I’m ba-ack — at CIL, that is

Um. Yeah. It’s been a while. Hi. So I’m at CIL 2010 and figured I’d try some mild conference blogging to ease back in. Mostly because my favorite name for a session ever is… “Black Ops Ninja Style Tech Projects.” This one’s Sarah Houghton-Jan, John Blyberg, and Amanda Etches-Johnson, so you know it’s going to be good — and here’s what my scattered notes summarize. I can’t call it liveblogging because this session was yesterday — it would have been liveblogging had I been able to get internet to work in that particular room. Nice touch: Taking ?s from twitter during the session.

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Exciting projects get thwarted early by barriers that sometimes don’t make sense. Hear no once, think no always be the answer. New tech mgr herself found ways to get around: Be a bully, be subversive, be sneaky, read the policy manuals and find huge examples of policy to quote.

John Blyberg

Things are done just because they are done. Asked mom: Why you do this thing with the pie crust — because my mother did it, because my grandmother did it, no reason.

how get into culture of libs and win hearts and minds?

Every lib has staff who are lead employees — take initiative to look at innov. things going on and want to implement. As mgr, embed these ppl different areas of lib so c/b change agents, give responsibility so they can spread those thoughts among staff. And give feedback what ppl thinking and real-world elements in play.

Amanda Etches-Johnson

manages tiny team, her and two dev, web dev, digital exp, emerging tech at her lib. High degree autonomy.

know your lib’s strategic plan and make sure your black ops fit in. Esp with tech projects — don’t implement just for sake of impl, but bc strategic, fits in w/ lib’s goals.

Ex: 2 yrs ago resp. website redesign project and dec. implement a CMS, retrospect, not good idea same time. Had some Drupal exp. for nonlib projects, wanted use. Not sold because this will be easy. Fits in with strategic plan: Free and open source.

Sarah H-J

Blending into env. and sneaking up on ppl last minute. Make chngs w/o ppl noticing. By the time they notice, been going a while, can say, hey, it’s been up for months with no problems. Ex: Catalog — added links so could ask circ desk for help. Thought won’t say yes to that, think will be overloaded. Didn’t realize in a month. Uptick 5-10% in traffic, but that’s another 5-10% ppl getting ?s answered and finding contact info they need. Also covertly introduce ideas through emails, little mentions at meetings. Start sending out notices. Ex: Want to start twitter? Start sending out notes: Stats on twitter, what this lib is doing w/ twitter, so when you introduce idea it’s familiar. If heard of idea before they’re much more apt to say yes when formally introduced bc it’s familiar, not foreign.

John B

SOPAC: Integrates w/ drupal, merges CMS with catalog for seamless UE. Back in 2004 — post content and solicit comments from users, very new and scary thing, let alone let users add metadata, reviews, etc. to records. Scared the crap out of librarians. Couldn’t understand diff between adding metadata held in separate repository but connected to record as opposed to changing record = FUD. Got it done — really we just did it. Said we were doing a website redesign. Very literal about it: Doing a CMS that allows the site to be more dynamic, didn’t provide a lot of info. If did, process would have been bogged down with what ifs, which wasn’t going to get the project done. As IT staff, were experts, didn’t want to have process hijacked by ppl not know what talking about. Went ahead and launched, = huge success. So bc huge success, very little pushback from staff, they got excited by prospect being content mgrs. Provide countervision for ppl to latch onto. easier to ask forgiveness.

Amanda E-J

Follow evidence based practice. Borrowed from evidenced based practice from medical field. Questioning approach to practice leads to scientific experimentation. Some ppl hide behind use as excuse not to innovate. EBL for her = innovation. Start with what do we do, lit search, not out there, turn to network. Ask colleagues for experiences. All of that = ev based practice. If no evidence, do anyway, but collect ev self as go along and share it part broaded body prof knowledge.

Not a lot at point — mechanics of drupal. How create subject guide, how use modules do spec things on website. Wrote blog posts about it, writing article for her intranet, etc.

