Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting in the game! Cheerleader no more.

Time for me to get off the bench and get back in the game. On Friday, Oct 31 I will be starting my new job at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago! My unofficial title is the Web Project Manager, but the official one was IT Project Manager. I am very excited to be joining this organization again, although it is not new to me, I have been there before. Looking forward to it, they have an awesome tech team!

But for the last many years, I have not been directly in the game. My role at the YMCA of the USA was to enable others at the local YMCAs to do their work better. I typically did not do the work directly. All of that is about to change. This video from my church is a great illustration of what I mean.

I am confident that I have the skills, tools and qualifications to do the job and do it exceedingly well (if I have to toot my own horn). But this will be a new challenge for me and I am craving that. It is one thing to sit back and be someone dreaming up theories, making up recommendations, writing papers, etc. Now it is time to make it real and make it happen! And I cant wait.

I would challenge all of you to think about something you support or something you are involved in, but only from the stands. Then change it. Stop being a cheerleader and routing for a team. Start being a team member and make a difference. Contribute your skills, talents, time, connections or whatever it is you have to something you believe in.

Disclaimers - I dont mean to imply that my old role wasnt important, it really was important and was very needed. Someone needs to be the dreamer, the visionary, the group leader. Someone has to drive strategy, think about the future, make plans, write papers. I am just excited to be moving to the role of doing it, rather than motivating others to do it.

Second disclaimer - yes, the video was a church video from my church. I do have something of a personal pledge to not "hide" my beliefs. I dont expect everyone to agree with me, but it is who I am. I do also want to get in the game more at my church (although I am already pretty involved).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5 tools, 18 things, 220+ tools, 400+ tools--- HELP!

Overwhelm your colleagues with the endless and growing opportunities that technology has! Be sure to run around and tell everyone each and every time a new tool comes out! By far that is the best way to get them excited. Dont worry about using the existing ones or even maintaining your infrastructure, that is someone else's problem. Lets talk about the newest and coolest, doesnt matter if it has anything to do with your mission.

Andriod, iPhone, Mashups, Aggregators of RSS feeds with Flickr linkups, widgets, smibs, etc....
Five Tools I Use for Listening
The 18 Things You Need for Your Computer
220+ social media tools from mint blogger
ONLINE MEDIA GOD: 400+ Tools for Photographers, Videobloggers, Podcasters & Musicians

And if someone ever asks about an idea be sure to give them a list of 400 choices to look at. Also make sure that the list is just a list, no suggestions on what they could be used for or why. Be sure you dont provide any structure or process on how to select or narrow the list. Avoid any conversation about implementation method, overall strategy, maintaining content or possible risks.

Any Hoot, I think you get the point that yet again I have lost my focus. By the way the resources above are actually really great with tons of useful information. But all of these are useless without context, planning and strategy. Never embark on a crazy tool or web2.o idea without a reason and plan. And if a colleague, co-worker or boss asks about a tool, dont send a long list. Your job as a techy is to provide that context and a suggest a beginning place with a good approach.

Hope you enjoy this! Sorry this is short and late this week. I am swamped with interviews, project proposals and an article I am starting for

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fight Poverty! Blog Action Day 08

In honor of Blog Action day I am straying off course a little, but not really. I am participating in Blog Action Day and this years focus is poverty. This has been a big topic at my church, Community Christian Church, for the last couple years.

Many people jump to thinking international when thinking of poverty. But I agree with the approach that my church has taken. They base it on the bible verse Acts 1:8 that says "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." So in that effort they have picked three different geographies for their approach on poverty. First a neighboring town that has a concentration of low-income households, second the Philippines and the third an international group.

And in each case we have partnered with existing organizations that have the expertise to make our efforts worthwhile. We have also tried to make it possible for everyone to participate, pitch in and donate. In fact our church decided for one weekend that the whole offering for all of our campuses would be donated to these causes instead of going to the church. This was while the church was facing it's own financial concerns but felt compelled to give. In one weekend $250,000 was collected! That was an enormous amount compared to the church's weekly budget.

