On building a culture of candid debate

A good blueprint for [building a culture of candid debate] can be found in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s battle-plan briefing to top officers of the Allied forces three weeks before the invasion of Normandy. As recounted in Eisenhower, a biography by Geoffrey Perret, the general started the meeting by saying, “I consider it the duty of anyone who sees a flaw in this plan not to hesitate to say so. I have no sympathy with anyone, whatever his station, who will not brook criticism. We are here to get the best possible results.”

Eisenhower was not just inviting criticism or asking for input. He was literally demanding it and invoking another sacred aspect of military culture: duty. How often do you demand criticism of your ideas from your direct reports?

From Gary P. Pisano in The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures

Anglia Ruskin University Faces Criticism 2.0

Anglia Ruskin University is in Cambridge, but it’s not Cambridge University. It’s likely that none of us would even know of Anglia Ruskin‘s existence if it wasn’t for Naomi Sugai, but she’s not interested in promoting the school.

She’s got complaints, she’s fed up, and she’s taking her case to YouTube.

Well, she took her case to YouTube, and then she got suspended. The video that’s up now doesn’t seem suspension-worthy, but the Telegraph story suggests there’s a different version that may slander an ARU administrator, and that’s the reason ARU gives for suspending her.

Don’t Mistake Me (Please)

Over at KLE’s Web 2.0 Challenge I was surprised to learn:

Both Bisson and Stephens are so excited about this concept of Web 2.0 they have not taken a good look at what they can’t do for our libraries. …with all this new technology we can not forget that what is the most important in our libraries is the personal touch. We are one of the few institutions left that still offers individual attention.

KLE is doing some cool things, so I can tell this isn’t an offhanded rejection of Web 2.0 concepts, but the criticism makes me feel as though I’ve been missing my target somehow.

We wouldn’t accept poor service at the desk or over the phone, why should we treat our patrons so poorly online? I don’t think we’ve yet figured out what “good service online” is yet, but that’s what I’ve been focused on. Make no mistake, the future of libraries demands outstanding service everywhere we serve our users.

[tags]web 2.0, library 2.0, lib20, service, quality, libraries, criticism, online, good service, good service online[/tags]

The iPhone Cometh; Haters Swarm

Some are calling it the Jesus phone, but Jason Chen calls it a moral quandry, Gartner Group is <a href=“" title=; - Gartner warns IT to avoid Apple’s iPhone”>telling IT to avoid it (really, because iTunes is scary to enterprise), Business 2.0’s Joshua Quittner is reminding the peeps it’s just a regular phone, and Wayne Smallman is whining that it doesn’t have a flash or telephoto lens. (Humor alert: one of those is supposed to be funny, and another is supposed to be hilarious.)

Analysts who claim “It doesn’t have any features that would make it successful as a business tool” must surely be on the pay of competing manufacturers or networks. The promise here is that the phone is an incredibly rich and portable network device; businesses that can’t find value in that are probably in decline anyway. Still it is expensive, and it is subject to all the vagaries of cell phone service, and it doesn’t have a laser.

Education America

Today I discovered (thank you Ryan) Kareem Elnahal’s speech as valedictorian of Mainland Regional High School and I discovered new hope, new faith in our country’s future. When high school students can step up and speak truth to power, as Elnahal did so well, I become a believer in the strength of human spirit. “We […] » about 1000 words

Squashing Criticism vs. Improving Products

I wrote yesterday of Nicole Engard’s comment that the ILS was about as open and flexible as a brick wall. Today I learned that the vendor of that ILS had tried to squash her public criticism.

Not cool.

It’s pure speculation on my part, but what comes next? Surely no vendor would send Vinny over to bust an uppity biblioblogger’s knee-caps, but might they offer a customer a better deal if they could just help quiet down a critic within the customer’s organization?

Not speculation: how do we feel about vendors that will spend lavish sums of money to court potential customers, but do little to improve the product and regularly refuse suggestions that they open a round-table with technology leaders among their existing client-base?

John Blyberg‘s ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights is especially relevant here, but also, let’s think about our side of the relationship.

update: I keep forgetting to link to this public example of how bad our OPACs/ILSs are. Thanks go to David Walker for making me ROTFL.

Criticism of Modern Movies

We’ve all heard it before, but we just can’t get it out of our heads. Today’s movies make us feel dumb. Paulina Borsook joins the chorus and condemns contemporary cinema by praising movies of the 60s and 70s:

They were movies made for adults, even if they had been mainstream movies and/or nominally rated PG. They made presumptions about the intelligence of their audience, didn’t need things to be boldly spelled out, and they were predicated on the assumption that their audience was capable of making inferences. No semaphoring! No high-concept! Satire as opposed to scatology! Shades of gray in motive and character! Minimum numbers of car crashes! No fish out of water! No hilarious mixups!

Interestingly, she also found praise for The Interpreter:

The female characters didn’t simper, and didn’t seem like 30 going on 13 (hey, wasn’t there…). They were about themselves, subject rather than object.

The male characters had interior lives that made them seem human, creatures capable of emotional nuance.

So what else does she recommend? She’s made a list. Interestingly, all of this appears at, a Netflix competitor I’d not heard of before it got a recommendation at O’Grady’s PowerPage.

The Conservatives vs. Freakonomics

Conservatives hate Freakonomics, that book by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner that takes on more than a few sticky issues that most people don’t normally consider to be within the purview of economics. (See also the Freakonomics blog). Publisher’s Weekly notes: There isn’t really a grand theory of everything here, except […] » about 400 words