Monday, May 12, 2014

Technology Committees - Who to Include and What to Do (part 2)

This is a continuation of a post about types of Technology Committees and the value they can bring.

NOTE, this post really focuses on advisory tech committees, but can be altered for others.

Once you decide to have a tech committee, who should you include and how do you recruit them?

SkillsThe key is to find some members with experience and skills which don't exist in your org. Often these are not technology skills at all. Remember, you aren't using your technology committee to do your tech support, they are there to help you drive your strategy. So often things like vendor negotiation, business process, data management, governance, tech policy, software selection, project management and other business skills. Often these skills are the ones missing in orgs. A nice balance of these skills with experience in technology projects or management is great.

PurposeBut even more important is to match your members to the purpose of the committee. How do you plan to use the group, to brainstorm new ideas, review existing process, assist in projects, strategic planning, reviewing vendors...

Connections - It is great if you can find a range of members who may not be connected to each other. It is great to have a few who are existing supports of your org, know each and get along. But at the same time, with variety comes a different set of vendor experience, tools used and so on.

Recruiting - Look for existing volunteers, donors or engaged audiences. Specifically target a few people through your board, most of them work at companies with the types of people you are looking for. Reach out to some friends or colleagues at other orgs who are in similar roles or look to bigger orgs who may have more tenured staff. The trick is to have your purpose, vision and structure of the committee ready, along with being able to articulate the value they can bring and what the commitment would be.

SIDEBAR - Now I have to take a minute to stop sounding mechanical and maniacal, like this is all calculated, all about some master plan. It isn't. This about people. Our Tech Advisory Board is full of people I respect and have developed friendships with. This group has been more than helpful, they have made a real impact. OK, so now back to the post...

Then once you have a team, it is time to meet, but to do what?

Information - Share information, updates and insights about the tech and strategic plans of your org. This is a great way to both get them involved and open opportunities for input. 

Challenges - Be upfront and honest about where the org is struggling, it is the best way to get support and help. Always painting a happy picture may not drive them to action. And don't just focus on the little ones, make the challenges big enough to be meaningful.

Social - be sure to make the group social in a way that fits your culture. Infuse the stuff that makes your org great, be who you are as an org.

Focus - provide a focus to your meeting, what is the big item of the agenda.  Be sure to share this ahead of time, give them time to prepare. Push through the updates and info to allow focus on this.  A great way to do this is to be in regular communication with this group between meetings.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Tech Committees, specifically ones with an advisory role. The time, effort and attention needed to make these work may or may not be right for your org. It is just an option working for us which I don't hear talked about enough.

Also, if you want to join my tech committee, just let me know!

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