New year, new values

Agreeing on values for the group 

On 11th January the Innovation Group met to reflect on the first year of activity, and plan ahead for the coming year. Keen to nail down our core values, we embarked on a process of identifying and then aggregating our personal values, both in relation to the group and for ourselves. This activity was based on Phil Jones’ Ding!. Once we had identified the values common to the group, we spent some time trying to refine and define what we really meant by these words and whether they truly reflected our vision for the group. Out was ‘service’, in was ‘making a positive difference’.

Equality, equity, justice, fairness, inclusive?

The most challenging and interesting part of the discussion was trying to pin what many of us felt was an important value, but few of us used the same word. Was it equality, equity, justice, fairness, inclusive? With an academic lawyer in the room, you can imagine how the conversation went! Inspired in part by Carl Froehle’s much-shared and adapted meme we settled on Equity.


  • Ambition
  • Creativity
  • Making a positive difference
  • Open-mindedness
  • Equity
sketch note showing the values: ambition, creativity, making a difference, open-mindedness and equity

sketch note showing the values: ambition, creativity, making a difference, open-mindedness and equity

Reflecting on what has passed

Group processes

It was useful and enjoyable to take the time to collectively reflect on the first year of the Library Innovation Group. It has certainly been challenging, not only in terms of getting things done (or not, in many cases), but also in terms of working out HOW we operate as a group.

We tackled the weaknesses of our non-hierarchical structure, and having rotating ‘chairperson’ for meetings. There was a lack of continuity, a lack of ownership for actions and perhaps a feeling that we still needed direction and leadership from ‘above’ to some degree.


On the positive side, the Library Innovation Group provided a springboard for the implementation of video-streaming service Kanopy, and helped to progress our ideas to:

  • improve shelf signage
  • develop interactive, integrated maps
  • make records clearer on our discovery tool OneSearch

Planning in enough structure, but not too much

Ideas, not implementation

The defining change going forward for the Library Innovation Group will be a clear focus on ideas generation, rather than implementation.  Obviously there will be a number of us who will be involved in implementing ideas within our own teams, but we felt we would be better employed being a source of ideas for the Library, actively seeking and exploring.

We’re looking forward to developing these ideas into pitches aimed at colleagues, and of course senior managers (yes we exist in a hierarchical structure!).

Nuts and bolts

In order to combat some of our organisational challenges, we’re going to operate with a rolling chairperson and note-taker who needs to commit to chairing 3 consecutive meetings. A simple solution that doesn’t disrupt our non-hierarchical format too much but will allow for continuity.

We also planned our regular meetings to be treated as milestones. While not wishing to be bound by monthly timescales we wanted to build in a rhythm to our meetings that foes something like this:

  • generate ideas
  • develop
  • pitch
  • reflection

handrawn diagram showing a cycle of idea to develop to pitch to reflect

Accepting each other

We didn’t have a group hug, but we did share some laughs and learn a great deal about each others values and perspectives. Having the freedom to challenge each other, and the space to explain why you agree, don’t agree, what you understand and what’s important to you is truly transformative. We have agreed to accept one another, not passively, but with respect for the unique qualities we each bring.

group hug

via Giphy

Involving others

A challenge posed to the group is to involve others more. Of course we can do this in our teams within the Library, but we need to be braver. A great idea from Rebekah was something like an Innovation Station where ideas generated and explored by the group could be shared and built on with colleagues in the Library and wider University. Watch this space.