August 11, 2011
New Media for Your Mission, Not Your Message
Reboot recently had the opportunity to lead a workshop for major national non-profits to share best practices and insights learned from our experiences using new media in advocacy, international development, and governance programs. With the ever expanding role of “new media” in society, non-profits must now make sense of how these communication technologies can support and enhance their mission. The full-day, executive-level workshop combined hands-on training with larger strategic discussions, pushing non-profits to re-think their approach to new media and develop more effective solutions to current organizational challenges.
The workshop was hosted by the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA), an association of non-profits committed to delivering accessible health and human services. Many of NHSA’s member organizations – including the American Red Cross, Girl Scouts of America, and the Y – attended the workshop. Held at AARP’s headquarters in Washington D.C., the interactive workshop was a chance for c-level executives from these organizations to voice concerns and hopes for how their organizations can strategically use new technologies to improve their operations and programing.
In addition to highlighting many frequently used new media tools, Reboot also pushed attendees to think about new media from a more strategic perspective. Instead of viewing these new tools as an end unto itself (“we need someone to Tweet!”), we encouraged participants to think about new media as a means to achieving their organizations’ overall mission. How might thinking about these tools less as disparate units and more as an integrated whole change an executive’s priorities? How could organizations better understand the human interactions that these new media tools facilitate?
We introduced concepts from the emerging field of service design (which you can learn about here) to better understand organizational shifts caused by these disruptive technologies. Using the service design framework, attendees could identify problem areas in how their organizations communicated with the public, their staff, and their constituents – and develop new solutions to address them.
The interactive workshop served as a platform for participants — most with decades of rich experiences leading companies and non-profits — to learn from one another. Visual facilitator Jim Nuttle created the illustrations that so beautifully capture the main ideas, concerns, and thoughts expressed by participants. Attendees were guided to discuss media related challenges that each of their organizations was facing, and consider new solutions through the lens of service design.
Through case studies, discussion, and design exercises, executives left the workshop better able to integrate new media technologies into the larger strategy of their respective non-profits. We came away with some new friends and an expanded understanding of the constraints and needs of large, national non-profits. We hope to continue this cross-sector learning in the future.
To learn more about Reboot’s presentations and workshops, contact ethan AT thereboot DOT org.