Music posters on a wall
Business 2.0, Social media & networking, Software & web applications

Where should we (virtually) meet?

Recently I had occasion to kick of an interesting and inspiring dialogue with some colleagues and friends around the idea of digital making (a subject that, for those of you that know me from my time with the IDX Initiative, is close to my heart).

One of the things we were discussing/thinking about is how the recent changes to the school curriculum to include coding (one of the more positive developments, among plenty of not so good bits) will have a big impact on teachers. I suspect many will be thrust into a position where they need to pick these ideas and concepts up quickly, and conversely that the resources currently available are not yet at a standard to meet their needs.1

Having had the privilege of meeting a bunch of digital makers2, and had some great conversations with teachers wanting to engage in these sorts of activities, I felt it would be useful to connect these two groups, and using “off the shelf” social networking tools seemed to make the most sense.

What seemed like a “no brainer” raised some interesting questions for me around social network tools and how we engage with them. Continue reading

NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking

Digital “deprivation” challenge

Next week I’m participating in a workshop being hosted by the Smith Family which will be utilising design thinking methodology to explore “transformational thinking around how the organisation can best leverage new foundation technologies and systems to help reduce the digital divide.”

In the lead-up to the event, the team at the Smith Family have asked if we could participate in what they call a “digital deprivation challenge”:

To improve our understanding of how we can better support our students and their families we need to first understand what it is like to be one of our students or at least a part of their family. So here is your challenge should you choose to accept… and we strongly encourage you to do so!

During a weekend between now and the workshop we would like you to experience what it is like to be electronically disconnected. This means no electronic devices or screens for a whole weekend – and documenting your experience.

What we are asking you to do is to turn off your smart phone and put it in a top drawer till the weekend is over. Close your laptop and leave it in the office over the weekend. When you get home go and switch off your WiFi and leave it off till Monday morning. Kick your tablet under the bed and leave it there.

Sounds tough hey! Well we think this challenge will help put you in the mindset of what it is like to live disconnected in a world where everything and everyone is connected. It will give you a small insight into what it is like for our students and their families, and more importantly what they are missing out on because of their circumstances. Hopefully you will then be in a much better position to be creative for our Design Thinking session.

Ostensibly the challenge aims to engender a sense of empathy with the people we aim to serve within the context of the workshop. While I think all involved recognise that this is far from a true test, it will be interesting to journal the approach and see how it plays out. Kudos to the Smith Family for trying something a bit different by having this as part of proceedings.

Part of the reason I’m posting here is that I won’t be online this weekend, and thus if you call, SMS, tweet, or FB mention me, I won’t know about it ;) Some might suggest that’s bliss! But I’m sure it’s going to throw up all manner of challenges given how much my patterns of behaviour have changed over the past few years to be so digitally-centric.

No Google Maps, no quick check-ins when trying to co-ordinate to meet with someone, no quickly searching for an answer to that nagging question, no train times, no safety net if I’m out on a mountain-bike trail (or even just trying to get in or out of an unfamiliar location).

I’m looking forward to hearing from others in the workshop about their experience…

Social media & networking, Work

What is “Digital Excellence”?

This is a cross-post from the Indigenous Digital Excellence site, part of the ongoing conversation in the lead up to the IDEA Summit.

I’m feeling really excited to have been invited to co-facilitate one of the groups at the up-coming IDEA Summit. I feel it’s a real privilege to be part of this process.

As I’ve been preparing for the Summit, I’ve been giving some thought to “What does Indigenous Digital Excellence mean?”. My first stab at an answer (from my personal perspective) is on the IDEA website:

The highly personal and “always available” nature of digital technologies, including social media, present significant promise in supporting positive personal and social change in a wide variety of contexts. To me, “Indigenous Digital Excellence” means empowering and supporting young Indigenous people to find their own creative solutions to their distinct challenges, using digital technologies as a foundation. I believe that these solutions will be far more powerful and creative than anything I could/would come up with.

