Innovation Management in and for Libraries

I was invited as a keynote speaker to the conference Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries (#emtacl12) in Trondheim. On October 2 I had a talk about innovation management in and for libraries. It’s not the first time I talked about this topic, but I tried to work it out a little bit in more general way. So innovation management as we introduced it at ETH-Bibliothek is still important, but it is now one important example to me. There are more libraries in Germany and Switzerland that implemented an innovation management. Usually the first step is to create the position of an innovation manager or to indicate a staff member to be responsible for the innovation process.

I structured the implementation of an innovation management into seven steps:

Step 1: Create an Organizational Framework
Step 2: Define the innovation process
Step 3: Introduce an Idea Management
Step 4: Involve Staff
Step 5: Involve Customers (Open Innovation)
Step 6: Search systematically for Ideas
Step 7: Cultivate your Product Portfolio

I am convinced that this organizational framework is important to institutionalize innovation management in libraries.  But in fact, most important is a culture, a spirit of innovation. This can not be replaced by organization and management methods. And it is decisive that the library’s management team lives this spirit. The main task of innovation management is therefore to create a framework in which the innovation culture and spirit can grow.

I am very much interested in examples of libraries that have already introduced a kind of an innovation management. If your library did, I would be very interested in some information about the way it was done. Don’t hesitate to contect me. You may write a commentary to this blog post or send me an email (see >contact).

5 thoughts on “Innovation Management in and for Libraries

  1. We had an interesting discussion after the talk: maybe there is a difference in culture of managenment between dutch/british and swiss/german libraries? Colleagues from the Netherlands are principally sceptical towards management. Is this why they also think that my approach is too top-down and therefore won’t work? On the other hand I discussed with librarians from Australia or Sweden, and they are (also) convinced that a framework is very important and that innovation management should give this framework.

    • And we had even more discussions during the conference… I talked to some Dutch colleagues witch assured that they do trust in management methods. We agreed that it depends more from the culture inside one institution than from the country. So there are libraries in University of Applied Sciences that eagerly try to adapt modern management methods. One colleague convinced even during the conference his director at home to make a list of ideas and to prioritize it… So, that’s a nice success of my talk here in Trondheim. And, by the way, also visitors of my blog are invited to leave a reply here ;-)

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