First apologies to Steve Bridger for my inability to avoid the obvious pun on his latest and very fine post.
Last month when we met at an NVCO ICT Foresight group meeting Steve mentioned the idea of a “Buzz Director” for non profits.
It’s a particular crusade of mine to encourage not-for-profits to identify an internal champion (or recruit a virtual volunteer) to take on this role. Call it what you will. I like Beth Kanter’s “Social Media Coach”. But how about “Cause Evangelist”? Anyway, you get the idea.
Steve is essentialy looking for someone who understands how the internet can be used to broaden relationships and widen support. It is a job for someone with a clear appreciation of the point of your organisation combined with a talent for looking (and indeed living) over the horizon – perhaps you could say beyond infinity?
One of the qualities he identifies is the ability to…
Talk to everybody. Listen. Make it easy for colleagues to find you, or manufacture the conditions by which serendipity is more likely to occur.
This relates back to some collective work we are doing on the challenges of the internet for non-profits and volunteering organisations. The starting point remains a clear sense of what you are and what you are about.
It overlaps with the “hedgehog concept” set out in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great . (Jim has recently begun work on ‘greatness’ in the non profit sector – see Good to great and the Social Sectors. He reckons such companies (organisations) clearly understand three things about themselves:
- What they are deeply passionate about
- What they can be the best in the world at
- The best way to create sustained efficient cash flow.
Something Collins found from his research team was that the very best companies often took years to thrash out what would make them great. It was a reflective process; action was a combination of risk and deeply ingrained understanding.
For me Steve’s description of a ‘buzz director’ reads a little like the qualities you may wish for in a leader.
Any individual devoting so much effort to understanding the cause, relating to actual and potential supporters and talking to the team should also play a pivotal role in refining the point of the organisation, defining what it is that could make you great.
By the way whilst we’re on the subject of titles thanks to David Wilcox for his proposal of a social reporter to describe the growing trend for cause related journalism. He also points out that London already has a ‘champion’ for web 2.0 in the voluntary sector collaboarting with BVSC and presumably the new National Centre for Open Source in Birmingham.