graburn from University of Guelph.

Jane Burpee poster 2

Business Models Work for Libraries Too!

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:

  1. Sites & sources to track trends
  2. Gartner Group Model
  3. Service Portfolio Review, originally from the Boston Group,
  4. Logic Model

Have a look:

Strategic thinking in 90 Minutes

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 a strategic thinking exercise at 8:00 a.m. for 90 minutes.  However, 90 minutes is a starting point – and time enough for people to look at the big, broad environment, and to begin to question its assumptions and mindsets. Last week that’s just what SLA’s Leadership Summit did.  We began by watching the 2014 Did You Know, and then worked through these slides:



Dr. James Calvin, Johns Hopkins U

Dr. James Calvin of Carey Business School @ Johns Hopkins University spoke @ the SLA Leadership Summit on Friday afternoon. on Exercising JamesCalvinLeadership Influence for an Empowering Culture in Organizations: Outreach Empowerment.  Having just returned 2 days ago from Lima, Peru he remarked on Lima’s incredible size and how farmers come to the huge metropolis for livelihood.  Two plans have been developed to engage these people in moving forward; an organization has been recognized as an NGO; 8 organizations have spawned another 8 organizations, with a trimestrial meeting to begin building soft skills such as leadership.  Leadership takes time, passion and work.

A Peruvian cancer society serves the poorest children with cancer; their goal is to expand their capacity — they started by serving 70 kids/year, and are building a facility to serve 200 kids/year.  They keep their eye on the ball and on their goal. Leadership is about real people, about where they are, and where they want to go.

His points:

Leaders are responsible for setting and maintaining progress towards objectives – and building and managing teams that are collaborative and globally diverse to attain results and unleash talent & ideas.

Edgar Schein –  identifies 3 levels of culture : artifacts (visible), espoused beliefs and values(may appear through surveys) and basic underlying assumptions (unconscious taken for granted beliefs and values : these are not visible). The latest being the more important since as Schein puts it “Human minds needs cognitive stability and any challenge of a basic assumption will release anxiety and defensiveness”. Many change programs fails for that very reason.

Geer Hostede – Hofstede’s research shows that organisational cultures differ mainly at the level of practices. These are more superficial and more easily learned and unlearned than values forming the core of national cultures. As a consequence, the Hofstede dimensions of national cultures cannot be used by comparing cultures of organisations within the same country. The two models describe different layers of our reality. 

In Academy of Business Research September 2014, Calvin proposes five connected dimensions of leadership: Demonstrated purpose, presents ideas and vision, ability to navigate complexity, consistency of path, and future view for managing change.

Adam Grant’s “Give & Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success”, he says “You see fundamental differences in their  worldview. Takers basically tend to assume that everybody is all about me — that life is nasty, brutish, and short.

That’s how most takers justify being a taker.  They don’t mean to screw you over necessarily. But they think that because everybody else at their core is a taker, then they’re going to end up getting stepped on  if they’re not a taker, too . Oftentimes, they can point out personal experiences that solidify that worldview.

Givers, on the other hand, are more socially optimistic. Not necessarily optimistic in general, but an optimist when it comes to what people are capable of. They say, “Look, there is some good in everyone. People are capable of altruism even though it’s extremely rare, but they will often act for the benefit of others without thinking in the moment about what’s going to come out of it for me.”