Audacity & Innovation: Taking Risks and Shaking Things Up [Library Technology Tips]

Audacity & Innovation: Taking Risks and Shaking Things Up

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Flipping through Wired magazine recently, I read “How to Spot the Future,” a brief and informative look at how to recognize innovative, game-changing, technology trends.

Audacity, the willingness to take risks, chance failure, and shake up the status quo, is too frequently discouraged in library organizations in favor of sticking with the routine of how things have “always” been done, resulting in frustrated innovators and great ideas killed by committee, or worse, outdated services,  lost customers, bored staff, and mobbing. By contrast, an organization that champions creative endeavors reaps the rewards; flexible and adaptable libraries and librarians demonstrate audacity each time a pilot project is launched, a community partnership is made, or a product change requires rapidly and seamlessly implementing new tech.

Competing trends, conflicting priorities, calculated risk, and audacious innovation drive creative development in all markets. Libraries that deliver outstanding services cultivate a culture of yes, with a commitment to try, evaluate, and refine. If this sounds like a “lean library” build-measure-learn cycle, you’ve done your homework.

While audacity sparks the fire, the right environment and an ordered feedback loop maintain the flame. So what’s to prevent it from burning down the forest… or library? Just as you wouldn’t “argue with the guy who invented the computer” – you wouldn’t build a campfire without a strategy for managing growth and a succession plan for when the fire goes out and people are hungry.

Likewise with innovative projects, services, and technology. Our budgets and resources are finite; thus, any new technologies introduced must be effective, easy to learn, affordable, and reliable.  In particular, critical technologies supporting core services must be scalable, multi-functional, and offer added value in order to be worthwhile candidates for adoption. As more libraries turn to SAAS, PAAS, and IAAS solutions, look for those with a suite of services all in one, from vendors that provide transparent pricing, responsive customer support, and quality references. A trusted platform and consistent vendor relationship promotes growth, iterative training and development, and opportunities for customization.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

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