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The challenge is that most library organizations are structured and managed to continue current practices rather for than for innovation. Both strategy and resource alignment are focused on supporting short term missions and goals. This holds library organizations captive to a culture that is antagonistic toward innovation. Such a culture kills most attempts at innovation and can eventually drive innovative individuals away. It is not that the individuals within a library do not want to innovate, they talk about it all the time. Simply put, the structure of library organizations and their approach to management may make them unwittingly systematically hostile to innovation.
Gary Hamel notes that that the bottleneck within an organization that ultimately throttles innovation is almost always located at the top. Organizations are trained to look to the top for clues about where it's going. In such organization the vast majority of people have simply ceded responsibility for innovation. When the authority to set strategy and direction is held so narrowly then attempts at innovation inevitably falter. Therefore, new voices and new thinking are essential for a library to create a culture of innovation.
In his book The Future of Management, Hamel discusses new management principles which can help transform a library into a more innovative culture, including:
- variety, diversity, experimentation, depoliticizing / depolarization of decision making
- resource allocation flexibility
- enabling activism through democracy (devolution of accountability, distributed leadership, unalienable >
- engagement and mobilization through a common cause
- increasing the odds and successful contribution of serendipity
Other interesting quotes from Hamel:
“To a large extent, managers play the role of parents, school principles, crossing guards and hall monitors. They employ control from without because employees have been deprived of the ability to exercise control from within. Adolescents outgrow most of these constraining influences; employees often aren’t given that chance. The result: disaffection. Adults enjoy being treated like 13-year olds even less than 13-year olds.”“One can fairly describe the development of modern management as an unending quest to regularize the irregular, starting with errant and disorderly employees. Increasingly, though, we live in an irregular world, where irregular people take advantage of irregular events and use irregular means to produce irregular products that yield irregular profits.”“Try to imagine what a democracy of ideas would look like. Employees would feel free to share their thoughts and opinions, however politically charged they might be. No single gatekeeper would be allowed to quash an idea or set the boundaries on itsdissemination. New ideas would be given the chance to garner support before being voted up or down by senior execs. The internal debate about strategy, direction and policy would be open, vigorous, and uncensored. Maybe this sounds hopelessly romantic, but such a thoughtocracy already exists—not in any big company, but on the web.”
"When you step on a treadmill and start to jog, your heart automatically increases the blood supply to your muscles. When you stand up in front of an audience to speak, your adrenal gland spontaneously pumps out a hormone that accelerates your heart rate and heightens your faculties. And when you glance at someone who is physically attractive to you, your pupils dilate reflexively, drinking in the agreeable visage. Automatic. Spontaneous. Reflexive. These aren’t the words we typically use to describe deep change in large organizations. And therein lies the challenge: to make deep change more of an autonomic process—to build organizations that are capable of continuous self-renewal in the absence of a crisis."