Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Forget the Tech - Life Gets in the Way part 3

In our last post our heroes were too distracted with fighting fires and "she can't give much more, I'm an accidental techie not a miracle worker," were themes.

This time we find our heroes have finally built a stable infrastructure of technology and are now looking to have a real impact, not just be effective. We are looking to meet our mission.

WOOHHH, hold on there little horsey before I buck you right off. How can we jump right to the mission like that? Well actually if you don't have the mission as your goal, how do you know you will get there? And why bother doing something if it doesn't lead to meeting your mission.

Yes, there is a lot of technology that is just there to help us work and doesn't directly impact our mission. Well here is my thought about that. If technology doesn't tie directly to your mission, let someone else manage it. John Merritt likes to call that non-mission impact technology your commodity technology.

Why should you spend any of your time coming up with strategies and plans on your commodity technology when that just distracts you from doing these awesome steps below that transforms your technology into an ART that helps you meet your mission?

Below is an excerpt from an amazing blog post from John Merritt on his blog, be sure to visit and read the whole thing.

Matching Tech to Mission ~ Read and Understand the Strategic Plan

Knowledge is power and one of the best places to seek knowledge about your organization is by reading the strategic plan. Techies often feel the strain of being "misunderstood"; I would challenge each and every nonprofit technologist to begin by first understanding their organization.

It's All About the Relationship ~ Getting Connected Even if You're Not Wanted

How do you build a lasting and functional relationship with your organization even when you're rejected by the very people you struggle to support? You keep trying and you change your approach to meet each situation.

What does a Strong Relationship Between Tech and Staff Look Like? ~ Metrics

So, you've done your homework, read the strategic plan and your questions and relationship building have begun to bear fruit. What, then, does the tech/mission aligned organization look like? Have you really attained higher function? Here are a few examples in support of alignment and tech working in partnership with staff.

The Organizational Chart ~ Look for Obstacles

The way in which mission focused technology comes to be is largely based on the organizational chart, that funny diagram made up of boxes and lines that either puts tech on the path to success or the highway to, well...


"Forget the Tech, Let's Talk Mission" is about using the information and resources readily available in each of our orgs to develop questions and talking points to move technology closer to supporting the mission. Using available information and resources -- strategic plans, org charts and staff knowledge -- what questions can you ask that will bring better mission support and extension via technology?

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