SPL Strategic Plan Preparing Team Final Report


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The Seattle Public Library’s Leadership Team chartered a Strategic Plan Preparing Team (SPPrT) with the broad goal of setting the stage for strategic plan implementation by developing recommendations to support an organizational culture of innovation.

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SPL Strategic Plan Preparing Team Final Report

  1. 1. Report of the Strategic Plan Preparing Team Jim Loter, Sponsor Imagine Eve Sternberg, Facilitator Jennifer Bisson Kirk BlankenshipTest Suggest Daria Cal Lynn Miller Innovate Jennifer Reichert Jennifer Robinson Sarah Scott Decide Develop Daniel Tilton Caroline Ullmann Nonie Xue
  2. 2. Report of the Strategic Plan Preparing TeamExecutive SummaryThe Strategic Plan was adopted by the Library Board on February 23 rd, 2011. It was the culmination of a process which invited all ofthe library’s stakeholders to give input and help us pave the way for the next five years. The final product represents our aspirationsas an organization, and provides a blueprint for taking the Library in new and exciting directions that will require ongoingexperimentation.The Library’s Leadership Team chartered a Strategic Plan Preparing Team (SPPrT) with the broad goal of setting the stage forstrategic plan implementation by developing recommendations to support an organizational culture of innovation. A ProgrammingTask Force, working in tandem, was charged to recommend improvements to the program development and approval process,providing greater staff involvement in system-wide program activities. SPPrT considered these key questions: How do we animate the Strategic Plan? How does staff get heard? How do we capture and cultivate good ideas? Page 2 of 37
  3. 3. The team sees innovation as a process that starts with imagination. In order to ensure that strategic Imagine innovation happens at The Seattle Public Library, each step of the process has to work well. Our recommendations address these priorities: Encourage imagination and innovation. Make it a Decide Suggest habit in our daily work – brainstorm at meetings, talk about trends, problems, and share insights. Practice, Innovate encourage, and challenge ourselves to make it better. Test ideas early and often, using local experiments to stimulate broader system-wide initiatives. Develop staff and manager skills at cultivating good ideas. Provide a common framework and training in Test Develop proposal development and evaluation of ideas, and develop manager skills at stimulating thought- provoking discussion. Create opportunities to networkwithin the Library and connect Library staff to thinkers outside our institution and field.Make it clear. Clarify how to make a suggestion, how decisions are made, who decides, and make it easy to ask, suggest, and discussideas. Reward supervisors and managers at the “local” level of the Library for soliciting staff ideas and experimenting with them.Establish a team to support development and sharing of innovative ideas when they reach beyond the local level.Provide resources to support innovation. Commit funds, and staff time to innovation. Often very small investments in innovativepractices can help generate ideas with major impact. Page 3 of 37
  4. 4. Full ReportTable of Contents Report of the Strategic Plan Preparing Team .............................................................................. 1 Report of the Strategic Plan Preparing Team .............................................................................. 2 Executive Summary ..................................................................................................................... 2 Full Report .................................................................................................................................... 4 Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................ 4 Innovation ................................................................................................................................... 5 Culture ......................................................................................................................................... 7 The Four Phases of Strategic Plan Implementation .................................................................... 8 Strategic Plan Preparing Phase Team Members ......................................................................... 9 Staff Input Process .................................................................................................................... 10 Key Findings from Staff Input .................................................................................................... 11 Recommendations .................................................................................................................... 20 1. Imagine............................................................................................................................... 20 2. Suggest ............................................................................................................................... 22 3. Develop .............................................................................................................................. 23 4. Decide ................................................................................................................................ 26 5. Test ..................................................................................................................................... 28 Longer-Term Recommendations............................................................................................... 29 Next Steps ................................................................................................................................. 30 Appendix A: “Taking the Pulse of Innovation” Survey ............................................................... 32 Appendix B: Word Cloud of “Innovation” Synonyms from Staff Input Sessions ...................... 36 Appendix C: Problem Seeking and the “Offer a Free Barcode Tattoo” Proposal ..................... 36 Page 4 of 37
  5. 5. T HE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY’S 2011-2015 Strategic Plan challenges Library staff to “Foster an organizational culture of innovation” to meet the plan’s ambitious goals. In May 2011, the Strategic Plan Preparing Team was charged to develop the frameworks and guidelines necessary to enable and support strategic innovation at all levels of the Library.Before summarizing the work of the team, our findings, and our recommendations, it is important to define and examine some ofthe key concepts that form the basis of our work.Innovation What does innovation mean to you?The term innovation stems from the Latin innovates and means “to renew or During staff input sessions, Library staff were askedchange.” In modern parlance, innovation is a broad term with no accepted stable to terms that signify “innovation” to them. Thedefinition. The Library’s online catalog returns 2,746 results on a keyword search most frequently cited synonyms included: new,for “innovation.” Google returns over 342 million. Commonly, definitions for creative, change, improvement, risk-taking, and different. The following “word cloud” depicts theinnovation describe development of new products and processes that improve the frequency of all the feedback on the termperformance of an organization and increase the value it delivers. “innovation.” See Appendix B for the full word cloud.Paul Schumann, author of several books on innovation, defines innovation as “theway of transforming the resources of an enterprise through the creativity of peopleinto new resources and wealth.”1 And Jose Campos, Chief Innovation Officer at theCenter for Rapid Innovation, says it is “the ability to deliver new value to acustomer.”With its focus on resources, wealth, value, and customers, it is often difficult tothink about innovation in a public institution. Indeed, in the Center for AmericanProgress’s “Capital Ideas: How to Generate Innovation in the Public Sector,” the1 Schumann, Paul R. “Building an Innovative Enterprise.” Online presentation. http://www.slideshare.net/innovant2003/building-an-innovative-enterprise-presentation. Retrieved on 8/27/2011. Page 5 of 37
