Building blocks and open source organisations

No doubt your organisation has lots of moving parts, many of which are specific to what you do.

But it’s probably also made up of generic components – accounts and inventory management, conditions of employment and contracts, safeguarding policy and procedures, communications manual – that you could drag and drop into another organisation with a bit of customisation.*

We have some way to go to good documentation at Saya Suka Membaca, but we’re getting ready to share them.

Let me know if you know any groups have good versions of these things and is sharing them… ideally bilingual in English and Indonesian!

There are only a few here, but it’s a start.

Financial Management

  • Mango has some great resources for NGO financial management

Child Protection and Safeguarding

Organisational Health

*See also: Easier tomorrow

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on scoring and missing

Sometimes people overlook… important statistics. My basketball hero, Wilt Chamberlain, who retired 56 years ago, still holds 72 NBA records, several of which are considered unbreakable, including scoring 100 points in a single game. In the 1961-62 season, Wilt set the NBA record of most field goals made (1,597). However, in that same season he also holds the record for most field goals missed (1,562). At the same time we celebrate record achievements, we need to acknowledge epic failures that make those achievements possible. Our successes make us happy, but our failures make us stronger. Michael Jordan expressed that awareness best: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 3,00 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to make the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar How do I feel seeing my NBA records get broken? Elated and inspired

GO! Play some games. Miss some shots. It’s the only way to make a few.

Fellow travellers: Seth Godin and Brian Koppelman on mentors

Seth Godin and Brian Koppelman have had a great series of conversations on Brian’s The Moment podcast. Here’s a little something on the subject of mentors and feedback:

Seth Godin: The memo is only four sentences long. That’s all I needed. That a fellow traveller who knows how to do the craft of giving me feedback gave me those key lines, that’s the kind of notes that I need…

Brian Koppelman: Fellow traveller is a great expression and a great way to think about who you should enlist in your journey. And a fellow traveler doesn’t mean someone who’s already in Wyoming if you’ve starting out in New York. A fellow traveller is someone somewhere along the path that you’re going, somewhere close to where you are. Perhaps they’ve made the trip before.

SG: The whole mentor thing is way overrated… First of all, the math of it doesn’t scale, because the number of people who are successful who can mentor the number of people who need to be mentored doesn’t work.

Number two is, it’s usually an uneven exchange, in the sense that you’re asking someone who is busy and leveraged to stop that and start doing something else with you.

But the real reason is that people who are successful are almost never good at actually coaching people who aren’t successful yet. It’s a totally different skill set…

The Moment, 1st January 2019

This touches on and unpacks my motivation for writing Ordinary People. Good Work. and adds a some extra ideas into the mix. Find fellow travellers.* Start talking.

*WordPress wants me to spell it one a single L.

Vision. Positioning. Execution. (2)

Four types of vision:

  1. Vision of what is: the good, the bad… and the missing.
  2. Vision of possibilities: seeing what could be, or what could stop being. Having a sense of contributing factors and probabilities.
  3. Moral or ethical vision: knowing which possibilities should be, and which you will take responsibility for changing.
  4. Judgement: choosing a good way forward in light of 1, 2 and 3.

Each of these are helped by:

  • History
  • Friendships
  • Economics
  • Good stories
  • Science
  • Experience
  • Psychology
  • Visual art
  • Contemplation
  • Geography
  • Asking good questions
  • Sociology
  • Learning new skills
  • Philosophy
  • Studying management
  • Meeting new people
  • Systems thinking

The list doesn’t end. Anything that enriches your hinterland helps to shape your vision and creates new possibilities.

John Gardner on regeneration

Values always decay over time. Societies that keep their values alive do not do so not by escaping the process of decay but by powerful processes of regeneration. There must be perpetual rebuilding. Each generation must rediscover the living elements in its own tradition and adapt them to present realities. To assist in that discovery is one of the tasks of leadership.

Leaders must understand how and why human systems age, and must know how the processes of renewal may be set in motion. The purposes are always the same:

– To renew and interpret values that have been encrusted with hypocrisy, corroded by cynicism or simply abandoned; and to generate new values when needed.

– To liberate energies that have been imprisoned by outmoded procedures and habits of thought.

– To reenergize forgotten goals or to generate new goals appropriate to new circumstances.

– To achieve, through science and other modes of exploration, new understandings leading to new solutions.

– To foster the release of human possibilities, through education and lifelong growth.

John Gardner – On Leadership

Ordinary people. Good work.

Good to Great is all well and good, but what about Pretty Good to Very Good?

I’ve been mulling over the DC podcast and this is what I’m going to focus on: ordinary people doing good (and important) work.

Not multi-million pound-dollar businesses and organisations, but those working with tens or hundreds of thousands.

Not companies boasting world-class-execution-across-the-board, but individuals who are very-good-at-a-few-things with (if we’re honest) patches of mediocrity and plenty of room for improvement.

Not role models glimpsed as they soar through the stratosphere, but peer models who can share something that they’re good at and what’s worked for them, as well where they feel they’re falling down, and start some conversations.

The people I have in mind are a different set of elite performer – people who do work that they think is important and do it well, who buy their own stationary, wash their own dishes, and pay for their own mistakes.

Ordinary people. Like us.

Toolkit (v0.1)

My last post got me thinking again about the toolkit for making change and building a good future. What follows started out as the tail of that post but grew too long, so I’ve cut it off and put it here as a springboard to bounce off (or a wave to ride) later.

