Blogger Heather Acerro

Follow Up: The Risk and Reward Conference

rsquaredYou might remember that I blogged about The Risk and Reward Conference back in September and I called it “one of the best conferences I have attended”. Now, four months after returning from that conference, I would say it again, but I would add this: I have used what I learned there again and again and my career, my library and my community are reaping the rewards. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

The great thing is: now you can experience a little of R Squared from the comfort of your home or office. The speaker videos are now available. I would highly recommend taking a little time to watch Josh Linkner’s keynote address on creativity. Follow up by reading Disciplined Dreaming. Better yet, buy a copy of the book to keep in your office. I refer to this book constantly.

Then watch Tamara Kleinberg’s Idea Jam keynote. So maybe right now you are thinking: why in the world would I invest three hours of my life to watch these videos? Here is why: if you approach this with an open mind and a desire to make change and innovate in your library, in those three hours of video you will find the tools that you need to make a difference.

If you watch these videos and can’t stop yourself from learning more, visit this page of resources for videos from across the four conference experiences: culture, abundant community, customer curiosity and creative spaces.

So how have I used this stuff? We recently rewrote our Strategic Plan, Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Core Values. Since I attended the Culture experience at R Squared, I brought back a lot of exciting information about how to build and maintain a workplace culture. We conducted a survey of all library staff and used that information to build a core values document that lays out exactly what we are excited about. Soon we will be using some of the creativity techniques from the conference to brainstorm ideas for how to nurture that culture.

Quite often (at least once a month, but usually more), we have had a “Creativity Challenge” with various groups of staff to solve problems or challenges we are experiencing. Just a few days ago I got together with a fabulous group of people to brainstorm themes for our lovely Art Room. A few months ago we met to figure out the best way to provide early literacy outreach in a targeted area and were awarded a $20K grant for our efforts!

We left R Squared with a lot of ideas and concrete tools for creating more ideas. We also left with a challenge: a competition for $5k which would be awarded to the library that came up with an innovative marketing campaign. So, in 24 hours (no joke!) we wrote, filmed and edited a short clip of a game show: The Shouty Librarian. While we didn’t win the $5k we had a ton of fun and exercised our creativity.

Overall R Squared changed the way I think about my work and changed what I believe is possible. I find myself asking “why?” a lot more and I am constantly pushing myself to think beyond common constraints. Don’t let the lack of money, staff or time prevent you from doing something fantastic. There are creative ways to solve common problems and provide stellar services to your customers. I promise. Give three hours to R Squared. You can thank me in four months.

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