Superhero activity example
Design, Tips

The value of workshop superheroes

This is a cross-post from the Indigenous Digital Excellence “backstage” blog.

Some time ago I came across an idea/method from Adaptive Path that the authors dubbed Design a superhero. In that blog post, Leah Buley outlines the method and how she’d had some success using the method in the context of user interviews as a fun and engaging way to gather user requirements.

I really liked the idea and felt that the method may also have utility in a workshop context as an introductory activity. I’ve since had the opportunity to test that theory in a number of workshops (with some minor variation from Leah’s original description) and have found it very effective in this context. Continue reading

Business 2.0, Sustainability

Guest post: Corporate Responsibility — engagement and transparency

We’re delighted to have urban and social planning consultancy Urban Affect on board as a partner. In this guest post (reposted with permission), principal Allison Heller shares some of her thoughts on CSR and social engagement.

A new year is often a time of reflection among businesses on strategic directions and corporate goals. For many firms, sustainability — environmental, social, economic — is fast moving up the agenda.

Raised regulatory standards and consumer expectations are today demanding far more from companies than an annual CSR report and a handful of associated token initiatives. The genuine integration of sustainability within an organisation may require significant organisational change and improved stakeholder engagement.

The Centre for Social Innovation — a partnership between the Universities of New South Wales, Melbourne, Western Australia and the Swinburne University of Technology — has been undertaking research on this shift taking place in the corporate sector in recent years. Researchers Gianni Zappala and Sarah Adams’ 2010 paper, The Integration of Corporate Responsibility: Evidence from leading companies in Australia & New Zealand (PDF 266 KB), considers the level of integration of sustainability principles and practices achieved to date.

The paper defines Corporate Responsibility (CR) as “understanding and minimising a company’s negative impact or footprint on society and a broad range of stakeholders including the planet and environment, its employees, the communities in which it operates and the governments which make the laws.” It utilises data from the Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI) benchmarking tool developed by Business in the Community in the UK in 2002, which is applied annually in Australia and New Zealand by the St James Ethics Centre.

The reseach found that “corporate responsibility is on the whole well integrated into the way that leading companies in Australia and New Zealand are doing business.” However it suggests that firms could improve in four key areas, including ensuring improving CR training at board level and improving the extent and quality of stakeholder engagement.

The following criteria are suggested as a measure of firms that have achieved genuine integration of CR principles:

  • Adopt a holistic conception of corporate responsibility or citizenship;
  • Have board level governance systems to oversee CR policies and practices;
  • Have senior leaders that champion CR internally and externally;
  • Have a range of structures and systems to integrate CR across the business, including risk management systems, stakeholder consultation schemes, sustainability training for managers and employees, establish and monitor key performance indicators for CR, and
  • Have an open and transparent approach to CR information disclosure (eg undertake assurance of their CR reports).

There is no denying the challenge for corporates in moving to greater levels of stakeholder engagement and associated transparency. However in many cases this is a necessary first step on the road to more sustainable, productive and profitable business. Which companies will rise to the challenge in 2011?

NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Social media & networking

EMC Summer School

As I mentioned in my last post, I presented at the Essential Media Communications Summer School last Thursday. My topic was social media for social change – looking at the principles of engagement with a specific emphasis on achieving social outcomes.

As happens with most presentations I do I was tweaking my slide deck right up until the last minute. The Summer School last week was no exception, so the version of my slides that was distributed to attendees at the conference is slightly out of sync with my actual presentation.

Thus here’s a PDF of the slides (6.24 MB) with my associated notes (which are also updated slightly from the distributed version).

From the conversations after my talk, there seemed to be a lot of interest in the diagram about different participation levels. While all this is included in my slide notes, I thought it worth noting that the diagram was conceived by Nicholas Street in response to a couple of reports, most notably the Participate Online research report (PDF 815 KB). It seems the diagram is no longer published on Nicholas’s blog – so I’m reposting it below for reference:

Chart depicting different levels of engagement in online participation

Around the time I came across Nicholas’s post I documented my thoughts, with an emphasis on my experience of Earth Hour 2007 – but have since expanded on them based on conversations with the Social Tech group.

While I still think the concepts are useful to consider, the Participate study is getting a bit long in the tooth now, which is why I didn’t spend a lot of time on that slide in my presentation. Seggr’s post on What social technographic are you? provides some more recent commentary to Forrester’s updated Social Technographics Ladder – both worthwhile references for those of you that are considering different types of participation.

The Pyschology of Influence and Sharing came across my Twitter stream while the Summer School was transpiring, which adds another perspective.

Thanks to everyone who attended the presentation, for the challenging questions at the end of the talk and for the kind words some of you shared with me afterwards. And thanks to EMC for inviting me to talk.

Business 2.0, Social media & networking

Ubank slipup

I was going to post my thoughts on a recent slip up (putting it politely) by NAB’s Ubank – but Laurel and Stephen and John sum it up well.

The short of it – NAB was caught astroturfing on their own “social” site. (It’s a shame Cheryl’s original post is no longer available for broader context.)

What’s strange is that NAB/Ubank have broken some of the most obvious rules of engagement – something that even a Google search for “social media guidelines” would have picked up.

I don’t really have much to add… except, perhaps, to say to Laurel “it’s not me advising them” ;) I just felt it worth reposting in case you missed the kerfuffle – lessons to be learned etc…