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.
This panel was geared toward nonprofits who are learning how to work with individuals who support their cause but do not work for them. These free agents are different from volunteers in that they are ready to throw themselves into supporting the cause in many ways, and in this networked age, they can have tremendous impact.
After a one year hiatus, I returned to Austin for the South By Southwest Interactive festival. This was my third time, and one of my best. Here is my roughly chronological recap.
On the plane to Austin I sat next to Phil Zimmerman, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and startup veteran and current CEO of Debix Bo Holland, the identity protection company. Both fascinating guys. I learned a ton about how identity theft happens from Bo Holland, as well as getting a primer in how the startup funding process works.
(visual notes part 1 for book talk:” The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age.”)
(visual notes part 2 for book talk:” The Future of Nonprofits: Innovate and Thrive in the Digital Age.”)
Later in the day, I swung by the Indy Hall compound and lifted a few glasses with some of Philadelphia’s most awesome geeks.
The next day I did the same thing for Beth Kanter’s panel “A Global Conversation: Free Agents and Nonprofits in a Networked World” where she emceed a conversation between in person panelists, the twittersphere, and live video participants in Beirut. Bonus star power: Craig “Craig’s List” Newmark chimed in from the audience during Q&A.
(Visual notes part 1: Free Agents and Nonprofits in a Networked World)
(Visual notes part 2: Free Agents and Nonprofits in a Networked World)
Right after that panel, I scooted over to an Interactive Telecommunications Program alumni and current student meetup where I got to reconnect with grad school friends and meet some new people from the ITP family. Also attending, super-mensch and ITP professor, Clay Shirky.
After the ITP gathering I drove to the outskirts of Austin for an eclectic gathering called the Monks of Invention which turned out to involve barbecue, hot tubbing, and renaissance italian inspired architecture. Oh, and a bunch of pleasant and smart InterTube hackers.
My last day I had a great lunch with my friend Christina Arnold where we chatted about some projects her nonprofit PreventHumanTrafficking.org is working on.
I am now back in Pittsburgh, regrouping before heading to Washington DC tomorrow, Friday March 18, to do graphic recording (large scale visual notes) for another panel with Beth Kanter and friends at the Nonprofit Technology Conference. The topic for this one: I’ve Found My Free Agent, Now What?
I had a great time in Austin. For me above all, SXSW Interactive is a fantastic place to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Thanks to everyone who made this years festival a great one.
Bonus: Note—I forgot to add a few lines about the OgilvyNotes project. Ogilvy Mather is an International advertising, marketing and public relations agency which did a partnership with some other folks who do what I do: large scale visual notes of real time conversations. They created visual notes of scads of panels and talks at SXSW. They did it right, with big sheets of foamboard, multiple visual notes artists, and glossy color printouts of the notes that they gave to conference attendees. And being Ogilvy, they know how to get media coverage, which they did in spades. Among the artists were my friends Heather Willems and Nora Herting of ImageThink. Nice work folks! I was happy that Ogilvy included one of the pieces of visual notes that I created—this one.
These are visual notes I created for the panel “Nonprofits and Free Agents in a Networked World. Beth Kanter of Zoetica Media the moderated fellow panelists Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Mark Horvath of Invisible People and Jessica Dheere, of Social Media Exchange Beirut in Lebanon.
Photos by Casey West shared under a Creative Commons Share Alike/Attribution License
Our fabulous Ignite Pittsburgh audience
Me in my emcee garb
A talk about the depravity of nature
Tom McGraw on Pittsburgh food
Chelsey Delaney on Design and Humor
These were the speakers:
FOR EVERyOUNGâ€¦I LOVE YOUth Ethan Clay
Happiness is a Warm Pun Chelsey Delaney
An Introduction to Posthuman Factors Haakon Faste
JÃ³venes SIN Nombres, JÃ³venes Con SueÃ±o
Youths WITHOUT Names, Youths WITH Dreams Michal Friedman
The Ultimate Interface: New Interfaces For Tombstones. Jonny Goldstein
Tommy Wright The III: An Internet Rap-Mystery Greg Johnson
Why Yinz Have Pittsburghese Nâ€™at Scott Kiesling
Nature is depraved! Matty Lau
Morning, Noon & Night: Pittsburgh Food Done Right Tom McGraw & Sarah Sudar
Biosphere 2 + Future Symbiosis Patrick Millard
Kiva Pittsburgh Megan Riggs
Tangled in a Web of Things Hans Scharler
Ignite Pittsburgh was produced by Julia Pellicciaro., Robert Blackwell, and Jonny Goldstein. We could not have done it without our volunteers:
Casey West, photog & videographer
Chelsey Delaney, assistant sound woman
Shelly Parver, door person
Mary Beth Wilson, door person
And big thanks to everyone who came out and helped us heat Pittsburgh up on a cold night!
Next Ignite Pittsburgh will be May 12 back at Brillobox.
If you want to help out with the next event, or if you want to give a talk, go to IgnitePittsburgh.com and ping us.