Thought About Your Strategies Lately?

This article, Why Popular Strategies Fade, is a great reminder about strategies through the last 5 or 6 decades.  I am borrowing liberally from it!  “A great strategy is unique, specific, and complete; it stands on the shoulders of a big idea; and it is owned by a leader who is ultimately responsible for its implementation.”  “Great strategies answer five critical questions (“the strategic five”) in ways that are unique to your company: (1) What business or businesses should your company be in? (2) How should you add value to your businesses? (3) Who should be the target customers for your businesses? (4) What should be your value propositions to those target customers? (5) What capabilities should differentiate your ability to add value to your businesses and deliver their value propositions?”

With the speed of change in our world we need to ask ourselves these questions at least once a year as we set our path forward to change with the needs of our communities and with the opportunities provided by new technology.  We also need to grab those big ideas and opportunities when they pop up.  Libraries like to think they were at the heart of the “third place” movement, but Starbucks made it extremely successful. “Starbucks’s strategy to create a nationwide chain of coffee shops as a “third place” between office and home originated in Howard Schultz’s big idea to re-create the Italian espresso bar experience.” So what can we learn from them?

“Great strategies always go against the grain of accepted wisdom. Markets and organizations have powerful immune systems that erect multiple barriers to implementation. Leaders who own their strategies are more likely to persevere through such resistance, and prevail. Great strategies take leaders who believe enough in them — and the ideas they depend on — to be willing to fight their own organization and the broader market for however long it takes to realize the strategy…Larry Page and Sergey Brin sought to “organize the world’s information” with their idea to rank Web pages the way academic publications are ranked. They started Google because no one would buy their idea.”

Strategy can never stand still. A great strategy can quickly become mediocre in a dynamic market. You should always be seeking ways to open your eyes to new possibilities for your strategies. Strategy concepts are one such way if they stimulate your thinking without substituting for it, and if they enhance your strategy without becoming it. Those are two big ifs. To exploit strategy concepts without allowing them to take over, consider each one that comes along to be an opportunity to challenge and improve the strategy you already have. If you don’t already have a strategy to which you are truly committed, you are particularly vulnerable to being captured by the latest strategy fashion. If you do, ask how a new concept can enhance it. But never let that concept become a shortcut: a way to skip the hard work of identifying the big idea that will power your company’s strategy; of formulating a unique, specific, and complete set of answers to the “strategic five”; and of owning your strategy through thick and thin.”

Artificial Intelligence & Libraries: Prepare Yourself

A huge thank you to Lise Brin. Program Officer / Agente de programme @ Canadian Association of Research Libraries/Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada for compiling this list of pertinent, thought-jarring items on #artificialintelligence and the implication for #libraries.  We’ll be discussing this @ CFLA-FCAB’s National Forum, May 2nd in Regina (co-located with Sasktachewan’s Library Conference). Read, reflect, and ready yourself to provide input and inform the CFLA-FCAB Board for positioning libraries in the age of #AI.

1  How can Indigenous knowledge shape our view of AI? (Karina Kesserwan, Policy Options, February 16, 2018)


2.  Bias already exists in search engine results, and it’s only going to get worse (J. Snow, MIT Technology Review, February 26, 2018)

3.  Here’s how Canada can be a global leader in ethical AI (F. McKelvie & A. Gupta, The Conversation, February 22, 2018)


4.  Libraries in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Ben Johnson, Information Today, January 2018)

5.  Artificial intelligence and the library of the future, revisited (Catherine Nicole Coleman, Stanford Libraries Digital Library Blog, November 3, 2017)

6.  The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions (Rodney Brooks, MIT Technology Review, October 6, 2017)

7.  Who Trained Your A.I.? (April Glazer, Slate, October 2017)


8.  The AI-Enhanced Library (Norman Jacknis, Medium, June 21, 2017)

9.  How libraries might change when AI, Machine learning, open data, block chain & other technologies are the norm (Aaron Tan, April 9, 2017)

10. What happens to libraries and librarians when machines can read all the books? (Chris Bourg, Feral Librarian, March 16, 2017)

11.  Libraries in an Artificially Intelligent World (Kristin Whitehair, Public Libraries Online, February 11, 2016)

12.  Thriving in the Age of Accelerations: A Brief Look at the Societal Effects of Artificial Intelligence and the Opportunities for Libraries (K. Arlitsch & B. Newell, Journal of Library Administration, 57:7, 2017)


Entrepreneurial Thinking: Essential Skill for Everyone!

