I’ve been avidly following the 30 Days of Innovation series, and throughout the discussion I’ve been thinking about how keeping YALSA as an organization on the cutting edge is a continual process. I was reminded of the conversations the Board of Directors had when developing the Strategic Plan. With limited time, staff, and funds, the Board recognizes the challenge of developing innovation, and in response, created the Capacity Building goal in the plan. The key question is how can YALSA increase capacity so as to devote energy to innovation and the development of ideas that support members and the mission?

YALSA’s approach to capacity building and organizational development focuses on four areas–increasing YALSA’s human resources capabilities, improving Board efficiency and structure, strategically managing and expanding revenue, and attracting new members, partners, sponsors and funders. You can see the specific actions YALSA is taking or planning related to this and all goals of the Strategic Plan in the Action Plan. What ideas do you have to help YALSA increase capacity?

What about building capacity in our own work situations or even as we participate in the committee and taskforce work of YALSA? I know there are times when I’m so involved in the day-to-day routine or feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done that being innovative is the last thing on my mind. I find though, that many moments of engagement and job satisfaction have been rooted in efforts to try new approaches. I came across this Think Simple Now blog post, 7 Habits of Highly Innovative People, which I think provides practical ways to harness our inner innovator. I gave the habits my own spin below, thinking about how I would interpret them in my school library environment, and how they apply to YALSA committee and Board work.

  1. Persistence Most great ideas don’t come from out of the blue. When something isn’t working, it may take a period of evaluation and trying different approaches before finding one that makes a difference.
  2. Removing self-limiting inhibitions We all have our comfort zones and taking on challenges requires energy and motivation to be successful, but because you are approaching something from a fresh perspective as you learn your way, your contributions can be the new insight that leads to an innovative breakthrough. Volunteering in YALSA certainly provides multiple opportunities to stretch yourself in different ways from your day job.
  3. Take risks, make mistakes As discussed most ably in a recent YALSA blog post, a willingness to risk failure in trying something new is a hallmark of innovation.
  4. Escape For me, the least successful strategy to solving a problem or trying to be creative is forcing it when it’s just not there. Relieve some pressure and take a break–often my best ideas arrive when I’m not directly trying to drum one up.
  5. Writing things down Sometimes just the process of getting your thoughts on paper (or screen) helps to clarify your thinking. A list of questions or a task analysis breakdown forces organization and is a springboard for conversation with others.
  6. Find patterns and create combinations One of my favorite things to do after conferences is to look over my notes and identify ideas I can immediately implement with some modification for my own library environment. Bouncing off of other people’s experiences can be an easier path to innovation.
  7. Curiosity Innovators want to learn, and usually the first step to finding creative ways to solve problems is by asking questions.

What would you add to this list? How have you managed to foster innovation in your own environment?

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