Friday, October 31, 2008

Does the Innovation-Decision Process Impact Library Innovation?

It occurs to me that while libraries DO want to innovate our service development lifecycles are way too long to be really innovative. We wait until a technology has emerged before we even start learning about it. We then investigate possible service applications of a technology only when a majority of the staff are comfortable. Adding onto the lifecycle is the need to build consensus during the planning process and making sure the service is perfect before releasing it. 

So, the question I keep asking colleagues is if libraries could speed up the service development lifecycle if we were more proactive in providing awareness and how-to knowledge about innovative / disruptive technologies / services as they were emerging, rather than waiting until they emerged? 

The latest book on innovation I have opened up is Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations.  One section jumped out at me since it was a mashup of the innovation theme with library decision making process. Or, as defined by Rogers, the innovation-decision process:
The innovation-decision process is essentially an information-seeking information-processing activity in which the individual is motivated to reduce uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of an innovation. This is a social process involving talking to others.
Rogers describes three types of innovation related knowledge. 

Awareness-knowledge is simply information that the innovation exists. This information simply motivates than individual to seek out  How-To Knowledge, which consists of how to use the innovation 'properly.'  This is an essential type since rejection may occur if the amount of information relative to the complexity of the innovation is inadequate.  Principles-knowledge consists of information about the underlying functionality of how the innovation works.

What I instinctively liked about the Learning 2.0 approach, and what I now understand,  is that its success may be because it contains all three knowledge areas. Participants are made aware of various online tools, are provided and a hands on / how to  opportunity to play with each, and by the end the participants should have a conceptual understanding of the underlying principles of Web 2.0 / the social web. 

So, it makes sense to me that if a library creates a participatory technology learning environment it would create a more active innovation-decision process, which would then speed up the service development lifecycle.

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1 comment:

Jo said...

Hi there, have been lurking on your blog for awhile now but thought I'd comment. I really related to the three types of innovation related knowledge, and how you related this back to the concept of library 2.0.

I loved your line,'so it makes sense to me...' it so does make sense, but unfortunately alot of the time staff don't want to know or even hear about how libraries are changing and learning to innovate.