LJ article “what we need”

LJcover

As promised, here’s a link to the article Meredith Farkas and I wrote about library journal “movers & shakers” and institutional support for their work and innovations. An excerpt:

What do organizations need to do to help innovation happen? We asked these Movers directly, and their answer was clear: continue to make time and resources available for professional development, thinking, and experimentation. They asked explicitly for listening, leadership, and collaboration from their institutions. They also wanted room and allowances for failure. “Some ideas die, and some don’t,” they said. “Identify resources for innovative test bed projects and let’s see ‘What if?’”

Most of this group longed for leadership, particularly in the area of risk. They saw encouraging “risk-taking” as part of their organization’s leadership role and called for an organizational culture that rewarded risk-takers “among all staff members.” “Model creativity and risk-taking as leaders,” said one, “reward risk-taking,” “provide admin support for risk-taking,” and “create a better sense of unity and vision,” said others. “Specifically address innovation and practices for producing innovation…make innovative work an organizational effort,” said another. “Show us how to handle failure.”

Other points of leadership came around clarity and communication. Movers & Shakers want to know what their organizations encourage and what they don’t. “Often it’s guesswork..,” said one. Several respondents wished for more trust, more conversation, and “just listening.”

And, finally, very simply, “make decisions faster.”

Thanks to the Movers who responded so candidly to our survey. Thanks to Meredith for working with me on it. Thanks to Marilyn Mason for encouraging us to write it. Thanks to Rebecca Miller for turning all of this into a single piece.

(Yay. An article that I co-wrote is on the cover of LJ.)

speaking of movers & shakers

Meredith Farkas and I have an article coming out in Library Journal next month that reveals the findings of our recent survey to Movers & Shakers (the cohort from 2004 – 2007).  Here’s the background behind our article:

In 2007 Meredith and I happened to sit next to each other during the Mover & Shaker lunch at ALA. It’s a nice thing that LJ does for people who have been recognized and I appreciate hearing from their guest authors at every one I’ve been to. I also appreciate the opportunity to connect with some of my colleagues just as ALA is getting underway. Anyway, Francine Failkoff spoke at the event, noting that we were now 250 strong – the lot of us – and that we should consider what we might want to do together.

Later that same conference, Marilyn Mason (my boss at the time), Meredith, and I were talking at the Blog Salon and I mentioned that I had heard from a number of my “mover & shaker” colleagues that they had not been well-received by their local colleagues and/or library directors when they received the Mover & Shaker recognition. I was so surprised by this because my employer (OCLC) had been absolutely supportive of me, very congratulatory, Jay Jordon (our CEO) asked me to his office and called me “our little rockstar”. I have to say, it was nice. But I also think that they were genuinely happy to support the recognition of my accomplishments. They also knew I wouldn’t have been able to do as much without the support I’d received at work, so why wouldn’t they be happy for me? It was recognition for them too!

I mentioned that I wanted to delve further into these mysterious reports I’d heard. Why do some institutions welcome this particular reward or recognition when their employees receive it, and some others don’t? Meredith immediately said: I want to work on that with you! A year later, here we are.

I’m happy to report that we didn’t stick with that question exactly. Instead, we went about it another way: by asking Movers to tell us about their experiences across the board. They shared with us their career goals, their visions for future libraries, and their needs as employees of their organizations and as innovators in their field.

The results led us to findings that we can all draw from. For example, whether we’re “official” movers & shakers, or just simply moving and shaking on the home-front, there are some things we can all do to “pitch-in” when times are tough for our organizations – it’s not always about innovation. For our colleagues and mentors, there are things we can ask you to do to ensure we don’t lose sight of both the practical and the possible, but also in supporting us as we’re thinking “outside” of our daily tasks or roles.

Altogether, we can make libraries more relevant and sustainable. I’ll post a link when the full article’s out.