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What Kills Innovation?

Hmmm. Good question.
Jeffrey Phillips at the Innovation on Purpose blog has ths good posting. OK, go read it.
Waiting . . .
Now does that ring true in libraryland?
Here are some things that I hear kill innovation and newborn ideas out there (and everywhere):
1. Training and conference budgets that go only to senior staff who and nothing is left for the new library staff who will be replacing them quickly. How do you ring new ideas back from conferences and workshops if the only people there share older ideas?
2. Many younger staff are on ‘contract’ for up to a decade. That shows no commitment to the next gen of libraries … and they’re not ‘at the table’ with their ideas if they’re on contract. They often don’t qualify for training.
3. Strategic planning that involves the senior team alone and is a ‘black box’ – so fiats come down from on high without any context. The grapevine adds flavour to this. Why can’t we allow to staff provide creative input?
4. Innovative thinking or brainstorming is crushed with “We don’t do it that way here” type comments by experienced staff. Rarely are reasons given even when asked for so the planning process is opaque and runs the risk of being disrespected. How do we allow input when people act like they aren’t open to new ideas?
5. Young staff (even in their 30’s) are treated like the older staff’s children rather than as colleagues. (“My daughter thinks that way too” type comments.) A reciprocal mentoring system would appear necessary.
6. IT staff get listened to and their comments are allowed to trump staff with front line customer experience. Why? And vice versa.
7. How do I get senior staff to understand my new skills? Many haven’t been near a library school in decades but they still have firmly held opinions about the courses there and the quality of the grads (even if they haven’t hired many in over a decade!) Is this just prejudice or fear? I have a lot to learn in this field but seem to be digging myself out of a hole and threatening experienced librarians at the same time!”
Do our management processes require every idea to be fully formed. Do we have difficulty with new ideas and pilots and experiments. Do new ideas get crushed under the weight of a single user’s negative feedback…?
Maybe, maybe not.
It’s just worth being aware of.

Posted on: February 8, 2007, 8:03 pm Category: Uncategorized