I attended the Boston-area event for Networked Nonprofit, the book by Beth Kanter and Alison Fine about taking social media into the world of nonprofits, which they both know very well. While the discussion and audience were predominantly interested in the nonprofit world, I was struck by how many of the ideas and topics have direct connections into any venture, not just the world of nonprofits.
One of the central elements of the framework - at least as I heard it - is to advise nonprofits to focus on what they do well and take advantage of "the network" to pull in other organizations to help where they work best. Stop trying to do everything yourself. But why should this advice be limited to nonprofits? Why not any organization? And for some reason, this idea of pulling in required skills reminded me of what I heard about The Power of Pull by Hagel and Brown.
Another problem that arose during the extensive Q&A session was the frequent situation people find themselves in: getting up early to get work done before they go to work. Or maybe staying late to get things done. The context of this particular discussion had me thinking that people are just being asked to do too much work. Taken with the comment about doing what you do best, I hear reminders of a common problem everywhere: We don't know how to say "no." Have a good idea? Start working on it. Need something done? Dump it on one of your employees, regardless of what else she is doing. The answer to all of this? STOP DOING SO MUCH AT ONCE. Focus on what you do well, get it done, move onto the next thing.
Another piece that came up in the questions was about the return on investment for social media projects at nonprofits. Beth Kanter's take on this is that Return on Investment is the wrong place to start: Look at Insight and Interaction (Engagement). Then look at Investment. Then look at Impact. How much impact are you having with your efforts? Beth has written about this, What are the best "I" words for nonprofits to think about Social Media and ROI?
"If you can't tweet what you are doing, Twitter isn't the problem." Interesting statement. There are still things that don't belong online. But working in an organization that says you just can't do it smacks of the belief that every minute of every working day must be monitored. It might say many other things to do. And it reminded me of yet another book-to-be-read, Stephen Denning's The Leader's Guide to Radical Management.
There were a bunch of other interesting elements. You might be able to find some of them on Twitter, or see comments from future events by checking the #netnon hashtag.
[Photo: "Organic Networks - New Urban?" by UrbanGrammar]