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Nonprofit Leadership Weekly News Update: Networks, Collaboration, Learning

Submitted by: EArkell on Dec 16th, 2010 at 8PM PST
 On Networks...


  • Valdis Krebs, the Founder and Chief Scientist at, shares his thoughts on “thriveability” and on social network analysis (SNA).  SNA – the "mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers, URLs, and other connected information/knowledge entities” – either supports or constrains cultural, organizational, and individual change.  It is the structures that maximize emergence, learning, agility, and adaptability that prompt positive change by properly preparing people for the unknown, Krebs says, while “highly homophilious networks” will only hinder us.  Leadership, also, and emerging ideas about different types of leadership, are prevalent and encouraged in networks.
  • Weaving, “an intentional practice of helping people connect to information, opportunity, each other and, most importantly, their own personal power," is propelled by institutional “helping” spaces.  In a powerful blog post, Bill Traynor of Lawrence CommunityWorks Inc., explains the importance of creating these spaces and methods by which to do so.

On Collaboration…

  • In a blog post, Eugene Eric Kim writes about Cynthia Gibson’s recent article on collaboration in which she makes the argument that collaboration is important because it is a means to an end – not because it is an end in of itself.  While he agrees with most of her arguments, he does not agree with her premise in which she associates “collaborative culture with lack of clarity or regression to the mean.” That’s not collaborative culture, he says, that’s “crappy culture.”  He looks further into the issue by examining some of the most successful organizations in the world and concludes that many of them are hierarchical.  However, they are hierarchical and they are more collaborative. In other words, when looking at a group of people, the question should not be whether or not they are collaborating, but instead, whether or not they are collaborating well.

  On Communications and Crowdsourcing… 

  • In a blog post Bruce Trachtenberg examines the fascinating lifecycle of certain communication practices and notes that even though communication platforms are constantly changing and we are constantly being reminded that organizations need to adapt new communications strategies, some older strategies don’t need to be thrown away – they just need to be recycled. The need for quality journalists to uncover, explain and examine documents, for example, is as necessary as ever.

On Innovation and Learning…

  • Organizations that place an emphasis on innovation need to be ambidextrous, meaning they need to be good at both exploration and exploitation, according to Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman.  In a post by Tim Kastelle of Blogging Innovation, 10 tensions (including exploration versus exploitation) of innovation are deciphered.  Included among these are “radical versus incremental” and “structure versus emergence.”
  • Recently there has been a lot of buzz about “failing fast,” which is the idea that the faster one fails, the faster one figures out how to succeed and innovate.  However, Braden Kelley of Blogging Innovation makes the argument that the concept of “failing fast” misses the point.  We should not be focused on failing at all – regardless of whether it is fast failing or slow failing.  Rather, we should be focused on learning. By focusing on learning we stay focused on the goal (innovation) and we acknowledge that we learn from both failures and successes.

 On Storytelling…

  •  Chris Brogan explores the benefits of storytelling for businesses and organizations.  He begins by looking at the advantages stories have over other forms of communication (over press releases, for instance).  Essentially, he writes, “stories are how we learn best.”  He continues by writing about how to tell a story and then identifies the most effective media outlets for storytelling. He concludes by telling us that in order to tell good stories, we simply need to practice.

On Gender Equality…

  • 30 years ago, many people thought that gender inequalities would no longer exist by 2010.  Unfortunately, we have not made the strides that many hoped we would.  The number of women in boardrooms, for instance, is drastically lower than the number of men in boardrooms.  In 2003, Norway sought to close this gender gap by mandating companies to appoint 40% of women to their management boards.  Athena Vongalis-Macrow of Harvard Business Review acknowledges that while the mandate has been relatively successful in Norway (women now occupy 38% of boardrooms), the same strategy would likely not be as successful in other, more diverse countries.

On Leadership…

 On Technology and Social Media…

  • In October, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an essay about online networks and social movements.  In a blog post, Eugene Eric Kim examines what he believes to be Gladwell’s “problematic claim” that “the platforms of social media are built around weak ties.” Kim compares Gladwell’s findings to those of Nicholes Christakis and James Fowler’s about social networks and concludes that both the nature and authenticity of a person’s connections matter, but so does the space where those connections are cultivated.  It should be our goal now to figure out how to use existing spaces to elicit desirable behavior and incite meaningful action.
  • Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing released a study about the relationship between social media and fundraising.  The much anticipated study looked at data for about $400 million worth of giving across charitable websites.  Two of the key findings are that raising funds are about relationships – not about technology – and that “online relationships are often deeply affected by offline connections and cultivation.”
  • In its annual “State of the Blogosphere” report, Technorati found that blogging is by far the most popular form of social media, as it is seen as a way to express personal opinions and change general perceptions in specific fields of study.  A blog post by Brian Solis refers to blogging as “an exercise in the democratization of information and the equalization of influence,” referring to both its popularity and its impact.  The article also looks at the increasing role of microblogging and the role of social media in the future.
  • Wiser Earth’s new project, the OpenCoopt Project, seeks to raise awareness, facilitate education, assist with research, and aid in design, implementation, and deployment of Free and Open Source (FOSS) Technologies.  It primarily helps nonprofit organizations that are struggling with technological innovations by helping them to understand the incredible impact technology can have when applied appropriately. It also seeks to close the technology divide between those who have access to sophisticated technology and those who don’t.

Top Articles:

Title: Network Thinking: Interview with Valdis Krebs
Author: Todd Hoskins
Date: November 24, 2010


Title: Dancing Without Leading: The Art of Weaving
Author: Bill Traynor
Date: November 16, 2010
Source: The Value of Place blog


Title: Misconceptions about Collaboration
Author: Eugene Eric Kim
Date: December 6. 2010
Source: Eugene Eric Kim blog


Title: Caught up in Kumbayah: Are There Limits to Collaboration?
Author: Cynthia Gibson
Date: December 6, 2010
Source: Deep Social Impact blog


Title: Crowdsouring and the Task Unification Tool
Author: Drew Boyd
Date: December 12, 2010
Source: Blogging Innovation


Title: A Peek into the Future’s Past
Author: Bruce Trachtenberg
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: The Communications Network Blog


Title: 10 Tensions in Innovation
Author: Tim Kastelle
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: Blogging Innovation

Title: Don’t Fail Fast – Learn Fast
Author: Braden Kelley
Date: December 12, 2010
Source: Blogging Innovation


Title: Storytelling for Business
Author: Chris Brogan
Date: December 1, 2010
Source: Chris Brogan blog


Title: The Best Way to Get Women into Boardrooms
Author: Athena Vongalis-Macrow
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: Harvard Business Review


Title: 34 Awesome Quotes on Leadership
Author: Mitch Ditkoff
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: Blogging Innovation


Title: Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted
Author: Malcom Gladwell
Date: October 4, 2010
Source: The New Yorker


Title: Christakis, Gladwell, and Catalyzing Movements
Author: Eugene Eric Kim
Date: November 16, 2010
Source: Eugene Eric Kim blog


Title: Landmark Online Giving Study
Author: Allison Fine
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: A. Fine Blog


Title: The State of the Blogosphere
Author: Brian Solis
Date: December 13, 2010
Source: Fast Company


Title: OpenCoopt: Bridging Social and Technology Conscious Communities
Author: Blair Preston, Becky Sanbury, and Danica Favorite
Date: December 2, 2010
Source: Working Wikily