  6. 6. authors observe: “When we think of innovation, most of us think of the private sector.”2 But innovation is needed just as much in the public sector… Public services can easily become stuck with outdated and ineffective approaches. And still more urgency emerges from fiscal pressures: as money gets tighter, public agencies will have to find more efficient ways to conduct [their work]...3As our Strategic Plan makes clear, public libraries need to evolve quickly or face a “slow sail into the sunset.” The urgency ofinnovation for The Seattle Public Library goes beyond the clear need to take advantage of efficiencies. We recognize that changes inour society and culture are creating a whole new set of needs and opportunities to create “resources and wealth” in library servicesthat strengthen the Seattle community. In this spirit, the Team proposes the following working definition of innovation: The action of finding ways to use our resources more efficiently and effectively to create greater value for our patrons.This seemingly simple definition provides opportunities for all staff of the Library to engage in the innovation process and keeps thefocus on how the services, programs, and workplace processes we perform (and, hopefully, transform) benefit our patrons.In this report we also employ the term “problem seeking.” The term is borrowed from the field of architecture. It refers to theprocess of clarifying and understanding the problem(s) we are trying to solve, with “problem” in this context often representing apositive opportunity. In a way, all of the Library’s current services could be defined as solutions to a set of problems. As our patrons’interests and needs change, the Library needs to focus on understanding and clarifying a new set of problems. If we do a good job ofproblem seeking, we are likely to do a much better job of problem solving (see Appendix C).2 Kohli, Jitinder and Geoff Mulgan. “Capital Ideas: How to Generate Innovation in the Public Sector.” July 2010. Center for American Progress.3 Ibid. Page 6 of 37
  7. 7. CultureThe Library’s Strategic Plan doesn’t simply ask us to be innovative; it challenges us to transform our culture. This is, indeed, achallenge because it is notoriously difficult to affect the culture of an organization. In Organizational Culture and Leadership, EdgarH. Schein proposes a model that helps explain why this is.Schein defines culture as: A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems… *that] has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.4Schein further defines the visible elements of culture as either artifacts (dress •Dress codes, furniture and officescodes, furniture, art, stories, work processes, organizational structures, etc.) or Artifacts •Visible organizational structures and processesespoused values (strategic plan, mission, vision, values, etc.). But the mostfundamental element of culture, Schein explains, is the invisible element of basic •Strategic goalsassumptions (see Figure 1). These are the elements of culture that are not Espoused •Missionconsciously identified in everyday interactions and are often taboo to discuss. Values •Organizational ValuesThey are the “unspoken rules” of an organization. •Unspoken rules BasicThe Strategic Plan Preparing Team cannot claim to have uncovered all of these •Unconscious beliefs Assumptions •Things taken for grantedbasic assumptions during our work. However, in our approach and the inputsessions we conducted with Library staff, we feel that we created anenvironment – however temporary – wherein some of these tacit assumptions were made explicit, and that our recommendationsare consistent with Schein’s ideas for evolving a mature organization’s culture. Taken together, our recommendations challengeLibrary staff, management, and leadership to examine, question, and invert some of the underlying basic assumptions that staffhave identified as potentially getting in the way of innovation. We believe that our goals in outlining this plan cannot be met by Schein, Edgar H. Organizational Culture and Leadership. Jossey-Bass Inc. :of Culture Figure 1: Scheins Levels San Francisco. 1992. Pg. 12.4 Page 7 of 37
  8. 8. simply constructing new “artifacts” or “espoused values” – structures, processes, committees, lists of values, etc. – but require all ofus to view the Library through different lenses. Challenging basic assumptions will take a long term commitment from everyone inthe organization with thoughtful planning from administration.The Four Phases of Strategic Plan ImplementationShortly after the Library Strategic Plan was adopted, a four-phase plan for implementation was conceived. Discovery Preparation Implementation EvaluationDiscoveryDuring the Discovery phase, staff and managers were asked to spend time discussing the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan,the Library’s new mission statement, and our guiding principles. The goal of this phase was for all Library staff to have anopportunity to become familiar with the Plan and to start thinking about how they can contribute.PreparationThe Strategic Plan Preparing Team’s work fits squarely into the Preparation phase, along with the work of the Programming TaskForce. This phase was designed to focus on developing the frameworks, tools, and processes that would guide staff to developinspired, innovative initiatives to help realize the goals and objectives of the Plan.ImplementationThe Implementation phase is also underway. There are already scores of examples of innovative and exciting new Library services,programs, and workplace process improvements happening all around us. Aided by the work completed under the Preparing phase Page 8 of 37
  9. 9. and with direction from Library leadership, we expect these initiatives to both proliferate and accelerate. There is clearly a need toidentify priority areas and develop action plans to help direct the creative efforts of the organization. With our new City Librarian inplace we anticipate the Implementation phase will address this next step.EvaluationFinally, the Evaluation phase will tell us how much we’ve accomplished and how effective our strategic initiatives have been. Weview evaluation as a component of all previous phases and of all the initiatives that will be undertaken to achieve the goals of theStrategic Plan. Work is going on now to develop methods and guidelines so that we can consistently and more easily assess the workthat we do and demonstrate progress and value.Strategic Plan Preparing Phase Team Members Jim Loter, LLT Liaison Eve Sternberg, Facilitator Jennifer Bisson, Librarian (Branch) Kirk Blankenship, Librarian (Central) Daria Cal, Assistant Manager (Branch) Lynn Miller, Librarian (Branch) Jennifer Reichert, Assistant Managing Librarian (Central) Jennifer Robinson, Librarian (Central) Sarah Scott, Library Associate II (Central) Daniel Tilton, Librarian (Branch) Caroline Ullmann, Assistant Communications Director (Central) Nonie Xue, Librarian (Central) Page 9 of 37
  10. 10. Staff Input ProcessStrategic Plan Preparing Phase Team members conducted seventeen input sessions with library departments and staff groups,including: Information Technology Central Assistant Managers Mid-City East Region Librarians Safety and Security Reference Services Borrower Services Branch Assistant Managers Branch Library Associates and Student Assts. Mid-City West Region Librarians NE and NW Region Librarians (combined) Shelving Operations SE/SW Region Librarians Central public service Librarians Facilities, Maintenance and Materials Distribution Unit Managers Page 10 of 37
  11. 11. We also developed email-based methods for soliciting input from staff who were unable to attend a session.At the Input Sessions we asked staff to free-associate on the term “innovation” and asked them to share experiences they’ve hadproposing ideas, developing plans, or implementing something that might be considered an “innovation.” We encouraged them totell us about examples of processes that worked well and ones that haven’t, and to help us understand what some of the bestpractices and barriers might be.The Team also conducted a survey entitled “Taking the Pulse of Innovation.” Staff members were asked questions designed to gaugehow familiar they were with library practices and procedures for developing and presenting proposals to improve Library services,programs, and workplace processes and with decision-making roles and responsibilities. The intent of this 2011 survey was toestablish a baseline prior to the Library’s adopting any of the forthcoming recommendations from SPPrT. The survey results and abrief analysis are in Appendix A.Key Findings from Staff InputClarify How We Make ChoicesCommunicate Big Picture PrioritiesThe team heard that it would be easier to shape good proposals if leadership would communicate clear and consistent criteria bywhich ideas will be evaluated. Staff cited the over-arching importance of considering how a proposal will affect patrons. They alsopointed to the Strategic Plan as an important and useful guidepost. Some asked for leadership to define short-term priorities withinthe Strategic Plan, on the theory that we don’t have the resources to take on everything at the same time.Enumerate Key ConsiderationsWithout making things too complicated, many staff believe we should all expect to address a few key questions when we put an ideaforward. What problem or opportunity are you trying to solve? How does the proposal advance the Library’s priorities? How will itimpact patrons and Library staff? What investment of time or other resources is needed to test and implement the idea? Does theproposal raise any policy questions? What are potential risks and how would you minimize them? What other Library divisions mightbe affected? How do you propose to evaluate success? Page 11 of 37