Sarah H-J

Avoiding collateral damage. Someone gets excited and blazes ahead w/o talking someone else. Sometimes us or sometimes we exp. collat dam. Don’t step on toes power- or support- or staffing- or funding-wise. Move ahead in thoughtful way. Talk to write ppl, dept heads, make sure no unintended impact on them that will crash project and create sit they don’t trust you for future projects. Get ppl who going to be affected involved at early stages. Have help define goals and scope of project. Forget other ppl smart too and smart about things we may not know about.

John B

What if you’re wrong and the new thing not a success, not what ppl want? Twitter ?

When deploy things need to deploy like a fire jumper. Drop in and establish a foothold and stay there. Give it resource you need to succeed. Great successes built on a legacy of failure. If you are wrong, own up, apologize, put effort to analyze why not make it work. Was idea bad? or bc didn’t have enuf resources? or bc didn’t implement it well? APply lessons to next time.

Audience comment: Sometimes just too soon and if you try 6mos later will work. Timing is everything.

Amanda E-J

cb hard to recover from no. NO right now doesn’t nec. mean no 6 months from now. Keep pushing ideas forward.

Committees bad, project teams, good. b4 user exp. libn, was ref libn and chair of web team. Had resp but not auth. Typical webteam. 12 ppl. Bad, spent hours discussing color of input button. No real auth to make dec. When bc user exp libn got auth. No mandate, just “make website better.” Disbanded web team and assembled project team based on site redesign. Ppl not problem, structure problem — some same ppl from webteam came to project team. Project team lasted 6 months, had 4 tasks, based around redesign. Had 2-day retreat at student center next door. Built wireframes figured out top level nav. Needed project team to buy into process.

Sarah H-J

twitter ? — how decided when push forward w/o talking to ppl vs. getting stakeholders on board?

Judgment call. In circ. ex. knew from previous exp. that group of circ mgrs would present unrealistic fears and staffing impact expectations — knew would happen again this time. Instead letting fear get better of them, just blaze ahead and do it. Think about past exp. w stakeholders and likely repercussion if do it wo asking. If notice the next day, repercussions, admit wrong, back track, and go the other way.

trust and follow instincts. Have sense what serv will help users. User focused. If done research and looked topic in depth, trust instincts and move forward. Current web redesign horrible project. Paid graphic designer — they did 3 samples, crap. Did 2 new, crap. Admin said make it work cause we paid. Spent 9 months trying. New web libn — 2nd day mocked up a new design. She loved, but back of head oh we paid for old thing, did bunch of work need to undo. Slept on it, trusted instincts, went with what was better. Everyone thrilled. If brain and heart tells you to do, do it. yOu know what you’re doing, have conf. to convince others.

John B

Know when to quit. If you need to scrap work, then that’s the way to go.

? from audience — when good to implement a stupid idea when someone really attached. John: Do user prototyping stage internally and then open outwards if not sure.

Audience comment — think in terms of undermining trust in your work. But if going ot help someone work w/ you better if implement their idea and doesn’t undermine project/trust in long run, then worth it.

Ppl want stability, want to be able to do their jobs. Make sure keep basics running before push new. Move from culture of reaction to culture of innovation. Make sure your staff sees you at the person trying to make things work so when roll out new ideas they trust and know you have their best interests at heart, will support you. Take care of back end first.

Sarah H-J

? from audience — what if someone comes w/ you w/ untenable project, how say no.

Hold to same standards. What evidence do they have, what libs have done it and it worked, etc. Say let’s think about it and you tell me why you think it’s important. take it to x group or team and then come w/ ideas and concerns — sometimes other group says no for you.

john b – make sure they are personally invested in idea. If not invest own time or staff resources that tells him they’re not really serious. Will listen if they know what they’ll invest and do to make idea a success.

a e-j — usually rel to website. If not think will fly, paper prototype, test, let testing decide. Sometimes her instincts wrong.

Audience comment — don’t show all cards up front. Leave out things know people want so they give sugg thing you’re going to implement anyway.  Say we’re willing to do xyz if that will help you out.

Audience comment — say a positive no to build political capital.

RT — 10th thing — it’s all about the politics.

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