As I was still reflecting on my recent post about managing library innovation and the Librarian's Dilemma I had a chance to read Meredith Farkas's posting entitled On getting staff members to buy into a new technology.
My earlier posts point out the observation that companies that have successfully adopted disruptive technologies did so only when they created a separate organization to deal with the technology. The idea of a group within the library being organized and responsible for investigating emerging and disruptive technology issues fits into the pattern of companies that successfully managed their innovation.
The goal of this organization should be to play around with technology and to participate in rapid prototyping, not to create anything practical or plan for implementation. The focus should be on learning and discovery, not action.
Think technology group play.
I'm sure many library IT types have experienced blank stares when explaining a technology to staff only to see the light bulb go off when shown, as I recently did with our library toolbar. I feel such a demonstration is a more essential step in staff buy-in than involving staff in prototype conceptualization. Let's be honest, less technically oriented individuals may not be able to fully appreciate a technology until after they touch it. I therefore agree with Michael Casey and Michael Stephens' positions that such a group chould be more IT focused. Including people in the group that are uncomfortable with technology could inhibit the process.
Not only should devil's advocacy not be a played during the group's play time, they actually need to operate independently and outside a library's standard processes and procedures!
Any viable concepts resulting in protoypes need to move out of group play into a formal development and implemetation group. Once moved out of group play staff can provide their unique perspectives and contribute to additional functionality, usability, product placement, and marketing efforts. Staff buy-in occurs at this point.
The play group is then free to mess around with new toys in an effort to uncover the next disruptive technology - and the cycle is repeated.
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