Looking Forward to 2018

Wishing everyone the best in this holiday season as well as a happy and healthy 2018!!

I am into planning for 2018, yes that’s what I do, plan.  I plan conferences:

* Computers in Libraries, April 17-19 (Registration open, full program online next week)

*Library Leaders Summit, April 17-18 (Registration open, full program online next week)

*University of Toronto iSchool Symposium, May 3-4 (working on topics & programs for these!)

*University of Toronto iSchool Symposium, July 19-20

*University of Toronto iSchool Symposium, Oct 1-2

*Internet Librarian, October (working on theme & call for speakers live online in January)

*KMworld, November 4-7 (working on theme & call for speakers live online in January)

* AND there may be a new event in the line-up, so stay tuned!

* AND there may be some direction planning with other organizations to help them focus on and create  their futures!

In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season!


Turning Over a New Leaf!

Tribute to Josef Frank

Can you see me sitting under this tree turning over a new leaf?  Well I’m there somewhere!!  2017 has not been a good year for me updating the Dysart & Jones website even though I had promised certain people that I would!

Get ready for many new pieces in the coming weeks and months!

Logic model: logically……

I’m about to talk about the logic model @ #SLA2017 in Phoenix. Below are the slides, although there are many excellent books, articles, blog posts, webinars and courses that provide superb advice and tools. This is just my perspective having worked with the model since 2000.

Logically (yes, pun intended), those of us designing, developing and delivering information services want those services to positively impact the customers using them (be they students, users, lawyers, you name it). And, for us to have the funding or revenue and resources to deliver those services we must demonstrate the relevance of those customer outcomes for the funders and decision-makers.

And therein lies the issue. The design and development of any information service/program must begin with an understanding of the decision-makers’ goals……and then the customers needs.

Project Management Sanity Savers

I’m talking very candidly about Critical Skills for Project Management today at #SLA2017 in Phoenix.  My focus is on what I’ve learned, over 30 years, to be sanity savers for project managers. There are many books, courses, blog posts and presentations on effective project management; these are excellent, and I highly recommend that anyone entering the world of projects seek them out and learn Let’s face it, to keep their sanity project managers need a few tools, specifically a project charter (sometimes called a charge or outline), a RASCI or RACI matrix, and some way to track the project plan, timeline and costs.

Below are the slides, a template you are welcome to consider and edit for a Project Charter, and the ever wonderful RASCI (you can shorten it to a RACI if you want — but do use it.)

Project Management Template This links to the document (honest)

RASCI Responsibility Matrix And this links to the RASCI template; below is a jpeg so that you can see if you are interested.

Leadership Summit: New operating models #4

Library Leaders Summit launches Tuesday morning @ Computers in Libraries 2017. This final post poses some of the ‘prickly topics’ leaders must surface – must handle no matter how prickly or awful those topics are to pick up and manage. What’s a prickly topic? It’s a topic that we must address, vulnerably and honestly — like our operating models. Ewwww……. I can imagine people thinking, “our operating model? the way in which we operate? in which libraries organize and run their locations? services? processes? but we are already lean! we operate on a shoe-string!”

All the more reason for libraries to look through the lens of other organizations to examine the readiness of library operating models to be future-proofed or, really, future-successful. Here’s the last article to consider as you prepare for the Summit reflections, debates and discussion: from McKinsey & Company: How to start building your next-generation operating model.  Makes sense, doesn’t it? Since we all agree that the future will be different – how can we not change our operating models to fit future conditions?

McKinsey advises that the successful transformations of  operating models rely on these building blocks:

Building Block #1: Autonomous and cross-functional teams anchored in customer journeys, products, and services

Building Block #2: Flexible and modular architecture, infrastructure, and software delivery

Building Block #3: A management system that cascades clear strategies and goals through the organization, with tight feedback loops

Building Block #4: Agile, customer-centric culture demonstrated at all levels and role modeled from the top

How are these building blocks taking shape in your library? your organization?

