Category Archives: Community

SSI – Showcasing how community sector partnerships can work

A corporate colleague once commented that he was surprised how competitive the not-for-profit sector was. “You guys are even more cut-throat than the retail sector – you treat everyone as your competition for the fundraising dollar.”
And he was right. But organisations such as United Way and Settlement Services International (SSI), under the leadership of Violet Roumeliotis, are showing the sector how collaboration and partnership can really work.
Next week, if you haven’t got a Melbourne Cup event to get to, head over to Bankstown Auditorium to hear about the NSW Settlement Partnership – 23 organisations working proactively together to provide community settlement services.

To find out details and RSVP through Eventbrite – Click here.

Five Questions to help Get Unstuck

I’m participating in an online course with lots of assignments and some of our group have gotten behind and are feeling stuck. It seems overwhelming if not impossible to catch up on the outstanding work and get back on track. So what to do?

I was was feeling like this recently and found that asking the question “what should I to do first?” seemed logical but it was the wrong question.  I couldn’t make a decision because I had no way to decide what were the necessary assignments and what I could skip.

Luckily, one of my colleagues reminded me “you know why you are you doing this – let that  be your decider”, which alerted me to the fact that I had not revisited my “why” in a while.  So here are the five questions that helped me get unstuck and moving again.

1. Why am I doing this? 

I revisited my “why”.  I wanted to do this course because I am keen to learn how to run online communities and to connect with people who work in social & environmental justice. That hasn’t changed but I have lots of choices about what sort of community and I sometimes get lost in the options, so I need a way to remind myself of what I want.  I like the idea of the minimum viable product that I can build – something that will produce value for my community members come launch day on Septemer 10th.

Lesson: We need to make our “Why” memorable, so we can think about it on a daily basis.
Suggestions include: Make a poster to look at, a story to tell, or a dance move to reflect your “why”.  A rough prototype of the website is relevant for my particular project.

2. Who am I doing this for and 3. What is their problem?

In the early days of hte program we spent time talking about and describing our audience, what they say their problems are. I think I need to keep them in mind daily.

Lesson: How can we find someone who represents our potential audience / clients and has the typica problems they have, then make them memorable via a screenshot or image, or a typical phrase for their problem, or a pose that they get into when they’re down.  Google images are great – for serious and cartoon images.

4. How can I help them?

I keep imagining my audience / clients with their problem and then imagine giving them a meaningful message and imagine how I will connect with them.  Is it a product or a service, in my case will it be synchronous or asynchronous contact or a bit of both?  What is the minimum I can create to start to get my message out there and draw potential network members to me?  The answers to these questions helped point me in the direction of where to start. Blogs are easy.  For others, a tangible example of your message / solution might look like a mock up of a workshop marketing page, or a book book cover and outline, or typical answers to frequently asked questions in a podcast, or  a short video demonstrating what we can do.

5. What will my impact be?

Finally, what impact do I intend to have? When I imagine my audience / network with their problem and then they join my community – I create a ‘before and after’ comparison, or a mini movie in my head.  What will they and their life be like after they have joined this community?  I’m still working on this one – trying to create a satisfied network member image, a mock testimonial, or a ‘happy power pose” (see Amy Cuddy for more on powerful poses).

If you haven’t worked out your “Why”, or if you are still stuck after asking these questions, send me an email to sharon (at) apassion.com.au and you can join our “proto” community. My motto is a riff on Barbara Sher’s “isolation is the dream killer” … “Connection is the Dream Fulfiller”.

The “cost” of joining the proto community is that you give me full and frank feedback on what does and doesn’t appeal.

Voicing our Values

Thanks to ever-growing social networks, research shows the average person has the ability to influence 8,000 people or more (our friends, our friends’ friends, and even our friends’ friends’ friends). From the book Connected by Christakis & Fowler … How your Friends Friends Friends Affect Everything You Feel Think or Do, 2009.

So my questions to myself and all my Australian friends are:
“Who does our Budget serve?”
“Is it contributing to an Australian society that is thriving, fair and just?”
“If not, what are we prepared to do about that?”

I for one will be doing what I can to influence people I know to vote for a budget, a government and policies that create a fair society, because we all use society’s infrastructure so it’s only fair that we should all contribute to its development and maintenance.

I’m excited to be volunteering with GetUp to contact GetUp members in marginal seats held by the Coalition hard right.  A small number of people currently have an inordinate influence on Coalition policy and they seem to be out of step with the majority of Australians, including many of their voters.

What about you?  What are you energised to do?

Connect with a young person and improve our tomorrow

Just a thought.  If you are feeling too old and stuck in your habits to change the world (hehe) but have lots of ideas and “wishes” – get connected with a young person.  We need to nurture their belief that they can change the world for the better – for all of our sakes.

