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Worried About Being Labeled a Negative Nelly?

“How does one correct imperfections without noting them, when noting them means being tagged as negative? “ was the question I recently discussed with one of my librarian contacts.  It’s a question that comes up a lot in my work these days with managers and their teams.  I realize that I have answers to that question that may help so  I thought I’d share.  I hope that one or more of them may help you if you find yourself worried about being labeled a Negative Nelly:


Mental Models of Community Engagement Hold Us Back

My colleague Gail Griffith and I did a preconference at ALA called Mental Model Busting.  One of the mental models we explored was community engagement.  As you might guess, people’s mental models of community engagement were all over the map.  Not that there was disagreement, just wildly different assumptions about what is meant by “community engagement”.  The flipcharted responses revealed that to some it was partnering, for others it was identifying community.  For some it was having the whole community read the same book, for others it was letting the community see our value and for oth


Are You Listening?

Everyone seems to be saying….

  • We need to be responsive to our communities!
  • We need to innovate!
  • We need to do things differently!

They may be right, and the question is HOW do we do these things?  I believe there is a set of skills we need in order to get where we want to go.  And, one of them is learning how to really listen.


Which Kind of Customer Service Do You Mean

Today I attended Laurie Brown’s ALA webinar on customer service.  I do a lot of customer service training, and I wanted to hear how others approach the topic.  And here’s what occurred to me:

Almost 300 people paid to attend the webinar, which tells me there’s a lot of interest in “customer service.”  But what is it people really want to know?  What happened in the webinar parallels my experience with clients who want in-person customer service training: there seem to be two distinct areas where people want help.


Expose Your Skills

I was reading the SF State University Magazine today.  There’s an article about an historian who wrote a graphic novel about a court trial of a slave woman named Albina in late 19th century West Africa: the kind of history that’s hard to find because of the dearth of records kept.  He wanted to make sure the story of a “tough as nails, powerful, argumentative and resilient woman” was told.  In the article, the historian, Trevor R.


The Next Great Evolutionary Leap

One of my Applied Improvisation colleagues sent me to a Harvard Business Review article by Tony Schwartz called "Why Don't We Act in Our Own Best Interest" which mirrors a conversation I've been having with many.  It relates directly to my previous three blog posts on creating a culture of “yes” and the value of practicing the skills of Improvisation.


An Answer to a Question is More Than "Yes" or "No"

In groups, people often approach suggestions as if the response needs to be a “yes” or a “no”.  Alright, we know that “maybe” is also an option but that’s really a show stopper without more conversation.  I’m wondering if now more than ever, the problem is that people are so stressed for time that the uncertainty involved in anything other than “yes” or “no” is unbearable.  I can imagine people sitting in meetings with their inner voice saying, ” Please no, we can’t spend more time on this.  Just decide!”


What Does it Mean to Have an Organizational Culture of “Yes”

In my last blog post, I asked the question  “What would happen if your organizational culture was one of “yes”?  I imagined that some people reading the post thought something like “She’s crazy!  If we say “yes” to anything more, we’ll explode.”  Indeed, libraries already do so many things for so many people that adding more, probably won’t work.  I’d like to clarify what I mean by creating a culture of “yes.”



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