But it isn't always about the money, a big part of it is helping the people in need feel loved, normal and important. The church goes out of their way to be sure we are addressing the numerous root causes of poverty, not just provide temporary funding to ease symptoms.


I am not telling you this to brag about my church or try to convince you to join (but it would be great if you did). Rather I think every church, individual and organization can look right in their backyard to fight ways to fight poverty. But starting a new nonprofit may not be the best idea to solve the problem, see who is already doing work in the area you are interested in and help support them. By creating more nonprofits there is a chance you are diminishing the already hard to get funds.

Visit the Blog Action Day site to get some great and amazing ideas of how to fight poverty.

Monday, October 6, 2008

5 secret ways to trick your colleagues into becoming content creators for your website.

Shh, don't share the following with ANYONE! Keep it to yourself and trick your colleagues at work into becoming the content creators that you know they can be.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard over and over again is that it is hard to get staff at organizations to contribute to content to the website. The IT or tech team should not be the ones writing the content of the website. Nor should it only be the marketing staff, who wants a web site full of marketing pizazz.

But our staff are so busy that they just dont have time to contribute solid content to populate the site. Well here is my list:

Top 5 Ways to trick your colleagues into becoming content creators for your website.

6. Job description. This may seem like you are forcing people, but you have to look at this as just part of their job. Work with supervisors, HR, "C" level staff, etc. to get web site content into all of the appropraite job descriptions. Even if you cant get it into existing ones, there are always those new hires. Now granted, this wont automatically make the content good or even make it happen, but at least their is a small awareness.

5. Three ring binders. Look around for things and pieces of information that people have thought is important enough to keep in a written format like a three ring binder. YMCAs are famous for having a whole shelf of these at the front desk and in every YMCA program directors office. Find what is most useful and repopulate that content into your intranet or web site.

4. Ease it in. Start with an intranet, instead of a public website. Get people involved in our intranet. Get them used to using the web to submit content. Do simple things like a discussion board, a book club, transferring manuals from paper to web, write stories about their background, etc. Get people to start a wiki, start with a small group, then brag about how cool the project is. Then others will want to join.

3. Competition. Pick a couple people that you know are ready to give content, then get that published on your site. Then go overboard in recognizing those staff within your org. A few others will want to join in based on that. Then continue to publicize the people that are contributing. Maybe even create a quarterly award for best content, include a free day off and a cool tshirt. But the most important key is to get those people not contributing wondering why they arent involved.

2. Bribery. Bribe them with food and hold an in-person meeting. Schedule a meeting focused on a topic that you need content for on your site. Then invite the people that have knowledge on that topic to a meeting and serve some pizza, ice cream or something. Get them talking and have someone take notes. Take a quick break. Have someone fast and furious rewrite those notes into some sample content for site. When people return, show them the content and have them react and help rewrite. Then publish and be sure to give all the credit to those people.

1. Steal it. Ask your colleagues a question in an email and dont tell them you plan to reuse it on the web. Just ask a question. Take their reply and rework it as content. Then send it back to them with this quote, "WOW, I was so impressed with your answer that I would love to have this content on the org web site. I attached what it could look like. Could I get your permission to post this?" But dont stop with stealing emails. Look for content to "steal" from discussion boards, memos, handwritten notes, brochures, presentations and more!

See what I did! I tricked you also! I said there were five and I wrote six. OK, I only did that because a top 5 sounds cooler than top 6.

Any Hoot. I would suggest by first trying to figure out what the biggest barriers are at your org. Is it a fear of tech? A feeling they arent the expert? A lack of time or resources? Unsure of what to write? The key is to get them to write that first peice, get permission and show that person how smart and great they truly are (BUT BE GENIUNE!), then next time maybe they submit it more willingly.

I am not claiming to be an expert on any of this, but obviously I was smart enough to trick you into reading this. Maybe now I can trick you into writing a comment?