Conversations That Count: Money & Friends Change Everything


The Case for Transformation that Increases Engagement

This blog post comes from Nannette Naught, Senior Consultant at Innovative

Don’t believe me? Look at what simply acknowledging this reality and responding responsibly did for the radio industry:

  •  Change your Perspective.Pandora will change the way you discover and listen to music.” It’s radio transformed to the way you live — personalized, portable, and easy to use. Evolving with you as your tastes change, and you click 👍 or 👎.
  • Change your Strategy. Pandora changed not just radio, but music classification and access forever. Powered by ”the most comprehensive music analysis ever undertaken” with adherent, state-of-the-art licensing, it’s essentially a connected music library:
  • Change your World. Because in the end, Pandora is about more than its available song inventory and the efficiency with which they deliver it to you. Pandora takes service seriously and works to add value across the entire music lifecycle. It exploits its position in the center of the distribution stream to everyone’s strategic advantage, enhancing all stakeholders’ experiences along the way —performer, lyricist, composer, copyright holder, distributor, and end user alike. It anchors itself in engagement as a substantive success strategy that goes beyond rhetorical device to demonstrable measure of their organization’s ability to repeatedly satisfy user wants and needs. (For a window into how others in library are thinking along similar lines, see VCU’s 2015 Moving Users, Moving Results: Exploring Customer Engagement for Deeper Relationships.)

All of which leads to more friends and more money. Which in business terms, leads to both relevance and ROI. And therein lies the case for transformation that increases engagement as a viable path not just to library sustainability, but success.

And it doesn’t stop there: Looking at digital transformation as a path through engagement to long-term viability allows us to quickly move beyond library’s latent fascination with next gen ILSes. It propels us out of 1990s inventory and information management into the age of the intelligent enterprise where we can work as equals with our organizational colleagues and technology partners to actively create our shared future.

Not sure you believe me? Let’s apply those Pandora change principals to library transformation efforts as a way to jump start conversation. I’ll throw out my suggestion, and look to you to email me or bring your thoughts to our upcoming “Strategic Skills You Would Like to Acquire and the Business Processes They Support” roundtable at ALA Annual in Chicago, on Saturday, June 24th at 3:30 pm in the Hilton Palmer House’s Grant Park Parlor.

So here goes:

  • Change your Perspective. Connected music libraries like Pandora and Spotify are all about the user experience — they provide music embedded in the life, the car, the phone, the “……” of the user. What are our connected and embedded libraries all about? What do we hope to change for our end users? What is library transformed to the way our users live, work, and play?
  • Change your Strategy. What if libraries changed not just their software, but the way they interact with their senior leadership teams? What if we transformed our institutional alignment efforts to the way executives work complete with the terms, metrics, and methodologies relevant to our leadership’s student retention, researcher/grant support, and “….” objectives? Might funding and library services change for the better? Perhaps forever? Thereby, allowing us to evolve in concert with our institutions and communities, as their needs change, and our leadership moves. Food for thought, consider for example:
    • The wants and needs expressed in ACRL’s recent Environmental Scan 2017.
    • The directions businesses are going, what’s worrying CEOs, and where digital transformation outside the library silo is headed expressed in annual “state of the business” reports, such as Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017.
    • The risks, realities, and strategic skills required for success in the modern knowledge economy from the library perspective as covered in Innovative’s new strategic skills boot camps: Metadata Bootcamp and Content Bootcamp.
  • Change your World. Because in the end, library is about more than our available resource inventories and the efficiency with which we deliver them to patrons. Where can we go and what can we accomplish, if we like Pandora, work to add value across the entire knowledge lifecycle? Exploiting our position in the center of the knowledge distribution stream to everyone’s strategic advantage, enhancing all stakeholders’ experiences along the way — student, instructor, researcher, parent, publisher, copyright holder, aggregator, and library funding agency alike. What if library, like the providers that are changing our patrons’ worlds daily, anchors itself in engagement as a substantive success strategy that goes beyond rhetorical device to a demonstrable measure of the library’s ability to positively impact our institutions, our communities, and our world. Food for thought indeed. Ready to join the conversation?
    • Come see us at ALA Annual — Martha Rice Sanders and I will be in the booth and would love to chat with you, one on one.
    • Email me your thoughts at
    • Attend one of III’s new strategic advantage boot camps: The Knowledge Economy and/or The Business of Library — and walk away ready to start exploiting the right content, in the right format, from the right providers to your library’s, your institution’s, and your end users’ strategic advantage.
    • Or just, tune in again on June 21st, when I explore how libraries might quit listening and start leading.