The new buzz word in my world seems to be “develop a business attitude”. I’ve heard it from all levels of government, from consultants working on projects across the country, and even from my husband. But, exactly what is a business attitude?
Attitude is defined in many sources as “a way of looking at life”. So a business attitude is a way of looking at life through a business lens that focuses on: leadership, planning, metrics, productivity, innovation and communication. For example in library land:
1.) Leadership is fundamental to a business attitude. It includes taking personal responsibility for the libraries success, leading with the facts and, above all, a passion for what you are doing.
2.) Thoughtful planning: Most major business decisions are based on a sound business case and a substantial Return on Investments (ROI). This planning includes: GAP, environmental and risk analysis, options, quantitative and qualitative analysis, ‘deliverables’, budget, and measurable outcomes. Ultimately is the project economically viable? For most libraries this is a whole new world and we need to learn how to do this.
3.) Appropriate metrics to measure success and impact at every stage of the project are fundamental to a business attitude.
4.) Productivity in the business world takes into consideration what human resources and technologies are needed to provide the competitive edge. For libraries this is all about increasing productivity and embracing technology to control costs.
5.) A successful businesses attitude is built on innovation, which in library land we understand. In the business environment it includes brainstorming skills, and solving problems quickly. Business innovation also requires genuine creativity, after all, someone had to have the bright idea before it was designed, built, marketed and then sold.
6.) A business attitude requires skills as a strategic communicator to: write a compelling business case, speak publicly, negotiate a hard bargain and great marketing skills to promote and sell the product.
A business attitude does not diminish all those other great library attitudes and beliefs we hold near and dear about social inclusion and the public good. It’s just another layer to help plan and explain why we do what we do.
A business attitude that supports leadership, planning, metrics, productivity, innovation and communication is on my “to do” list this summer.
Have a great week and hurray for summer.
A few weeks ago at the Canadian Library Association annual conference I had the pleasure of attending a workshop featuring four very bright public library directors. In a panel discussion they were asked what kept them up at night and this is some of what they said:
►”Libraries need a ‘change agenda;’ a list of the services and procedures that need to be improved. It needs to be a list that all staff can embrace and support.” I like this idea so much I have created one for the library, one for my family and one for me.
►”The magic of the public library is the consolidation and blending of resources, services and staff. It’s this unique environment of lifelong learning opportunities that makes Canadian public libraries in the 21st century so successful.”
►”Public libraries are not community centers. They are similar is some ways but we are a community learning space first and foremost.”
►”People are living in smaller spaces therefore the need for community space to read, learn and discover is growing.”
When they were asked what the biggest challenges in library land are, they said:
►”How do we manage the fast pace of change and the slow pace of government?”
►”How do we cut through the noise and tell the library story with a louder, more persuasive voice?”
►”We are planning for perfection but that inhibits our ability to take risks and take action”
►”How can we be agile enough to keep the best staff engaged and doing the work they are most skilled at doing?”
So there you have it, four very bright public library directors with lots of insightful thoughts about library land.
Kitty Pope #29 July 2014
If you enjoyed last week’s TED talk…..have a listen to Richard Martz, Vice President of the amazing Live Work Learn Play, an international real estate development and advisory firm, dedicated to creating iconic and thriving mixed-use neighborhoods. They are the big minds behind community developments like downtown Mississauga and the River Rock re-development in Rockford, Illinois.
Have a listen, it’s really interesting.
Kitty Pope #28 July 2014
PS: Yup, that’s Diefenbaker in summer walking mode
It’s only 18 minutes and really interesting; just replace the word “park” with “public library” and your library heart will soar!
May we all attend a TED talk some day!!!
Have a great week…
Kitty Pope #27 July 2014