Monday, November 10, 2008

Some Of My Notes

Kalamazoo Promise – any youth who attends school in Kalamazoo, graduates and meets the basic requirements for acceptance at a public college/university in Michigan, will get their tuition paid. This is innovation. A group of people got together to plan for the future of the Kalamazoo area way in to the future, because the fund for this will be supported in perpetuity. It is about the future of the area because it generates an educated population that generates an interest in the area for jobs as most employers want an educated population base with which to work. This stimulates the economy in that area. It brings stability. Communities from all over will be watching Kalamazoo for the next 20 or more years to see how this promise perpetuates long lasting change in the community.

Dr. Brad Mitchell of Battelle spoke about a lot of things besides the STEM program during the opening address, but the items I wrote down were thought provoking (for me): “Are we up to the thrill of our days?” and “Strategy of re-invention”. He was speaking too fast for me to take notes, but I figured I get the notes off the website when they were posted. I also figured I’d visit the STEM site ( This led me to the term Systems Engineering which is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.
While touring the STEM site, I decided to visit the lounge and thought this was really a great use of transparency. Here you have the opportunity to weigh in on what they are doing. They want you to. We could do this for the 20/20 vision and levy projects.
Anyway, this was a great example of how one thing leads to another.

Stephen Abram’s Trendspotting: Weak Signals for the Future talk was seeded with things I knew and things I did not know about. I had to check out Now Public, Mozes, Webkinz, TechCrunch, and he reminded me to check to see what’s happening with Bibliocommons. He also talked about Google-caching.

Google-caching is their new service. You may notice when you do a search on Google it now says “customized for the Columbus region”. If you did the same search in LA or NY you would probably get a different mix of hits. I thought this was great for us because they left the door wide open for us to find those nuggets that they decided our region would not want, or for us to show customers how to navigate the web better – beyond Google.
(An aside – it strikes me funny the number of PowerPoint presentations I’ve seen at a conference on innovation. I guess I expected to see new applications of Flickr or or other new technology. I think I may tie innovation to technology too much). Innovation can incorporate attitudinal change – CHUH (Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library) suggested the BUS concept. The bus is headed in the right direction because the passengers are the staff and the driver is the customer. That’s an attitudinal shift.
They also:
*Have a drive up pickup window.
*Are using the lockers for retrieving reserves 24/7. These are also drive up.
*Have phones on the wall for customers to use to page staff on that floor (Georgetown U. had this back in the early 70’s. I guess this is the renew part of the definition of innovation).

I heard the term Search Ohio and I thought it was some sort of alliance between 23 public libraries and OhioLink, so I tried it as a web site. I discovered two new sites, neither of which had anything to do with libraries, but may be good to know about – and

Priority Design. I’m glad I stayed for the entire program because in the beginning it was hard to understand what his goal was. I thought his message was to provide the appropriate environment to get the results you want. Don’t worry about conventional or traditional themes. Do what your customers (internal and external) want – aka the ends justify the means. In this case, this is physical space design 9rock wall, foose ball, the latest tools of the trade, etc, ability to personalize work areas). The cultural aspect of business is also different. Roles change and the staff s pretty equal with project based design – today you are the leader and tomorrow you are the doer, but it all works well as everyone shares responsibility. This reminded me of the Geese V formation culture.
· Mistakes are learning opportunities
· Everyone is a salesperson – they find clients and own them
· Life balance is important
He also spoke about the Universal Archetype (Jung) and its applications to define the categories for each type of product or where your company fits into the categories. This helps you fine a niche in your market. For instance in the Hero category you will find Nike, the U.S. Army, etc. We, like them, fall in the Caregiver category. “Build your reputation by helping others build theirs”, was one of his quotes that made me think of us – we do this everyday.

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