Hacking for Good

How Libraries can “Hack” their Systems and Organizations to Align with Future Outcomes and Solve Problems that Truly Matter

Today’s Facilitators

Alex Humphreys (he/him/his), Director JSTOR Labs, JSTOR

Curtis Michelson, (he/him/his) Founder of Minds Alert, LLC

Caroline Muglia (she/her/hers), Co-Associate Dean for Collections, University of Southern California

Heather Staines, (she/her/hers)Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group

Geoff Timms, (he/him/his) Librarian for Marine Resources, College of Charleston

Gary Price, (he/him/his) InfoDocket

Thank you

to our t-shirt sponsor!

Agenda

Section

Facilitated by

Time start-end

Introductions/Context

Heather/Curtis

9:00 - 9:30

Finding The Problem

Alex/Curtis

9:30 - 10:00

Framing Our Problem

Alex/Curtis

10:00 - 10:30

-Break-

10:30 - 10:45

In Search of Solutions (Ideation)

Alex/Curtis

10:45 - 11:30

Getting Feedback (Validation)

Alex/Curtis

11:30 - 11:45

You Can Do This

Caroline

11:45 - 12:00

Welcome and Introductions

Heather to facilitate - Be nice to have everyone in the room intro themselves (1 min each) and have a common question to answer like “what brought you here?” or something. AND, we ask what problem/opportunity they have brought with them. (if no particular problem, that’s fine, we’ll have no shortage!) 3rd question: what do they hope to bring back to the office on Monday.

Background

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things:

Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—

Of cabbages—and kings—

Our starting point today is complexity… it’s a complex interconnected world, and no organization or institution is an island apart. Digital only brings us even closer and more connected. We’re in a time of such rapid change, that by the time an organization designs, plans and implements a major program or project, the need that was intended to be addressed may have shifted, the context has shifted on us. “Cost of delay” is king. Hackers and Hacking, though sometimes maligned, has always been a step ahead in terms of realizing the speed of trying something and learning is the key differentiator.

Question: which would you rather be part of… chair a quality of service improvement committee, or be part of a service improvement discovery task force? And Why? What differentiates task forces from committees?

Why “hacking for good?”

We had a few names for this session, and we settled on this because hacking has some negative associations. We could have said “innovation” or “experimentation”. But we wanted to keep “hacking” as a term because it does have a certain renegade spirit that is healthy and so needed in organizations today, maybe especially libraries. And the term pops up in many places today. Growth hacking, Life Hacking, Brain hacking… all are about exploring the edges of disciplines or domains. I like to think of hacking as “systematic experimentation and learning”.

Why “hacking for good?”

To build a funnel or pipeline of hackers, experimenters

And the other reason for this, here at Charleston Conference… because this conference needs more visionaries and more do-ers, in other words, more hackers. We need to build an annual pipeline of people who are experimenting and trying new things, creating poster sessions, telling their stories, and we hope… applying for FastPitch competition. Question: did you know there was not enough entries to host FastPitch this year? We need more risk takers.

Why Librarians?

Raimonda Margioni and Michelle McClure from Univ. of Florida

Tell story of Raimonda Margioni and Michelle McClure from Univ. of Florida, and their “hack” of their library budgeting process.

And, why libraries? Because...

What to expect today, and perhaps after...

This is safe space… it is inclusive space… it is where we can experiment, try things, even if they’re silly, crazy, it’s all good. We’ll have some activities to guide and create those spaces. These are even called, and for good reason, “liberating structures” (great book by that name)

Question: what happens in group meetings typically today when a big decision is on the table. How does your organization approach such a thing?

Liberating structures bring in multiple voices, they force us to question all our assumptions about how things are and how they might be. Encourage us to be forever curious. Forever asking “what else?”, “what next?”, “what might be possible if…” They push us “out of the building” and certainly out of our comfort zone, to listen more deeply, more empathically, and more objectively to our customers, our patrons, our stakeholders. Shouldn’t librarians be good at this? We think so.

