Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting Beyond the Great Idea

8:30-9:30 May 7, 2009 Getting Beyond the Great Idea: Getting Buy-in and Doing Effective Training for New Technology Projects

Speaker: Jenica P. Rogers-Urbanek, Collection Development
Coordinator and Technical Services Team Leader, College Libraries at the State University of New York in

Jenica's title is listed as: librarian, project manager, superhero. She'll probably take over the world someday.

Check out Jenica's blog here: rogersurbanek

Jenica talks about approaching technology in a way that is carefully conceived and proposed to include as many people as possible. It is difficult getting everyone on board with any idea, never mind how difficult it is to get staff to buy-in to new technological initiatives. Jenica talks about the importance of relevancy in getting a project accepted and utilized.

Creativity, spontaneity, individualism, easy information sharing are hallmarks of web 2.0--but all projects need leaders to succeed. Someone has to be the first person to jump off the cliff. Doing it yourself can be really hard. In order to be a leader you have to have a plan. Technology needs a plan to be convincing. Understand why you are doing it--technology project. Look to your mission, know your goals (what are you hoping to achieve), never send out technology looking for a problem. "Everybody has a blog" is looking for a problem. There is no plan inherent in the reason, nor does it create content for the blog. Jenica also advises avoiding the "uncritical Me-Too-ism." Jenica uses the iPhone as an example of wanting technology because they are cool--plays video games. Me-Too-ism means "me too, me too!" The me too attitude will not convince others that they need to get on oard.

Jenica also advises librarians to have a project plan. What duck-like things do you need to line up? Which other people do you need to line up? What support do you need from other ducks? Who do you need to convince and what kind of alliances/collaborations need to be created to make your idea a reality.

To instill confidence in a project, Jenica suggests outlining a (1)plan for success. She then suggests we (2)write down the process for the future, (3)assess the project, and (4)plan for failure. Writing down the project illustrates a seriousness and motivation for pursuing the project in addition to acting as a safeguard if you get sidetracked. Regardless of how prepared you are, with technology--any project for that matter--we must plan for the possibility of failure. There are so many different variables in accounting for success that failure is always a possibility.

However you share your information, avoid "truthiness." (see Stephen Colbert) Have reasonable expectations for participation, look for achievable results and, above all, understand your stakeholders. **Remember, it's about the PEOPLE!

Jenica offers suggestions for understanding stakeholders in the process of the project. She asks, what motivates your stakeholders? Jenica suggests considering Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Consider physiological (breathing and eating), safety (job security), belonging (being part of a community), esteem, and self-actualization (creativity and sense of play) as motivating factors. This could, of course, work as a sense of terror and not help as motivating factors. Does the proposal threaten the sense of community, does the proposal reduce their sense of confidence.

Jenica says that with cautions in mind, it is time to convince people of your project. (1) Focus on your mission, (2) offer them information in a comfortable, effective format, (3) address their expected motivations, and (4) address their expected fears. Be an evangelist, but find a balance between passion, energy and excitement. Don't shriek! If you fail in your pursuits, be humble. You might not be the right voice to speak out. Maybe someone else can articulate the idea better. No one to fold 'em, Jenica says. Use your failure as training. training, Jenica says, is your parachute. Your training is never over. Jenica says that it is not only training for your proposal that is valuable, but the proposed training for any technological initiative to help an initiative get off the ground, especially if people are apprehensive about accepting a proposal. Do a show-and-tell session, do hands on workshops and one-on-one private sessions. Teach by example and ensure that training will not stop after one session.

Jenica also cautions us to provide relevant learning experiences. This applies to any educational experience. This informs the relevancy of training sessions and using effective training tools for training use on wikis, meebo, skype, or a blog. Hands-on learning is effective for students and can certainly be helpful for colleagues and staff. It is also helpful to encourage the value of the product as a work product (makes them effective workers). It is also important to credit staff with success when a project is learned and utilized.

The bottom line is if you want a plan to get off the ground, Jenica continually stresses the importance of relevancy. Be RELEVANT! Relevancy informs the probability of success since this appeals to people's sense of need and want. As a last advice, Jenica says to be a good listener. Pay attention and pick up on the cues. Notice who responds and who doesn't. A good listener is a key to understanding needs, fears, pitfalls, and recipes for success. Good luck!

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