It’s often difficult to describe things you do instinctively.  I once put together a panel of SLA members asking them to describe themselves by discussing ”how do I know what I know?”  SLA member Anne Mintz, at Forbes magazine at the time, told me it was one of the hardest things she had to do!  My business partner, Rebecca Jones, talks about me as being curious, I am but I just found a better description in a book by Amy Wilkinson, The Creator’s Code: Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.   The first skill is one I have talked about in workshops I’ve done for SLA on seeing the big picture and strategic planning; Wilkinson calls it Finding the Gap and I had called it, Looking for Opportunities or identifying pain points and finding a solution.  Here’s what Wilkinson says:


By staying alert, creators spot opportunities that others don’t see. They keep their eyes open for fresh potential, a vacuum to fill, or an unmet need. Creators tend to use one of three distinct techniques: transplanting ideas across divides, designing a new way forward, or merging disparate concepts. I characterize creators who master these approaches as Sunbirds, Architects, or Integrators.

In innovating, reinventing, experimenting we do things differently, in a new way for our environment as a creator or entre/intrapreneur.  I find I learn a lot from others in other industries, organizations, etc.  One of the strengths of SLA has always been that those planning conference events bring in practitioners from their specialized fields so we learn from them and can apply their strategies and techniques in a new way in our environments – transplanting ideas across divides. This also happens at Information Today conferences whose programs I design and of which SLA is a prominent sponsor (Computers in Libraries, Internet Librarian).  At these events we transplant ideas across different types of libraries.  Years ago as a special librarian, I didn’t believe I could learn anything from public and academic libraries; Ha!  It is amazing what public libraries do to engage their customers and how special librarians learn from them: i.e. setting up a Pokemon Go in a government library, setting up makerspaces/innovative places spaces in a corporate workplaces, creating book clubs in organizations.

As an entrepreneur and consultant, I am always looking for new ways to move forward and create new designs that will engage our audiences and clients.  Focusing on what might be ahead, creating visions, looking a differences scenarios, giving people something to think about when they consider the future and how their organization or library has to evolve to keep up.  For example, take my granddaughter Logan who is now a year and a half old.  What will her life be like as a young adult?  Consider that she may never learn to tie a shoelace (as there is now Velcro & new types of laces), she may never learn to drive (now that driverless cars are coming online), she may never learn cursive writing since everything is done with computers today, more and more by using our voices!  So if these types of kids are our future clients, what should we be planning in terms of programs and services to stay relevant?

And certainly mashing things up to try different approaches to programs and services is happening everywhere, especially with content and new tech tools: using Paper Li to create a current awareness product on the fly, using bots to reduce repetitious activities, creating online tutorials which can be watched at the point of need or “in the flow” as APQC calls it.

Entrepreneurial thinking is for everyone in every environment.  Do it by keeping an open mind, observing different organizations and places, listening, grabbing ideas from others and trying them out (experimenting), paying attention when someone has a problem/criticism because there is definitely an opportunity/gap there!

Libraries Matter. A National Voice Matters. CFLA-FCAB Matters.

Look out. I’m passionate about this. And I’m concerned at the quiet surrounding CFLA-FCAB: Canadian Federation of Library Associations. Quiet means no one is paying attention. Quiet means no one is talking. Quiet means no one is debating, prompting, urging, moving forward. Quiet means those who are louder about certain issues will be heard. Bring your voice.

Alix-Rae Stefanko, new Chair of CFLA-FCAB, is phenomenal, and she’s leading the charge for the National Forum, May 2nd in Regina. Come – join us – inform our national thinking, positioning and policies on intellectual freedom and artificial intelligence.

