Magazine article Texas Library Journal

Why Trying to Reinvent the Wheel Is Inefficient, Although Sometimes Helpful, and Pretty Much Necessary for Innovation

Magazine article Texas Library Journal

Why Trying to Reinvent the Wheel Is Inefficient, Although Sometimes Helpful, and Pretty Much Necessary for Innovation

Article excerpt

None of us likes to waste time, and no one wants to be guilty of inefficiency or worse - creating needless busywork. While strongly adhering to these implied principles of efficacy, I will say that we all benefit from examining how we accomplish our goals to see if there are alternative means that are new, previously unknown to us, or suddenly more promising given changes in the context in which we must operate.

Libraries do this all the time. We only have to turn to our most basic function for an example of the most continuously evolving aspect of our work. While for centuries, society had a pretty darn fine method for producing and distributing information, the world collectively figured out how to create a "new wheel" that allowed us to push information in entirely new ways, traversing distances in previously unimagined ways.

CHANGE.

ADAPTATION.

TRANSFORMATION.

I thought of this notion of reexamination when speaking with a colleague, who seemed to me to want to solve problems I thought I had already solved or determined not worth solving. (Can you say "set in her ways?") After a second, I thought: wait a minute, here I have a great opportunity - an energetic presence, ambition, and fresh eyes. I

don't know what the outcome will be; but at best, we'll have a better approach to a problem, and at worst, we will have affirmed our approach while providing ourselves with a learning and assessment opportunity.

I think of this re-examination process, because this is the time for libraries (and TLA) to assess. We have our normal cycles of planning - the end of a state legislative session, the end of the fiscal year, the end of school semesters, the beginning of new budgeting cycles, TLA's new strategic planning process, etc. These functions are part of our work, and librarians love process. We are so very good at it! By profession (and by DNA to a large extent), we tend to be methodical planners. This professional characteristic is a plus.

I challenge us to add a bit of the lookbeyond-the-horizon explorer to our efforts. Settle on something you have not really thought about before, something you have just taken as "a given" either in approach or its mere existence. Can you do something differently? Will that lead to opportunities? Does it open your mind to other possibilities? If not, you've lost nothing. …

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