How To Stop Duplicating Effort

“Libraries are a source of significant creativity, resourcefulness and innovation. However, many are expending duplicate effort to solve the same problems or to take advantage of similar opportunities.” (http://www.oclc.org/reports/webscale/libraries-at-webscale.pdf, p26.)

The only way to overcome the duplication of effort is to find ways to share and create new value for the profession and the communities we serve.

However people are reluctant to share their experiences for a number of reasons:

  • I’ll look stupid: People are fearful of admitting that they aren’t experts.
  • My work is specialised, others won’t be able to use what I’ve learnt: People don’t realise that others may face similar situations or that the knowledge they share could trigger a solution that had not been previously considered.
  • You’ll steal my ideas: People are concerned that their knowledge and experiences will be used out of context or without acknowledgement.
  • I haven’t got time: People are busy and this is just one more thing that isn’t on their ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ list of things to do.

But as we know from the success of EPIC, Kōtui, AnyQuestions, Koha ILS, ebook consortia and many many other New Zealand library examples of cooperation, the benefits far outweigh the effort and irrelevance of reinventing the wheel.

And it doesn’t have to be limited to large projects such as these. The wealth and experience you have to offer about the projects you are currently working on will make it easier for another library team (perhaps even within your own library) to provide greater value to their customers.

So I strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to share your project experiences here in an effort to strengthen ourselves, our organisations, our communities, and our profession.

Perhaps you’d like to share:

  • what happened at your last project team meeting
  • an encounter with a key person involved in the project
  • feedback from a customer
  • your views on the Summer Reading Programme
  • getting your project team on-board
  • what you’ve learnt about project communication
  • or anything else related to projects.

Send me an email telling me about your project experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) and I’ll collate them for a blog article at the end of February. Or share your experiences by commenting on this article.  It doesn’t have to be lengthy – a couple of paragraphs will do.

Nā to rourou, nā taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket, and my food basket, the people will thrive.

Other articles that may interest you:

  Group discussion…opens up my mind to others interpretations and ways of thinking” was the most valuable aspect of The Cheat’s Guide to Project Management says Andrew Robinson, South Waikato District Libraries.
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4 Comments

  1. PM Hut says:

    Hi Sally,

    In project management, the best way to avoid duplicating efforts is through the adoption of the PMO, where all the lessons learned about previous projects are stored in a repository. This repository can serve for future projects. You can read more about the role of the PMO here (hope you’ll get the chance to read it and maybe comment on it).

    1. Sally says:

      I completely agree that a PMO wis an excellent mechanism for realising the benefits of projects. Large organisations such as local government bodies are likely to use a PMO for large investment projects, but are unlikely to be involved in the many smaller projects that are undertaken in libraries without trained project managers.

      I hope the library profession will champion a project management framework and document repository that can be utilised across the profession and make it easier for libraries to share their lessons learned across organisations.

  2. janholmquist says:

    I always liked this way of thinking – and I seems to be very true:

    “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”
    Howard H. Aiken, as quoted in Portraits in Silicon (1987) by Robert Slater – according to: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ideas

Comments are closed.