Category Archives: startup

April 14, 2013, 8:57 pm

DIY vs. STARTUP: choose your flavor of change

I attended an ACRL session titled “From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy” and I was expecting something about makerspaces and related DIY-eque topics, but that wasn’t the case. Instead the panel asked the attendees questions about org culture.

I was surprised by the attitude that the session generated. There was a lot of “damn the man” talk and being a library administrator I guess I’m part of the problem now. As I listened I kept contrasting their attitude with startup thinking. While both DIY and startup argue for change, they differ quite a bit. Here are a few quick notes:

 

Destruction vs. Disruption
Many of the DIYers mentioned the need for creative destruction. In startup the aim is for innovative disruption. DIY wants to rebuild from scratch whereas startup wants hack the code—redefine what something can do.

 

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February 23, 2013, 8:51 pm

ARCHITECTS ARE DISRUPTERS: building frameworks for change

I had a strange strong emotional response yesterday. It has subsided but still lingers slightly.

 

Let’s back up. When I interviewed at Virginia Tech one of the duties presented was to lead massive renovations. Unlike others, we don’t have $105$115 million in the bank. The libraries that win design awards are always grand new constructions or sizeable renovations. There should be award for lean libraries, not just landmark ones. Our approach is pure bootstrapping, entrepreneurial, and startup: ideate a need, design a program, hustle the cash, implement, iterate, iterate, iterate.

 

The past year has been about ideation and program development around our second floor. We’re shaping and funding it bit by bit. The generosity of an alumnus has already given us a start but our students haven’t seen anything yet.

 

I’ve spoken about the concept with over 300…

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February 6, 2013, 1:12 am

Catching up with Paul Stamatiou: designing growth at Twitter

When people ask me what inspired my startup thinking I point to Paul Stamatiou. He was an undergrad at Georgia Tech when I was there and I started following his blog as part of my preemptive reference experiment. Wow, 2005 was so long ago!

 

Paul currently works at Twitter but before that he was involved with a handful of startups. Along the way Ford gave him a car, Nike put him in a commercial, and he was part of the Y Combinator program. He’s blogged quite a bit about startups. If you’re interested that topic I recommend reading his advice via a TechCrunch post.

 

I dug up this old post of mine from 2008 chronicling Paul’s all-nighter in the library. What was the paper topic? Twitter. Maybe he was destined to work there…

 

Here is a quick interview on growth, startups, and the Web. Follow him @stammy

 

What have you been up to? Tell me about your career…

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January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm

Dear Mark Cuban… some thoughts I’d like to share about libraries

 

This is an actual note that I sent:

Dear Mr. Cuban,

I’m a fan of Shark Tank. I’ve learned a lot from watching the panel evaluate business prospects. Thanks for making the show exciting and educational.

 

I wanted to share a note regarding your recent post Will Your College Go Out Of Business Before Your Graduate? There are a lot of conversations right now about where higher education is heading. I appreciate your focus on the business model aspect. As a father myself, the affordability of education is definitely on my mind too.

 

I’m writing because of a comment you made questioning why anyone would construct new libraries. Today, libraries are some of the busiest buildings on campuses across the country. As more and more information migrates to online platforms, library spaces are transforming into knowledge or content creation centers. They are hubs for…

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December 18, 2012, 6:28 pm

Cycles of Change & Innovation (two models together)

I wanted to share a quick post before we jump into the holidays.

 

Our leadership group has been talking a lot about change—particularly managing change or guiding change. Like most libraries we have a lot of things in motion; change is constant, not just a transition and then it’s done.

 

I’ve worked at a number of different libraries and it has been interesting to see how individuals react to change. Take for example demand-driven acquisition. Some people are very opposed to this model while others welcome it. This is a polarizing issue because it shifts control of collection development and actually starts to redefine what a library collection is and why it exists. But I’m getting off topic.

 

Two familiar models came up in our discussions this week:

 

 

 

I’m not going to of…

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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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