Liberating structures engage and energize, and give a vote to everyone, literally. You’ll see us use a technique called “dot voting” for just that purpose.

Applied Hacking for all of these...

Where can you apply these skills? Everywhere in your organization. These are the 21st century tools for solving 21st century problems. The bots will get everything else, but not this! ;)

Finding the Problem

Or, Finding Something Juicy to Work On

Finding the Problem

  • Discovery and hacking projects don’t have to start with an idea
  • But they do need some definition
  • Think about it as defining the sandbox you want to play in

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Questions to Answer

  • What opportunities or problem area would you like to focus on?
  • What impact do you want to have?
  • Who would you most like to help?

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Tools & Activities to Help You Find a Problem

  • Organization Map
  • Speedboat

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Organization Map

Time: 10 - 20 minutes

Materials: Sticky notes, markers & a wall

Objective: Identify organizational context & trends, find broad opportunities

Steps:

  • Take 2 min to individually quietly write ideas
  • 5 min to pair up, discuss
  • 5 min for all to discuss

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Speedboat

Time: 10 - 30 minutes

Materials: Sticky notes, markers & a wall

Objective: Explore what is helping and holding back the team

Steps:

  • Draw a horizontal line on the wall
  • Working silently, team members have 5 minutes to write accelerators, or what helps or could help them
  • Put these above the line, placing similar stickies near each other
  • Repeat the process, but with anchors, or those things that are holding or could hold the team back

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Framing the problem

Or, Exploration

Framing the Problem

  • Before we can figure out what hack to implement, or solution to build, we need to better understand the problem

  • Depending on time and resources, as well as how well the current situation is understood, this can be done quickly in a single meeting or workshop, or for a deep dive it can stretch out over weeks and month

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Tools & Activities to Help You Frame the Problem

  • Problem Interviews
  • Empathy Map
  • Journey Map

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Problem Interviews

Time: 20 - 45 minutes

Materials: something to take notes with

Objective: Understand the problem’s impact on the person experiencing it

Steps:

  • Reach out to the person most impacted by the problem you want to solve and ask to interview them
  • Prepare the questions for your interview. Things like:
    • What does your average day look like? What jobs do you perform?
    • What does success look like for you?
    • What holds you back from that?
    • If you can wave a magic wand and make one change to ____, what would it do?
  • Interview them!

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Empathy Map

Time: 15 - 30 minutes

Materials: sticky notes, a wall

Objective: Understand someone’s context and motivations

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Steps:
Informed by Problem Interviews or your knowledge of your target user:

  • Draw empathy map on wall
  • Brainstorm each section
  • Capture each answer on a sticky, and place it where it belongs on the wall.

Exercise: Journey Map

Time: 30 - 60 minutes

Materials: whiteboard

Objective: Understand the process by which your target user currently performs their main task

Steps:

  • Write/draw target user on left
  • Write goal to the far right
  • Draw all people/roles involved in the task under the target user
  • Map the current version of the process or journey the user takes to achieve the goal

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Ideation

Or, What will you do to help?

Ideation

  • Now that we’re informed about the problem, it’s time to figure out how to improve things
  • The more ideas you can generate, the better
  • Don’t worry at this point whether the ideas are good or feasible!

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Tools & Activities for Ideation

  • “How Might We?”
  • “We Can If”
  • Crazy 8’s

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: “How Might We?”

Time: 20 - 45 minutes

Materials: journey map, sticky notes

Objective: Brainstorm ways in which we might improve the journey users take

Steps:

  • Looking at each stage in journey map and working individually, write answers on sticky notes to “How might we…?”
  • Share ideas, sticking H.M.W.’s to relevant spot on journey map

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: “We Can If...”

Time: 20 - 45 min

Materials: propelling question, stickies

Objective: Generate new ways to solve for a problem by using limits as creative juice.

Steps:

  • Describe your limitation or constraint (e.g. time, $$, talent, etc.)
  • Describe the goal you’re trying to achieve.
  • Use each hexagon as a way to creatively reframe your solution and discover breakthrough possibilities.