  12. 12. When it comes time for managers to evaluate new proposals or measure success, staff are looking for strong commitment to a set ofpatron-focused priorities tied to the strategic plan that should be developed and communicated by Library leadership. They wantfrontline staff who know the practical implications of a proposal to be consulted during the review process. They desire acombination of consistency in terms of what types of factors will be considered (reflected in the identified priorities), with flexibilityin terms of willingness to experiment and pilot new approaches if an idea has potential to make a real difference for patrons.Staff talked about the importance of policies and procedures to keep us in alignment with our values and each other. They alsoraised questions as to what to do when a policy or procedure seems to block an innovative idea. Staff also suggested that wedevelop checklists to help idea proposers and evaluators recognize how ideas relate to existing policies. Checklists can help us todevelop a common understanding of key policies and processes, especially for staff whose daily jobs don’t always expose them tothat side of the organization. Policy checklists would help to establish parameters for proposals, while offering an early opportunityto ask for a policy review in light of a potential conflict.Train and Coach Staff and Managers in Proposal Development and EvaluationStaff recognize that it can be challenging to develop good proposals, and some said they want training and informal support frommanagers and co-workers. Having a framework of key questions can help stimulate discussions that sharpen proposals. Identifyingpeople within the organization who can provide help, or pairing new innovators with staff who have experience in analyzing andpresenting ideas were among the suggestions.Clarify Who Makes DecisionsDefine a Decision-making RoadmapSPPrT heard many examples of healthy processes within small, cohesive units where mid-level managers meet directly with staff ona regular basis, discuss ways to make improvements, and communicate decisions about actions that are contained within the unit.But when issues or ideas impact more than one unit or division, staff expressed frustration in trying to get permission to move aheadwith innovations. There is a tension between our need to consult all relevant stakeholders and the value of identifying a responsibleparty who will ensure a decision is made and communicated. Staff described experiences where they thought they had the go-aheadto try something, but were derailed by a manager who had not participated in the original decision-making process. Clarifyingdecision-making responsibilities would help to avoid the impression that it’s “who you know” that determines whether or not you Page 12 of 37
  13. 13. can get things done. Branch staff in particular indicated that the lines of authority for different types of decisions are unclear in thecontext of the new branch management structure. The concept of a decision-making roadmap, where leadership would clarify linesof authority for different types of decisions, was mentioned more than once.Decentralize and Fast-track Decision-makingIn addition to asking for a decision-making roadmap, staff made the case for empowering unit and mid-level managers to makemore decisions. The benefits that were cited include ability to respond more quickly to address issues and opportunities; less“passing the buck” so ideas don’t get lost; giving mid-level managers more confidence to lead, and encouraging staff to developmore tailored responses to community interests and needs. Many branch staff participants felt the system would benefit fromallowing increased decision-making at the regional and branch level. The team heard requests that leadership try to push decision-making as far down the organization as possible.Even where decisions really do require consideration from senior managers, SPPrT heard a call for a separate, limited fast-trackdecision mechanism. Some proposals involve taking advantage of an opportunity that will be lost if too much time elapses betweenwhen the idea is proposed and the green light is given to move ahead. Just because a proposal needs a quick response does notmean that the response will necessarily be favorable – just that decision makers agree to respond to the proposal within a shortertime window. Staff would like a way to flag an idea as time-sensitive.Proposal status checkOne of the most frequent comments raised in the SPPrT input sessions was that too often ideas get lost and/or the proposer getsignored during the review process. A staff member proposes that we do something new or take a new approach, but months go bywithout feedback indicating what, if anything, is happening with the idea. The team even heard of one or two cases where the ideain some form was eventually implemented, but the proposer only heard about it through the grapevine. In more cases, an idea iseventually rejected but there has been no opportunity for the proposer to hear and respond to the objections. When staff can’t beconfident that ideas will get attention, they are discouraged from proposing new ideas.Managers reported another side to this problem. Sometimes staff feel they have made a proposal, but from a busy manager’sperspective all that happened was a conversation in the elevator or a passing comment at a unit meeting. While not every ideaneeds to go through a formal proposal process, it would be helpful to establish an expectation that suggestions that are raised in Page 13 of 37
  14. 14. discussion will also be made in writing – perhaps just in an email – and that supervisors will take responsibility for providing aresponse within a reasonable amount of time.In a couple of input sessions people mentioned the UPS tracking system as a potential model for tracking the status of suggestionsand decisions. Closer to home, many staff pointed to the Beta Box that was employed by the Virtual Services Committee to solicitstaff ideas for improving online services. They appreciated the fact that they received immediate confirmation that their idea hadbeen received, that there was a commitment to consider all ideas on a monthly basis, and that they could easily check to see whatwas happening with the idea.Create a Suggestion BoxMany staff who participated in the team’s input sessions would like to see some sort of ongoing process and tool put in place wherestaff and managers can float proposals publicly. They want to know that the appropriate stakeholders will have a chance to weigh inand that there is an organizational commitment to considering the ideas and providing a well-reasoned decision about whether ornot to move forward with piloting or implementation. The VIS Beta Box came up time and again as a good model of this type ofprocess.Rebuild TrustParticipants in these sessions made it clear that, while they appreciate being asked to provide input, it has sometimes felt like Libraryadministration has solicited input but then not taken it seriously. In establishing clear processes staff expressed the desire to seeexplicit consideration of their perspectives when decisions are made and explained.Encourage Innovative ThinkingRespond Constructively to Staff IdeasStaff members understand that not every idea is a good one. But the way a supervisor reacts to a suggestion can either help the staffperson to grow as a potential innovator or shut them down. In almost every input session, the team heard a plea for managers toavoid the reflexive “no,” and go out of their way to identify the valuable insights in staff suggestions. By engaging the proposer andother unit staff in a discussion focusing on how the idea does and does not match the Library’s priorities and guidelines, even a “no” Page 14 of 37
