Category Archives: startup

October 30, 2012, 9:39 pm

R&D @ VT — a quick glance @ LearnHUB

Yesterday at the Library Assessment Conference I presented my paper about R&D. I wanted to share a bit on how we’re actualizing this philosophy and combining it with startup thinking at Virginia Tech.

 

We’re working on outlining a CORE & HUB model:

 

CORE functions and services are foundational programs, processes, and services that are executed by library faculty and staff. They currently exist as mature program offerings. Examples are: reference, circulation, instruction, cataloging, etc. Core functions and services are managed and carried out by existing library departments.

 

HUBS are organizational units consisting of library faculty and staff working together on emerging themes of strategic importance.

Hubs work in a number of ways:

1) as an ‘R&D lab’ to explore, imagine, and brainstorm new roles and activities for the Libraries and deeper…

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October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

Containers for Information or Platforms for Scholarship? R&D and the Networked Perspective

In seven days I’ll be giving a talk on R&D for academic libraries but here is the enhanced version of the conference paper. This is a follow-up (actually a sequel) to Think Like A Startup. I described the intentions of this paper last month so I’ll save us all from repetition. The key point is that assessment programs should be engines for change seeking progress not sustainment.

I reread the paper on Saturday and the thing that stood out was how much content I had to cut in order to get it into the ballpark of the conference’s word limitations.

If this paper is too long for you (or if you think assessment is boring) then at least go watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk. The part about “functional fixedness” is critical and it highlights the potential tunnel vision we can develop preventing us from empowering the evolution of libraries.

Another key point is the need to…

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October 4, 2012, 12:51 pm

Our strategy: be regenerative

I was deeply involved in writing a strategic plan this summer. Actually—technically—it was a response to Virginia Tech’s long-range plan, but still– it is a vision for the future of our library. Many people contributed to this effort and we knocked it out in 90 days.

 

We spent time envisioning higher education in the near future and then imagining roles that libraries would need to fulfill. I prefer this to the more traditional (continuous) department-centered approach based on “making what we currently do a little better”— our effort was an attempt to design an aspirational vision.

 

We thought of future libraries abstractly as…

 

  • a platform for student success and faculty innovation in a global context.
  • a hub for strategic partnerships.
  • a regenerating entity that adapts to changing user needs and expectations.

 

More on those ideas:

 …

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September 26, 2012, 2:43 pm

Too much assessment…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you’ve heard me talk about the paper I was writing over the summer. It’s for ARL’s Assessment Conference and at one point it was over 14,000 words.

 

It was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve written because of time (3 months) and space (5,000 word max) limitations. The background reading was amazing; I skimmed 30 books and read nearly 50 articles, blog posts, and reports. I immersed myself into R&D culture. And sadly there was so much material I couldn’t use and even worse, so much material that I just didn’t have time to read.

 

I had two objectives with this paper:

 

  1. I wanted it to be a follow-up or sequel to Think Like a Startup. That paper resonated with a lot of people, so my working title was “operate like an R&D lab.” I took the section about assessment and gave it it’s own platform. I…

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July 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

Data-Driven Decision-Making vs. Discovery-Driven Planning (don’t measure a butterfly using the metrics of a caterpillar)

I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars lately. I read the Very Hungry Caterpillar to my son every night and it always makes me think of organizations going through transformative change.

What’s fascinating to me isn’t just the physical transformation that occurs. Obviously sprouting wings and becoming more colorful is amazing, but the internal composition changes too. Their appetites change. Their digestive systems change. But what really gets me is the perception-shifting that must occur. Imagine you’re stuck crawling on the ground and slowly climbing trees, flowers and bushes then suddenly you’re able to fly–to move nimbly. Imagine the cognitive transformation that first day when life is about exploring a much wider universe.

You think ARL will be ok with me citing a children’s book? I also want to pitch Willy Wonka as the role model for R&D. That’s for another …

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June 7, 2012, 8:03 pm

Startup Thinking In Higher Ed: a conversation with Eric Ries

Just got off the phone with Eric Ries and I’m sure I came off as a total fan boy. His work was a huge influence on my white paper. Anyway, we talked about lean startup in higher education. Here are a few notes: (typed super quickly)

 

Change the Content/Context
He made the common argument that universities were designed for a different era, and that even newly launched universities follow the same old model. He talked a bit about this with the Washington Post.

 

The problem he sees is that this worked with the older social contract: you attend, get degree, get into a profession, and then retire. The problem is that this social contract is being re-negotiated by the job market—and universities are still operating under the old contract.

 

Teaching Entrepreneurialism
Eric is an evangelist for entrepreneurialism—he argues that this skillset/mindset is invaluable to…

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May 30, 2012, 9:10 pm

The Launch of Scholrly: new search engine seeks to change the way people find research

I spent time in California interviewing graduate students about their work processes. Something that stood out to me was how science and engineering students typically looked for people (rather than subject headings) during the information gathering stage. The objective was to find researchers working in particular areas and then mine their websites for additional papers. That’s exactly the approach that Scholrly hopes to improve upon.

 

I first came across Scholrly about a year ago when a friend of a friend liked them on Facebook. I explored and this is what I found:

 

“Scholrly aims to give its users, from the garage inventor to the tenured professor, a single stop for finding research connections and insights faster than ever before.”

 

I spoke with co-founder Corbin Pon last August and followed their development. Over the past year they’ve worked with faculty at…

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April 17, 2012, 9:09 pm

Thanks to all the startup readers

 

 

I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for their interest in my startup paper. It cracked 10,000 views in less than two weeks. I honestly thought I might hit 1,000 in a month, but it seems that this paper really resonated with many people. I received lots of email from librarians at different levels sharing their frustration with moving their organizations forward. This next decade is going to be a tough one, but we need leaders committed to progress.

My paper was intended to be a framework for conversation about organizational transformation. I’m not literarily saying you should operate like a startup. Most people got that, which is cool.

Anyway, thanks again for the interest and for sharing the document widely with your colleagues. A special thanks to the city of Seattle who downloaded this thing in droves. And France– what happened between us? You use…

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April 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

Think Like a Start-Up: a White Paper

This project has been in the works for a long time. I think that the initial seed was planted during my time at Georgia Tech. It simmered while I was out in California. And it crystalized as soon as I arrived in Blacksburg. I thought this document would be a one-pager that I could finish over a weekend, but it grew into something much more involved.

 

I’ve been fascinated with startup culture for a long time and as I considered all the changes happening in academic libraries (and higher ed) the parallels were quite stunning. No, we’re not developing new products to bring to market, and no, we’re not striving for an IPO payday, but we are being required to rethink/rebuild/repurpose what a library is and what it does. The next twenty years are going to be an interestingly chaotic time for the history of our institutions.

 

Here’s a snippet that frames the paper:

The me…

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