Who are you? Who who? Who who?
While reading The Ten Faces of Innovation this week, I found myself fascinated by the first three personas because I could see many aspects of my coworkers (and myself) in their various traits. Even in the introductory chapter, with the brief overview of all ten personas, I was able to recognize various staff members, which made this reading extremely engaging.
One such staff member is the Youth Services Librarian I work with. She is easily a Cross-Pollinator. She will find some exciting project on Pinterest that is either too complicated or too expensive for the library, and she will find a way to tweak it into something feasible within our limitations, thus taking an idea and “translating it successfully to another” (Kelley & Littman, 2005, p. 68). When I find something I want to do, or start to form an idea, I usually go track her down and bounce ideas off of her until we come up with something awesome. I can’t count the number of times she has pulled up several different pins she saved on her Pinterest board, and then detailed ways to combine them to make something else altogether. If that’s not a Cross-Pollinator in action, I don’t know what is.
Another staff member I work with reminds me of the Experimenter. He is an Adult Services Librarian, but he and I form the bridge team between Youth and Adult Services that takes care of all of the teen programming at the library. We spend a ton of time brainstorming, and when we come up with something we aren’t sure will work, he is the first to say “Let’s try it!” Sure, sometimes it fails, but we always know what went wrong and how to make it better. Sometimes it’s a fixable issue, and sometimes we have to reinvent our idea because it’s not something manageable. For example, next week we will be staying after hours to experiment with a program idea we want to do over the summer. Before I get into it, a little background:
In December we ordered an Xbox 360 for our monthly gaming program. We had a really old Playstation before, but it was slowly dying an excruciating death, and every time we would try to play a game, it would pretty much freeze. So we decided it was time for a new one, and we went with the Xbox 360. Now the most popular game at our program was Rock Band, so we knew we would need new instruments, but they are so expensive that we had to wait until we got the budget approved to buy our own. Just last week we were able to order everything we needed – two guitars, a drum kit, a keyboard, a second microphone, Green Day Rock Band and Rock Band 3. All of these items are expected to be delivered by next Wednesday. On Friday we are going to attempt to hook everything up to the PA system in the library. When we did an after hours teen event (Life-Size Clue) in January, after a period of trial and error we were able to find the right way to hook my iPod into the system and have music playing throughout the library but still be able to make announcements over it when necessary. We are going to have a video game tournament over the summer, and while that is going in the meeting room, we want to have another setup out in the library for kids to play while waiting their turn. And what better game than Rock Band to not only play, but to hook up through the system. We are pulling out all the stops, and we are going to try to project it onto the giant white wall near the PA system, hook up the speakers and sound, and have a giant Rock Band broadcast in the library. Do we know if it will work? No. Is he willing to give it everything and experiment with the different tools, cords, and equipment we have available? For sure. I’m just along for the ride. (And I may get to sing “Say It Ain’t So” over the loud speakers… Definitely an added bonus for me).
I could go on for pages about the different personas I see embodied in my coworkers at the library, but I won’t. We have 21 staff members, and I don’t want to bore everyone with all the little connections my brain is making. However I do want to talk about one more person. Me! (Not to sound too full of myself). As I was reading the first chapter, I found myself strongly identifying with the Anthropologist. I love to observe. I love to insert myself with people, get to know them, find out what makes them tick. And above all, I love love LOVE to talk to people. I want to know what they’re interested in, what they watch/read/listen to, and what they wish they had opportunities to do. I think this is a large part of why I like teens so much: I know we have the capacity to do things they’re interested in, we just haven’t figured out what that is yet. And I am on a mission. During my monthly book discussion group, once we have spent the obligatory time talking about books, I try to steer the conversation to music and movies and video games, and then I like to sit back and just take notes. I often “offer something about myself” (p. 30) to help put them at ease and make myself relatable, and I always, ALWAYS want to “make them laugh” (p. 31). These are some of the best ways to observe kids, according to Kelley and Littman (2005), and it’s exactly the same with teens. They want someone to hang out with and who at least tries to relate. Once they get talking, it’s like they almost forget there is an adult in the room (I suppose it also helps most of them are taller than me), and they’ll talk about most anything. By helping them feel free to express themselves, I am able to learn more about their interests and hobbies, and I can use that to create better programming that is more suited to their needs. I learned that they wanted programs after the library was closed. When we offered the Clue program I mentioned earlier, we got 18 teens to come. The average number of teens at a program is 7-9, so we felt really good about that. That being said, I also have a little bit of an Experimenter in me. If I see something online that I want to try, I am not afraid to grab the materials and make it. I found two tutorials on origami butterflies, so I bookmarked them, grabbed a bunch of different sizes and varying thicknesses of square pieces of paper, and spent an hour on desk making butterflies between helping patrons with various needs, until I decided which process seemed easier and until I found the paper I thought worked best. Now it’s something I have down, and will use at a future program. At first when I read the introduction with the descriptions of the different personas, I was worried that I would have to pick just one. So naturally I found it extremely gratifying that Kelley and Littman pointed out that these personas are not set in stone, because I saw a little bit of myself in each of these chapters.
Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The ten faces of innovation: IDEO’s strategies for beating the devil’s advocate & driving creativity throughout your organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.