  15. 15. can reinforce the importance of trying out ideas. If managers made an attempt to start with “maybe” and explore the options, manystaff felt the Library and patrons would benefit.Supervisors and managers are central to our ability to pursue innovation. Units where staff have positive experience with adaptingand problem solving – and there definitely are some – described supervisors who regularly engage staff in brainstorming about howto improve processes or services, and allow experiments. Staff in such units also expressed confidence that their managers wouldtake responsibility for shepherding staff proposals through the approval process.Provide Opportunities for Creative CollaborationSPPrT heard from several Library Associates who urged the Library to find ways for staff within a unit – particularly a branch – towork together on some project related to the strategic plan. The notion of charging every branch to identify a project, howevermodest, to advance a strategic plan objective while consciously striving to give staff in all classifications some role in the effort wascited as something that could have benefits beyond the immediate projects undertaken. Staff also expressed enthusiasm for cross-divisional work groups that bring people with different perspectives and knowledge together to solve problems.Encourage Idea Proposers to Help ImplementAnother recurring theme was staff’s desire to be able to stay involved when an idea they proposed is going to be piloted orimplemented. Some people prefer to just put ideas out and let others run with them, but we heard from several quarters that staffwill be more inclined to propose ideas if they are permitted to help put them into action, should the proposal receive the green light.Some staff actually feel strongly that proposers should be willing to help if they’re going to make a suggestion for change.Take risks and Encourage ExperimentationGrant License to ExperimentThe word “experiment” was often mentioned when staff and managers were asked what innovation meant to them. Beyond payinglip service to the concept, input session participants told the team that in order to feel comfortable suggesting new ideas they wouldneed to feel they could trust that supervisors and management – as well as co-workers – would genuinely make an effort to supportexperimentation. The team was struck by hearing a comment at several of the 16 input sessions that essentially said, “We don’tmake a practice of sharing our good ideas with other units, because if we do someone higher up in management will hear about it Page 15 of 37
  16. 16. and is likely to make us stop what we’re doing.” Staff also commented that the commitment to maintaining a consistent SPL brand,while important, can sometimes translate to excessive caution.We need to consider the risks and costs of what we do, but managers and staff alike indicated that our high standards cansometimes get in the way of innovation. If we insist on a high likelihood of a “perfect” outcome, we will rarely undertaketransformative experiments. Many people commented that mistakes are going to happen and are part of the process. The team wasurged to advocate for a conscious effort to adopt a culture of problem-seeking (see page 5 and Appendix C) and solving, rather thanavoidance of problems.Some staff mentioned that we tend to give up on service experiments too quickly. When the Library is trying to reach out to groupsfor whom library use is not a familiar part of life, for example, it can take time to build numbers of participants through word ofmouth.Review Policies for Strategic FlexibilityThe fear that new ideas will be snuffed out if management gets wind of them was often linked by participants to conflicts betweenpotential experiments and existing policies. Staff want to have a better awareness and understanding of what the policies are, butthey also suggested that, if a policy seems to be blocking innovation that is consistent with the strategic plan, we need to considerthe possibility that the policy is too rigid. There should be a clear procedure for reviewing existing policies when they may beblocking worthwhile change. The world language magnet approach was one such policy, where staff indicated a desire for a policyreview and appraisal of how it works in practice.Listen to Front-line, Customer-focused InputTap Frontline Staff InsightsOne of the recurring themes relates not only to staff-generated proposals for innovation, but equally to management initiatives –the importance of soliciting and listening to the perspective of those who have daily contact with our customers or who work on adaily basis to accomplish tasks that will be affected by a proposal that is under consideration. The team was told that staff wantmanagers to make a point of talking to those who would have to implement new processes before major decisions are made. Page 16 of 37
  17. 17. Evaluate SuccessJust as staff are looking for clear criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals, most agree that it would be very healthy to adopt apractice of building in an evaluation plan at the outset of a project. The team also heard that staff are looking to management tohelp define evaluation criteria that will enable them to more confidently pursue strategic plan goals. For example, several staffnoted that they are excited about the plan’s emphasis on partnerships, but they need to know how we are going to define prioritiesand evaluate the quality of our partnership efforts.Invest for InnovationMake the TimeParticularly in the branches, managers described having so many direct reports that it was difficult to develop working relationshipswhere staff would feel comfortable bringing up new ideas. Some LAs had never attended a unit meeting, and said they had littletime to even keep up with Infonet. Some staff described unit meetings where there is rarely time to discuss ways to improve service– although others described very productive unit meetings where staff regularly discussed ways to improve what they do. Staff at alllevels noted that developing proposals, or just doing practical, problem-solving brainstorming, takes time and there is no place ontheir schedule to fit it in. Many participants called for some conscious allocation of time, or even arrangements where staff whohave an idea they have been asked to develop could receive “innovation time.” The concept of a change team, who would helpdevelop ideas, was also raised.Train for InnovationAs noted elsewhere in this summary, the team heard requests for training. With so many people in new roles or being asked toundertake new tasks, there was a sense that we need to be sure we know how to do our jobs before we can innovate. Idea/proposaldevelopment and project planning skills were mentioned. It was also noted that many skills are required of supervisors andmanagers for them to truly be successful at fostering a culture of innovation. Staff identified the following topics as training needs:communicating a “positive no” when an idea can’t move forward, facilitating brainstorming, helping staff to define and clarify theproblems they are seeking to solve, and improving the clarity of communications and helping to shepherd staff ideas throughmultiple stakeholder reviews. Page 17 of 37
