The theme for the 2016 American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Show and Conference serves as a tribute to this year’s host city, Chicago, which famously rebuilt itself after a historic fire. In addition, the sculpture in Chicago’s Daley Plaza by Picasso – who some say reinvented art – also inspired the logo for the conference. Resilience and reinvention: two words that undoubtedly relate to the current state of the law librarian and the role they serve in today’s legal landscape.

The keynote to open the 109th annual meeting was delivered by Will Evans, chief design officer at PraxisFlow. His speech, which focused largely on Lean Startup and played to the “fail fast, fail cheap” mantra, invigorated a crowd anxious to impart many of the principles discussed into their workflow.

Noting changes in the legal landscape ranging from commoditized offerings to performing the same amount of work with fewer resources, Evans stated that if new ways are not developed or created to service customers, a “going out of business sign” may become the newest feature in the office.

As Evans led the audience through the Lean Startup principles, a significant portion focused on understanding and working with customers. He emphasized that time must be spent within a customer’s environment to uncover their pain points. As part of this process, “GOOB” – an acronym for “get out of the building” – became the buzzword on day-one of the show. Evans noted that by employing GOOB, collaboration can lead to greater advancement to solving the customer’s problems.

Evans asked the audience to consider when they are at work, if value was being created. One element he brought to the forefront was the MVP method, which consists of the build-measure-learn circle. After identifying the pain point(s) of the customer, which must be done first, the next step should be to produce a minimum viable product, MVP, and use that to begin the learning process. As the learning progresses and the product or service is developed and working, the fine-tuning can begin.

Evans closed his keynote by encouraging attendees to “start small and smart” and “don’t give all the reasons why you can’t do it,” but rather research and try. And he said don’t look to validate assumptions, but “look to invalidate your assumptions.” He added that these ideas are fine in theory, but they are just stepping stones to help solving issues for customers.

Build. Measure. Learn. GOOB.

Check back for more coverage from this year’s AALL Conference at Legal Current.

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