Faced with diminishing budgets, new technologies and changing customer needs, the traditional library faces extinction. We must adapt and innovate to transform from a quiet storehouse of books to a dynamic center of free engagement with knowledge.
How is that for totally exciting and something we can all get behind?
The conference was divided into four experiences:
- Abundant Community
- Customer Curiosity
- Creative Spaces
I had a difficult time choosing as they all sounded like fantastic options, but eventually I settled on Culture. About half of the conference was spent all together at key-note type events and the other half working in the experience groups. The excellent speakers were all from outside of the library world, which is extremely helpful when you are trying to think outside of the book.
Josh Linkner spoke brilliantly on creativity. He said that creativity has been identified as the single most important skill for leadership. He also referred to creativity as “the currency of success”, which I thought was a pretty awesome way to look at it. He gave us some practical tips for sparking creativity, all of which can be found in his book Disciplined Dreaming. My favorite was “The Long List”. For this activity you take a question, such as “How can we attract more customers to the library?” and you brainstorm a list of ideas and don’t stop until you get to 200. We had 10 minutes in a group of 8 to answer a similar question and managed 74 ideas. The closer we got to the deadline the crazier (like a fox) the ideas got. I can’t wait to put this technique into practice.
Tamara Kleinberg of Imaginibbles got us up and jumping on 2, playing rock, paper scissors and thinking like big businesses. Her book Think Sideways: game-changing playbook for disruptive thinking promises to deliver a wealth of ideas to get creative juices flowing.
So the Culture track made up seven hours of my conference experience. In a group of 10 (GO JOLLY GREEN GIANTS!) we created values and then completed 8 Amazing Race-like challenges focusing on three areas: communication, collaboration and courage. Our values informed the way we behaved during our challenges and I do have to say, we were pretty awesome. The following day we got back together and designed an organization based on those values. We came up with Marble Mash Micro-loans (M3), which is an organization that takes glass bottles and turns them into marbles. We sell the marbles and turn the profits into micro-loans for start up businesses in our community. Our culture is environmentally conscious, values play & creativity, and is dedicated to building community values. We are a playful organization that rewards innovations, failures and risk-taking.
This exercise taught me a lot about how important it is to weave your organization’s core values throughout everything you do. If your organization values something, nurture it, reward it, grow it.
This conference was amazing. My mind was blown over and over again. I am leaving Telluride with a composition book filled with ideas. If 85% of them are garbage, I still have a ton of fantastic ideas.I would recommend reading the posts on the R-Squared website and following R-Squared Conference on Facebook. Conference organizers have promised to share the wealth of information and ideas. Take advantage of this!
In a nutshell: this was not a “best practices” conference, this was a creative challenge that got us all thinking, dreaming and being a little off the wall. On the plane home, my colleague and I are going to figure out exactly how to use what we have learned. A trick I learned in another training is to immediately, after any training or conference, write down at least ONE thing that you will do differently. I imagine we will leave the plane with a much longer list than that.
There is not another R-Squared Conference in the plans yet, but stay tuned to news coming out of Colorado and go to the next one if you can. Really, one of the best conferences I have attended.