Innovative Thinking – Why Is It So Hard?

February 9, 2007

Without a doubt, there are some really innovative people in the library world who are doing some amazing things. But are these people the norm or are they the exception? How many of us do innovative things or have innovative ideas on a daily basis (or a weekly one)? I know that I have this perception that innovation is a difficult task – too difficult for me to accomplish. Trying to figure out how to change a culture that doesn’t foster innovation is even more challenging. I was intrigued by a post by Stephen Abram in which he has some some ideas about what kills innovation. He links to a post by Jeffrey Phillips from a blog called Innovate on Purpose. Phillip suggests that lack of sustained feedback is one of the biggest barriers to innovation. In response, Abram asks “Now does that ring true in libraryland?” In my experience, definitely. Even when we do tackle innovative projects, they are often just that – projects. Life returns to normal after they have been completed. They have a beginning and an end. We don’t have a continually evolving innovative attitude. And, we don’t necessarily have good mechanisms to encourage spontaneous feedback. People don’t generally come up and say “I have a great idea.” More often than not, they only voice an opinion when asked about something.

Abram asks some other tough questions about behaviors that can kill innovative thought. He adds: “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…?” I have certainly seen these types of things happen. I don’t really have any concrete answers about encouraging innovative thinking, but I do agree that as a whole those of us in the library world aren’t very good at it. How do we get staff to be excited about the library, to voice their thoughts and opinions, to think creatively? I do believe that innovation has to be a team effort -something that everyone buys into. It seems to me this is a culture that needs to be cultivated.

I’m Really Off This Week

February 9, 2007

I’m sick – not really sick, just sick enough to be annoyed and irritated because I have a scratchy/sore throat that will not die. It has kept me out of work twice this week. I’m grumpy. This may be due in no small way to my illness, but also to several other factors. While grocery shopping on Wednesday evening, I had a slight mishap with the grocery cart as I was walking to my car. Two of my 12-packs of Coke fell to the ground – one was ok, but something happened to the other to cause several of the cans to be pierced. Yeah, Coke went everywhere. It was a nightmare – and it caused me to break four fingernails. Now, I’m not obesessive about my nails, but two of them ripped rather painfully. I can’t even think about this Great Coke Debacle without feeling my blood pressure rise. I also made some spaghetti sauce and forgot to put it in the refrigerator. What a massive waste!

In addition, my annotations assignment due today for ILS560-College & University Libraries. I, and another student, both choose 6 articles about library history. We were supposed to annotate our six and then put them together to turn in one report. It hasn’t really gone well. Collaborating with people that you have never met can be a challenge. Miscommunication happens all the time, but I think it is worse in the online environment. I’m not sure what the problem is – and I feel like it is my fault especially since I don’t have much patience this week. I did work hard to have it done early so that we could try and weave the pieces together. Anyway, we have decided to turn in our annotations separately – and this makes me feel like I could have done a better job with the assignment, with the collaboration, etc. And I feel like I let this person down somehow – but am not entirely sure how. I really need to loosen up when it comes to my school work.

And do you want to know I think I’m off this week? Of course, you do. On Tuesday, I went to get my hair cut. I decided to have it layered. It is amazing how layers can lighten one’s head. This worked – and I’m happy with the decision. However, I also had my eyebrows waxed – a rather normal occurrence. But sadly, I now only have one and a half eyebrows. Seriously, my right eyebrow now ends in the middle of my eye. I’m not sure what happened, but this has left me very unbalanced. I’ve been pulling my bangs over my eyebrows in order to cover-up the inequity. My husband (who senses my vulnerable angst and like to go in for the kill at times like these) thinks it looks funny. The women at work say they wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out. I’m guessing that this means that using my bangs as camouflage is working. Anybody know how long this type of thing takes to grow back?????