innovate

Are you a diagrammer?

How does sentence diagramming and looking into the future of vital libraries and civic organizations connect? Before you read what Kitty Florey says below from her book Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog (all about the flooky practice and history of sentence diagramming and how it affects–or not–our lives today) think about this: Writer’s write. Leaders lead. Visionaries envision.
And diagrammers draw diagrams.
Which of these do you aspire to be? Which is active? Diagramming (analyzing or dissecting) a practice or an organization or a job doesn’t create any energy or vitality in it. It simply dissects it. The spirit is in the doing. Innovation is doing. Consulting, studying, dissecting is, well, consulting , studying and dissecting.
Reading Florey’s book reminds me that dissecting takes away the fluid nature–the very spirit–of language, just like peeling apart the layers of a practice to “make it more innovative” stalls out innovation all together. You can’t create a diagram for innovation. The Ren Gen knows this. Real innovators know this. Diagrammers haven’t caught on to this just yet. Are you diagramming your work, your practices too much? If so, consider being the innovation you’re seeking out instead.

“Among the people I’ve talked to about it, the consensus seems to be that learinng diagramming may have helped us to understand the functions of words, to think more logically about language, and maybe event to write more correclty. But it didn’t help us write well.”

Analyzing doesn’t help us innovate. Doing does.

Real Pencils, Revisited

It’s time for an update on the pencil thing! Way back in February when I voiced my first big phat “why?” about golf pencils and their use in public libraries, we’ve had some shift. I ordered personalized pencils–REAL pencils for PLCMC…enough to replace all the golf pencils that float around (and then into the trash cans) the library system.
I’m going to make like a golf pencil and keep this short–sleek black pencils replaced the short stubby ones this summer thoughout the Charlotte region. And we’re hoping they were used and then walked out the door. They are printed with 3 messages:
“Where’s The Point: At Your Public Library”
“Want To Know Something: Go To Your Public Library”
“Reading 20 Minutes A Day Can Change Your Child’s Life”

Please feel free to steal these messages…and pass them around…on real pencils or in any fashion that is handy!
Oh, and this has gone a bit viral since my first rant, but just in case you haven’t seen it, someone else decided to question the short pencil…check out the Short Pencil Saga.

Innovation–The Hard Way

I’ve been thinking much about the idea of INNOVATION lately. You hear it used so much. It gets thrown around in board rooms and program rooms, on product packages and TV shows. But how do we get to innovation? Two thoughts have come to me about how we often get there. You could call it innovation-by-demand, or innovation-by-command…what I’m thinking about is the idea that often innovation happens either when we hit the proverbial brick wall and have no other option than to innovate, try “something new,” go in a different direction. Or innovation happens in the “back room.” This is when one or more individuals get together from one or more organizations or agencies and dream up an idea that is just–well, dreamy. To them. And then the worker bees (and perhaps a grant administrator) are pulled out to do the work. Reports are written, justifications are given…and we all live happily ever after. Right? But neither of these is true innovation. These are about handshakes or hardships. Neither of these modes allow an organization to be poised for innovation. These modes of “innovating” (which I believe happen more often than we’d care to admit) cheat us from the opportunities to create needs-based, natural innovative programs and services because we’re too busy jumping through the hoops of our dreamed-up innovative(well, really, “unnovative”) ideas. What would happen if we just let things happen naturally? Trees might grow, real relationships might emerge, brick walls might begin to crumble.

Where’s is the Point?


This post has received several visits, questions, and a bit of a stir in the old golf-pencil stash…I’ve reposted it here as the link for comments on the earlier post couldn’t be retrieved…feel free to comment away now…

Where’s The Point?
I’m inclined to say there is no point…at least when it comes to these familiar little things–yes, the golf pencil, the mini-pencil, or the nubby pencil as Helene, a PLCMC collegue, told me she calls them today. Whatever you call them, I think they are a perfect little example of old ideas or practices that aren’t really serving us any more in libraries–at least not effectively. My point in their pointlessness is this: We pay money for these tiny little things that last perhaps for 2 or 3 usages and then wind up in the garbage can. You can’t sharpen them as they get lost or stuck in the pencil sharpener…they have no eraser and wind up being more of an annoyance than anything. As I was thinking about this, I looked at the pen in my own hand. It was a nice padded grip pen that I received free from a promotional products rep…I then I looked at the pencil cup on my desk and it is filled with dozens of unused pens and pencils… I look around the workroom in my department–dozens, perhaps hundreds of unused pencils and pens! And still we are paying for these tiny little bothersome yellow pencils! My curiosity deepened on this small topic, so I made a few calls and found out how much these items cost–for a box of them (114) retail = $14! Wholesale= $8! (a real steal? No.) I can confidently say that the library where I work each day could easily go through a box or more of these a day! I’ll let you do the math. We’re talking thousands of dollars here folks. But how could anything replace our familiar golf pencils? They’re as Library as, say bookends? For starters, how about just bringing out some of those hundreds of pens and pencils floating around in all the drawers and cups and bins in our offices…or, hmmm, remember that pen I mentioned earlier that had the name of a product rep on it? Don’t you just know that they (or another local agency) would likely jump head over heals to have their pens with their logo and info used in a building that serves thousands of people daily. Even better, what if the Library took the thousands of dollars it’s spending on these short-lived items and had inexpensive pens or pencils printed. “Then people would take them…they’d walk out the door!”you say? My response:” Oh, no! That means we’d have pens with our logo and message floating all over the Charlotte region!” Not such a bad thing to happen, I say. This alternative has much more of a point than a $14 box of golf pencils. Get my point?