  18. 18. Fund for InnovationAll staff are acutely aware of the Library’s resource limitations. Often we heard that if we want to innovate, we are going to have tofigure out what to give up to make room for new activities. Part of this prioritizing process could involve reallocating some fundingto support an innovation fund, along the lines of the Foundation’s Opportunity Fund. Staff suggested using strategic plan priorities asthe framework for such a fund. Some also cited examples where they had undertaken a successful pilot project, but had difficultyfinding resources to sustain or broaden the effort.Stabilize the OrganizationFor all the focus on trying new things, the input sessions revealed weariness with the many reorganizations and staff changes thathave been implemented over the past few years, largely in response to deep budget cuts. In more than one session, staff stated thatthey would have more energy for innovation if they weren’t so overwhelmed with adjusting to new assignments, shiftingresponsibilities, changing managers and revised management structures.Highlight Innovation EffortsBuild Innovation into Work PlansSome staff suggested that there be a place in work plans where staff could work with supervisors to identify some area where theywill try to improve a process or work (perhaps with others) to improve a program or service. Participants disagreed as to whether ornot everyone should be expected to incorporate this as a requirement, but most felt it would be good for everyone to consider it asa part of their goals for the coming year.Recognize and Highlight InnovationIt is important to most staff that they receive recognition and acknowledgment of their role in coming up with or supportinginnovative activities. One very important form of recognition comes from the direct supervisor, and some staff would like managersto pay more attention to giving credit where credit is due. Staff suggested that the Kudos page on the Infonet is very nice, but notseen by many people. From the standpoint of encouraging innovation, one constructive suggestion that was raised in a few inputgroups was to charge someone with creating periodic profiles of interesting pilots and change efforts. This could not only befeatured on InfoNET, but in some cases also on the public website. Page 18 of 37
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  20. 20. RecommendationsThe following recommendations flow from the feedback we collected from staff and managers as well as practices and processesfrom model organizations and literature we examined. The recommendations challenge staff, management, and leadership tomake innovation part of Library staff’s daily conversations and practices.The Team strongly believes that our recommendations should be embraced, employed, and enacted at all levels of the organizationwith dedicated commitment from leadership, management, and staff to realizing the vision of the innovative organization ourStrategic Plan challenges us to become.These recommendations can be seen to fit into one or more parts of a continuum that begins with imagination and leads to Imagine Suggest Develop Test Decide Innovateinnovation.1. ImagineInspire Imagination in the WorkplaceIn Imagination First by Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon, the authors outline the key capacities for imaginative learning: noticingdeeply, embodying, questioning, making connections, identifying patterns, exhibiting empathy, living with ambiguity, creatingmeaning, taking action, reflecting and assessing.5 In order to inspire imagination and cultivate the creative, problem-solving,innovative capacity of Library employees, we need a radical cultural shift. We need to incorporate different practices into our timespent in meetings, at service desks, and in our offices. We need to establish trust so staff share observations, insights, and kernels of5 Liu, Eric and Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination First. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print. 201-202. Page 20 of 37
  21. 21. ideas with each other and with their managers. The team offers the following suggestions to incorporate this into everyday workpractices: 1.1. We recommend that managers, supervisors, and committee facilitators use time within regular meetings to lead brainstorming sessions in which staff can discuss patron trends, neighborhood insights, workplace solutions, problems, or opportunities related to the unit or broader Library services, programs, and workplace processes. The highlights from these sessions should be shared in monthly reports, on InfoNET, and with other managers.This recommendation requires a commitment of time on busy agendas and an effort to engage employees from all classifications.Supervisors can promote fruitful sessions by suggesting brainstorming topics in advance, by posing “What if…”-type questions tostaff, by helping articulate patterns or trends in what staff are reporting, and by encouraging staff to “think outside the box.” Whenappropriate, supervisors should follow up on cross-divisional concerns by inviting staff from other units to participate in a meeting.Discussion of both operational practices and broader service opportunities should be encouraged at unit meetings.Provide learning, networking, skill-building opportunitiesAs the Library pursues the strategic plan goals and objectives, specific skills-development and education needs will emerge. Thisreport does not seek to identify the specialized training that might be required as we move forward. However, general skill-buildingcan support the creation of a more inspirational, idea-friendly environment. 1.2. We recommend the Library provide training to help supervisors and managers learn how to facilitate group brainstorming sessions, inspire imagination, and bring active, affirmative listening skills to one-on-one conversations. These skills should be seen as core competencies for managers and supervisors.Furthermore, staff can be inspired by exposure to and interaction with innovations and initiatives that are presented and discussedat conferences and other venues. Staff participation in these venues is often a valuable source of ideas, trends, and opportunities. 1.3 We recommend encouraging and supporting active participation by staff at all levels of the organization in local, regional, and national conferences. This support should go beyond prioritizing the use of funds for registration and travel and should include the development of opportunities for staff to present on and share what they’ve learned at staff meetings, via presentations, and in publications. Staff who have not experienced this type of learning should be encouraged to participate, and given priority. Page 21 of 37
  22. 22. Finally, the Library needs to look beyond its own borders and the borders of its discipline. As stated in The Public Innovator’sPlaybook: Nurturing bold ideas in government: “To create a culture with a sustained capacity to innovate requires an externalorientation, a willingness to draw on all sources of innovative ideas – employees, citizens, and other public or private organizations.” 1.4 The Library should identify and initiate opportunities for staff to experience inspiration and learning from outside traditional library circles by drawing from resources and partners in the community and local business and public organization sectors. Partnerships should be developed to include learning opportunities and information sharing about innovation.2. SuggestDefine the Roles and Responsibilities of Staff in an Innovative OrganizationAt nearly every staff input session we heard loud and clear from many staff that they do not feel comfortable or welcomed insuggesting improvements and innovations outside of their immediate work unit. Indeed, the “Taking the Pulse of Innovation”baseline survey (Appendix A) showed that 80% of respondents either agree or strongly agree they have had ideas to improve aLibrary service, program, or workplace process, but significantly fewer have actually proposed (or even know how to propose) theirideas.We believe that all staff members have a responsibility to seek and create opportunities to discuss ideas, share experiences,advocate for patrons, make suggestions, and support their co-workers – both within and outside their work units. Likewise, all staff –especially managers – have a responsibility to listen to others’ ideas and suggestions in a supportive and encouraging way.Everyone has a role in innovation, and everyone has the responsibility to suggest and try out ways to work smarter, faster, or better.Staff should have built into their existing roles the opportunity to propose, develop, and test ideas that could improve service to thepublic, make our internal workplace processes more efficient, and advance our strategic priorities. 2.1. We recommend Library managers and staff utilize departmental and personal work plans to more clearly define the responsibilities and expectations of staff with regard to exploring, experimenting, and problem-solving. Managers and supervisors should provide a reasonable allocation of time for such ideation. Page 22 of 37
