Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zoo or Jungle? what is your IT alignment?

When you go to the Zoo each of the animals has their area to live in. The zookeepers do everything they can to replicate the animals natural environment, diet and activity in their cages. They provide the best care that they can to keep the animal healthy and happy. The zoo keeper is focused on one exhibit or area at a time. However very few, if any, of the actions that the Zoo Keepers make for each animal actually help the full zoo. You treat each of the animal areas as individual projects.

In the jungle the ecosystem is what keeps it all running. It is no longer enough to only look at the needs of individual animal. Every decision and action has to be weighed against the overall shift in the ecosystem.

When we allow our organizations to grow into silos and then implement the technology solutions for each individual area are we just tending a zoo? So while that technology may help that individual, what did it do for the org or for the full mission?

My boss, Judith Sol Dyess, just posted some similar thoughts about how she just "deleted her strategy" on her blog. I find it very interesting that without strong IT leadership, further exaggearted with a big disconnect between IT and Leadership that the Zoo silos grow. Here is a quote from Judith:

" thing stands out. We have moved from projects that benefit the entire org, to department-based work. That’s not to say that Finance or Marketing don’t have valid technology needs, not at all. But this segregation of projects is troubling."

IT Alignment is all about matching your technology strategy to your organizations mission. Too often we get stuck tending the monkeys and loose track of the jungle we are in.

(zoo photo from Flickr mag3737)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Role of my faith in my work

Some of us may have a type of job where it is hard to bring our faith, beliefs and religion to work. Well that is yet another reason to love where I work, the YMCA. Although our historical roots as an organization with heavy evangelism and bible studies is not as prevalent today as I would like in the Chicago Association, everything we do is still rooted in those beliefs and values. So while I am work I am able to bring all of who I am with me.

However in the last year I have started to notice that when I am talking in my NPTech circles, that I have somehow hid my faith and beliefs. It is almost as if I have allowed myself to focus so much on tech and nonprofit talk that everything else slides to the back. Recently though many things have been pushing me to let my faith shine.

The Religion & Technology Divide is a Guest Post by Paul Lamb on the famous Beth's Blog. This blog talked about disparity between technology and religion. This mirrors my own personal thoughts.

One of the things that I have enjoyed is that my church home, Community Christian Church, has embraced a lot of technology. The leadership and staff of the church have embraced technology within the services, throughout the building and even embracing social media. They see the ability of YouTube to spread the message through hilarious videos (like the one I am in here). Our pastors are all over Twitter and Facebook because they see the value in creating or enforcing relationships.

Anyway, I am rambling, so back to my point (or 2 points to be exact).

Point #1 =How many of us hide part of ourselves or our beliefs because we are afraid?

Afraid to offend someone?
Afraid to not fit in?
Afraid to have our beliefs challenged by others?
Afraid to mix personal and professional?

I think many of us try to treat our lives like the government, where we try to separate Church and State. But even the government cant keep them separate. I am going to be more deliberate about not hiding my faith.

Point #2 - Churches should see that technology is not inherently evil and the NPTech sector should look to help churches find positive ways to leverage it.

All technology seems to have a dark side and can be used in bad ways, but if the harm didnt outweigh the good would it still continue to thrive and grow? Well ok yes, it probably would but... Technology can be used in very positive ways. And isnt the church here to help us live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God? As individuals we are all faced with the moral challenges that technology and the internet provide. If the church hides from these moral challenges, how can they help us? We need the church's support and guidance to navigate these choices.

As far as the NPTech sector goes, how can we ignore the faith based side of the nonpofit world? I think you would be hard pressed to find a more devoted following than those who belong to a church. Why dont we leverage that and collaborate more? And is it just me or is the topic just not talked about?

Final thought

So what is the role of faith in my work? Since my faith and beliefs are a big part of me, then naturally they are going to come with me. They play a large role in every decision I make, every thought I have and every action I take.

Well those are my thoughts, as random as ever, but probably not as humorous as I try sometimes. I dont claim to have all the answers on this topic, nor am I an expert. I would love to be challenged and questioned on this, it helps me think it through.

Photo Credit=kid w/iphone from mastrobiggo on Flickr