Join us in Regina, Saskatchewan, for our first National Forum to be held May 1 – 2, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, 1975 Broad Street, Regina; the opening reception is the evening of  May 1 and the National Forum is May 2. The National Forum program is designed to blend informative sessions with challenging roundtable conversations. It will carefully consider and debate Intellectual Freedom and Artificial Intelligence, and how Canadian libraries sustain their critical value of freedom of information in the evolving societal shifts. The day’s outcome will be a National Forum Paper informing CFLA-FCAB’s positioning.

Contribute with colleagues from across Canada in focussed dialogues that will consider some of the most critical challenges facing libraries. Contribute towards crafting outcomes that will advance the state of libraries and the Federation.

Here’s the program – with an important addition:

Bruce Walsh will be the keynote! Canadian publishing is @ the heart & soul of Canadian libraries, and Bruce is a respected leader and Canadian publishing visionary. His establishment of the University of Regina Press, championing of freedom of information, and appointment as a Trudeau mentor are incredible. As a Trudeau mentor he will talk with us about “building bridges between research and the public arena, fostering a better understanding of critical issues for Canada, and working toward sustainable solutions”. Never before has the library sector so needed sustainable solutions.



Walsh in the morning, Mohamed Fahmy at night and in between distinguished panels who will make our heads hurt and our brows furrow. 

Complete the registration form here.



Ethical AI: What Will That Look Like for Libraries?

At a January 2018 Girl Geeks Toronto event on Ethical AI, we listened to 3 articulate, brilliant women discuss the engineering feats and ethical vulnerabilities of current and near-future artificial intelligence. The recording is very high-quality, and I encourage you to grab a hot beverage and watch it – and listen.  Listen very carefully.   Inmar Givoni (Autonomy Engineering Manager at Uber Advanced Technologies Group),  Karen Bennet  (VP Engineering at Cerebri AI) and Anna Goldenberg (Member of the Vector Institute, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Computer Science, and Scientist at the Genetics and Genome Biology Lab at SickKids Research Institute), each focus on different areas of engineering and may not share common experiences or opinions. But one thing they do agree on is that it is a problem that ethical and societal policies regarding AI are not keeping pace with the technologies. Not keeping pace! These policies aren’t even in place in Canada. There’s no point in pointing fingers or wringing hands; we need to grasp hands and join in leading the way.

It’s no secret that I am intrigued and concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence on public and academic libraries. It’s one of the reasons I’m involved in planning CFLA-FCAB’s first National Forum in Regina on May 2, 2018. Whether you agree that AI will bring significant shifts to the library landscape, you no doubt think about the shifts AI is and will bring to your communities, your life and our campuses and education system. As librarians we have a responsibility to ensure that Canada’s policies and standards shape AI as a positive force in our society.  Sounds grandiose, I know. And yet, since we all agree that libraries are an integral part of our society, then it follows that we have a professional role in the deliberation, creation, implementation and stewardship of policies guiding AI in our society.

Be part of informing the policies for our Canadian library landscape. Be at the National Forum and be prepared to contribute. Oh!! And be prepared to eat too! (Registration includes food 🙂  ) And to hear Mohamed Fahmy




Artificial Intelligence: AI - All In @ #CFLAFCAB2018

Save the date! May 2, 2018CFLA-FCAB’s First National Forum @ Saskatchewan’s Libraries Conference! Be a part of history – be a part of informing Canada’s library policies on Intellectual Freedom & Artificial Intelligence#cflafcab2018

Why #ArtificialIntelligence? #AI stands to impact all parts of our lives, our work, our communities and our education. And since libraries – whether they are in the public, academic, government, school or corporate sectors – are an integral part of people’s lives, work, community and learning – AI is a significant issue with which we in the information and library sector must be involved. We can’t just be impacted by AI. We must use AI.

AI is all about data. Libraries have data. Lots of data. Are we using it? Mining it? Gaining deep insights from it? Using it to build AI tools? C’mon – admit it. We may be using our data in traditional ways, such as for operational decisions or reporting, but we are not mining our data to identify patterns and use for decision-making.

MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s magazine lists the Top 10 Breakthroughs expected for 2018. While all 10 have a ripple effect for libraries, 3 have

significant implications for information-intensive services and work:

  • Sensing City (see below)
  • AI for Everybody
  • Perfect Online Privacy

Let’s take, for instance, Sensing City. Given that I’m sitting just north of Toronto, and given that Toronto is the city used in the example, this seems reasonable. Quoting from the zine:

“Numerous smart-city schemes have run into delays, dialed down their ambitious goals, or priced out everyone except the super-wealthy. A new project in Toronto, called Quayside, is hoping to change that pattern of failures by rethinking an urban neighborhood from the ground up and rebuilding it around the latest digital technologies.

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, based in New York City, is collaborating with the Canadian government on the high-tech project, slated for Toronto’s industrial waterfront.

One of the project’s goals is to base decisions about design, policy, and technology on information from an extensive network of sensors that gather data on everything from air quality to noise levels to people’s activities.

The plan calls for all vehicles to be autonomous and shared. Robots will roam underground doing menial chores like delivering the mail. Sidewalk Labs says it will open access to the software and systems it’s creating so other companies can build services on top of them, much as people build apps for mobile phones.

The company intends to closely monitor public infrastructure, and this has raised concerns about data governance and privacy. But Sidewalk Labs believes it can work with the community and the local government to alleviate those worries.

“What’s distinctive about what we’re trying to do in Quayside is that the project is not only extraordinarily ambitious but also has a certain amount of humility,” says Rit Aggarwala, the executive in charge of Sidewalk Labs’ urban-systems planning. That humility may help Quayside avoid the pitfalls that have plagued previous smart-city initiatives.

Other North American cities are already clamoring to be next on Sidewalk Labs’ list, according to Waterfront Toronto, the public agency overseeing Quayside’s development. “San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and Boston have all called asking for introductions,” says the agency’s CEO, Will Fleissig. —Elizabeth Woyke


Why It Matters:

Key Players:

Availability:    Project announced in October 2017; construction could begin in 2019



While there are many articles and posts surfacing in the library sector about AI, do have a look at Chris Bourg’s What happens to libraries and librarians when machines can read all the books?  Director of Libraries at MIT, Chris is astute – a deep thinker, and she pulls no punches.  We have no time to pull punches; we need to be involved – intricatly involved – with AI. Not as users, as players.

We need to be at CFLA-FCAB’s National Forum. The panel leading the discourse on #AI (I prefer discourse to discussion as we do need to provoke our thinking, and discourse just sounds a bit edgier…) is Danica Pawlick-Potts, MLIS student and soon to be PhD candidate in AI, and is Coop librarian at U of Guelph; Scott Hargrove, CEO Fraser-Valley Regional Library System; Michael Ridley; PhD. Candidate in Artificial Intelligence, Librarian, Former Chief Information Officer, University of Guelph; and Brent Barron, Director, Public Policy CIFAR: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Speaking of which, CIFAR is a major player in Canada’s AI. Dr. Elissa Strome, Executive Director of CIFAR’s Pan-Canadian AI Strategy leading a international team of incredible experts, implementing the $125 million strategy announced by the Government of Canada last year, in partnership with the three newly established AI institutes – Amii in Edmonton, the Vector Institute in Toronto and MILA in Montreal.


CFLA-FCAB National Forum

May 2, 2018: Regina

Be there. Be a part of informing the library associations’ policies regarding AI: All In.


Seeing Opportunities!

Rebecca and I have had many conversations over the years about identifying gaps and seeing opportunities, in fact we did a segment on this topic in our Seeing the Big Picture and Critical Thinking workshops.  It is a skill I have and didn’t realize for many years that not everyone has this skill.  In a recent article,  Amy Wilkinson referred to identifying gaps and seeing opportunities as entrepreneurial alertness.  I am thrilled to find her recent book The Creators Code: The Six Essential Skills for Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.   Here’s a bit more info about the book.  Not sure how I missed it when it was first published!

“For her landmark book, Wilkinson conducted rigorous interviews with 200 of today’s leading entrepreneurs including the founders of LinkedIn, Chipotle, eBay, Under Armour, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, Spanx, Airbnb, PayPal, JetBlue, Gilt Groupe, Theranos, and Dropbox. Setting her work apart, she then drilled down through the latest academic research and analyzed data from across diverse fields, applying scientific methodology to crack the code on what it takes to go from startup to scale in our rapidly changing economy.