  23. 23. Accept Ideas and Suggestions from All Staff on Any TopicIt is the responsibility of Library management to invite and actively listen to staff ideas. Employees have a parallel responsibility toactively participate and contribute to creating a Library system that serves the evolving needs of our community. In this time ofstrained resources it is particularly important that staff back up constructive suggestions with the energy and commitment to helpsee them through. 2.2. At the local level – i.e. in units and at individual branches – we recommend that staff be supported by managers and supervisors to pilot small-scale innovative ideas that have the potential to improve workplace processes or deliver higher levels of patron service. The results of these pilots should be shared routinely at unit meetings and in cross-divisional staff and management meetings. Special attention should be given to particularly successful local efforts that have the potential to benefit staff and patrons more widely. 2.3. We recommend that the Library develop a more robust “INbox” for ideas on InfoNET. The “INBox” should provide an informal “suggestion” area that provides a simple place to present a concept for initial reactions, as well as places to share thought-provoking ideas from outside the organization, provide input to projects or for processes in other areas, and develop suggestions into actionable proposals. It should be actively monitored and reviewed by Library management and leadership as a source of innovative ideas.3. DevelopEstablish a Team to Support Development of Innovative IdeasThe Library has successfully employed participatory, interactive idea-gathering processes, most notably the Beta Box that wasmanaged by the Virtual Services Committee. Several important efforts are now under way to experiment with similar techniques forspecific purposes (Programming Task Force, Web Issues Tracker). As noted in many commentaries about employee suggestionschemes, “The key challenge with these models is that they require sufficient time to process the ideas received and either respondpositively or explain why the idea cannot be implemented.”6 As noted in staff input sessions, staff find implementing new ideas andefficiencies more manageable at a local branch or department level. This team would be able to help staff negotiate trying to make6 “Capital Ideas – How to Generate Innovation in the Public Sector,” Jitinder Kohli and Geoff Mulgan, Center for American Progress, July 2010. Page 23 of 37
  24. 24. a change in the larger institution. We propose a group to help facilitate productive consideration of new ideas in whatever channelsare most appropriate for each idea. 3.1. We recommend establishing a team with members from a variety of classifications and units, dedicated to supporting and promoting innovation at the Library. Membership should include staff who are enthusiastic about ideas, change, and innovation, and should rotate to provide opportunities for more staff to participate. The Team also should:  Serve in an “innovation ombudsman” role to represent the ideas of Library staff, work with staff to help investigate and develop those ideas, and help staff gain access to appropriate Library decision-makers.  Serve as organizational “innovation champions” and conduct and promote activities designed to inspire imagination and innovation at the Library.  Seed discussions with insights from outside the organization and outside the field of librarianship.  Develop and be the stewards of a straightforward process for staff to submit ideas, collect feedback, and develop their ideas into proposals. The process and actions of the new team should be guided according to the Ideas Framework (described below) and should evolve as experience with the process is gained.  Assist staff with developing proposals (including as needed those that might be considered outside the team’s purview) by serving as “Idea Advisers” as needed to mentor proposers.  Respond promptly to submitters by posting the idea for comment, referring it to a more appropriate venue, or explaining why it needs more work.  Encourage discussion on posted ideas.  Help proposers identify key stakeholders and decision-makers.  Assist stakeholders in providing clear, timely input on ideas and proposals that affect them.  Endorse and promote promising recommendations to Library decision-makers.  Communicate energetically both internally and to the public about creative efforts underway in all aspects of Library work.  Encourage consultation with managers prior to the submission of an idea. Page 24 of 37
  25. 25.  Provide visibility to all with status updates at regular intervals.  Provide ability for other staff to provide feedback and input to ideas.  Enable “crowdsourcing” or other group “recommendation” functions so ideas that address a common issue can float to the top.Seek resources to support innovationA report prepared by the Center for American Progress on “How to Generate Innovation in the Public Sector” recommends thatorganizations commit a small proportion of their budget to harness innovation. The report makes the point that often very smallinvestments in innovative practices can help generate innovative ideas with major impact. The SPPrT team is aware of the severebudget constraints currently faced by the Library. 3.2. We recommend the Library develop a funding source so that staff can apply for time to develop an idea into a proposal or pilot, based on supervisor recommendation or an opportunity sponsored by the team recommended in Recommendation 3.1. 3.3. We recommend that as the Library pursues efforts to achieve a sustainable funding model, leadership prioritizes the establishment of a modest innovation fund to support pilot projects (and potentially the implementation of successful pilots more widely) that address strategic plan goals and objectives.Clarify Key Components and Characteristics of ProposalsSome ideas won’t require development of a formal proposal, but others – whether because of cost, complexity or other significantpolicy implications – need to go through that process. Staff or managers may propose change at the unit, region, division, team orsystem-wide level, through InfoNET or other means. Giving everyone a clear sense of what they need to think through in offering anew idea will improve the quality of the input and also build confidence that review processes will be fair. 3.4. We recommend that formal proposals for new initiatives, or service or policy changes - whether made by staff, managers, or leadership – be developed according to a common framework. This framework should be encapsulated on InfoNET in a way that makes it easy for staff to develop ideas into proposals. The framework should minimally require summaries of:  A problem or opportunity statement - Why is the change or new initiative being proposed? What problems or opportunities exist? Page 25 of 37
  26. 26.  A statement of objectives - What is this change or initiative expected to achieve? What are the objectives? What will be accomplished?  A description of the proposed work - How will this project achieve those objectives? What work will be done?  An identification of stakeholders and beneficiaries - Who will be impacted/affected by the work? Who needs to be consulted or informed? Who will ultimately benefit from the work?  An estimate of the resources required for the work - How much will this project cost in terms of staff time and funds?  A proposal for how the initiative can be evaluated - What criteria and techniques can be used to assess the effectiveness of the initiative?4. DecideUse an “Ideas Framework” to guide evaluation and decision-makingStaff input indicated that suggestions are inhibited because decisions frequently appear to be inconsistent. We believe that Librarystaff would benefit from clear guidance in developing successful proposals and that decision-makers would equally benefit fromclear criteria in evaluating those proposals. In making these recommendations, we would like to emphasize that they are notintended just for special groups like the Innovation Team or the Programming Committee. Supervisors, managers and the LibraryLeadership Team make most of the decisions that impact patrons. These recommendations are meant to improve decision-makingthroughout the organization. 4.1. We recommend use of the following guiding principles for decision-making at all levels of the organization, and for any existing or proposed projects and processes:  Foster staff members’ ability to work independently by ensuring they are clear about the Library’s vision within the context of specific services and programs.  Consult staff who will be affected by decisions. Invite and encourage their questions and suggestions prior to developing a project plan or making an important decision. The Library should develop the capability of soliciting questions and feedback on topics into the InfoNET service. Page 26 of 37
