No room for optionality

Where we’re headed, people who hedge their bets and seek optionality when the going gets rough won’t make it. Navigating uncharted territory requires an irrational pursuit of something beyond self-preservation.

In four short years, the ups and downs we’ve experienced writing our own startup blueprint have already proven a bit too rigorous for people merely interested in libraries or working for a startup.

While neither are as glamorous as you think, both are more rewarding than you could imagine. Understanding your why matters, not just what you’re doing or how you’re doing it.

Organizations that optimize against optionality outperform those who don’t. Mature industries contain a spectrum of workplace cultures to accommodate the variety of worker expectations. Given the difficulty of the task at hand for Skilltype in the library industry, we are developing an organizational culture structured to meet the vocational expectations of high performing professionals.

This is akin to the recreational to competitive spectrum within sports. While many organizations create work environments equivalent to the YMCA or local parks and recreation department, who are the NBA, PGA, or USTA equivalents in libraries — organizations consisting of professionals who find joy and reward in the pursuit of excellence and craftsmanship?

These are the types of organizations that must be created to make progress on the grand challenges facing the profession this decade.

Founder & CEO at Skilltype. Inaugural EIR at Boston University Libraries. Board emeritus at Rooted School. Native New Orleanian.

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