How engaging can a large facilitated online session be?

alignyourorg:

Worthwhile blog post from // Align Your Org advisory board member Martin Gilbraith.

Originally posted on Martin Gilbraith:

Economics of climate change mitigation options in the forest sectorThis was the question that intrigued me when I was first invited to work with with the Forestry Economics team of FAO, to design and facilitate an online conference this month on the Economics of climate change mitigation options in the forest sector.  The answer, as it turns out, is pretty engaging!

FAO approached me last September for my experience with the Adobe Connect online meeting platform, with which they are also familiar and which they had chosen to use for the project. Their aims for the conference were to connect researchers, practitioners and others to learn from each other on the costs and benefits of various mitigation options in the forestry sector in different countries, to gather data for a forthcoming FAO publication and perhaps also to establish a community of practice among participants for further learning and collaboration in the future.

The team had not before…

View original 748 more words

Your ABC Checklist for Conference Success

2015 #IABCLI Hashtag Reference Card handheld back

Next week I’m heading to a leadership conference and I thought I’d share my basic high-level pre-attendance checklist in case it is useful to anybody else:

A is for Align

Take a moment to clarify what success looks like.

Think of it like a countdown:

  • 3 for the organisers
  • 2 for the people you’re representing
  • 1 for you

Confused? Read why Venn anyway.

B is for Briefed

You only get out what you put it. Arriving well informed tends to help. Here’s apractical example.

C is for Connect

Tap into the community.

Most likely people have already started the conference well before it kicks off – say, via Twitter. Check out the hashtag for the conference and get stuck in.

D is for Develop

Conferences are all about developing what you’ve got into something more. A great way to do that is through sharing your insights and learning (hint, refer to C above).

E is for Engage

Engaging without a purpose is pointless. Right?

Be sure to follow through: say thanks to the organisers (they’ll appreciate it), as well as any speakers you found inspiring. Also, connect to relevant people you met via LinkedIn and otherwise follow up on any actions you agreed and promises you made.

In conclusion:

A for Align
B for Briefed
C for Connect
D for Develop
E for Engage

What does your checklist look like?

Michael Ambjorn is Founder@alignyourorg |Vice Chair @IABC | Director-at-Large @NearDesk – and next week you can find him at #IABCLI.

P.S. Hat tip to Jane Mitchell for the 3-2-1 thought – and Sharon Hunter for always constructive copy-edit assistance.

What’s Your Endgame? The 1% conundrum for the non-profit sector

1.2% of UK charities turn over 68.9% of the cash cycling through the sector. So never mind Oxfam’s predictions for individuals – it is already true for the sector that often says it is out to change the world for the better. Are they doing enough though?

A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review webinar grappled with the way organisations think about scaling (specifically to achieve wide-ranging and lasting change) – the authors, Alice Gugelev & Andrew Stern, focus on non-profits, but the thinking is useful for any organisation trying to change the world.

Having an end in mind is essential for aligning your board – and other stakeholders – yet, many organisations omit this from their planning.

One example cited is the formation of new charities – and whilst the authors focus on North America, it is relevant elsewhere too. Quoted in The Independent, Sam Younger (recent Chief Executive of the UK’s Charity Commission) sets this out in stark numbers:

In the 2013/14 financial year, the Charity Commission received 6,661 applications for new charities in England and Wales, a 16 per cent rise on the previous year. “There are more people coming forward to establish charities than is really desirable, in the sense that I think some of those people might operate better not by establishing a new charity but by collaborating with, working with and associating with existing charities,” Mr Younger said.

Let’s connect that to the bigger picture for the UK:

Charity Register as of 30 September 2014

Annual income bracket Number of charities % Annual income £bn %
£0 to £10,000 67,972 41.4 0.227 0.4
£10,001 to £100,000 55,207 33.6 1.945 3.0
£100,001 to £500,000 20,940 12.8 4.618 7.2
£500,001 to £5,000,000 8,358 5.1 12.580 19.6
£5,000,000 plus 1,990 1.2 44.680 69.8
SUB-TOTAL 154,467 94.1 64.050 100.00
Not yet known 9,630 5.9 0.000 0.0
TOTAL 164,097 100.0 64.050 100.0

Do you serve on the board of one of the start-up non-profits mentioned above? Or perhaps on one of the minority large-scale players (only 1.2% of UK charities turn over more than £5m). Either way, you owe it to yourself and those you serve to seek clarity.