To scaffold these blocks leaders must take “no regret” steps:

  • Create clarity on enterprise strategy and on where digital services can quickly enable sustainable value creation. (For more on this, see “The next-generation operating model for the digital world.”)
  • Challenge the Board – or, in academic, corporate or government environments the decision-makers – to be explicit about the importance of the transformation and its support for investment; or, as a board, making this decision and challenging the executive team for a bold vision.
  • Build top-team excitement and belief in change through visits to leading digital natives or incumbents pursuing their own transformation paths.
  • Assess the maturity of the management system using benchmarking against other organizations to identify strengths to build on and risks to mitigate.
  • Invest in targeted capability building, especially for the top 50 leaders in the organization. Exploring core concepts such as digitization, agile, design thinking, and advanced analytics can create a shared vocabulary and spur action.
  • Make an honest objective assessment of talent and capabilities within the organization, benchmarked against peers and cross-sector leaders. Disruption often comes from outside an industry rather than within.
  • Survey the cross-sector landscape for ideas and inspiration. It’s easier than ever to learn from others, and a rapid inventory of ideas can shed light on potential execution challenges to resolve.
  • Assess the level of change that the organization can realistically absorb in the near and long term given its other priorities.

It is the 2nd step listed here regarding the Board or decision-makers that is, perhaps, the most important for libraries. Gaining the space – the time – the investment – the dip in usual metrics or statistics – while the changes are instituted is critical.

So….how ARE your blocks being shaped? And which of these no-regret steps have you taken – are willing to take?

See you on Tuesday @ the Summit.

Ruthless Prioritization

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 get the service/product OUT there for people to experience.

There’s no point in me synthesizing Brandon Chu’s post; read it and adopt the framework. 

Leadership Summit: Readying for the climb #3

This is post #3 in a short series to ready us for the #Summitclimb. Are you working up a sweat yet?

I am…..

The rock we must cut through.

Continuing with the terrain analogy, let’s consider a particularly tough question. And that is about the rock or rocks.

Water is essential for life. The rivers that have helped build countries and have provided the life-nourishing water have had to cut through rocks to flow broader, wider, faster. I see a significant analogy here. We talk of libraries (public, academic, government, corporate, not-for-profit) as essential for democratic life and as life-changing.  And yet the growth, flow and abilities of libraries in all types of environment seems perpetually slowed and, in some cases, blocked.  There are, indeed, rocks preventing libraries from flowing freely.

Jim Watkin’s quote, “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” is appropriate for libraries. Libraries are incredibly persistent. Funds and attention are cut for the library – and yet it forges on and re-surges. Have libraries cut through rocks in the past?

As libraries forge into the future – into the digital environment considered in post #1,

What is the rock that libraries and information service functions must cut through and be persistent?


Leadership Summit: Readying for the Climb #2

This is post #2 in a short series to ready us (channel training….) for the #Summitclimb.

Future-proofing considerations.

Post #1 gave an article that poses some difficult questions leaders must address as they #futureproof their libraries in the digital environment.  What Jane wants from this Library Leaders Summit, and I fully agree with, is that the Summit focus more on coaching than on presentations: coaches tell it like it is – and set the bar realistically and high.   Sometimes people don’t like what the coach has to say.  But a good coach is readying individuals for future moments – future endeavours.

Three respected leaders in the library sector will help kick-start the dialogue regarding future-proofing our organizations: Mary Ann Mavrinac, Gina Millsap, and Mary Lee Kennedy. In the January/February Computers in Libraries we asked them to comment on strategies entrepreneurs use to future-proof their organizations. Read their insights.

Then take these questions to your leadership team, or reflect on them yourself.

Entrepreneur November 2015 proposed 5 ways to future-proof an organization:

  1. “Think partnerships, not transactions”; use partnerships to scale initiatives more quickly.
  2. “Change how you’re structured”; go flatter with smaller teams.
  3. “Think bigger”; impact more people with solutions to bigger problems.
  4. “Offer experience, not product”; distinguish your organization by delighting people.
  5. “Help Millennials develop”; formally mentor the next generation.

 In post #3: what’s the rock libraries deal with – or must deal with?

Leadership Summit: Worth the Climb

I’ve been away from this blog for 18 months while I’ve focused on my role in the Branch services and operations of a busy, growing, incredible (if i may say so) #publiclibrary (@BramptonLibrary).  The opinions I have expressed and will express in this blog are purely mine.  I am honoured to work with some of the finest, intelligent individuals – and they may or may not agree with some of my perspectives (which is what makes them so fine and intelligent!).

