Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rewards and Targets do NOT Work in Complex Environments

Directly from David Gurteen Newsletter: Thank you David! It's hard to hear the truth.

To my mind the failure by business but more so governments to understand the adverse affects of measures, rewards and targets is a colossal Knowledge Management failure. As far as I can tell nearly all the research and evidence shows that rewards and targets do NOT work in complex environments. In fact they have the opposite effect of what is intended! But despite all the evidence to the contrary they continue, out of habit, to put their heads in the sand and do not change. This post from Ron Donaldson on A blind pursuit of targets points to yet more evidence. I really wish I had collected all the stories of the failure of targets by the Labour government over the last 12 years or so. I think there is enough to write a book! As Ron says "Is anyone in Govt health, education or the environment listening?" This really is a KM issue. We have the knowledge but we refuse to act on it! But apart from anything else "we really must stop trying to do things to people and to start to work with them".

Friday, March 05, 2010

Epic Change: an organization putting the power of storytelling and social media into the hands of the local communities they support

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a webinar hosted by Darim Online on the strategic use of Facebook (FB) for non-profits. We were invited by Caren Levine, who is a part of our Kehilliyot Community of Practice. Darim Online specializes in internet strategies for Jewish organizations and their communities, and the webinar was part of the organization’s “Social Media Boot Camp.” The host, technology maven Avi Kaplan ( on twitter @meshugavi ), provided valuable insights into using FB’s tools. Besides laying out the great strategic use of FB groups, analytics, pages, and friend lists, Avi also talked about using FB for “causes,” something he knows a lot about from his deep work with the 3-year old nonprofit, Epic Change.
Intrigued by Epic Change’s mission to “amplify the voices and impact of grassroots change-makers and social entrepreneurs,” we set up a web meeting with him the following week via Web X . What we discovered was the organization’s innovative use of technology and social media to create and spread change through the powerful combination of social media tools and age-old storytelling.
Epic Change has been focusing on a project in Arusha, Tanzania—the support of the Shepherds Junior School. Co-founders of Epic Change, Sanjay Patel and Stacey Monk, an IT project manager and a management consultant respectively, created the nonprofit organization after a life-changing trip volunteering in Africa in 2007. The project supports the work of the school’s founder, Mama Lucy Kamptoni, who they describe as a “savvy and passionate local woman.” Epic change made initial loans to the school and then helped them find creative ways to pay back the loan, such as a school performance and selling hand-made crafts.
In addition, the organization has facilitated finding partners to raise money for the school, such as the May 2009 $10,000 grant from Ideablob, which funded the school’s first technology lab. In October 2009, the fifth graders became the first #TwitterKids of Tanzania when they partnered with LacProject, part of a social media curriculum. The story of one of the local students whose life has been impacted can be found here. One particularly successful partnership was with Silicon Valley Tweetup, where they raised over $2,000. You can read more about their success in getting this community’s story out there through blogging themselves, forming partnerships, and empowering the locals with the technology to give voice to their own perspective (and “tweet” their thanks) by visiting Epic Change's news page.
We at Knowledge Communities were honored to talk with Epic Change and learn about their extraordinary work. This organization is a leading example in building community around an important cause and using the tools of storytelling and social media to raise funds to support grassroots change-makers that are in need of resources in order to continue their work. We are also thankful to our Kehilliyot Community of Practice and the sharing and generosity that members show towards one another, thereby allowing us all to gain more insight into good work and how it is getting done around the globe.

Diana Norma Szokolyai
Associate Consultant, Knowledge Communities