Re-Quote Worthy and Simple Gets Things Done

I came across a quote from Dave Writes that was cause for an mmmhmmm moment. Dave quotes Georgescu-Roegen from Vanderbilt as saying this about his personal mentor:

He also taught me that things are never as complicated as they seem. It is only our arrogance that prompts us to find unnecessarily complicated answers to simple problems.

Working to look smarter or to be sound more innovative or progressive often comes across just like that–you’re working at it…which often reads as arrogance or ultimately smoke-and-mirrors. How many times have you attended a meeting and suddenly realized an hour was spent talking about a perceived issue that could have been handled in a phone call or better yet by just acting on it and not talking about acting on it?

Here are 3 suggestions I have for keeping it simple-and-direct:
1. If it has to be a Team Project, make it a Team of Two (at least to begin with).
2. Set out to answer questions–not to set up a process.
3. Replace project initiative documentation with check-lists. Yes list! Lists are action-oriented. Project initiative documents are, well, documents. Documents keep you behind the desk, not in action.
4. Call people up and ask their opinions. Don’t email them documentation for review and recommendations.
5. Know when to say, “we’re all done here.” Then give it away.

Family Portrait Day @ the Library

What do you get when you take friendly and daring staff, mixed with a talented on-staff graphic designer (who just happens to be a wiz at photography) and add in the holiday season? It’s Family Portrait Day @ the Public Library! The story is this simple and this extraordinary–giving our users a wonderful, free opportunity to have their portraits taken on a Saturday at Independence Regional Library (this means a 15 minute fun photo session and a disc of their photos less than a week later) plus allowing staff with special talents and skills to shine in new and meaningful ways!
Guess what? I bet you can do this, too in your Public Library. Willing to throw down less than $100 for supplies and a few hours of time giving your community a chance to have an unexpected experience at the library? Then you’re well on your way to stealing this idea. I’ll post more photos when they’re ready. (Yes, we had community members give us permission to use the photos in library promo). We also had families pose with their favorite books (or ones we had in the prop station, just in case).
The next Family Portrait Day will be at Plaza-Midwood Branch during the “Holidays in the Hood” Art Crawl that the community is sponsoring. Come on out for it…or, better yet, create Family Portrait Day at your own Library or civic organization.
Thanks, Ian, Emily and Erin for helping this idea come to life!

Email Free Friday Update

It’s been about 3 months since we went email free on Fridays in my department. I promised I’d let you know how it goes…and it goes great! What we’re finding is that being email free on just this one day a week is helping most of us be more conscious of how many emails we send during the rest of the week. It also makes me aware of how much information is really necessary and how much is just noise.

Here are 3 quick ways you can turn down the volume on your inbox:

1. Don’t hit the “reply all” button to any email, especially ones that list more than 2 people in the “To” field.

2. Unless your question needs some sort of “documentation,” pick up the phone and call the person.

3. Turn your computer speakers off and minimize your email window so you’re not tempted by the new messages popping up.

Below are some comments from staff in my department on how they feel about Email Free Fridays:

  • …it opens up a dialogue we might never have had.
  • I really like the e-mail free Fridays. It allows me to catch up and clean up my messages and be prepared for the influx of messages for the upcoming week.
  • I think having a day without the constant demand of e-mails that have to be dealt with free us so we can catch up with paperwork, put together reports and… have extra precious time for planning, which is the heart of what we do in our department.
  • Please–YES–email free Fridays

Take the plunge–go email free on Fridays! It may sound scary, but you’ll love yourself (and others) for it!

Power & Stumble

Looking for an image to illustrate a post earlier tonight, I came across this image in flickr. It stopped my keystrokes in their trax. OK, what does this say to you?
Who’s got the power?
Plug it into the Web, the Real World, the Virtual, the Smart, the Keyed-in, the Old School, the Ren Gen?
What we stumble upon is sometimes worth A thousand words…