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Orange Seed

Orange County Library System
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Innovation Leader: Wendi Bost, Division of Public Service Administrator, bost.wendi@ocls.info

Problem Statement

Staff and ideas come hand in hand. The frequent questions that start with, “Has anyone ever thought of trying to…” needed to be shared, discussed and evaluated. We’ve certainly all had the experience that one person’s idea can become another person’s problem. We wanted to find a way to work some of the kinks out of an idea before we’d created more problems than we solved. To do that we needed a 360 degree look at the ideas.

Innovation

We developed an “idea generator” in a blog format which we call the “Orange Seed”. Staff submit ideas, providing as much detail as possible, indicating where the improvement fits in with our Strategic Plan, providing any available cost/benefit data and describing what role they intend to play in the implementation of the idea. Too often idea generation involves suggesting work that others can accomplish. We felt that it was key for staff to participate in their own idea implementation.

Staff are encouraged to discuss ideas with their managers prior to posting, however a manager’s permission or agreement is not required. Ideas are reviewed by an “innovation team member”. These team members are staff volunteers from all areas of library operations. They meet to discuss and volunteer to champion ideas through the process.

Once the idea is posted to the Orange Seed blog, all staff are invited to share their comments as to the value, practical aspects, and potential of success for the idea. This provides stakeholders from across library operations to comment on the impact of a possible change on their own work- good or bad. Not all ideas take off but all ideas are left posted for possible future reintroduction. We find value in being able to re-visit past discussions of previously introduced concepts and add to them.

Over time we have experimented with the provision of reward ( paid hours off) but have moved to providing recognition in a forum such as Staff Development Day.

Progress

Qualitatively the Orange Seed is providing staff with an outlet for and recognition of their thoughts and ideas. It also provides a central management to control duplicative improvement efforts in different areas of library operations. We currently have 4 ideas in the implementation process with 3 under active discussion.