Friday, October 22, 2010

Try it and fix it as we go (Part 4 of 11 NetNon series)

"Try it and fix it as we go" Hmmm. That is one idea. Or we could make sure we have the right strategy, do a deep risk analysis, get the right staff, run an RFP process for a consultant, build some "must follow" processes, have a committee write a plan and vet all decisions through senior management. We should wait until we are ready.
I know many of you are thinking, yeah, you are so right Steve. "Try it and fix it as we go" isn't a good idea, we should think this through. We should make sure we are ready.  Wrong, ok well mostly wrong.

We tend to use phrases like:
"Go big or go home"
"Failing to plan is planning to fail"
"A consultant knows best."
"There is no try, only do or do not."
"The risk outweighs the benefit."
"Always be prepared."
"We've always done it that way."
"My experience tells me..."

OK, I think you get the point with the quotes. Sorry I got carried away there. But do you see how our old way of planning, strategy and decision making has to shift in order to use social media well?

Yes, "Try it and fix it as we go," is a good way to think about creating a social culture. And here is another favorite quote from the book. "Failing Fast." OK, seriously we don't want to fail, let alone fail fast.

Does this mean we don't plan or think this through, we just start? NO. Rather we plan and think through a methodology to allow for experimentation and ongoing changes tied to a set of goals that are measured with agreed upon metrics of success.  We also clearly state expectations of appropriate behavior in a social media policy for all staff. We help clarify the role of the individual vs org, public vs private, personal vs professional. We spend time crafting what we want the voice of the organization to be. We think through how we will react to and learn from failure, because it will happen. We come up with ways to encourage staff to grow and share in a positive way.

The plan isn't about the steps, tools and getting it right the first time. It is all about how you manage the culture, experiment and keep moving forward.

This chapter spends some time thinking about a social media policy, which is a great opportunity for conversation about social media across your full organization.  But a social media policy shouldn't be a list of do's and dont's. It needs to set the tone of your social culture. It needs to provide the framework to encourage you to "try it and fix it as we go" and "fail fast". (and here I thought the words try and fail should never be in our policy.)

I am going to share my thoughts about the book "The Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine over 11 posts, this was part 4 (one for each chapter).  But rather than just tell you what the chapter is about, I am going to share what I learned from it, any reactions and extra thoughts that I would add.  However the big caution I have with this, is that I am just not as smart and experienced as Beth and Allison, so you should probably just buy the book.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I was in Alaska recently and heard Meg Wheatly talk about leadership. ONe thing she said that stuck in my mind is that we're living in a complex times and that if leaders aren't making it up as they go along - then they are out of touch with reality.

Thought you'd get a kick out this story about learning from mistakes

Steve Heye said...

Beth, having a culture that sees failure as an opportunity and a natural part of experimentation is so critical. Thanks for the comment and the link to the mistake blog post. I had already read that post and liked it, but this time read through all the comments, some great stuff there!