Friday, February 11, 2011


Earlier this week, I posted a bunch of links. Included was a link to Karen Schneider's post "In Praise of Succeeding." The very next morning I heard a talk by Katrice Albert, whose topic was on cultural competence and diversity (her specialty).

Included in her presentation was a video of Dewitt Jones, a free lance photographer for the National Geographic , who talked about creativity. Listening to the points he made encouraged me to go back to Karen's post.

In my linking to Karen's post I had said: "Early in the essay she says (and I cleaned up the shorthand a little), 'Another blog post I don’t have time to write: how failure is overrated, and often confused with iterative design.' I like that last part....'confused with iterative design.' That is a great phrase, since I am generally a half full glass person. She draws very heavily from her experience in a MFA writing program. It is a great post."

She notes that the conversations about failure are mostly about our getting comfortable with the fact that we won't always succeed. She notes "But let’s be clear that succeeding is personally and professionally more rewarding than failing." [Oh, how true that is!]

She then goes on to talk about the importance of the iterative design process, and group processes. Karen drew on an experience from her MFA program where one student dropped out because, as she said, "This writer liked the idea of 'succeeding,' ... but was not able to handle what success actually required."

In the Dewitt Jones video he talked about the concept of "multiple right answers." This is most certainly true in his work, and he showed examples of how either changing lenses on his camera, changing his position, or changing what he (literally) focused on, would dramatically change what we, the viewers saw. He talked about positioning ourselves in the "place of most potential."

The handout for the presentation drew on these points and listed "nine concepts of everyday creativity." These belong to Katrice Alpert, and she should be credited with them:
  1. Creativity is the ability to look at the ordinary and see the ... extraordinary.
  2. Every act can be a creative one.
  3. Creativity is a matter of perspective.
  4. There's always more than one right answer.
  5. Reframe problems into opportunities.
  6. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
  7. Break the pattern.
  8. Train your technique.
  9. You've got to really care.
It is a great list. It can be applied to most library situations. One of the electronic discussion lists I regularly read (and is co-moderated by Karen) is PUBLIB, an electronic discussion list for public librarians. There are (the last I heard) about 7,000 subscribers. The archives are on the web. The topics covered are wide ranging. What often fascinates me is the different ways that librarians solve the problems faced in public libraries. No one solution is always correct.

Karen's post contains some real gems towards the end. (I am glad that I went back and re-re-read it!) One of them is this one: "the failure may not be in the idea, but how it is introduced and managed." She notes that if an organization can only do ten things, the eleventh idea will either supplant one of the prior ten, or will have to wait.

In my life I have dealt with many impatient people. Another gem of a quote from Karen is: "Patience, grasshopper. “Not now” is not the same as “no.” Sometimes a great idea needs to wait its turn..." There is more after that, which you should read.

So, I am grateful to two women whose names start with K who touched me intellectually this week: Karen Schneider and Katrice Albert

No comments:

Post a Comment