Read here for local inspiration.

If you are in Sydney and up for being a mentor: contact the Raise Foundation,

If you are a facilitator try the Learning Clubs with the Smith Family.

More to come!  Contact me on sharon at apassion.com.au if you’d like to bounce ideas around.

How to work with more givers and matchers

A good interview by Wharton’s Adam Grant about givers and takers, from McKinsey and co.  Initially my reaction was “you cannot screen out the takers, they are the ones who’ve already made it to the top by ‘kissing up and kicking down’.”  But I do agree that in the context of the knowlege economy, where people work more on projects and less in a hierarchical structure, giving can be a strength.

I also like his advice to ask people situational questions in recruitment interviews.  Grant reasons that people will give you the answer you want if you ask what they would do, but if you ask them to predict others’ behaviour they are likely to give you an insight into their beliefs and motivations.

I also like his distinction of givers (one end the bell curve), matchers (the bulk of the bell curve) and takers (the other end of the bell curve).    The bulk of people are matchers and they will follow the behaviour of the dominant group in the organisation – and society as well.

The question for us all is “which way around do we want our bell curve? Do we want givers or takers at the top end?”

I know I want to live and work with givers, so one way is to make time to thank people for their efforts and as Grant says, make the link for them from their efforts to how it’s contributing to a meaningful outcome for me or for our client.

So thanks to McKinsey for the link, it helped open my eyes to a new way to think about giving and thanks to Adam Grant for his research and his book, which reminds me that giving is a way to greatness, not the suckers choice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new work frontier – human powered organisations

With human power being the most plentiful resource on our planet, I cannot understand why so many organisations are still focused on lowering headcount and replacing people with technology.  I for one am going to work in the other direction.  For every four people who are prepared to work a four day work week (see my previous blog) we can offer a job to a fifth person – possibly a student or someone who is currently unemployed but still seeking work.

It makes sense as a fabulous social innovation that will revolutionise our workplaces, our home lives and our communities.

Think about it.  Who do you know who is finishing school or university this year with no stable future in front of them, or has been retrenched in their early 50s and can’t find replacement work at the same level?  How many of us do you know who are managers and specialists and spend way too much time doing paperwork instead of the work we are skilled to do because all our admin staff have been retrenched or fired?

Wouldn’t you like to help them and simultaneously free up some of your time?

The ultimate negotiation strategy

Many years ago I read about tit for tat as the ultimate negotiation strategy.  This updated version  is an enhancement that really covers all bases – tit for tat with gratuitous friendliness.

The traditional tit for tat strategy says to start cooperatively then match the other party’s response (but don’t escalate).  However it may still escalate if you are not careful, so when things seem to be getting out of control, the enhancement of “gratuitous friendliness” means you can call a halt to the escalation.

Examples include “let’s take a step back”, “I think we are furiously agreeing here”, “let’s check in what we both agree on”, “we seem to have gotten off to a rocky start, let’s start over”, “I’m sorry if I have misunderstood”.  All these friendly / accommodating phrases, now make even more sense as ways to break a spiral of aggression.

Citizen Sector

Our Big Conversation group has been talking about better names for the “not-for-profit” sector, so it was good to read that the American organisation Ashoka (who support social entrepreneurs and the social sector) have been discussing the same topic.  They have floated “citizen sector” as a possibility, because the sector is powered by citizens “who care and take action to serve others and cause needed change”.

I like it – it’s instantly explanatory and a positive phrase rather than another “not-for”.

What do you think?  Would you like to say you work in or support the citizen sector?

Teaching our kids life literacy – we owe it to them

I spent yesterday out at James Meehan High School at Macquarie Fields and then the Claymore Neighbourhood & Youth Centre talking to some amazingly passionate women and men, courtesy of United Way Sydney.  Their measure of success is that the kids from these very disadvantaged suburbs have positive role models and opportunities to gain literacy in the broadest senses of the word – especially life literacy – how to live as part of functioning society.  Unfortunately, many are growing up in dysfunctional families as the fourth generation unemployed.  Like all of us, what they want is to be accepted and offered opportunities to find meaningful work and happiness, not be written off because of their birth suburb.

Australian Giving Week – give and you get the benefit

Thanks to Rainforest Rescue for reminding me that this week is Australian Giving Week.  A perfect way to start the silly season by doing a big cleanout of “stuff”.  As well as the groups listed on the Give Now website, here are two groups that I give stuff to.  Please add your favourites to this page or the Give Now website.

Work clothes go to Suited for Work – a not-for-profit organisation that provides clothing, styling, presentation and interviewing support to disadvantaged women to help build their self esteem and support them to gain independence.

Items that aren’t good enough for sale can be listed on your local ReUseIt site – a website for people who have second hand junk that might be someone else’s treasure and who want to see less go into landfill.