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

This is the Cesar Chavez method, the “Si, se puede” approach. It’s a fundamentally optimistic take on what’s possible if we’re prepared to think anew about our challenges. Constraints actually make us more creative, and worded craftily, constraints married to big ambitions, are called “propelling questions” and they can truly propel our thinking forward.

Exercise: Crazy 8’s

Time: 45 - 90 minutes

Materials: pencil, paper with 8 squares on it

Objective: Create lots of ideas, quickly

Steps:

  • Working individually, draw 8 ideas in 8 minutes
  • Share your ideas
  • Rinse, repeat, stealing & building on others’ ideas

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Validation

Or, Will this really help?

Validation

  • Hacking must have an encounter with reality
  • Take our ideas “out of the building”
  • Get feedback early and often: try to hear questions and critiques before we’ve had a chance to fall in love with our darlings

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Tools & Activities for Validation

  • One Liner, or “Comprehension Test”
  • Napkin Sketch, or Paper Prototyping
  • Solution interviews
  • Solution prioritization

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: One Liner (Comprehension Test)

Time: 15 minutes

Materials: Clipboard, Paper

Objective: See if your idea is clear and memorable; hear how people react to it in their own words.

Steps:

  • Sum up your problem/solution in a ‘one liner’ or mantra.
  • Leave the room, find 3 random conference strangers, say your one liner and invite their comments.
  • Report back.

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Napkin Sketch (Paper Prototyping)

Time: 15 - 30 minutes

Materials: pencil, paper

Objective: Draw a picture that conveys the basic concept of your idea

Steps:

  • Draw a picture or series of them that convey the basic concept of your idea. It can be a pencil mockup, or a stick-figure story.
  • Don’t sweat the details

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Solution Interviews

Time: 20 - 45 minutes

Materials: napkin sketch

Objective: Understand whether your idea will solve the problem you’re seeking to solve

Steps:

  • Reach out to the person most impacted by the problem you want to solve and ask to interview them
  • Prepare a napkin sketch (or two) showing what you want to do.
  • Interview them! Show them the napkin sketch(es) without explaining it (them). Ask:
    • How clear is this idea?
    • If this idea existed today, how excited would you be?

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

Exercise: Solution Prioritizing

Time: 20 - 45 minutes

Materials: sticky notes

Objective: Understand the cost/benefit of potential ideas

Steps:

  • Write each idea on a sticky
  • Place ideas on a graph based on:
    • Impact
    • Effort

Find

Frame

Ideate

Validate

What we learned today...

💡

?

I think this is where we hear from the participants both their direct and indirect or meta-learning. Let's see what they noticed. We could start by asking...
what were some patterns that kept appearing today?
What were some things you noticed that we did?
What else about this hacking and these techniques surprised you, in good or bad ways? Let's pull it from them, see what they say.

How to take these ideas out into your library...

You Can Do It

(Yes, you can totally do it)

Tell your story

  • Gather your information
    • On the flight home (before you watch a movie)
    • As your first order of business when you return to work
  • Map your stakeholders
    • Identify your leaders + cheerleaders + advocates
    • Know your antiheros
  • Develop a digestible plan
    • We love side projects that are tangentially related to our daily job tasks
  • Set benchmarks + find ways to hold yourself accountable
    • Call me!
    • Tell people about your work, so that they ask questions and ask for outcomes
  • Iterate!

Think about your response to YES + NO

  • Often prepare ourselves for NO especially with projects that are NEW and INNOVATIVE and EXPERIMENTAL
    • Change is scary!
    • Don’t let a single NO or a cacophony of NOs stop you
      • Where else can you get funding? Support? Access? Publicity?
  • We don’t always prepare for YES
    • Leverage your work- both in its process and final product
    • Know what you need. When an important person says YES, tell them you need that thing to be successful (money, time, resources)

T-shirt promise

Appendix - Additional Hacks To Try

Courtesy of the good folks at MobiusLoop.com

Hacking for Good - Charleston 2019 Preconference Workshop - Google Slides