Having a personal conversation with a global movement

One of the top-level leaders in the non-profit I work for recently asked,

How do we engage in personal conversation with every staff and volunteer in our global organization?

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com image #7755704

I want to applaud the leadership for even asking the question.  I’m impressed that they are thinking about this.   Having a conversation with a global movement across language, cultural, geographical and technological barriers is no easy feat.

My first step if I were in charge would be to have the leaders watch Gary Hamel and John Chambers talks.  These talks give insight into why flattening an organization to survive in today’s environment is necessary.

Here are a few other ideas.

1. Require every top-level executive to blog or participate in social media. Make them make one contribution per week as part of their job description.  Help them add value to the staff and volunteers they are leading.  Help them tell success stories, ask for input and share their struggles.   Mere activity on social media will help the followers see that they are doing something useful.   Turn on comments.

2. Create a platform (or use existing ones – internal and external) to enable volunteers at the fringes of the movement  to collaborate.  Why aren’t students in Sydney, Toronto and Boston who are all trying to reach engineers working together?  High level executives should start participating in online collaborative spaces where the rank and file frequent.

3. Make the communication mediums subscribe-able.   Don’t blast out emails, create streams with value that people will want to consume.  I engage with my Google Reader, Twitter and Google Wave streams before I check email.

How would you engage the global movement if you were in charge?


5 thoughts on “Having a personal conversation with a global movement

  1. Thanks Russ!

    I always enjoying reading your thoughts. They really challenge me to be better in what I do.

    God bless.

    U Matt


  2. I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a while now. Couple of thoughts for you (in the context of our organization):

    I think the first two points (at least the principles of them) should be a huge priority in our organization globally.

    Having access to regional and nationally directors via a blog (at the minimum) and/or social media puts a human face on the organization and helps us know what they’re thinking about. The cost is minimal and the benefit of these tools can be great….can our staff grasp this?

    Secondly, I think we need to give some intentional thought not just creating a platform for volunteers to engage and communicate but also our staff. We have to grow in our ability to communicate with each other in “many-to-many” conversations. If we don’t figure this out and create a new communication culture it makes me a little fearful for the future.

    That’s probably more of an affirmation than an answer. Oh well.

    Take care!


    1. Hey Matt – great points.

      What do you think are the barriers to having our staff communicate with each other in “many-to-many” conversations? The platforms exist, but people aren’t using them.


      1. I was just thinking about this the other day as I was chatting with our regional operations director. We’re contemplating some sort of virtual regional conference and how to align people to it.

        A big barrier in my mind is a general fear of the messiness of many-to-many conversations. As well as the fear of being misunderstood. But in my experience the group that’s interacting seems to self-correct and the conversations are way more fun and engaging.

        I think again it comes down to the command/control way of thinking vs. the collaboration model. The standard way of doing things in the past has stifled any initiative that anyone without a major authoritative title might have. I think some staff are afraid of taking the initiative in speaking out in whatever medium is available.

        There’s a lot more to it than that, but those are the thoughts off the top of my head. This topic sounds like a good blog post topic though.


      2. What is an example of the “messiness” of many-to-many conversations?

        Good point about the group being self-correcting. I find in many-t0-many collaborations, especially digital ones, is that you can’t just dance and wave your arms to make a point. Things are really transparent because someone can very quickly post a link that supports or denies a point someone is making. I think digitally, we are forced to be more precise with our ideas.


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