I had the great pleasure of doing graphic recording (also known as large scale visual notes) during the Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age book event at SXSW Interactive. There is power looking at the whole set of visual notes all together. It is also useful to focus on individual nuggets, and that is what I’m going to do in this post.
Authors David J. Neff and Randal C. Moss explained that In order to successfully innovate from the inside, nonprofits need to:
A) Create awareness among their staff that they are looking for innovative new ideas from all and any of them.
B) Create a structure for ideas to be submitted, considered, selected, prototyped, and realized.
C) Have the right people in the right roles with the right skill sets to manage the innovation process.
The authors suggest a five step process.
1. Go for maximum quantity of people submitting ideas. Checking for quality comes later.
2. The criteria for judging ideas is key, more important than the people judging them.
3. For an idea to make the cut, it needs to make business sense—that is a case needs to be made that it will be a good use of the organizations funds.
4. One an idea is selected, it should be prototyped for a maximum of $20,000 in a maximum of 18 months.
5. Then launch it, assess it, see what works, what doesn’t and if indicated keep developing it.
They acknowledged that change is not easy for organizations, that implementing a new approach to innovation can be a bumpy road. They suggest that older staffers connect with younger more digitally savvy staffers to learn from them and to teach them. In particular, they need to help younger staffers understand the business side of running a successful nonprofit.
I have worked for several nonprofits in my career, and I know that I would have loved it if there was a concrete process for submitting, judging and building on ideas from the rank and file employees. I appreciate what David and Randal are doing with this book. If you want to help your nonprofit survive, thrive, and innovate in the digital age, check out their book, or reach out to them via their website.
And if you want to help people think better and communicate better at your next conference or meeting, be in touch! I’d love to help by doing large scale visual notes that capture the big ideas at your event.