No, this isn’t a post on the effects of food in the library, but I’d love a latte, thanks…
Few books have impacted me in the way that Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die has. It’s a book that I read just before my professional “metamorphosis” – when the blinders of “I have so much to do each day at work, I can’t possibly look beyond the immediate…” started to come off. I like many library folks (I imagine) was so caught up in the overwhelming world that was my job: too many demands, responsibilities, etc. – that I did a good job (in my mind) of playing the long suffering, sainted public servant. (“No, really – I’ll stay up and make that change to our ILS system at 11:59pm on a holiday…because it’s my job…sigh”)
And these work blinders were affixed to me fairly tightly, so their forced removal left me at first dazzled and discombobulated. A series of events over which I felt I had little control began to unfold; yet at the same time I began to reach out and meet some inspiring people who were preaching the gospel of Library 2.0. I was in completely new territory, and while the BIG thoughts and ideas of how our library profession could be transformed using 2.0 tools were shooting through my brain at light speed – I still couldn’t articulate in an intelligible manner just what the heck the big deal was!
That is, until I read Made to Stick. This was recommended to me by my boss’s boss in mid February – right smack in the middle of my professional crisis referenced above, and to be honest I wasn’t very receptive to his suggestion. I was angry, confused, and disallusioned, and so the LAST thing I wanted to hear was a little “Readers Advisory” suggestion. But I wrote the title down, and said I’d check it out.
And this was the beginning of my professional transformation. After reading a bit in one of our library’s copies, I realized that I needed my own copy to write notes in, highlight, and love. So two days later, my Amazon package arrived, which I enthusiastically ripped open and began to read, read, read.
I’ll allow you to draw your own enthusiastic conclusions about the book, but one concept that resonates with me is what the authors call: “The Curse of Knowledge”. In short, the problem I was having in sharing my ideas with those I felt needed to hear them, was directly due to my “expert” knowledge (or at least, my growing knowledge) of the subject.
When you are so entrenched in big ideas, you make assumptions about what others know about those big ideas too. Instead of using simple, concrete, examples of what you mean – you talk in big fluffy generalizations – with no simplicity or concreteness to be found. You, despite the best of intentions and enthusiasm, have becoming another talking head. And your ideas are never conveyed in a way that sticks with your audience.
So, this digested, I wanted to see if I could convey my message about the importance of a strong Library IT department – both in terms of resources allocated to it, and technology’s foundation role in all services that our library provides. I threw away my tired phrases, and created this:
I’ve left in all the detailed information about our library system, just so you can see the full thing. However, the most effective parts are the first statements in color. Anyone and everyone is welcome to use this – or use it as an inspiration for your own organizations. I got some really good feedback from our management on this, and it was shared with another county department that was also struggling to make their identity and value clear.
The best part of doing this was that it got me thinking – and it got people’s attention. I’m in no way a “sticky” expert, and I fail more often than I succeed. But the concepts are in my brain now, and I’ll continue to draw on them each day. Those ideas STUCK.