Just 365 days ago, the first post went up on FutureReady365. From its inception, the FutureReady365 blog had one big, wild, hairy, audacious goal. We sought answers to a single, provocative question: How are YOU Future Ready? A dedicated team of volunteers committed to publishing a new post every day of 2011 and—WE DID IT!

Over the course of 2011, information professionals from around the world posted solutions, strategies, tactics, and tips. They showcased how they are preparing for a future that is indeed bright. It was a great conversation on an important topic, and your contribution made us smarter and better informed.

So before I look back, I’d like to thank my team of stalwart volunteers. And I have to express my admiration for everyone who posted for us. And I have to thank the readers who participated, posted comments, and kept coming back for more. Thank you all!

For me, personally, it was a great experience to serve as a catalyst to this conversation. As I bow out as SLA President and we prepare to re-invent FutureReady365, I want to share a few lessons I learned from the posts and from the experience of running a daily blog.

Great members, great posts

1. What’s Hot. We’re faced with a lot of seemingly orthogonal issues, related only tangentially, but they do connect to the issues of the day. The blog followers are amazingly adept at connecting the dots and reacting quickly. There were three issues that we kept hearing about, in one form or another:

  • How information pros are adding value.
  • The importance of collaborating constantly.
  • The necessity of embracing technology.

2. Already There. Many SLA members and information professional are already engaged in some very interesting, completely future-ready activities. Whether you are working with data fusion, e-readers, or mobile apps, you get it and you’re there.

3. Business Savvy Required. The most savvy members have survived and thrived in an amazing technological revolution. But the best geeks don’t make the best information professionals. There are some core attributes on the business side that can make or break your career. Technology AND business acumen are required in order to be Future Ready.

4. It’s Quotable. There was some great writing on the site, and it is impossible to narrow it down, but here a few examples of one-liners that I liked:

  • “Pick yourself.”  ~ Dale Stanley, April 6
  • “Stick your nose into other people’s conversations.” ~ Gloria Miller, March 3
  • “They call it ‘data fusion.’ I call it sexxxay!” ~ Juliane Schneider, April 15
  • “… define your library as a place for innovation and experimentation….” ~ Helen Josephine, March 10

Embracing the Daily Grind

I had never managed a publishing effort on this scale, and none of the FutureReady team had either. But at the end of the day, it all came down to something many SLA members are exceedingly good at: project management. We created a schedule, assigned roles, and became a well-oiled machine. Here are some random musings about how we did it.

5. SLA is made up of tribes. The divisions and chapters have their own interests and personalities, and they’re never shy about expressing their feelings. And that’s good! It took us about half the year to figure that out, and to tap into it efficiently. When we did, it was like rocket fuel.

6. Go Team! It’s hard to overstate the enormous contribution and dedication it took to implement this project. Here’s a shout out to the team: Meryl B. Cole, Michelle Mayes, Arik Johnson, Christian Gray, Jill Strand, Chris Vestal, Tiffany Renshaw, Jamal Cromity, Lorene Kennard, Dennie Heye, Sharon Rivers, Cindy Shamel, Kendra Levine, and many others.

7. The power of social media is in the connections. Sure, I know what you are thinking: “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” But seriously, human beings are social creatures. Something deep in our DNA makes us love to share and learn from each other. Camaraderie was essential to the FutureReady365 success, and just like with the holiday spirit, it’s as much fun to give as it is to receive.

8. Social media is free, but it is not cheap. It takes many man-hours to staff a robust social media program. It takes planning, hard work, and energized people who make and keep their commitments. There was nothing accidental about our success. We improvised, overcame, and adapted, all with amazing agility, and we walked the talk about what it takes to be Future Ready while doing it.

It was good for me

The FutureReady365 blog benefited me on a personal level, too. I always had something to talk about with fellow professionals. “Always be recruiting” became my mantra, and I learned to be boringly consistent so that others would know what to expect from me. Here’s what it meant to my personal journey:

9. I can rise to the occasion. I learned that I can reach deep inside of myself and pull out something that I did not know was there. I can be outside of my comfort zone pretty much all the time and still breathe. It was taxing, and sacrifices were made, but, at the end of a terrific year, I can say—it was worth it.

10. Go big or go home. I also learned that when people put their trust in you and give you their vote, you can’t be shy. You can’t plan a modest agenda. If you try hard and fail, at least you tried. If you try hard and succeed, you can feel really, really good about it.

11. SLA Rocks. Finally, recently, I led a delegation to Cuba for a professional exchange. Frankly, it is not a wealthy country; internet connections are slow or non-existent, and the computers are seriously outdated. Can you say 3.5-inch floppy? Yet somehow, the librarians manage to put together useful collections and provide good services, so their spirit gets an A+. All this made me realize—yet again—that this is a pretty darn good profession to be in.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what will become of FutureReady365 in the future. Turn it in to an HBO Special? Or should I go with a Discovery Channel reality show? How about a New York Times best-seller? We’ll have to wait and see. Then again, in his December 30 blog post, Brent Mai, SLA’s 2012 President, challenged me to take this blog to the next level. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be hearing from me AGAIN!

Thanks a million – truly.