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December 2006
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February 2007

Organizational Culture can be Infected

Deborah grabs a great quote here: Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Her quote raises interesting questions about the power of organizational culture and the power of strategy. How does strategy relate to organizational culture? Can a strategy "infect" the organizational culture and alter the organizational DNA? Are good strategies only appropriate for some organizational cultures?

A big part of the work on network-centric advocacy is tied up in this disconnect of "selling" good strategy to organizations that treat these strategies as an attack or simply are not moved by them.

The right strategy and strategy sale is not an affront to organizational culture (triggering an immune response) but the sale of strategy in a way that drives the organization in the direction the organization wishes while slowly corroding the defenses inside. Selling a strategy to transform membership (while helping them grow members) transform fundraising (while raising more money) and transforming media outreach (while helping meet old media needs.) We all know what organizations need to feed on and how the Executive Directors and Board behave like predictable drones searching (more members, more media, more money). They can only measure "inputs" into social change work so they develop a ravenous hunger for input.

The challenge to us that want to sell them the medicine they need to make it "children's chewable" (which are soo good) so they ingest the strategy and begin to heal in the process and come to use the best modern strategies which focus on squeezing outputs of labor, skill, services and social or policy change.

The failure of organizations to adopt better strategy is not thier fault. It is ours.

Local Communications Grid

All politics is local. This post Personal Democracy Forum – Technology Is Changing Politics. has inspired me to think about the ways to organize locally on the internet.

1. Find your local communications grid. In some cases it will be a discussion forum, a blog or blogs, listserves or a community paper that encourages user comments. Look up neighborhood names, local politicians at the very local level (school board, county executive etc.) Where the local names appear starts to help you define the local web.

2. Grab domain names on very local issues, terminology and debate topics and blog on very local topics. ( the media creates local memes. They build brand and issue awareness around very strange names and issues. Often the local government will not grab the names that a project gets tagged by the press (inner purple line was officially bi-county transit way) but the DC press called it inner purple line. As people pick up interest they google and you get to provide the landing page. Free Schuylkill River Park the local sites can cast a big online influence around local issues because the issues are not well known undesided people Google as they look to make up their mind and that is a key audience to greet with your talking points.

3. Search for all the divisions and community associations in a local area and get on the local listserves or monitor local traffic and conversation. Watch where you can jump into add something to the conversation and also promote your local blog or site.

4. Join local blog sites and promote your blog for your group even at the local park clean sites, local news discussions, etc. comment on boards about local issues. Remember the goal is not lots of traffic but a good number of local online readers .

5. " Use Technorati's directory of bloggers to hunt for sites that have self-categorized as being about a particular locality. For example, I found 59 blogs about Baltimore there, and since most of these bloggers have also chosen to tag themselves by other topics like politics, it's fairly easy to discover some local political blogs here. (Argh, more disclosure, my little brother started Technorati.) "

Street Hive: Shame on Us if it is not a part of Campaigns


What if there was a way for a campaign (peace march) and group of green organizers to keep up with everyone working on the campaign and meet new folks interested in the same issues, organized around the places you go to and the things you do.

What if progressives could check out who's active around them, find other activists on the map, and leave notes and photos attached to the places (office of elected official, newspaper, GOTV area or company headquarters) they organize near?

"StreetHive allows you to check out spots in your city and see who goes there, what they say, and even who is sharing now." Friends can use StreetHive to make recommendations, meet up, and capture photos for those not there." StreetHive Mobile gives you streamlined access to the same map, posts and people, only from your phone instead of the computer. Imagine taking a photo at a bar or party and broadcasting it to your friends along with a map, or imagine finding out where your friends are, all from your mobile phone."

Who is going to be the first campaign to unleash a streethive on Washington DC and the Hill? Shame on us if we can't figure out ways to jack these tools for advocacy coordination.

kudos: W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.#a1090.

At the Intersection: Network-Centric Leadership

Kudos to Link: At the Intersection: Network-Centric Leadership.

This is another riff aiming at the difference between being a "boss" and being a network leader.

I would add:
* values friendships and trust. Design work projects to foster team building. Listen to the way people like and dislike each other. Personal dynamics matter.

* over communicate.

* let people run free .. encourage innovation, support leadership from within. Say yes most of the time.

* be careful with language. work to make sure that ideas, goals and projects are spelled out by the team in detailed and specific language.

* develop and test common language and values.

* let data control choices, not opinions. Leadership is less based on leader instincts and more on tests . Prove assumptions or look for data to carry the conversations about what will and will not work.

* over communicate.

* continue to look for innovative ways to push power to organize and lead projects to the edge of the network. find ways that the resources not only serve the core group but those just joining or the newbies.

* monitor the inventory of available resources and show people what is not being fully used. Let them innovate to deploy resources.

.....Other ideas of new leadership rules?

Here's the March 2006 issue of Associations Now that frequently has some good articles in it. This issue includes an article about what it takes to be a leader in a network centric world:

high tolerance for ambiguity

comfort with chaos

a relaxed, friendly demeanor

able to focus on policy and getting people to work together

encourages support staff and volunteers to act like administrators, like an owner of the community, its standards and purpose

starts with an ennobling purpose

establishes a democratic community where individuals are equals

enable all participants in the organization to contribute; uses structure and [management] only to honor the community purpose

assumes good intentions

supports learners and a learning culture

remembers that communities (including of staff) are social entities

implements a a decision making process that is less gureaucratic, more open and flexible

values good data about constituents / target audience

throws out any old assumptions that all constituent interactions must be controlled from headquarters

Integration Proclamation : Thank You

Here is one of the Holy Grails for the movement, get the technology our groups use to work together ! Take the "broken" nature of our technology tools as a direct threat to the effectiveness of our groups and movement and invest some resources directly in intergration.

