In my SirsiDynix Institute talk with the Librarian in Black this morning I mentioned that putting our users in control is a good idea. Sarah gave the concrete example of how power-enabled teen advisors can invigorate a YA department. We weren’t advocating letting the inmates run the asylum (or maybe a better phrase would be “vacationers steer the cruise ship” – let’s not compare our patrons with inmates – behave!), but rather being as user-centered as possible when appropriate.
Then I came upon this article from Fast Company: The Catalyst: How open-source design (and a big shot of fashion) saved Puma, and invented an industry . There are a few good ideas for libraries in the article that echo our sentiments from the morning.
Puma has since become the fourth-largest athletic apparel company in the world, a transformation that testifies to Zeitz’s vision and willingness to roll the dice. After spending several years kicking the company’s bad habits…he decided to put an unrestrained 21-year-old skateboarder named Antonio Bertone in charge of a new division.
When Bertone was put in charge he was probably more like the demographic that Puma was hoping to reach than a retail exec. I’m sure it took some trust for Zeitz to put him into place, just like it takes trust and for us to open up our institutions to contributions from patrons. As Puma did, libraries benefit from it.