My new favorite spot in Burlington is Maglianero. It’s an industrial, bike centered coffeeshop (and it has a small skatepark inside). I have been thinking about student feedback and user-centered design a lot recently and the feedback cards that this place had struck me as being well designed.
On the cards they ask 5 simple questions:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What’s missing?
- What kind of events would you like to see in the cafe?
- If you could change one thing in this world…
The design of the card is simple but it works really well, and I love the idea of a question that is not necessarily about the business, but is a question about personal meaning, values, and the “why” that Simon Sinek discusses in his TED talk.
I enjoying seeing creative ways of getting feedback and these cards do a good job of that.
This past week our library was awarded the 2012 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award in the College category. Our team is all really honored and excited here. We’re looking forward to the party that we’re going to throw in celebration of it, because after all there ain’t no party like a library party. I’m also really grateful to ACRL and YBP for this recognition. This is one of those moments that makes it all worth it.
The process of writing the application involved significant effort, but was very valuable. First, it was exceedingly collaborative. Multiple people wrote sections of the narrative. We also had an all staff meeting where we took time to think about how we meet the needs and serve the mission of the college. All of our staff’s voices were represented in the final application and this made the final application that much stronger.
Second, it was valuable to think of what value we provide to students, faculty, and staff and then prove it. Our thinking was closely related to the Value of Academic Libraries Report that came out last year. Instead of thinking of inputs (how many books we own, amount of funding, etc.) we thought about outputs (the impact that we make on faculty, staff, students, and ultimately the college as an institution). We had to give evidence of that impact. That evidence came in the form of both statistical data such as information literacy assessment data and Noel-Levitz data, but it was also anecdotal and included quotes and tweets like the one below directly related to academic success.
We were all ecstatic to have won the award, but even if we hadn’t I knew that we had a great team doing some special things together and a document that we could be proud of. We’re a “small but mighty” staff and we have a lot of fun in the work that we do together. Being able to articulate that in a way that proved our value to others and brought all of our staff’s voices together was extremely rewarding.
Image by peregrinari on Flickr
I’ve noticed in meetings, whether on committees or campus meetings or pretty much any type of meeting, a concern that comes up is uncertainty. How do we know that people will use this service? Will this initiative work? What if we fail? But people aren’t only worried about failure. They’re worried about success too. What if too many people come? What if too many people use this service and it is unsustainable? What if we have too much success?
But uncertainty is the nature of innovation. You can’t possibly know all the consequences of a particular service, initiative, project, etc. In addition, often the unintended consequences are some of the most fruitful. All the planning and studies in the world will never tell you exactly what is going to happen.
While it’s important to plan and anticipate challenges it can also be a hindrance to action. Endless surveys, needs assessments and studying of the situation can bring ideas to a standstill.
If the initiative is something small a good question to ask is “why don’t we try it and see what happens?” If the project is something larger some study is likely necessary, but don’t let it bog you down. Instead of doing everything right the first time make an effort to iterate. Put something out and then change it based on what happens. Host an event and improve on it the next time. Put up the site and alter it based on feedback. Start the new service and then change it after interacting with users.
Get rid of the idea of always getting it right the first time. Do it the first time and then do it better the second time.