Starting point ..not a Roadmap.

If you work for a progressive organization or campaign, you probably struggle with technology. You probably have multiple databases and tech tools that half-work, but don't work together. You're not alone. For years, thousands of us have struggled with fragmented systems that don't get the job done. If you want the progressive movement to finally get the winning tools we need, you should sign The Integration Proclamation.

Disconnected Movement: Connected Personal Life

Disconnected Movement: Connected Personal Life

The forces of globalization, commerce and culture are destabilizing communities and smashing the boundaries of influence (political, time, geographic, scale limits). There is widespread recognition that positive change on a variety of big and small issues will need to be driven by loose networks of global and local activists connected together from global warming to the plight of trash pickers in the developing world.

Many advocates also recognize that each movement is fractured, disconnected and very difficult (if not impossible) to coordinate. Ironically, the advocates are simultaneously experiencing how a global culture, commerce, technology and mobility are influencing every aspect of their lives and connecting them to distant lands, friends, problems, family and some coworkers more easily. In very tangible ways, we are dependent on networks of transit, communications, logistics and people as never before in human history.

In each persons inbox there are photo galleries sent by friends,maybe a video clip, maybe a webcam used to connect to a parent, new stories forwarded from friends, music files, invites to social networks, events planned using evite, friends and family that have thier skype and IM address on the footer of emails, etc. etc. Almost none of these are strategic communications efforts from people in the movement.

The raw components for transforming the way to “do” organizing are on the table and staring leaders in the face but they can not figure out how to assemble them to transform their work as change makers. The smallest groups can now reach out to hundreds or thousands of people. Compelling or enraging stories can go global in an instant.

Today’s leaders should shift the way they look at the available assets “in play” on a campaign from a purely organizational-centric (my members, brand, own, control) to a more network-centric (connect, share, co-opt, lead) vision. Once leaders make this shift in perspective, the modern pieces fit together and they will understand how to use the tools of today’s culture in a new and powerful ways to create change. The moment we shift thinking from advocacy 1.0 to advocacy 2.0 we jump into planning for the transition to "Movement as Platform." Our leaders see the world changing around them daily but they have not taken the action yet to adjust organizing strategy to this new world.

There is serious need to inspire a cadre of activists, strategists, campaigners and investors to shift real resources into this new model of activism. Our best thinkers need to move horsepower into thinking about networks, how to build them, how to assess them, training on leadership in a networked world, what can networks do and how to invest in them.

We need to train a new generation of activists on how to think about fueling and harnessing network capacity as a new platform to mobilize and influence positive social change.

Borrowing examples from campaigns, culture and commerce, we need to show that advocacy in a network is going to be analogous to the value shift that occurs comparing a computer and a computer connected to the Internet or the power of a lone doctor fighting SARS vs. the same doctor connected to global health intelligence network working on SARS.

We must help our social change maker reconnect in a deliberate, structured and measured way the new structures of loose networks to create the change we need.

Mashup: Don't Fight the Internet : Advocacy and Political Organizing

This Link: O'Reilly Radar > Web 2.0 Compact Definition: Trying Again. has kick started another level of thinking about network-centric advocacy and organizing in the age of connectivity.

We are not after profits but social change. We are not building software companies but advocacy and political engines.

What is the meaning of "the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform." in advocacy and political contexts? Who is the network?(the people and the social, issue and brand bonds among them) and how can the people be "the platform" for change? (we become a functional mechanism as a unit ... not just through organized nonprofits or parties)

"Think deeply about the way the internet works, and build systems and applications that use it more richly, freed from the constraints of PC-era thinking, and you're well on your way." In our context of advocacy we need to understand the way these large scale people networks work and build systems of change or campaigns that use these networks in new ways and freed from the constraints of organizational organized change.

Much like the new world of software development we need to think of campaigns in perpetual beta. Campaigns are not set by decree and packaged and rolled out to a public in precut brochures and media events. New campaigns like beta software are "process of engagement with your users" support by network staff supporting and adjusting the product based on valid feedback.

As a movement, we must "Open your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the data and services of others whenever possible. ("Small pieces loosely joined")" from mediadata to government contacts to creative commons of our reports, polls, opinion research images and other works.

We must "build applications that reside in the space between devices. ("Software above the level of a single device")" We must look at the social and issue ties across the movement and build campaigns and resources to serve those campaigns in a way that they are not locked into silos of companies, organizations or issue groups. We must create issue and campaign commons and the rules needed to protect the commons.

There are lots of quotes and bits here to chew on but the "advocacy network as platform" is the next step to movement as network"

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I've elsewhere called "harnessing collective intelligence.")
(Eric Schmidt has an even briefer formulation of this rule: "Don't fight the internet." That's actually a wonderful way to think about it. Think deeply about the way the internet works, and build systems and applications that use it more richly, freed from the constraints of PC-era thinking, and you're well on your way. Ironically, Tim Berners-Lee's original Web 1.0 is one of the most "Web 2.0" systems out there -- it completely harnesses the power of user contribution, collective intelligence, and network effects.