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Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

colloborateThe Chronicle of Philanthropy recently held a chat called “Making Change?: What does it take?” where nonprofit leader, Hildy Gottlieb, lead a conversation with nonprofit leaders on what it takes to make social change a reality. One interesting vein of the conversation turned to the role of collaboration among nonprofits. In response to a question about why nonprofits don’t collaborate more, Hildy responded with:

“The truth is that organizations don’t work together – people do.”

She then went on to describe how the crux of the problem really lies in the systems that lead organizations to compete against one another for funding, resources, and attention among their constituents.  It begs the question of how to rethink systems that actually foster collaboration between people, organizations and entities. We’re glad to say that there are several examples of organizations that are doing just this. Below are some highlighted models of collaboration that help people and organizations work together.

NCTC- National Community Tax Coalition

If organizations plan for their own accomplishments (again the silo thing) they will focus inward. If they plan for what they want the community to look like if they are 100% successful, they will naturally reach out to others, knowing they can’t do it on their own.

-Hildy Gottlieb

NCTC is the largest most comprehensive organization for nonprofits offering free financial services for low income families. As a coalition for organizations that are working on the same issue, there are several ways that they foster collaboration between their members. They offer Working Groups with the goal to “influence the development and position of NCTC’s products” . This gives different nonprofits an opportunity to work on something that is outside of their individual aims. Through real collaboration on projects that will improve the entire system that all the organizations are part of, NCTC manages to bring organizations together into meaningful partnerships.

Land Trust Alliance

So one basic system would be to provide space for people to get to know each other without it being about a grant proposal

-Hildy Gottlieb

The Land Trust Alliance is another organization that works to foster collaboration between various organizations. In this case, it works to support Land Trusts from around the country. One way that they foster collaboration between Land Trust members from around the country, is through their Learning Center. The Learning Center is a complete educational platform for Land Trust owners that shares a lot of information about how to successfully build and run a land trust. Not only that, but they have forums where members can interact with each other and share information on their experiences.  By using the internet to share relevant information with their members and building a platform that enables people to share with each other, they have managed to build an online community that fosters collaboration and connection between organizations who may otherwise have seen themselves as competing for the same funds.

These organizations are just two examples of entities that are building systems to encourage collaboration. By having their organizations join around information and engaging members to work for the greater good, they are helping facilitate more collaborative engagement between different groups. If we could find ways to make these practices commonplace in the sector for social good, we’d hopefully get closer to seeing real changes in society’s larger problems.

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ifPeople is bringing in the new year with new ways technology can empower our local nonprofits!  We are organizing another Salesforce Nonprofit User Group meeting, which is on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 from 8am-10am and we’d love to see you there! If you want to the chance to collaborate, network, and share ideas with other salesforce users who are right here in the Atlanta area, then be sure to attend this Salesforce User Group meeting which will be held at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (address and parking info). Catering (coffee, breakfast yummies) will be provided by Cafe Campesino Atlanta.  Please RSVP here

The agenda is as follows:

8:00am-8:30am – Coffee and Networking

8:30am-8:45am – Announcements

8:45-9:15am – Dreamforce Panel

To highlight the excitement from December’s Dreamforce event, we will have a panel of highlights from participants at Dreamforce. The format will be “lightning talks” – 3 minute from each of several participants highlighting their favorite take-aways. If you attended Dreamforce and would like to share your highlights, please let us know (comment below or email us).

9:15-9:45am – Integrating Websites with Salesforce

The Atlanta User Group co-leader and ifPeople co-founder, Christopher Johnson, will demonstrate how the Open Source Content Management System Plone can be used to integrate a website with Salesforce in minutes! If you’re interested to get a sneak peak at the tools, see here and this webinar, and please join us for the followup hands on session when we put the knowledge into action (Sprint on Jan 24, event info here)!

9:45-10am: Q & A

We’ll discuss potential topics and presenters for future meetings.

If you have any questions about this Salesforce User Group meeting, you can contact Christopher at cjj@ifpeople.net. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP here.

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As many of you are aware, the highly anticipated NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference is being held April 8 – 10. 2009, in Atlanta, home of ifPeople HQ.

To engage the nonprofit community, NTEN has made all session proposals public and has invited people like you to vote on your favorites. This is a great opportunity to let your voice be heard and help influence what’s going to be an informative and inspiring conference for non-profits and consultants alike.

ifPeople has proposed several sessions. Click on the links below to read more what we’re proposing — and don’t forget to vote as well!

An Open Civic Engagement Platform: Empowering Nonprofit Communications with Mature Stable Solutions

An Open Source Approach to Collaboration: Sustainable, Inner-Organizational Collaboration

25 Ways to Increase Your Org’s Communication Capacity: Accomplishing More Without More Staff

Or get a full listing of all the proposals and vote on your favorites.

Hurry! Voting ends this Friday.

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We are very excited to announce that our session on open source as a model of collaboration got accepted to one of the premier conferences on systems thinking in action! We decided to go to our core experience and crafted a really solid session that Tirza and I are very excited about. It builds on our work in open source communities, and especially the Social Sourcing approach we pioneered. The work on this talk will kick off a series of articles later this spring and summer, including the “principles of open source communities” (can’t believe I couldn’t really find something good out there on this already!) and more on the social sourcing model in action.

Here’s some more on the session as we proposed it. Working title: “Open Source Your Collaboration: Save Money, Increase Engagement, Build Community”

Description: The model of Open Source software offers lessons for those organizations seeking to cross institutional boundaries for genuine collaboration towards shared goals. We will review the tools, techniques and cultural norms of sustainable communities, highlight where these may challenge entrenched mental models and habits of organizations. We will show how to create shared ownership and foster continuous listening within a diverse collaboration. We also offer a straight-forward approach for those wishing to lead or facilitate collaborative projects. The presenters will speak from their experience in Open Source projects over the last 9 years, as well as from their experience extending this model to non-software projects.

Learning goals:

  • Understand Open Source software projects as a form of distributed, self-sustaining collaboration.
  • Learn the Social Sourcing process for leading projects based on a collaborative design process that engages participants and creates shared ownership of the outcome.
  • Identify where open collaboration models can potentially clash with existing mental models and organizational culture.
  • Take home tools and techniques for ensuring the needs of members are continuously heard and responded to in their work to build sustainable collaboration.

If you’re interested to check out more on the topic, see the Pegasus Communications website for the conference. Hopefully we’ll see you in Seattle in November!

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Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, was at the Agile Atlanta / Turner Agile group meeting tonight in Atlanta, GA to give a talk called “Shock Therapy: Self Organizing in Scrum”.The talk was motivated by his history of work in teaching teams to do Scrum, which is designed to be 5-10x the productivity of industry-standard teams. After several interventions and studying how many organizations tried to incorporate Scrum, the question emerged: why do some achieve the productivity gains and others don’t? How can we consistently get the productivity gains?

Jeff is now working with a venture capital firm (OpenView Venture Partners), who really want to know the answer to these questions! Makes sense though – if you are investing in a company that delivers value via a software product, you want the team to be productive! Makes so much sense it generated a business model – Pivotal Labs, in San Francisco, which incubates startup development teams to train them on XP Agile practices for 3 months, gets teams to their first iteration of the product and then sends them on their way – and they have incubated over 40 startups! So, what’s the secret sauce for getting hyperproductivity?

The basic approach devised to get replicable hyperproductivity is similar to that of a sensei master teaching martial arts: first there are good practices, and no choice. Do as the master does, and once you get that, you can be more creative and change the rules, but until then, the way is very rigid. Jeff told the story of Scott Downey playing the role of Master ScrumMaster at MySpace in this capacity. Scott stepped into enormous cultural inertial (1/3 waterfall, 1/3 ScrumButt) and reformed a number of teams, most achieving over 400% gains in productivity (with one reaching 1600+%…until the team was dismantled to help a waterfall project that was behind schedule).

They called the technique “Shock Therapy”, which comes out of recognizing the need for situational leadership, or meeting people where they are in terms of preparedness for adopting Scrum. Given that about half of Scrum teams don’t meet 3 basic rules (produce working, tested software each iteration; timebox iterations; have “agile” requirements) and only 10% meet a more complete set of rules (with the catch often being that no one knows the team velocity), it isn’t surprising that a bit of discipline and directive leadership is needed (see more in ScrumButt Test presentation).

At ifPeople, we’ve been practicing Agile for over 4 years and Scrum for a bit over a year (now mixed with Lean, Kanban and distributed team adaptations). One thing we have to deal with is product implementation, rather than pure custom development. Luckily a participant in the talk tonight brought that up in a question, and a connection was made to a recent article by Scott Ambler on using Agile with COTS (Commerical Off-the-Shelf Systems), which applies pretty well to the process we try to lead our customers through (though we implement both Commerical (Salsa and Salesforce.com) and Open Source (Plone) off-the-shelf software)l. Anyway, check out the article here.

Some other insights and quotables from the talk:

  • Developer perception is often reversed, and built around the idea that optimal performance is a solo operation. This is supported by reward systems (career, performance reviews, salary), that focus on individual (over team) performance.
  • “We don’t want managers, we want leaders.”
  • Toyota’s approach: Half of what you know is wrong; your job is to figure out which half. Inspect and adapt is the only way.
  • Teams can’t have any task that only one person can do, as that promotes silos and generates bottlenecks.

For more on Jeff, check out his website.

To connect up in Atlanta, see the Agile Atlanta site and the Scrum Atlanta meetup.

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