Technology Can't Create Change When Culture Stays the Same

An interesting article in yesterday's NYT--Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops. Apparently a number of school districts throughout the country are re-thinking their 1-1 laptop programs because they aren't seeing the results they expected. This is a great example of what happens when you bring in technology without really thinking through either your expectations for results or how your organizational culture needs to change to make the best use... Read more →

Is the Scarcity Mentality the Biggest Barrier to Social Media in Nonprofits?

Through a circuitous route I won't bother to explain, today I find myself thinking about the impact of scarcity thinking on nonprofit organizations. One of the most powerful learnings I've had in my professional practice is that our mental models have a profound impact on our work practices. One of the mental models I'm observing at work today is scarcity vs. abundance thinking and I'm starting to wonder if the... Read more →

Creating a Learning Climate for Nonprofit Staff

Awhile ago, Allan Benamer of the Nonprofit Tech Blog talked about nonprofit staff as knowledge workers and how technology and work processes need to support staff whose value comes primarily from their ability to make effective use of knowledge and information in working with customers. If we're to fully capitalize on the promise of a knowledge network, then staff need to have the tools, resources and supports necessary to truly... Read more →

Organizational Barriers to Using Web 2.0 Tools

Earlier this week I was reflecting on some of the challenges of technology stewardship in nonprofit and government agencies. I mentioned that I'd done training for a government client that blocked access to sites such as Google Mail and how this obviously impacts staff's ability to use many of the tools I talk about. (Fortunately the IT department had not been told to block access to Wetpaint or some of... Read more →

The Technology Steward and Communities of Practice

David Wilcox and I had a great conversation yesterday (my first opportunity to use Skype--thanks, David!) and among many topics, we discussed the concept of the technology steward in a community of practice.(David has been doing some thinking about it lately here.) In case you haven't seen this term, technology stewards have been defined by Nancy White, Etienne Wenger and John Smith as: “. . . people with enough experience... Read more →

Innocentive and the Rockefeller Foundation Partnering to Provide "Open Innovation" Solutions to Nonprofit Problems

A few days ago, I wrote about my growing belief that the value in Web 2.0 for nonprofits may lie more in the underlying principles, than in the actual tools. An announcement made yesterday by Innocentive and The Rockefeller Foundation supports my case. The Rockefeller Foundation and InnoCentive today announced that the Foundation will create a non-profit area on InnoCentive’s global scientific network, specifically designed to spur science and technology... Read more →

With Web 2.0, Are We Missing the Point?

Lately there's been a lot of backlash against all things Web 2.0. It's as though we reached a crescendo of excitement, culminating in Time Magazine proclaiming "You" and Web 2.0 as People of the Year. Now, let the backlash begin. But by focusing on Web 2.0 as just a bunch of different web-based tools, I wonder if we're not missing the point. There's no doubt that Flickr, Vox, YouTube and... Read more →

Stop Managing to the Exceptions and Start Learning from the Consequences

In my work with nonprofits, I've found that there's a tendency to manage to the exceptions. This plays itself out a few ways. In some cases, entire systems will be developed around what could go wrong. Staff management policies and and practices are based on the few who are problems, rather than the many who are not. Client services are developed to "control" the "bad" client, rather than to meet... Read more →

What Happens When I Have Time to Think

Creating Passionate Users, one of my all-time favorite resources, is devoted to the idea that we need to meet learners where they're at. This, of course, means that we must first understand where they're at and then be able to do something about it. Lately, I've been trying to put myself in my customer's shoes, something I'm forever advising them to do. Here are some things that I know for... Read more →

The Nonprofit Digital Divide

Jayne Cravens of Coyote Communications has written a provocative commentary on the growing digital divide among nonprofits. She asks a powerful question: "I'm on dozens of online communities, most of which relate to nonprofit organizations and civil society in some way. I also attend onsite conferences each year relating to the same sector. Through these online and face-to-face gatherings over the recent years, I'm seeing a disturbing trend: a gap... Read more →