Evaluating companies as diverse as Yelp, Chobani, and Zipcar, Wilkinson found that their creators all share — and have honed — fundamental skills that can be learned, practiced, and passed on. Entrepreneurial success is born of daring, discipline, and the six skills she identifies, proven effective in a variety of endeavors and industries:

  • Find the gap: Spot opportunities that others don’t see
  • Drive for daylight: Manage speed by focusing on the horizon
  • Fly the OODA loop: Master fast-cycle iteration to observe, orient, decide, and act
  • Fail wisely: Set a failure ratio and hone resilience
  • Network minds: Harness cognitive diversity to build on each other’s ideas
  • Gift small goods: Unleash generosity to increase productivity”

Computers in Libraries 2018 -- Program Sneak Peak!

As program director for more than 20 years for the Computers in Libraries conference, I am thrilled to introduce our keynote speakers and some of the themes to be discussed!


Lots of wonderful speakers will be participating, some returning, popular experts, some new & exciting. Key themes:

There are also lots of in-depth workshops on these topics for those who want more.  Conversations and networking are most important at Computers in Libraries 2018 so our producer, Information Today, and our sponsors host morning breakfasts, coffee breaks, and receptions; make sure you meet lots of new folks there!

Got some 2017 funds left over?  Use it to register early and join us for a learning experience which will inspire lots of ideas and insights to take back to your community!  Look forward to seeing you in DC in April.  In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season and all the best for a terrific 2018!

What does KM mean to you?

I’m a librarian by training and I’ve been in the “KM” business since 2000.  Since that time I’ve been building a worldwide network of KM professionals, colleagues in all types of industries, communities and organizations.  I have had many conversations using many different channels to find out what people are doing in their KM work so that I can profile them and have them as speakers for the KMWorld conference which I have programmed and chaired annually in the US since 2000.

I look at KM in the broadest possible way, basically to mean knowledge sharing, an activity that librarians, archivists, curators of museums and galleries, and lots of others have been doing for many many years.  Towards the end of the last century ‘knowledge management’ was being used to refer to a number of processes and activities within organizations.  The words “knowledge management” have gone in and out of fashion over the last 20+ years but I still believe that knowledge sharing needs to be a core activity of all organizations and communities.  Think of volunteer organizations like associations where people are being elected and appointed regularly; how do they pass along the knowledge they gain while doing the activities and responsibilities assigned to them?  Or in corporations or libraries where people are retiring and newbies are being hired out of university and on-boarded.  How do they learn and get up to speed so they can excel in their job and the organization as a whole can thrive?

Building learning organizations with a core value of knowledge sharing means creating collaborative, not hierarchical, organizations.  It revolves around a number of activities and processes, with communities of practices and social media solutions, as just a few tools of today.

I’d like to turn to one of my colleagues to explain further.  Stan Garfield, a long time KM practitioner, and frequent speaker for me at KMWorld, has an extensive piece on the definition of KM  but what I asked him to do a number of years ago was give me a list of those activities, processes, etc that could make up KM in an organization even if they weren’t called KM.  Here’s how Stan put that list together.  And if you want to see all Stan’s extensive resources on KM, here’s where he keeps it.

What does KM mean to you?  Please share with us!

KMWorld 2017 -- Free Resources

KMWorld 2017 was held last month in Washington to a large & engaged audience!  The buzz around our theme:  People Power, Thinking & Tech, and multiple events was phenomenal, in my opinion (and others too I think!).  Here’s the sneak peek of the conference that I wrote prior to the event to highlight some of the program.

The KMWorld is the largest and longest running KM event in the world; the 2017 annual conference has wrapped up in Washington DC.  If you were not able to attend the event, or just want to refresh what you heard, the keynotes are available in video including John Seely Brown, Tom Stewart, Stan Garfield & Jeanne Holm,  Many of the Powerpoint presentations from other KMW speakers are available too.  KMWorld is made up of complimentary events too:

Taxonomy Boot Camp (videos; presentations)

Enterprise Search & Discovery (presentations)

SharePoint Symposium (videos ; presentations)

Text Analytics Forum (presentations)

KMWorld also publishes a magazine (Past issues online) and the website has lots of additional resources that KM’ers members might enjoy!