Which Side of the Bus are You On?

Just a thought from Jim Collins‘ book Good to Great. In that book, Jim writes this: “to build a successful organization and team you must get the right people on the bus.”

The “bus” is the company, the mission, the strategic plan. The “right people” are the ones that can do the work of the organization. The “wrong people” are the ones that don’t fit, that always cause problems, etc. Jim suggests “removing” those people from the bus, because they’re hindering the organization.

I was thinking about that bus metaphor awhile back. Besides managers, who are thinking about how to get the right people on the bus, who else should be thinking about that bus? Everyone should be.

There are at least five places you can be in relation to that ever-moving bus:

  • In front of the bus. Standing in front of a moving bus is generally NOT a good place to be. You’re going to get hurt. Get run over. There will be damage – to you, and maybe to the bus. These people didn’t plan, didn’t look at the roadmap of the organization, and now they’re standing in the way.
  • On the bus. This is the best place to be. That is, if you are a good fit for the organization, support where the organization is going, and can help get it there.
  • Behind the bus. Better than in front of the bus, but still not a good place to be. These people didn’t leave the organization, but also don’t like where it’s going. So they are being dragged along behind the bus. Maybe slowing the bus down, but not stopping it (because you can’t stop a moving bus).
  • Kicked off the bus. This is what Jim Collins talked about. These people didn’t fit in, and were asked to leave. Probably better to have not gotten on the bus in the first place, or maybe gotten off the bus when you noticed it was going somewhere you didn’t want to go.
  • Pushing the bus. OK. Sometimes, most staff realize the bus should be going somewhere, but the “driver” is snoozing at the wheel. Or driving the wrong way. Or driving too slow (that can be dangerous, right?). So these people are helping the bus along the best they can. There are probably better ways to get the bus moving (Get a new driver? Find a new bus? Wake the driver up? Call the dispatcher? Hmm…).

Where are you? On the bus? Behind the bus? Pushing the bus? Not interested in busses?

Bus photo by Gerard Stolk

Five P’s of Preparation

I’m reading The Secrets of Facilitation: The S.M.A.R.T. Guide to Getting Results with Groups by Michael Wilkinson (all us managers at the library are reading it right now).

I just read about the 5 P’s of Preparation – talking about planning for a meeting (on page 53). But I realized as I was reading the 5 P’s that they also work pretty well for planning and discussing a technology project.

So – here are my modified 5 P’s of Techie Project Planning:

  1. Purpose – what are the key objectives, why are we building/redesigning this?
  2. Product – what’s the goal? What’s the end result? How will we know we were successful?
  3. Participants – who needs to be involved? Who are we building this for?
  4. Probable issues – are there any concerns? Any roadblocks or challenges in our way? How can we prevent those?
  5. Process – What steps do we need to take to meet our goals?

What steps do you use when planning a technology or web project? Do they look similar to this? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by Bigstock

Video, Youtube, and My Library

I’m still thinking about Youtube and videos, which I started with my post Poking Around in Youtube Insights. So my next couple of posts will talk as bit about YouTube and how to tweak your videos to make them more watchable.

For starters, here’s how many subscribers and video views my library’s Youtube account has received so far (since March 6, 2007):

  • 191 subscribers
  • 191,000+ video views total
What types of video do we generally create?
  • occasional video series (focusing on technology or special collections)
  • one-off videos for upcoming programs
  • videos for the annual report
  • interviews with authors and artists
  • an occasional book review

Looks like we are creating videos for marketing stuff, videos highlighting a collection or service, interviews with speakers … and an occasional book review. Makes sense – sounds like a library to me!

Current direction

Our current strategy for creating video is a pretty simple one. It’s “please make video, dump it to Youtube, and share on our website.” Can’t get simpler than that! And that has worked ok so far – some staff have really embraced that and make a lot of videos. Others use it when it makes sense. What’s this gotten us? We have a lot of videos up on Youtube that shows off our library, services, and staff. Not a a bad thing at all.

Our videos are generally watched, too:

  • most popular video 23,300+ views
  • third most pop video – patron created content!
  • our 15 most popular videos are parody, interviews, interesting stuff about our collections, and kids and teens-related content

Our current video-making tools:

  • video cameras – Three Flip cameras (too bad they stopped making these), a Canon GL2, a Sanyo Xacti, and a couple other video cameras.
  • Software – iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Windows Movie Maker.
  • Staff also use their own cameras/software…

Here’s what we plan to do in 2011:

  • We have two new video series in the works (one that I’ll be directly involved with)
  • I have started adding tags, contact info and urls to every post/video in youtube. I’m also making sure comments are answered.
  • Working on a fledgling video room for staff. Currently, we have a room, we have a Mac and a PC, and we have a green wall.
  • Starting in January, I’m buying some dedicated video mics, lights, and backdrops.
  • And, we have a goal to be more multimedia-focused…

That’s what we’re doing, anyway. What are your library’s plans for video in 2011?

man with video camera from Bigstock

Answer these Questions

I recently read What do You Want People to See over on the Social Rabbit blog. Good read … and it made me think a bit.

The article discusses setting some goals for your social media sites by answering some questions – questions like this:

  • What are you using social media in your business for?
  • what impression about your business do you want to leave people with?

Not bad questions to answer at all. For example, think about your organization’s Facebook Page (assuming you have one). What are you using that for? Have any idea?

How about the second question – what impression do you want to leave people with who visit your organization’s Facebook Page? Answering this question might change the way you post status updates, or what types of pictures you add to the page, for example.

Pondering those questions made me think about our organization websites. Shouldn’t we answer those types of questions in relation to our websites too? I think so.

Take a peek at a page on your website – any page will do. Then answer these questions:

  • what should your audience be looking at while on this page?
  • where are you pointing your audience? What actions should they take here?
  • What should they do next?

Answering these questions will start you down the path of setting some goals for major sections of your website. Not a bad thing to have at all :-)

Pic by Alexander Henning Drachmann

Thinking about Strategy

The fine people at the WebDrivenChurch blog have been thinking about strategy – and I think their ideas for rethinking their tasks and projects is a great one, and can be adapted to also work for other organizations.

Here’s what they’re doing:

“We’re all so tied down to tasks that we can’t pick our heads up to dream again. So we’re doing something about it.

In every setting this might look different, but in ours it looks something like this:

  • Stop: There are things we have done for years that just don’t need to be done anymore. Identify and cut.
  • Combine: There are countless tasks that live independently of each other – but what if they could be combined? Identify and combine.
  • Move: There are thing we do that take HUGE amounts of time and energy. But it is only because of the process. If there were a simpler way to do it wouldn’t that be better? Identify and move.
  • Grow: There are things we are doing that are “old school.” We simply haven’t grown into the technology that is available in that area. Identify and grow.
  • Simplify: And in all things ask if there is a more simple way of presenting the content. Are our websites still too bloated? Have we let our media players get too full? Etc. Identify and simplify.”

What do you think – what can you stop, combine, move, grow, or simplify? I’m guessing a lot…