  27. 27.  Before making decisions, clarify the problems that are being addressed. When needed, obtain assistance in assembling data to help better understand the problems in hopes of shaping highly effective solutions.  Respond to all proposals (assuming they are clearly identified as a proposal) in a timely fashion with a clear yes, no or “to be revisited in a certain length of time” and communicate key factors behind decisions to the proposer and stakeholders.  Consciously strive to find opportunities to conduct quick field tests to try out new ideas. Experiment with interesting concepts without presenting high barriers in terms of “readiness” to pilot. This requires strong support from senior leadership to reinforce a tolerance for mistakes in the interest of learning and improving.4.2. We recommend that decision makers consider at least the following criteria when evaluating proposals. Other criteria may be factored in under certain contexts, but these represent the minimal and most important criteria in determining if a proposal is to be developed. It should not be construed that proposed work needs to “score” high in all of these criteria. Rather, these criteria should be used in a balanced way with the understanding that some work may rate highly in some factors and lower in others.  Anticipated patron benefit. The work or change proposed should result in a measurable benefit to Library patrons. Note that changes to workplace processes often have indirect benefit to patrons (e.g. efficiencies in workflows may have a direct and observable benefit to staff but may also result in patrons receiving holds faster or staff having more time to devote to cleaning buildings or running programs, or simply saving money that can be reallocated).  Strategic Alignment. Does the work align with the Library’s core mission or help to further one of the Library’s strategic goals? Note that, as with benefits, the strategic value of proposed work may be indirect. However, in weighing the allocation of staff time and budget resources, close alignment with strategic goals is an important consideration.  Costs. The estimated costs in staff time and funds should be commensurate with the anticipated benefits. Note that all new endeavors have some costs. The question here is whether the costs are reasonable with respect to the benefits that are anticipated.  Risks. The proposed work should not be likely to expose the Library to undue damage to its reputation, financial loss, or other negative consequences. Note that some risk is inherent in any new endeavor and that risks may be mitigated via sufficient precautions. Page 27 of 37
  28. 28. Clarify routine decision-making authorityStaff input and the “Taking the Pulse” survey both indicated that although staff have ideas about improving services and processesat the Library, they frequently lack the means or knowledge about how to propose those ideas to the appropriate decision makers. 4.3. We recommend that Library leaders and managers formally take the task of reviewing the summary of staff input provided in this report and collectively work to define the types of decisions they feel authorized to make, identify “gray areas” with regard to decision making, and enumerate the types of decisions they feel should be made at what levels. 4.4. We recommend that, as a result of the above recommendation, Library leaders and managers develop simple guidelines to help relate key management and work team roles to key types of decisions. We recognize that such guidelines cannot be comprehensive but would serve as a useful reference.Improve Organizational CommunicationEffective communication across the organization is critical to fostering a healthy culture of innovation. Above all, staff input sessionsbrought into sharp relief the need for a commitment to active listening, following up, providing timely status updates to interestedparties, and explaining decisions. 4.5. We recommend that active, supportive listening become a core competency for supervisors and managers, so they practice and model “problem seeking” (see Appendix D), ask effective questions, and encourage staff autonomy by providing clarity about organizational vision, mission, and culture. 4.6. We recommend that management encourage the use of informal collaborations that cross unit and division lines to encourage open sharing of information and perspectives on interrelated Library processes.5. TestDecision-making about changes that alter the way the public experiences the Library and potentially require reallocation ofresources cannot be made overnight. At the same time, in the current environment the Library cannot afford to wait for provenmethods to emerge. The strategic plan recognizes Seattle needs to be at the forefront of innovation among public libraries. In order Page 28 of 37
  29. 29. to strike this balance, the Library needs to develop the capacity to test worthy new ideas, assess the experiment, and determinenext steps. 5.1. We recommend that leadership encourage all managers, as well as teams charged with soliciting suggestions, to approve low cost experiments with new ideas, and provide a fast-track method to obtain approval for use of resources. (See recommendation 2.2 regarding “local innovation” and 3.2 regarding financial support for pilot projects.) 5.2. We recommend that all pilot projects define evaluation criteria and techniques prior to launch. Resources should include the time and materials required to carry out the assessment. Rather than simply measuring success or failure, assessment should be geared to ensuring every experiment yields useful information that is shared widely within the organization.Longer-Term RecommendationsIn the course of our work, the Team identified two longer-term and significantly more intensive recommendations that we feltexceeded our immediate scope of work. Nevertheless, we believe that these issues and recommendations should be considered byLibrary leadership, as they are integral to evolving our culture and ability to be innovative.Develop Techniques for Tapping Patron and Partner InsightsThe Library needs to guard against the tendency to assume we understand the nature of the patron experience, or that the patronexperience is a singular one. We must give both our patrons and those who partner with us a variety of ways to impact and inspireour own strategic thinking. We can learn volumes about the ways in which current services meet, exceed, or miss the mark byconsulting the people we serve. The Library has relied primarily on use statistics, anecdotal data, and occasional surveys for suchinput.We must develop a toolbox of techniques for obtaining patron/partner experiences, preferences, and ideas. Managers should bestrongly encouraged to use the tools to help define problems and opportunities. Among the potential tools are: establishing usergroups, building in on-line quick feedback mechanisms, obtaining program participant permission for follow-up contacts, posingquestions to users or partners in a crowd-sourcing format, observing on-site or on-line behavior patterns, etc. Page 29 of 37
  30. 30. As the Library moves forward to develop evaluation methods and outcome measures for our strategic goals, we encourage thisemphasis on patron and partner insights.Improve Organization Communication Norms and PracticesMany staff members said during the input sessions that they feel both overwhelmed by the quantity of information communicatedin various channels (e.g. email, staff meetings, infoNET, blogs) and underwhelmed by the quality of information (missing bits, noopportunity for input or discussion, lack of clarity).We feel the Leadership Team should sponsor an effort to analyze and improve organizational communication based on currenttheories and frameworks of communication in large organizations. This effort should examine organizational practices related toboth face-to-face communication as well as electronic communication (email, instant messaging, InfoNET, etc.), and should proposenew practices and norms designed to ensure that communication channels are used effectively and that “information overload” isminimized.7Next StepsOur recommendations for creating an innovation-friendly organization are intended to evolve as Library leadership and staff figureout what works. Innovation is intimately connected to learning, and the ability of The Seattle Public Library to create new value forits patrons depends on our commitment to continued inquiry, experimentation, sharing of insights, and tolerance for mistakes. Wehope that approach infuses the next phase of strategic plan implementation.In order to move forward with the specific recommendations in this report, we propose the following next steps (each of which istied to one or more of our recommendations):  Jim Loter and Eve Sternberg will engage key management teams directly in working together to support imagination, collaboration, local experimentation and innovative practices. (1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 4.6, 5.1)7 See, for example, Suchan, Jim. “Changing Organizational Communication Practices and Norms.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Vol. 20 No.1. January 2006 5-47. Page 30 of 37
