The most interesting part of my job as a librarian at Mn/DOT is writing articles for Mn/DOT’s employee newsletter Newsline and for the Library’s newsletter New Library Materials.

Recently I attended an online conference on innovation and wrote the following summary for NLM.


Innovation is a buzzword at Mn/DOT. There is a lot of talking about innovation. It is one of the six shared competencies (i.e. Be a person of good character, Be an innovator, Be a leader, Be responsible, Be a team player, and Be a technical expert) from our current B Campaign.

So what is innovation and what do you need to become innovative?

According to Wikipedia, innovation is a new way of doing something or new stuff that is made useful. It may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

Innovation is curiosity. It is about asking questions, challenging the world and creating something new out of old.

Last week Alliance Library System and Learning Times sponsored an online conference about Innovation for Libraries in the 21st Century.

In her presentation “Innovation starts with ‘I’,” Helene Blowers talked about three levels of innovation:

  1. Efficiency innovation – improve on what already exits
  2. Evolutionary innovation – Create something distinctly new and better
  3. Revolutionary innovation – Radically changes business and culture

Blowers mentioned the four components of innovation:

  1. Creativity -Be an idea generator
  2. Strategy – Be the change agent, have clear mission and vision
  3. Implementation – Have resources, timeline and scope, provide time for exploration and a safety net, make failure an expectation
  4. Profitability – Outcomes and outputs

Kitty Pope said in her presentation "Building a Culture of Innovation," innovation requires trust, talent, an inquisitive mind, passion, organizational will, team support, discipline and tenacity, willingness to hear “no” and a great sense of humor.

In an organization, innovation requires forward looking leadership. At Mn/DOT, we are fortunate to have leaders who value and encourage innovation.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” –William Pollard