Humans vs. Zombies, an Internet Librarian Presentation

Come see me in the flesh Monday at 1:15 in the DeAnza 1&2 in the Portola.
Added: Grab the Handout. View the slides.

The track I am in for Internet Librarian, Track D: Library Issues and Challenges, is a special one where the speakers are encouraged not to talk much and to let the participants do most of the talking. Meaning: It is my kind of presentation. Because I will be speaking for less than 10 minutes and have only 5 slides of a PPT, I wanted to write a post on the content of my talk instead of posting just the slides online which would be meaningless without context. The slides can be found here.

The title of the session is Engaging and Inspiring Staff. I am speaking with Lisa Hardy, who is going to give some real world examples after I talk about the big picture. My segment is called Human vs. Zombies: Organized Survivors vs. Mindless Horde.

When you are only speaking for a handful of minutes, you really only have time for one main idea. My main concept is crowdsourcing only works when you give people a purpose.

Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing zombies on the human race. Things will get done, but it is going to be very, very messy.

Using crowdsourcing methodology is a fabulous way to engage and inspire staff because it forces them to participate in the process from start to finish. Once people start investing time and resources into something, their heart will eventually follow.

You should want your people to have heart in what they do for the organization. People who have heart give more, believe stronger, and work harder. They give because their heart compels them to do so. Not only that, but people who have a heart in your organization will then tell other people why your organization is so great.

Crowdsourcing can be done many ways. I have a handy hand out that I am giving to the participants and that you can download here (link is to a Google Doc). It is similar, very similar to the one I used at Computers in Libraries last spring. The handout includes some quick and dirty facilitation style and pointers. I do not discuss the handout in the presentation. It is just a resource.

But how do you organize your mob? How do you take a bedraggled group of humans and outfit them to face the future, even if the future is a teeming mass of zombies?

To give your mob, your humans, the means to organize, to create, and to find their heart in your organization, you need to do three things.

Give them a goal. Without a goal, your people are the zombie horde. The have one things on their mind and that is a selfish thirst for brains (or whatever it is that suits their fancy). Crowdsourcing only works if you give the crowd a goal so they can then work together towards the same goal as a team. It is possible to let the crowd define the goal, but they still need an overarching purpose.

For instance, do not just throw people in a room and say, “Get to it!” Put them in a room and ask them to come up with a product: a new slogan, a new service with a plan to execute the service, a strategic direction, a marketing plan to increase business, a charitable campaign, or an organizational restructuring. They can do anything, accomplish anything. Just point them in the right direction and let them go. You will be amazed at where they take you.

Let the crowd choose their weapons. This seems obvious, but it is one of the worst abused within organizations with robust bureaucracies. Often, more often than not, crowds contained within an organizational structure are asked to perform a task, but are then also told what tools to use and how to complete the task. This cripples your mob of survivors before they have even ventured forth.

Give your crowd the direction and then let them choose the method. They may want to work asynchronously or synchronously on Google Docs. They may want to create a facebook group. They might prefer video chat. They might * shudder * want to use a word doc that they save and forward around on email. Let them work their way. Give them resources so that they are able to choose the tools they want and then step away. Let them know you have faith in their choices and then follow through on that statement by leaving them alone to work.

Celebrate their successes and failures alike. We are wonderful at pointing out successes, but we have to celebrate our mistakes, even the crash and burn ones. Why? Because we learn from our mistakes and we get better. Give high fives for every zombie kill, but learn from the near misses and improve your swing. Do not be afraid to get dirty. Killing zombies is hard work.

After a very condensed version of the above motivational speech, Lisa is going to take over with some examples of things they have done at her library. Then, we will get to the really fun part. The attendees will form groups and talk about things they can do in their own organization to motivate staff. They will come to a consensus about the best ideas from their group and then share them with the room.

At the end we are going to give away some copies of my book, Mob Rule Learning, for people who can answer some of my nerd trivia.

–Jane, do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?

Original link to the Zombie pic can be found here.

Going from Talking Head to Mob Rule, Engineering Edition

Readers, you know I love engineers. I married one, so I know how they love equations, following directions, taking things apart, and the process of things. It makes me completely batty, but I get it. I have now spent almost half my life working around the idiosyncratic ways of Mr. Rochester.