  31. 31.  Jim Loter and Eve Sternberg will work with the Intranet Advisory Committee to develop and pilot the InfoNET INbox. (2.3) LLT will establish a new team, or task an existing team, (3.1), with creating opportunities for learning and inspiration (1.4), developing a proposal process tied to the INbox (3.4) and promoting use of the ideas framework. (4.1, 4.2) Administrative Services division and the Seattle Public Library Foundation will work to identify, create, and pilot resource options. (3.2, 3.3) LLT will develop a quick and creative approach to engaging the All Managers group in defining, clarifying, and communicating organizational decision-making roles and responsibilities. (4.3, 4.4) The innovation team and the Human Resources Division to develop and pilot high priority training and professional development opportunities. (1.2, 1.3, 4.5) Page 31 of 37
  32. 32. Appendix A: “Taking the Pulse of Innovation” SurveyOverviewBetween July 26, 2011 and August 5, 2011, the Strategic Plan Preparing Team (SPPrT) conducted a survey of Library staff entitled“Taking the Pulse of Innovation.” Staff members were asked questions designed to gauge how familiar they were with librarypractices and procedures for developing and presenting proposals to improve Library services, programs, and workplace processesand with decision-making roles and responsibilities. The intent of this 2011 survey was to establish a baseline prior to the Library’sadopting any of the forthcoming recommendations from SPPrT. The same survey will be conducted in future years and will serve asan evaluation tool against which to judge the success of recommendations and progress toward developing a culture of innovation.254 staff responded to the survey.Survey Questions and Average ResponsesAll survey questions allowed a range of responses from 1 (Strongly Agree) to 5 (Strong Disagree) and a “Not Applicable” option. Question Average Response (All Staff) 1. I have had ideas about new/improved Library services, programs, or 1.9 workplace processes. 2. I know how to develop my ideas about a new service, program or 2.8 workplace process improvement into a proposal. 3. In my department, I know how proposals for new/improved services, 3.1 programs, or workplace processes are evaluated by decision makers. 4. For the Library as a whole, I know how proposals for new/improved 3.6 services, programs, or workplace processes are evaluated by decision makers. 5. In my department, I know who needs to make the final decision about 2.3 Page 32 of 37
  33. 33. implementing a new/improved service, program, or workplace process. 6. In other departments, I know who needs to make the final decision about 3.7 implementing a new/improved service, program, or workplace process. 7. I receive meaningful feedback about ideas and proposals that I have put 2.9 forward. 8. There are sufficient opportunities in the workplace to discuss my ideas 2.8 with my co-workers. 9. There are sufficient opportunities to discuss my ideas with my 2.6 supervisor/manager. 10. Managers provide clear reasoning for decisions about proposals to modify 3.1 services, programs, and processes.HighlightsFor three statements, the majority of library staff either strongly agreed or agreed.  Question 1: Over 80% of Library staff strongly agreed (106) or agreed (94) that they have had ideas to improve some aspect of library services or workplace processes. Only 5 staff members (2%) strongly disagreed with this statement.  Question 5: 65% of Library staff either strongly agree (73) or agree (78) that they understand who makes decisions in their own department. 21% either disagree (27) or strongly disagree (22) with this statement.  Question 8: 53% of Library staff either strongly agree (35) or agree (74) that sufficient opportunities exist in the workplace to discuss ideas with co-workers. 26% either disagree (33) or strongly disagree (27) with that statement. Page 33 of 37
  34. 34. 90% 80% 80% 70% 65% 60% 53% 50% 40% Agree 32% 30% Disagree 21% 20% 10% 2% 0% I have had ideas to improve I understand who makes Sufficient opportunities some aspect of library decisions in my department exist in the workplace to services or workplace discuss ideas with co- processes workersOn the lower end of the scale:  Question 6: Only 19% of staff strongly agreed (7) or agreed (34) that they understand who makes decisions in departments other than their own. 58% either disagreed (50) or strongly disagreed (74) with that statement.  Question 4: Similarly, only 21% of staff strongly agreed () or agreed () that they understand how proposals for improving services are evaluated outside of their department. 55% disagreed () or strongly disagreed () with that statement. Page 34 of 37
  35. 35. 70% 60% 58% 55% 50% 40% 30% Agree 19% 21% Disagree 20% 10% 0% I understand who makes decisions in I understand how proposals for improving departments other my their own services are evaluated outside of my departmentPreliminary ConclusionsIt seems apparent from the data that a great many Library staff do have ideas on how to improve Library services, programs, andworkplace processes, and that within their own departments the processes for discussing, proposing, and having decisions madeabout those ideas are somewhat clear (which is not to say they can’t be improved upon). However, staff members’ knowledge andawareness of how certain aspects of the organization operate outside of their own departments is generally limited.Next StepsA more robust analysis of the data will inform the recommendations in the SPPrT final report. Subsequent instances of the surveyoffered over the next few years will serve as an indicator of how successful SPPrT recommendations have been in increasingorganizational knowledge and awareness of how staff may influence Library services, program, and workplace process in innovativeways. Page 35 of 37
  36. 36. Appendix B: Word Cloud of “Innovation” Synonyms from Staff Input SessionsAppendix C: Problem Seeking and the “Offer a Free Barcode Tattoo” Proposal “If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” – Albert Einstein (various attributions; possibly apocryphal)During our early stages, the Team discussed hypothetical proposals for new library services to get a sense of what sorts of issuestypically need to be considered by staff and managers. A favorite scenario involved an offer by a tattoo parlor: A local tattoo parlor has approached the library about providing “walk up” tattoo services at Central library and will offer patrons a free library bar code tattoo (on a location of their choice) that is readable by our optical scanners. They report that Page 36 of 37
  37. 37. this idea was suggested by a frequent library user who has tattooed a bar code on her wrist, and that other library systems in LA, New York, and Toronto are also providing this. What types of information will help you to decide whether this idea is worth exploring further? What are your key considerations?Though this example was designed to seem outrageous, the group decided to engage in a “problem seeking” activity rather thandismiss it outright on the grounds it was not feasible or desirable. We asked: “Why would this tattoo artist assume patrons wouldwant barcode tattoos?” This led us to a discussion about how many patrons forget their library cards or don’t have their barcodenumber memorized, and how often staff need to look up a number. Team members expressed concern that patrons get annoyed bythis and that it is a very time-consuming and tedious task for staff to perform.Though the Team believed the initial proposal itself should be rejected, members were able to brainstorm potential solutions to thereal problem they had uncovered as a result of confronting the suggestion positively and from a “problem seeking” approach.For suggestions on adopting and helping lead others to adopt a problem-seeking mindset, see http://litemind.com/problem-definition/To see the other hypothetical scenarios our Team evaluated, see our InfoNET site at http://infonet/Teams/Committees/SPPPT Page 37 of 37