Wednesday, 23 March 2011

JISC Conference 2011 - part 2

OK so a week later I've got chance to sit down and write up part 2 of the JISC conference.

The first session I attended after lunch was "How innovation helps to support an agile and efficient University". This session was to be a discussion about what helps innovation in institutions and what hinders it. The panel members gave us their views about innovation and where they are coming from and each member joined a different group for the discussion. We had an interesting discussion on our table about barriers to innovation and agreed that quite often there are pockets of innovation going on in institutions but that it isn't always recognised. Recognition we felt was important - it doesn't have to be a huge reward but recognising someones efforts is important. One of the barriers is how we get institutions to see innovation as valuable in cash strapped times. We talked about structure too - how much structure is needed? Too much and it can stifle innovation, not enough and nothing ever happens with the pockets of innovation that are happening. It was also asked can the institution be innovative or is it innovative because of all the individuals who are innovating within it? Which is the most innovative - the one that supports innovation of individuals or one that tries to cultivate innovation (i.e. tries to create innovators)?

All in all a very interesting session with lots to take away and consider. It made me think about how much we are "allowed" to be innovative within my own service. I don't know the answer but I think that maybe we should stop waiting for permission try things out and then take them to senior managers for adoption more widely or rejection. Sometimes I think there is a tendency to wait for leadership from above for projects where maybe we should just be doing our bit in our small area and then sharing the knowledge (obviously if there is a cost implication this may not be possible) - the only danger to this is there's then no joined up approach and again you end up with isolated pockets of innovation. The key thing is if you come up with a good idea share it.

The final session of the afternoon was "Re-thinking libraries: innovation in a time of limited resources". This session took a very different approach which I thought was really innovative. There were three speakers who had a 6 minutes to deliver a "pitch" - this pitch included details of an activity or discussion that we could choose to be part off for the rest of the session, with feedback from the three groups at the end. I chose to be part of the group looking at planning for an innovative future. There is a really good summary of the session (including the each of the three themes) here by Ben Showers who facilitated the session. Our discussion and outcomes are we recorded by Peter Tinson of UCISA and rather than re-invent the wheel and try to remember what was said (I wasn't taking notes) in our group here's a link to Peter's blog post. Plus he did a better job of summarising it than I could.

I thought the conference was really good and provided much food for thought. It was great to have it in Liverpool as I was able to get to it very easily and still be home at a reasonable time.

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