Monday, December 17, 2007

Sacrificing managerial efficiency on the altar of inspiration

"Sacrificing managerial efficiency on the altar of inspiration" is one of my favorite quotes from the book Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant.

Books like Good to Great and others are great for ideas to help improve your organization, but this book takes on a different direction. Don't build an organization, build a movement. The book tries to identify ways that six nonprofits were successful in creating real impact.

I think the organization that I work for is headed in the right direction and is following much of what is in this book, however the quote "Sacrificing managerial efficiency on the altar of inspiration" rings a little bit too true. We have decided that the cause and impact are so important that we dont have the time, desire or reason to include the technology that will be needed to sustain the impact and have missed much of the needed focus on operations. We have identified the need for proper fundraising, solid buildings and fiscal management,

but hmmmm what is the thread missing that ties all of that together?

If you know the answer good... if you dont, then please take time to find out. Any of your business staff will be able to tell you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

never the two shall meet - operations and mission

Why does it seem that most organizations of a decent size have two sides of the house that dont seem to talk?

We have the staff running the programs, fundraising, driving the mission, etc. Then we have the office staff, tech staff, finance team, business staff, maintenance, etc. The only time these two groups meet is at budget time and for the mission staff to make "demands" to keep the program running.

Just a thought, why not include the staff that keep the organization running in on the strategy conversations? How much more effective would your operations be if they actually knew what the mission staff were trying to accomplish....

But alas I know you are too busy serving the people and getting your work done...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Knowledge Presentation

Random thought

View the keynote by
Larry Prusak, he has a unique perspective and thoughts on the methods to create and share knowledge. Plus thoughts on the difference between data, information and knowledge.

Not sure I completely agree about his general dismissal of elearning and teaching of information, but still interesting. I think that sharing of information via the web, trainings and such is still very important. There is information that we need just to keep moving, regardless of real knowledge versus information.

Some of the key thoughts I pulled out were:
  • Information is cheap, knowledge is expensive
  • Systems are good to present and convey information, plus locate who knows what
  • Knowledge is social (social networks?)
    • No such thing as individual knowledge, just individual memories

People can get tech information anywhere...Back to the fight...

"Technology is so common and is a commodity that you can get the information, tools and support you need anywhere." I have begun to hear this quote more and more, it disturbs me greatly!

Yes there is a portion of technology that can be treated as a commodity, but what about the strategy and making sure it is meeting the needs of your organization. The national nonprofit I work for is considering not offering technology information or resources from it's national office. They think that the local affiliates (branches, orgs whatever you call them) can get the tech advice they need from anyone, why should we offer specific resources beyond that?

My response is, "Please wait a second while I try to contain the pressure in my head before instantaneous combustion." Just kidding, well sort of.

Then I gather my thoughts and say, a tool is more effective when used properly and is as only as good as the person using it. Technology is a tool that has much more power and potential when correctly adapted to the intended purpose with a careful strategy.

So what use can we, as IT staff, add beyond keeping the "Commodity" running? Well we have a unique perspective on how to achieve the mission and our goals through the better use of our people, process and tools. We can add value by identifying ways of leveraging the newest and already existing tools to make the dreams of others a reality.

But hey what do I know, maybe they are right, technology is simple, just write it off.