And let’s be direct: it is perfectly valid for a small charity to serve a niche need and never seek to scale. Just be clear about it.

My main concern is in fact the 1.2% who sit on 69.8% of the income. Especially if we’re to take the figures in this table as transferable to settings beyond North America (heckles welcome):

The Stages of Organisational Growth and Social Capital Chasm

Figure by Alice Gugelev & Andrew Stern from What’s Your Endgame? – Winter 2015 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review

What to do?

With apologies to Voltaire: ‘with great resources come great responsibility’ – so whether a charity turning over just a few thousand, or one of the 1%ers:

  1. See the top five take-aways from the webinar in the Tweets below (RT as relevant).
  2. Look at the Stanford Social Innovation Review brief survey (in the last embedded tweet).
  3. Review “Plotting an Endgame” in the last visual and ask the “What is our Endgame?” strategic question at your next board meeting.

The six options laid out by the authors may help – and don’t forget to think through the resource implications.

Need help aligning your thinking on this issue for your organisation? Get in touch.

Michael Ambjorn is founder of @alignyourorg. You can follow him @michaelambjorn

Full SSIR article: What’s Your Endgame

Plotting an Endgame: Six Options - Winter 2015 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Figure by Alice Gugelev & Andrew Stern from What’s Your Endgame? – Winter 2015 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review

‘Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing’

VMA Group's UK/SA Communicator's Network banner… so said Oscar Wilde … and I’d add it to it that you can’t get solid experience without engagement – and that was the topic I was asked to cover at this morning’s South Africa / UK Communicator’s Breakfast, hosted by Lisa Wannell at the VMA Group HQ in London’s leafy Bedford Square.

Specifically, I shared insights from the recent #IABCafrica14 conference in Cape Town. The attendees at the VMA session were from a range of corporates; agencies; freelancers – and also a senior communicator with experience of the workings of the South African government.

To suit the time of day I was asked to keep my brief talk easy-going and accessible – which I hope you’ll find is what follows, set out in an A-Z format (of sorts).

South Africa is a unique environment, yet good practice knows no borders if you adjust for context – there’s a lot to learn and plenty to get on with!

Here’s what I took away on how to engage on the original continent:

  • Global LinkedIn statsS – is for Social – and it is still growing – for example, 3m people are now on LinkedIn (vs. 17m for the UK) [for context, compare population counts of 52m vs 64m ].
    • Tip: if you’re looking to operate in South Africa, get ahead of the curve and be sure to have a social presence. The LinkedIn Executive Playbook may come in handy if you want to lead from the front.
  • U – is for Underground – who knew De Beers have coal mines too? (To be fair, they have a point: it is all carbon – some of it is just more dense).
    • Tip: more to the point, there are some real good practice gems out there to be picked up – not to mention an opportunity for yours to be recognised: http://gq.iabc.com/

Tortoise on the loose #IABCafrica14

  • A – is for Alignment – something that is easier to arrive at if you use the IABC Global Standard: Ethics, Consistency, Context, Analysis, Strategy, Engage…
  • F – is for Friendly – where else do you get such a warm welcome?!
    • Tip: read why venn anyway? – and then mark your calendar for #IABCafrica15 coming up in Johannesburg in 2015! On the road a lot? Then these two may also be of interest: #Eurocomm (London, April ’15), #IABC15 (San Francisco, June ’15). Last but not least, if you want to attend a future UK/SA Breakfast, reach out to Lisa Wannell.
  • R – is for Recognition – South Africa punches well above its weight in terms of Gold Quills.
    • Tip: who doesn’t want to be introduced as ‘the award winning…’ – so to be fair, the bar is high, but that never puts off the best: gq.iabc.com
  • I – is for International – South Africa really is at the global forefront on thinking about corporate governance, specifically through the ongoing work to implement the recommendations from the King III report.
    • Tip: want to boost your understanding of governance and help lead an organisation at the highest strategic level? Learn how, here.
  • C – is for Connectivity – 3G/4G/WiFi can at times be a challenge in South Africa. It is most definitively not evenly distributed – but then again, neither is it in the UK. It is easy to be misled by the relative bubble that is London.
  • A – is for Action… ask yourself: are you doing what you love?
    • YES: great! Glad to hear it. Now is the perfect time to update your CV. Build your network before you need it. Need help? Work with your recruiter – and get out there and share the good practice you’ve built up (links galore above!).
    • Maybe: that’s entirely normal – build your network before you need it. Get a perspective from a recruiter – and get out there and network. There are a panoply of links above to get you started…
    • I’m starting my own… brilliant – and good luck. This might come in handy.