I received an email from a lovely gentleman engineer who will be chairing an engineering conference next year. He wants to shake things up a bit and add some unconference elements to his gathering. He told me they used to do what they called rap sessions, it sounded like birds of a feather to me, but the sessions have evolved into a panel of experts, which he wants to move away from. He also said there was a lot of time where people were just sitting around.

My first thought was, “Bless their hearts. They mean well.” (I am a southern girl, in case any of you have forgotten.) I wrote him a long email, with some decent advice I thought others might find helpful.

If you are facing an especially rigid group that you would like to shake up, here are some ideas from the email I sent:

For groups that have an especially hard time with change or unscheduled elements, planning an unconference type event works best at the beginning of the conference. You can use the session, whatever it is, as a type of ice breaker to get people interacting and engaging before the more structured sessions. If you give people an opportunity to start talking early, chances are high they will keep doing so.

A Birds of a Feather discussion to kick off the conference might be good for your situation. If you want the rap sessions to go back to their roots, small table discussions not led by experts, either be very clear that the format is going retro or rename the session. The problem is getting people to break out of their mold. Clear directions up front will help.

You can also use lightening talks, if the experts still want to have their say. Each talking head gets 5-10 minutes MAX to talk, say 6 speakers in a row. Then the participants break up into small discussion groups of no more than 8 (a round table) and discuss some of the ideas. People can be free to leave groups and join new discussions as they please. This might be a little chaotic, so you might need to add in some structure.

You could also do an AMA (Ask me Anything) like on Reddit. The experts would be there, not to give a talk, but to just answer questions from the audience. There are a lot of techie and nontechie ways to td that, but again, it would give the experts their time while allowing the audience to run the show.

In terms of people sitting around at the tables doing nothing: Is there a way to spark conversation while they are there? Consider labeling the tables with topics and allow people to sit at table that interest them allowing the conversation occur organically.

Don’t be afraid to step out of the accepted way of doing things and do something adventurous!

–Jane, an adventurer

Getting Difficult People to Come Along: a crowdsource challenge

Last week, at Computers in Libraries, I facilitated a session in which the participants defined the direction of our 45 minutes together. It was fun for me and, I think, fun for them as well. After some brainstorming, multi-voting, hand-raising, and discussion, the topic that came to the forefront was “Getting Difficult People to Come Along.”

I asked the group of about 120 people, in 11 minutes, to tell me what worked in their organizations when faced with challenging people. The list they came up with is an absolutely fabulous one. Here is the list:

  • pay attention to learning styles~!
  • customize the experience
  • letting people be a part of the process
  • get them to say what is important to them and then empower them to make that change
  • honor the past
  • demonstrate how the new thing solves a problem for them
  • being resistant to change can be good, make them winners, they are the people that can spot problems when the runners are too far forward
  • acknowledge and honor that what people are doing is difficult and there are multiple ways to do everything
  • have personal conversations with staff that are challenges
  • institutional perceptions are not always reflective of the institution – tissue paper example
  • all staff took learning or personality style surveys and classes, then talked about the change and put in the job descriptions that change is happening
  • involving everyone (don’t panic and carry a towel)
  • made training fun and was an often a scheduled thing
  • asked people what they wanted to learn
  • talking to people outside of your department
  • same as managing children (haha because it is so true)
  • change is coming, give them time to adjust

To see the full list of topics, check out the presentation notes I took on the session entitled “Unleash the Power of Your People”.

–Jane, mob ruled

Around Town at Computers in Libraries 2012

The family Rochester is heading north to Washington, D.C. for the Computers in Libraries conference this week. The boys will be seeing the sights, aka the Air and Space Museum, while I am mingling with book and tech nerds, aka librarians.

I will be making two official appearances:

Wednesday from 10:30-11:15, on Track F, I will be presenting Unleash the Power of Your People, a session on how to use unconference principles for training and other things. This will not be a sit back and sleep session, so come with lots of questions, ideas, and a willingness to share. If you know nothing about the unconference style or you are an old hand at it, you will learn something new. In a room full of intelligent people, passionate about people and libraries, how could you not leave inspired to change the world?

Wednesday evening, 5-5:45, I will be signing copies of Mob Rule Learning in the Exhibit Area. Drop by, grab a book, and come chat!