Prompted by Summit co-facilitator Leanne Townsend, I started to think about this question in my own sphere. That is, as a (largely) digitally-based professional, what do I consider “digital excellence” to mean? That is to say, if I was to look around at my peers in my own personal network and ask “what does digital excellence look like?”, I’d suggest the following (probably incomplete) list:

  • Has pragmatic familiarity with a wide variety of digital devices, software tools, and spaces.
  • Actively participates in online social networks, professionally and/or personally.
  • Leverages digital technologies effectively in achieving their own personal goals.
  • Is able to make informed judgements about what tools are right for their particular requirements/circumstance.
  • Has confidence in getting up to speed with (evaluating, understanding and adapting to) new digital technologies quickly as needed.
  • Is not overwhelmed by it all.
  • Maintains a healthy relationship to digital technologies so that they are appropriately integrated into real-life interactions—i.e. not addicted to checking emails at every available moment. Chooses when “going dark” is appropriate and needed to maintain personal space and balance.
  • Is aware of, and has sufficient confidence and support in mitigating, the various risks and dangers inherent in online interactions—such as personal security, handling bullying, what’s appropriate in public vs. private vs. professional contexts.
  • Is aware of the broader socio-technical and socio-economic implications of digital technologies. That is, the broader impacts and influence these technologies are having on society at large.

I’ve just written that list off the top of my head, but it’s interesting to note that only a couple are related to the technology themselves. Most are personal attributes in how someone approaches technology. This, I think, is important.

Extending from this then, I’m very interested in whether or not Indigenous Digital Excellence is different from the above? Are there unique challenges within the Indigenous community that would influence this list? I’m personally not sure, but I’m very interested in hearing from others about their thoughts…

Social media & networking, Sustainability, Work

Stepping up your business in 2012 – launching a new public workshop

If you took a quick trip through the archives of this blog you would probably notice that we facilitate a lot of workshops and presentations (both for our clients, but also at public events and conferences), especially on topics that encourage sustainability and social innovation.

With that in mind we’re delighted to be running our first stand-alone workshop on 28 & 29 March 2012 on these themes. Zumio associate Allison Heller, the wonderful Connie Comber at Re-Imagine Business and I have teamed up to develop a two-day program that ties together our combined learnings into what we hope will be an engaging set of sessions for business owners and managers.

From the workshop blurb:

Business models for driving profitability are changing.

Customer loyalty, high performance teams and strong business networks are increasingly reliant on collaboration and building long-term relationships.

Businesses need to be engaged in the new socially-networked economy and that means accepting greater transparency and adopting socially-aware values and principles.

Clients and communities expect more of businesses today.

This workshop will:

  • Provide you with an overview of latest trends shaping the business sector: collaboration, shared value and harnessing the power of the socially-networked economy to your advantage.
  • Lead you through a series of case studies of businesses that have been transformed to build resilience and achieve sustainable growth.
  • Provide you with practical tools to develop a resilience-based business strategy to drive new market opportunities.

The first day will focus on the clear trends impacting the business community, representing both risks and opportunities depending on an organisation’s preparedness. The second day will focus on specific case studies of local and international businesses that are harnessing these trends and getting ahead of the curve.

As with all of our workshops, the two days will emphasise interactive and hands-on activities to help apply the key principles and learnings that emerge from the sessions in a practical way.

There’s more detail over at the event booking page. We’d be delighted to hear any feedback you have on the event and outline.

And you can get a 5% discount by using the discount code “earlybird” before 9 Mar 2012.

P.S. if you think someone else might be interested, we’ve got a PDF flyer you can send around or print (if you must) that contains all the essentials.

Government 2.0, Social media & networking

VicRoads social media case study

In mid-2009 we had the pleasure of working with the VicRoads team on a series of workshops for staff from across the organisation as an introduction to social media and networking.

The workshops were in part presenting these tools to staff, as at the time they were still quite new, and in part to inform and generate ideas for a broader social media strategy for the organisation.

So I was delighted to see that one of the folks involved in that initial strategy, Jonathan Roper (at the time with Paris First, now running Briarbird) has posted a series of video interviews talking about a recent social media initiative using an internal blog to gather feedback and generate dialogue for organisational improvement.

There’s some great stuff in there for anyone considering how to apply social media in a government organisation — well worth checking out. It seems that some of the ideas we were talking about in those early workshops are really starting to take shape within VicRoads, which is fantastic to see.