Either way, be sure to let me know how you get on. If you think somebody else could benefit from the above, please do share it.

Michael Ambjorn is founder of // Align Your Org – and Vice Chair @IABC. You can follow him @michaelambjorn

Join me for ToP Group Facilitation Methods and Action Plannning training in Brussels!

alignyourorg:

Need to figure out how to do action planning that works – or otherwise get groups to work together on a shared outcome? Check out these courses in easy-to-reach-by-train Brussels. They’re run by Martin Gilbraith from the Align Your Org advisory board.

Originally posted on Martin Gilbraith:

MG ToPEventbrite - ToP Group Facilitation MethodsEventbrite - ToP Action PlanningI am excited to announce these two new public courses in Brussels in November. Please join me if you can, and share these details with friends, colleagues and networks who might be interested.

These courses are scheduled in partnership with Social Platform, the largest platform of European rights and value-based NGOs working in the social sector; and provided under license with ICA:UK, the participation & development charity.  It was following an earlier course with Social Platform in Brussels last December that I blogged Three dimensions of the facilitator role – a focused conversation with video.

“I would recommend the course to others as something that can easily be used in practise for leaders, facilitators and participants of group meetings” – Pierre Baussand, Director, Social Platform, Brussels.

Group Facilitation Methods

Introducing the foundations of the Technology of Participation (ToP) approach, two powerful techniques for structuring effective conversations and building group…

View original 220 more words

#StartUpSeason – Business Plan Basics

#StartUpSeason #BizPlanBasics header

Einstein is often quoted as having said…

‘If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.’

Well, what if somebody had done some of that thinking for you already?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, intrapreneur – or simply going out on your own as a freelancer – here’s our quick guide on how to get started with a new venture:

  1. Lean Startup principles (helping you define the problem space so to speak)
  2. Take a step back and think through the who, what, when, where and why
  3. Get down to brass tacks with a handy Creative-Commons-based tool that can help you clarify your thinking (asking the key questions needed to define a business model)

In addition we’ve thrown in some next steps advice as the end. If you need help with any part of this process, do reach out.

Continue reading

youmevennaction

So why Venn anyway?

Those who start their day with Google will have noticed that today’s Doodle honours man-of-many-talents John Venn.

He would have turned 180 today and whilst he’s long passed into the sketching room in the sky, his eponymous diagram is as popular as ever. In fact, you could undoubtedly map his skills using the diagram named after him: maths, logic and philosphy.

But why Venn anyway?

Isn’t it just a fad, like so many animated GIFs? Au contraire, here’s why the Venn does not look set to do a 180 anytime soon if we are to believe Google Trends.

It simplifies a concept

In a world where words and visuals (including video) are churned out at an unprecedented rate, the eye longs for something simple yet engaging. What could be simpler than two circles joined together with a word? It cuts through the clutter, establishes a context and it can be a great help when preparing messages for information overload environments.

It explains what the relationship between two or more things

Imagine there’s you, and there’s me. We’re two separate sentient beings going about our everyday business, perhaps drawing Venns and whatnot – or perhaps indulging in one too many espressos – or whatever. Within our activities there may very well be some things we have in common and many other things we don’t.

We now have the basic setup for a Venn diagram. Instead of drawing two separate circles we can draw two that overlap – creating an intersect with the shared elements.

The intersect is where it is at

By focusing in on what we’ve got in common, we now have the basis for grounding our conversation – and possibly collaboration – in familiar, safe territory. This will allow us to build bridges to the areas which may not be shared. This could be interests – or it could be expertise – some of which may always remain entirely separate.

However, with a shared element in the middle we have the basis for hopefully establishing a level of trust, a foundation on which shared work can be built.

That’s a Venn in a nutshell in its most human application – but the approach can of course also be used in a multitude of other settings, from humour and ‘extreme Venns‘ all the way through to explaining something with an animated GIF ready for retweeting if you click on the image below.

I challenge you to take an intersect-first approach (whether you draw it in the air or on paper) next time you meet somebody – I reckon it’ll do you wonders.

Be sure to let me know how you get on.

Michael Ambjorn is founder of // Align Your Org – you can follow him @michaelambjorn

Animated GIF - #flashtalk - 5 tips for creating programmes people really want