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Do you have an innovators heart for your nonprofit mission?

May 31, 2013 1 comment

There is a gap that is growing in your nonprofit. It is the gap between the connected constituent, their expectations and the programs, products and services you are offering. 80% of the U. S. adult population uses the internet. Most of them have smart phones or will soon. Most of your constituents are constantly connected from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. As nonprofits, our reality is a digital world. And so do you have a sense of urgency to bridge the gap?

What does it take to compete for the hearts of your connected constituents? Do you have a plan? Is that plan funded?

One thing to think through very carefully is the urgency to create a culture of innovation to be able to compete for the connected constituent. Someone is going to do it. Will it be your nonprofit?

You will be a hero if you take up that mantle. You will lead a journey to a new level of engagement for the connected constituent and their engagement with your mission. Do you have a heart for innovation? If so, then you will be a hero. You will be the champion for the new world. You will create amazing experiences to generate new loyalty to your cause.

So here is a challenge. Primarily for the C-Suite. Think through it carefully. One of the greatest opportunities before you is the evolution of the connected constituent. How your nonprofit is designed and structured today will work against you if nonprofit digital transformation is not on your agenda. As a leader, you know that management structure, goals, strategies, people, processes, systems, and rewards are all constructed to improve “what is” today. Typically we ignore “how it should be” for the new connected constituent. To innovate requires an innovators heart. Do you have one? Who else at your nonprofit does?

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Your journey to change and transformation

May 30, 2013 1 comment

You are on a hero’s journey. I am writing for you and your passionate desire to learn how to harness disruption, innovate in completely new ways and most importantly, transform your nonprofit into a constituent focused machine. You are being introduced to new connected constituents. You are seeing how they progress through a dynamic journey. You are discovering how they respond and behave at each moment of truth about your mission. Generation C’ers are different than their traditional counterparts. You can’t reach them through direct mail. Their phone numbers (remember land lines) aren’t published. They may or may not subscribe to your eNewsletter. You can only reach them if they choose to be reached. They are in control of who they do (or don’t) connect with.

We are learning that our constituents are far more informed than we ever imagined. They are very, very sophisticated in their decision making. They are extremely savvy in their digital prowess. They have a capacity to multitask across multiple platforms and devices during the day and pick up right where they left off at night. We have to adapt to this new world.

We all want to improve the experience for our constituents. We know that experience right now it can be very disjointed. We yearn for our leadership to be innovative and visionary. We want it to be meaningful and not fanciful.

We have this sense that innovation starts with something perhaps simpler than transformation. We must go back to the basics of our mission and vision and align them with desirable outcomes and significant experiences. We may need to invest in programs and services that our constituents may not even know they need yet.

Here is a summary of some of the things we know:

  1. The new reality is the connected constituent that is opening up new touch points for our mission.
  2. How connected constituents are influenced and influence isn’t anything like our traditional constituents are.
  3. They expect something different. They are aligning with our missions for different reasons than we think. Think quality of experience. Think about how we treat our employees and constituents. Consider how sustainable the footprint you are leaving is visible. Obsess over engagement. This is what is important to our new constituents.
  4. The channels they use may never cross other channels. They can be fully contained from beginning to end on one device in one network. My children will sit in front of a very nice iMac searching for content on their smartphone.
  5. On the other hand, sometimes constituents will hop channels. They may look something up on the web and call you. What they expect is a seamless experience. It must be integrated. We have to bring these constituents with common goals together and intentionally design a seamless experience.
  6. Connected constituents value highly being valued. How can we find a new way express value and measure it?
  7. What does it take to connect with connected constituents?
    1. An understanding of how they behave and what they prefer.
    2. Some ability to read between the lines and innovate programs and services.
    3. Define the constituent experience and what it will look like across every channel and journey.
    4. A blueprint on how to change the philosophy, culture and technology to lead (champion) a new era of constituent experiences and engagement.

Simply saying we need to change probably isn’t the most helpful statement. We know that. Change takes, at a minimum, at least two things. First, you really have to want to. Desire and aspiration are essential. Second, it takes determination, stamina, fortitude and sheer will. It all however starts with a vision.

Most nonprofits are exploring new media, different technology, and alternative channels for better constituent engagement. To start with vision may sound trivial. Without vision, I would advocate, there probably won’t be any significant transformation. Transformation follows vision. Your next step may be to be the one to press pause. We can easily fall into the trap of chaotically rushing to the next big thing with understanding “Why are we doing this?” Be the leader to stop and ask why?

Relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is

May 17, 2013 3 comments

The constituent journey is evolving (albeit very, very fast). That shouldn’t surprise you but it is good news. You haven’t been left behind completely. Your constituents are changing though. Their experience of you and your mission may not be what any of us would want. In this case, relevance is defined by how relevant the experience is. Passion for the mission is contingent on amazing experiences.

How you personally decide to react or lead is up to you. It, of course, is not about technology. What is the journey of getting closer to constituents and staying relevant really about? Here are some ideas:

  • Creating a culture built around the constituent and their experience being the focus of all you do.
  • Empowering employees to do what it takes to create amazing experiences.
  • Opening up the floodgates of innovation.

Saying we want to get closer to constituent won’t get senior management on board. While a constituent revolution is at the C-Suite doors, someone (meaning you) needs to convince the top that change is imperative. Without that we will fail.

You know that most executives don’t use social networks personally. While they have smartphones the primarily utilization is for email and looking at the calendar to know where to go to next. The reality is that most won’t read this. Trying to make a case that this is about technology will be a losing battle.

What is the future of nonprofits built on? It isn’t about how Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, tablets or real time-time geolocation check-ins evolve. The future of nonprofits does depend on relevance and the ability to at least understand technology to be able to make decisions about new opportunities. It does require the ability to strategically adapt to the new opportunities to create a competitive advantage.

So much of this is about change. There is a technology revolution occurring. Other nonprofits (and for-profits that you compete with) understand this. But it is also about a whole series of real-world revolutions that are seizing how our constituents live which impacts their experience with us. Expectations are moving fast. We can’t afford to get left behind. The kind of change we are talking about involves three things:

  1. Listening
  2. Learning
  3. Adapting

Will you be the Change Agent?

Change is the second most popular word in 21st century. Why change is so tough and what really keeps (C-suite) executives from embracing organizational transformation is FEAR: fear of letting go of heroic leadership, fear of losing control, fear of navigating through uncharted territory, fear of chaos.

But change is inevitable, due to the CHANGE nature of technology, CIOs shouldn’t get pushed for change, they are actually at better position to play such a role as change agent in leading organizations’ transformation.

Will you be the change agent?

How long does it take to change culture?

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Think about this. Is it any wonder change management initiatives are so challenging.

Cultural change takes six months per layer in your organization. If you have eleven layers, you won’t live long enough to get anything done.

— Mike Capone, CIO, ADP

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