It is time for me to start writing again as I increasingly consider the issues we in the library sector need to think deeply about – need to think critically about (with critical thinking not criticizing), engage in probing, provocative and perhaps disturbing dialogue, make decisions and take actions.  As she has so many times in the past, @jdysart has arranged a venue at which some of this thinking and dialogue can occur.  Library Leaders Summit: Future-Proofing Strategies & Tactics, held in conjunction with Computers in Libraries @CrystalCity in Arlington, VA, provides 2 days in which speakers, provocateurs and participants will  consider developments, experiences and questions that influence their library’s decisions and actions. Near-term and long-term decisions.

Getting to a ‘#summit’ is not easy.

Yep, it’s easy to actually come to this Leaders Summit. But the point I’m trying to make is for this venue to truly be a ‘summit’ people need to prepare in the same way they would to climb to any summit. Think about it. We climb hills or mountains to reach a summit. Some of us do it for the sheer exhilaration of the exercise and traversing tough terrain. Others of us do it to see different horizons and perspectives that can’t be seen from the usual roads or elevations. Whatever our driving force, if we haven’t prepared and don’t have the water, food and equipment to keep us going, we’ll never realize our desired result.

Information Today is the best at providing the equipment (wonderful rooms, tables, wifi, chairs, etc.), water and food to keep us climbing during the Summit. As facilitator I’ll do my best to keep our climb on track and motivating. Together the speakers and participants will create the engagement and encouragement to keep going – especially when the dialogues and topics get tough. And they will get tough. They must get tough. Otherwise we won’t reach the Summit – we won’t have the different views, insights and willingness to make decisions and take actions catalyzed by the climb.

Readying for the Summit.

Here’s an exercise to ready for the Summit or for future-proofing discussions at your library. Consider that the environment or terrain in which libraries exist is not a library environment; rather it is a much broader terrain. And it is an environment in which technology has significant implications and that is increasingly, a digital environment.  With this in mind, read McKinsey Quarterly’s,  “The Seven Decisions that Matter in a Digital Transformation”.  We’ll be considering 3 of the most challenging questions:

  1. Where should the library position itself in the digital ecosystem – or environment?  Think about this question in terms of the library’s position vis a vis other organizations?
  2. How do you decide on governance and escalation rules as your organization is implementing its strategies to allow for inevitable course corrections? In other words, just as form follows function — how is your library’s governance and ways of managing issues helping or hindering the library’s ability to move forward?
  3. How do you, or the leadership team, allocate resources rapidly and dynamically to implement various elements of the strategy – and tactics?
If you can’t attend the Summit, do join us as we prepare – and offer your insights regarding these questions & others that we’ll pose over the next week.

In post #2: future-proofing considerations

Computers in Libraries 2017: Sneak Peek!

cil-logoAs program director for Computers in Libraries 2017, March 28-30 in DC, I have delivered the program to Information Todaythe producer of the conference.  The program with sessions and workshops should be online in a few weeks and you should receive your snail mail copy after that!  In the meantime, our theme is Upping Our Game: Taking Libraries to New Heights with Technology and here’s a few early highlights to peak your interest:

  • new full day Searchers Academy workshop on Mon Mar 27 with many other half day workshops on change management, grant seeking, outcome measures, putting a press room on your website, hands-on video lessons, makerspaces, library tech update, engaging teens, Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure and apps, innovation, fundraising, monitoring tools & dashboards, tech trends, UX, security, and more!
  • popular Games & Gadgets networking & fun evening on Mon Mar 27
  • Opening keynote speaker Gina Milsap, CEO, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Library Journal Library of the Year in 2016 on Tues Mar 28
  • New full day streams/tracks of sessions on funding strategies & practices as well as upping our marketing game
  • a talk about winning with Pokemon Go in a special library
  • co-located Library Leaders Summit on the topic of Future Proofing Libraries with terrific speakers & lots of time for discussion with your colleagues
  • put the dates in your new 2017  calendar & stay tuned for lots more exciting topics and speakers!