So here are some tools…

There are a set of practices and principles – many of them falling under the umbrella of normal ‘management’ – that are well-established and effective for running organisations. You will need to tailor them to your context, but understanding and applying them will make an enormous difference to your ability to build and run a sustainable and effective organisation. Drucker and Tom Peters are great places to start for foundational principles. Books like Financial Intelligence and 4DX are great for specifics.

There’s an overlapping set from the world of small business, startups and bootstrapping that will help you build the thing from nothing in the first place, and make it sustainable. The E-myth (which I’ve just discovered is available for a great price on amazon) is great for establishing operations (and overlaps with the previous category), as is Steve Blank‘s Startup Owners Manual (amazon) in combination with Alex Osterwalder‘s Business Model Generation (amazon). I’ll make a post of videos and audio by these people and put a link to it here.

There are resources for thinking about marketing in the deep sense – making something that people want or need and sharing it with them in such a way that they see its value and talk about it to others – is another overlapping area. I’d start with Seth Godin – probably This is Marketing (amazon) or Purple Cow (amazon) – and throw in Bernadette Jiwa’s The Fortune Cookie Principle (amazon) as another good starting point.

And there’s a whole load of writing about personal growth and effectiveness that really helps you to get these things done…

And about writing and presenting and using information (particularly the web) well…

And about thinking about culture, economics, networks and the future

And I’ve clearly gone down a rabbit hole, so I’ll stop here.

DriverlessSpecodile (The DC Podcast Spec)

This is an attempt at speccing the DC podcast using questions from Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.

1. Audience: Who do I seek to serve?

What is the world view of the audience you’re seeking to reach? 

The Driverless Crocodile podcast is for people who believe that the world can be better – in big ways or small – and they have a responsibility to do or make something to make it so… and want to. It’s for people who believe that tools and ways of understanding help.

I will focus on people who want to hear and read about ideas and tools to help them make change happen (build the future), and to learn from other people who are doing similar work – people not necessarily much further along in the journey than they are.

What are they afraid of?

Probably, like me, they’re afraid of not making a positive difference, not being able to gather people to their vision, or not being able to find a sustainable funding model for the work that they do. They might be afraid of what will happen if people like them don’t take action to change our trajectory.

2. Purpose: What change do I seek to make?

What change are you seeking to make? 

I’m seeking to make more positive change happen then otherwise might be the case. I hope to do this by:

  1. Sharing a vision of the world as it is and of the possible (the Steve Jobs thing) so that people believe they can cause change (“if these people did it, I can”)
  2. Articulating values that they probably already have – to strengthen values by talking about them, justifying them and possibly challenging them.
  3. To share tools, strategies, models that people will find useful and be able to apply, equipping them to build a better future.
  4. Start conversations and connect people who share this vision and values.

What story will you tell? Is it true? 

I promise that engaging with what I make will help you… turn the idea or desire for change that you’re mulling over into something real – or eliminate it as a possibility after trying it out.

How will it change their status?

My audience might be on their way to losing some types of status (wealth, position) on their way to gaining another kind – they may come to measure their own status in terms of vision, self-respect because they can make things happen and get more done, status from people who share their worldview and aims because of their contribution.

3. Mechanism and Ecosystem: How will it work?

How will people hear about it?

  • Existing readers of DC
  • Word of mouth – me to some friends, them to their friends (if it’s worth spreading)
  • Guests telling their friends – and then onto word of mouth
  • Perhaps some will share on facebook

What happens when people use it?

They listen in their podcast app or online… I need to look into the best way to share it.

How will they tell others?

Wherever they meet and talk about things with their friends

Where’s the network effect?

Hopefully though guests recommending other guests.

Where does the money come from? Where does it go?

My money, my time, to do this. Anything else (amazon links, sponsorship) is an unlikely bonus.

What asset are you building?

An ‘evergreen’ web of writing, links and recommendations that I would have loved someone to introduce me to 15 or 20 years ago.

4. Impact: How will we know if it’s working?

Are you proud of it?

That’s a good first check.

What change do you hope to see?

See above.

Where do we go next?

If it works, and it gets easy – up the tempo, find more interesting guests.

The Commitments (1):

Some things worth committing to:

  • to service and impact for human-flourishing (vision, clarity and focus, outcomes more than processes, sustainability);
  • to getting better every day (being a pro, showing up, learning, a path to making things better rather than shortcuts and hacks);
  • to generosity and investing in others (kindness, sharing what you know, teaching and training);
  • to a strong and evolving business model (planning, experimentation and iteration);
  • to leadership and good management (executing well and running an effective team or organisation);
  • to doing the money part well (financial management);
  • to marketing and communication (so that the right people know the right things about what you do, and so that change happens and sticks);
  • to building a network (so that the right people are working with you for change, with the right resources);
  • to seeing the future and finding new tools (because effectiveness is a moving target);
  • to having fun along the way (pow!)

Anything I’ve missed?

Driverless Crocodile Podcast: 6 Questions

Here’s the draft of six questions for first interviews on the DC podcast – let me know what you think. Spec for the podcast (which should have come first) coming soon!)

  1. Who are you, what do you do, and why do you think it’s important?
  2. How did your organisation or project start, and how has it changed?
  3. Can you share an important lesson that you’ve picked up along the way, and how you learnt it?
  4. Apart from that – is there a book, resource or author you’d particularly recommend?
  5. What’s next, and what hard-to-find resources or partners will you be looking for?
  6. What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for change, and is in the early stages of starting a project or organisation?

Backup / candidate questions:

a. What piece of advice to you think you most need to hear?
b. Can you tell me about a person who’s influenced you in a way that helped you to do your work better?
c. Are there any values, commitments or practices that you think are important in running an organisation but are often overlooked?