[As we concluded the recent series of posts with advice about a KM start-up initiative, I saw Cindy Hill’s thoughts about Future Ready, Peter Drucker’s concept – from his Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1999) – currently being used as Cindy Romaine’s theme in her leadership of the Special Libraries Association. Reprinted with permission. – Guy St. Clair]
Some of my best memories of elementary school are of playground time, before, during and after class. My friends and I would race to the jungle gym, running to our favorite spot, the parallel bar, where we would spend wonderful hours (at least it felt like hours) hanging from bent knees and then start spinning around and around. When we found the just perfect moment, we would let go, flying up into the air and then landing as far away as momentum and our bodies would take us. While I’m pretty sure we knew we could get hurt (we landed on tan bark, not rubber mats) we also were fearless, physically agile and willing to take risks.
One aspect of being Future Ready is to take that youthful fearlessness and incorporate it into our work environment, especially when we are considering starting something new or changing an existing service. Too often it’s difficult to start something new for many reasons. Often there’s the fear of failure, lack of resources, concern about being able to provide the service to everyone, or not enough funding. Considering a new service or providing a new resource, but not sure how it will be received? One way to test its viability is to launch it as a pilot using the 3Ss + 1S more model, rather than a full-scale entity. You won’t find this model in any management or text book as a former executive VP at Sun Microsystems created it. The 3Ss + 1S more model stands for:
– Start small
– Be highly successful
– Make it scalable
– And keep statistics (aka metrics)
Start small: Create the big vision and then break it into smaller components. One way to start small is to limit the new service or resource to a specific group. Can it be introduced to a particular segment of your audience rather than the entire organization? By choosing a group that wants or needs the new service or resource, you are already working with a receptive audience, one that will give useful and constructive advice and observations and will be willing to work out any kinks with you. Which group would benefit most from being a “first adopter”? Would they then be your advocates and supporters?
Be highly successful: Plan for success by defining what success looks like. Is success having a specific group use it and want it to continue? Does success mean that the technology is working seamlessly? Or is success having the new resource embedded into the daily workflow of your users? By defining success before the initiative is launched, you will know when you have reached it.
Make it scalable: A highly successful initiative is one that can grow to meet the demands of potential users. Is there enough staff, funding, technological support and/or support from your internal or external partners as the demand expands? Is there a plan to acquire the needed resources in order to scale?
Keep statistics: Statistics should be both quantifiable and qualitative. How many people are using the new service or resource? How are they using it? What value is it adding to their productivity? What stories are they telling you about its value? Metrics provide the foundation for building a rationale to continue or scale the initiative.
With limited budgets, staff and resources, it’s often daunting to take a risk in changing a process, launching a new service, or introducing a new resource. Think back to your childhood days of playing, experimenting with new techniques, and being fearless and then bring those agile aspects into your daily life. As Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media and innovator recommends, “Try fast, fail fast, keep trying and never give up.”
Cindy Hill is the manager of the Research Library at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She’s a past president of SLA and is currently chairing the 2012 Conference Planning Council. She is a newly selected Commissioner for the Los Altos Public Library and is a part-time faculty member at San Jose State University. Cindy can be reached at email@example.com, tweets @cindyhill and can be found on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/cindyvhill. She’s currently working on her latest 3S + 1S initiative.