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A good friend recently shared a post on Facebook about Donald Vass, one of the last bookbinders in the business working at the King County Library System. She described the story as a “religious experience” and could not agree more. After watching the news segment, I immediately looked for more info on this guy and found this short video. The wisdom I experienced from Vass in about 13 minutes should keep me going for the rest of the year. As it was sung in Hamilton, “Let’s get this guy in front of a crowd” or at least a show on PBS. He needs to be a keynote at any and all library conferences.


Collaboration is Hard

Kevin King —  February 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

collaboration-mindsetIn the library world, conflict is avoided more than it is embraced. I have noticed that when faced with a situation in which you would like to verbally disagree with a colleague over an idea or plan, most people stay silent. This response only leads to stagnant innovation. Collaboration is hard. Overcoming this difficulty happens when a team can establish a trust-filled, safe environment where everyone on the team has a voice, great things happen.

Author Liane Davey, an expert on teams in the workplace, writes:

Collaboration is crumpling under the weight of our expectations. What should be a messy back-and-forth process far too often falls victim to our desire to keep things harmonious and efficient. Collaboration’s promise of greater innovation and better risk mitigation can go unfulfilled because of cultural norms that say everyone should be in agreement, be supportive, and smile all the time. The common version of collaboration is desperately in need of a little more conflict.

Davey goes on to explain ways in which teams can develop ways to make collaboration and conflict. Her methods include:

  1. Discussing team roles before the team tackles a new idea.
  2. Use a personality assessment tool to highlight team members differences.
  3. Set ground rules around dissension.

I encourage you to read more about each of these methods here. Teams that contain members that trust one another, understand the personalities at play and have established the guidelines for engagement will not only realize that collaboration is not that hard but also more innovation than you can manage.

Need some tunes to get you ready for Atlanta? I present to you a playlist of artists based in either Atlanta or Georgia that you can listen to while you pack, sit in the airport, or walk to your next meeting. If I missed anything, please post in the comments.

Personal Resolutions? BORING.

Kevin King —  January 3, 2017 — 1 Comment

blank list of resolutions on blackboardIt is the first day back to work of the new year! Time to craft a list of resolutions I will forget about before ALA Midwinter. Although I feel that the intent of thinking about how you are going to be a better person is admirable, I want to challenge LL&F readers to think differently about resolutions this month. Instead of listing personal resolutions, write down a few ways in which you are going to help your peers, direct reports and friends become better leaders in 2017.

Please reply top this post with one way in which you are going to help those in the library world become better leaders in 2017. Maybe we can send the list to 1600 Pennslyvania Ave?

Where is Everyone?

Kevin King —  December 29, 2016 — 1 Comment

f56c4079680abe2c7a4042f9ed9f86b6I just returned from being off from work for the Christmas Holiday to discover that many of my colleagues are still off. Luckily before the break I tried to catch up on emails and smaller, but important tasks. Now that I have returned, I am finding that many of the things I want to work on are going to have to wait until certain individuals return. What should I do now?

In a Harvard Business Review article, writer Dorie Clark lists three strategies to keep you busy while you wait for your co-workers to return.

  1. Embrace “deep work.” – Don’t spend this uninterrupted time just catching up on emails! Use it to develop some long-range goals or craft some new innovations. When there are not too many people at work the emails slow to a manageable number that can be pushed aside.
  2. Clean up minor tasks. – This could be as simple as cleaning off your desk (a perfect task to help you embrace the new year) or finalizing evaluations or reports. I always find that this time is perfect for cleaning out my files.
  3. Build your network. – Step away from your desk, find someone else who is back from the holidays, and go to lunch! This is the perfect opportunity to establish some meaningful connections with others in different departments.

Being one of the few people at work can be lonely, but it is also a great time to re-establish your roots at work. Clark sums it up best by writing that the “…reward for holding down the fort is uninterrupted time to embrace meaningful work, clear out the cobwebs that have been hindering your productivity, and extra time to connect with colleagues and build a robust network.”