Other appearances are assured, probably with this guy, but do not hold that against me. I am easily befriended by either complementing me on my incredibly handsome, intelligent boys or buying me a drink.

–Jane, safe travels

Discussing Unconference Things at Midwinter

ALA has been working hard, as have the divisions, in the past couple of years to incorporate more unconference type things into the schedule at Annual and Midwinter. Up until this point, these things have been special events and, while there are a few, most of them are not recurring. It is time to start thinking of making these “special” things less extraordinary and instead making them “just the way we do awesome things around here”.

With that in mind, I am hosting a discussion at the Networking Uncommons at Midwinter on Sunday at 9am. During this time we will likely discuss the following:

  • making current unconference offerings less special and more the way we do things
  • ways to encourage speakers to leave behind traditional sage on the stage presentations
  • planning sessions with different formats
  • linking the virtual and physical conference for a more meaningful experience at both
  • anything else you want to discuss within this topic

True to the topic at hand, the discussion format will be decided by the group on Sunday, depending on how many people show up and how we are feeling that day.

If you love the unexpected, if you long to revitalize the conference circuit at ALA, if you want a place to discuss new ideas, if you want to be a part of a meaningful discussion (instead of a passive listener), if you need some new ideas to take back to your group, if you are a dreamer, a wisher, a hoper, or a magic bean buyer, come join us for a conversation that can make a difference.

–Jane, with apologies to Shel Silverstein

Interview for Wired Campus

I had a nice chat over the phone with Alexandra Rice from the Wired Campus at the Chronicle of Higher Education last week. She posted the interview today.

I really would like the discussion about how people are using the wisdom of the crowd in the classroom to be something that happens more often. A lot more often because I really do feel that this can revolutionize the way we approach the classroom.

–Jane, likes the unpredictable mob

New Unconference and Mob Resources

Here are a couple resources that might be useful to you if you are new to the idea of the wisdom of the crowd or if you need a little inspiration for your own mob: – Though the blog on this site is not updated often and much of the information was posted long ago, there are a plethora of resources on unconferences here. There are explanations of unconferences, facilitation styles, how tos, and a discussion about Open Space Technology.

Open Space World – The original site on Open Space(OST). It is a must read for noobs.

Unconference LibGuide – This is a resource site put together by some librarians who have attended many unconferences. There are some great checklists for planning and some other resources.

Crowdsourcing in Higher Ed IT – This is a step by step guide from Educause on how to use mob rule to make campus and even multi-campus wide IT decisions.

25 Great Ways Colleges Are Using Crowdsourcing – A fabulous list to inspire your own ideas to improve your teaching or impact your community. Some of the ideas are only marginally related to Higher Ed, but they are still very interesting.

–Jane, what mob are you growing today?

National Library Unconference Day

There are a lot of reasons why you, your library, or your library related organization should participate in National Library Unconference Day on Monday May 2nd at 1pm EST. It could be the amazing speakers lined up for lightening talks. Maybe it is because unconferences are always so darn fun. Perhaps, this is the perfect opportunity to try a small scale unconference at your library. Whatever the reason, start unplanning and get your library geared up for an amazing event.

The best thing about this event is that it is completely adaptable to whatever you would like to accomplish within your organization. Have events in the morning and then attend the virtual lightening talks at 1pm EST or attend the talks first and use them as a springboard for birds of a feather talks in the afternoon. Plan an all day event with the virtual talks smack in the middle. Whatever you choose, you are sure to be amazed at what can come out of a group of passionate librarians and library staff gathering to discuss our profession.

Planning an unconference is not as daunting as you might think. The unscripted nature of an unconference makes the planning a breeze because the content is controlled by the participants. All you need to provide is the time and space needed. (and maybe some snacks!)

To help with your planning, I made a Prezi with some things to keep in mind as you plan. Enjoy!

–Jane, loves unconferences

LITA Forum Presentation – Staff Training and the Mob Rule

I am presenting at 3:20 in room 205. It is going to be very interesting and FUN! I am going to talk about how to use the concept of an unconference to solve your staff training issues. There will be zombies. Participation is required. But not participating zombies. Sorry, no brains for afternoon snack time.

Here are my slides:

–Jane, braaaaaaiiiiiinsssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz