Transparency, Strategy & Success


Change is not easy and it’s definitely not a fast process. It requires a lot of communication and transparency. Transparency first came on my radar in 2003 with Don Tapscott and his book, The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business. We have been talking to our clients about transparency a fair bit lately, and so has Michael Edson, Director of Web & New Media Strategy, Office of the CIO, Smithsonian Institution SI). Michael was a keynote speaker in April at Computers in Libraries 2009 and just spoke to the Potomoc Forum about the transparency strategy process. The first number of slides are similar to those he used for CIL2009, but this new presentation has a lot more about the actually process that the Smithsonian is using. The SI has now developed three themes in their strategy: update the Smithsonian digital experience, update the Smithsonian learning model, balance autonomy & contrl at SI. Interesting and probably something that many libraries should be thinking about. They have eight goals: mission, brand, learning, experience, interpretation, business model, technology & governance. And, they have 54 tactical recommendations with 5 “do next” items: post doc to wiki, synchronize with other strategy efforts, appoint a leader, develop a tactical road map, & embrace the Smithsonian Commons, the centerpiece of the strategy, “facilitate learning, creativity, innovation through open access to Smithsonian collections, resources & communities.” Libraries have a lot to learn from Michael. I first heard him speak in Dec 08 and he

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Critical thinking: more than for decision-making, it’s how digital natives engage


I have the incredible privilege of giving a session with Mary Lee Kennedy and Deb Wallace of Harvard Business School on critical thinking at SLA 2009 tomorrow. Unfortunately, Mary Lee won’t be there in person, but she certainly will be there in content and in spirit. Mary Lee embodies critical thinking — viewing “what is” and asking “why” and then doing something about it. Just ask anyone that’s worked with her at Harvard, or, before that, Microsoft and, before that, Digital Equipment. I’d ask “huh?” but Mary Lee would definitely ask “how can we frame this?”

The presentation is up here, but, in a nutshell critical thinking is really about unveiling and questioning assumptions and information that may not be valid. Sounds easy, right? sounds reasonable. Especially since so many decisions and problems we face are complex. There’s often no obvious or even one right decision or solution.

BUT, it’s not easy or even reasonable in many circumstances to keep raising questions about people’s base “starting points” as they discuss potential options. It can be downright risky to suggest to those making decisions that they “re-frame” how they see the situation, or that they set the “sunk costs” of a service or project aside as they examine options. After all, very often we continue to ‘sink costs’ into a service/project even though it’s obviously past its prime or no longer working. As Warren Buffet said, “When you find yourself in a hole, the best thing you can do is stop

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New Acting Law Librarian of Congress


Congratulations to Donna Scheeder on her new appointment as Acting Law Librarian of Congress. The Law Library of Congress is the largest law library in the world with over 50% of its collection in languages other than English. The Legal Reseearch Directorate advises the US Congress on foreign and comparative law. Here’s a recent interview with Donna that Mary Dee Ojala did about the Global Legal Information Network, GLIN, an international co-operative that is headquartered in the Law Library of Congress. The Law Library is the content owner of THOMAS, the database of congressional bills, documents and laws. Staff of the Law Library reading room remain available to Congress whenever they are in session.

Donna is also very active in her Capital Hill community and is currently the Chair of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee. The market will be moving back to its historic building in July following rehabilitation after a devastating fire in 2007. Donna will be receiving the Capitol Hill Achievement Award at a dinner benefiting the Capitol Hill Community Foundation on April 22, 2009.

Donna is very active in the library community. She is a past president of the Special Libraries Association, a former member of the Governing Board of International Federation of Libary Association and Institutions (IFLA), and on the advisory committees for Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian.

Women & Technology


After spending many years in the information industry with a focus on information technology and information management, I’m wondering if these areas are as cyclical as the real estate biz. In the early 90s when I was involved in Mecklermedia’s Internet World events, I was one of a small number of women which mushroomed very quickly along with a number of associations and career paths. I attended the FASTForward ’09 conference last month and looked around at the very few women in the audience. Very disappointing. I’m hoping that we can encourage more young women to find rewarding careers in the information technology and computing world. I’m really pleased that my daughter is one of them!

I am focusing on a woman of influence in the information technology world for Ada Lovelace Day that I met a few years ago. Ada Lovelace was an intersting lady. And so is Beth Unger, Vice Provost for Academic Services and Technology and Dean of Continuing Education, Professor of Computing and Information Sciences, Kansas State University. Beth is a technology pioneer who influenced computing at Michigan State University and spoke at their 50th anniversary of computing. In fact, Beth is a mathematician and a computer scientist and as a young woman from 1959-1961 she worked with IBM on such projects as the first automation of the assembly line of Oldsmobile, resulting in a custom-built car every 13 seconds. She has been honoured for leadership in distance learning and instructional technology. One awesome lady!


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Join the Movers & Shakers at CIL09


I feel like I have at least some influence into Library Journal‘s annual Movers & Shakers list of top library leaders since many of their choices come from the ranks for Information Today conference alumni. We find and feature them and LJ honors them. Great! Congratulations to this year’s movers and shakers.

Erik Boekesteijn & his colleagues Jaap & Geert are three new “mover & shaker” inductees and will be seen again at Computers in Libraries 2009 at the Gaming & Gadget Petting Zoo evening on Sunday March 29th, and when Erik interviews New York Public Library’s Paul Holdengraber on Tuesday morning, March 31st.

Stephen Abram was one of the first “movers and shakers” and he is leading the Dead & Innovative Technology:Moving & Shaking in the Information World, the popular & fun panel on Tuesday evening, 7.30-9pm, at Computers in Libraries 2009. There are several previous inductees on this panel too — Aaron Schmidt & Amanda Etches-Johnson. In addition, there will be many other current and former LJ “movers and shakers” [including Lori Bell, Michael Porter, Sara Houghton-Jan, Karen Coombs, as well as Erik, Jaap & Geert from the new crop!] , as well as some “shovers & makers” (I guess that’s me) at this evening event. So join us for lots of fun!

Learning with leaders, thinking like leaders, being leaders


Continuing with my “I love Harvard Business Review” theme, I’ve just listened to 2 great podcasts from at And both tie into the Think Tank LMD is holding on Saturday June 13th at the Annual Conference (only $299 for members!) Ticketed Event #280

In the podcasts, Tom Kolditz highlights his book, “In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depending on It,” and speaks of how, in dangerous or uncertain times, the #1 thing followers look for in their leaders is competence, and their trust depends on that competence being demonstrated. Sydney Finkelstein, talks about how good managers make bad decisions when they ignore certain warning signals. The Think Tank addresses these and other issues that information professionals who work with leaders – eurior who are in leadership positions themselves need to grapple with. Clare Hart, Executive VP Dow Jones and President, Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group — is the instructor for Being Recognized, Being Heard. Clare works with the group on communication and influencing styles to ensure the message being delivered is clear, engages others and – eureka! – leads to commitments and the desired action(s).

Darrell Gunter, Chief Marketing Officer for Collexis Holdings, Inc. — is the instructor for Decisions & Judgment, with frank conversations about assessing the situation, making tough choices, and exercising that judgment — knowing when to hold and perhaps when to fold. Oh yeah – and then communicating the decision. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but critical for information professionals moving forward

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Harvard’s Tip: Focus on the Important, Not the Urgent


For years Jane’s mantra has been “focus on the important, not the urgent.” And my buddy is in good company! I receive Harvard Business Reviews’ “Management Tip of the Day” (most of which are superb — I highly recommend you subscribe to this — just file them until you get a chance in an airport to really read them!). The “tip” today is “How to mitigate the urgent to focus on the important” , including:

choose 3 important tasks to focus on each day — only 3 – any more than 3 and you won’t get any accomplished only check your email a few times a day so that you aren’t constantly interrupting yourself have a scheduled 20 minute weekly meeting with YOURSELF

Superb advice.

It also reminds me that we need to start spreading the word about the “Executive Think Tank” LMD is offering at the SLA Conference on Saturday June 13th (page 9, Ticket Event #280)– a full day workshop with (are you ready for this?): Clare Hart, Executive VP Dow Jones and President, Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group Darrell Gunter, Chief Marketing Officer for Collexis Holdings, Inc. Kate Noerr, CEO MuseGlobal Inc. Barbara Robinson, Executive Coach These executives aren’t at the Think Tank as talking heads; they are there ALL DAY, as faculty, working with the participants on influencing, decision-making (when there’s no clear decision), judgment, saying no, & balancing your personal values when they don’t mesh with organizational decisions. The Think Tank is for anyone working

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A Sense of Urgency


I can’t believe that I’ve been talking about urgency in the context of change and transformation for over 20 years, and now leadership guru John Kotter has a new HBS book, A Sense of Urgency, out on the topic. Here’s what it’s about.

“Most organizational change initiatives fail spectacularly (at worst) or deliver lukewarm results (at best). In his international bestseller Leading Change, John Kotter revealed why change is so hard, and provided an actionable, eight-step process for implementing successful transformations. The book became the change bible for managers worldwide. Now, in Urgency, Kotter shines the spotlight on the crucial first step in his framework: creating a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change. Why focus on urgency? Without it, any change effort is doomed. Kotter reveals the insidious nature of complacency in all its forms and guises. In this exciting new book, Kotter explains: How to go beyond “the business case” for change to overcome the fear and anger that can suppress urgency; Ways to ensure that your actions and behaviors — not just your words — communicate the need for change; How to keep fanning the flames of urgency even after your transformation effort has scored some early successes. Written in Kotter’s signature no-nonsense style, this concise and authoritative guide helps you set the stage for leading a successful transformation in your company. “

Leadership Qualities


After hearing Doris Kearns Goodwin speak a few years ago at an SLA conference, I was happy to see her piece, The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents, today in Parade magazine which comes with the Sunday Washington Post. The author and presidential historian lists her top 10 qualities: the courage to stay strong, self-confidence, an ability to learn from errors, a willingness to change, emotial intelligence, self-control, a popular touch, a moral compass, a capacity to relax, and a gift for inspiring others.

Better Life? Follow a Flight Plan.


Great article in today’s Globe & Mail called — Want a Better Life? Follow a Flight Plan. It provides tips from success coach, Brian Tracy, who has a new book out, Flight Plan, which “says you can reach the most important destinations in your life if you follow a deliberate flight plan.” Rebecca and I have for years used a technique called “Standing in the Future” which is very much what Brian describes in a slightly different way. Here are some of his tips:

Write a list of 10 goals you would like to achieve in the next year, with a deadline for each. Use the “magic wand” technique and assume you have no limitations of any kind. Wirte them in the present tense, as if your goal has already been achieved, since your subconscious mind will register such commands better. Write them in a positive fashion rather than negative, emphasizing what you will achieve, not what you will stop doing. Finally, write them personally, beginning each with the word I. Example: I earn $XXX ecah year.

Then ask yourself, what one goal on your list would have the greatest positive impact on your life in you were to accomplish it in 24 hours? This now becomes your major ‘definite purpose’, your primary goal, and your most important destination for the next leg of your journey.