Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Creativity as responsibility?

I'm excited to be taking a Marketing class on new product development this semester. What's most intriguing is that our instructor is emphasizing creativity and innovation, which has never been directly addressed in any previous course I've taken.

My professor made one comment on this topic that stuck with me ever since. He said that most companies seek small innovations. These innovations typically revise existing products, but don't result in anything dramatically new. This makes sense because these types of incremental innovations are low-risk and relatively cheap. He added that this approach prevents companies from exploring the more risky and costly radical innovations that could result in new product categories. As a result, companies are neglecting opportunities to improve society with breakthrough products.

His words made me think that librarians have a social obligation to be creative and to innovate. This obligation may entail approaches to service that are dramatically different from what we've done in the past. Continually revising services may not be enough to achieve the benefits modern patrons seek.

This week, I'll make a guest post available from a librarian who is helping to radically redefine library services, which will lead into further discussions about libraries as creativity labs.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jill,

Have you read "The Social Life of Information" (ISBN 0875847625)? You'll find some similar types of discussion, though not exactly the same thing. My understanding of the book (as it applies to this post) is that spreading institutional knowledge will foster internal creativity, while hoarding it (or collecting it and not sharing it) will stifle that creativity. That's an oversimplification/generalization and probably not perfectly accurate, but those ideas are there.


Jill said...

Bob - Thank you very much for this comment. I haven't read this book but I am putting it on my list right now. I'm giving a presentation on this topic in November so this will be a great help - thank you!