- Posted December 18, 2012
I have been pretty tied up with other projects the past couple of weeks, and haven’t posted an update on a product/platform I blogged about building a month or two ago. In short, I killed the idea of building it.
Shortly after I wrote that blog post, I read the book the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric Ries idea of doing product testing before making any significant investment in building technology resonated with me. I wasn’t doing this full time, so it would have been a colossal waste of time if I were to built it and no one used it.
- Posted December 18, 2012
NOTE: I wrote this post almost two months ago, but didn’t publish it for whatever reason. It’s not as timely anymore, but here you go…
This morning I read my umptenth article about digital agencies becoming product development companies. This sudden shift, brought about by the booming tech industry and top digital talent flocking to startups, has brought to question the future of the current agency model.
I actually do not agree with the articles that advocate agencies take a lean startup approach and start building their own products. I think it is smart for agencies to begin offering product development as a service, as more and more brands will look to agencies to build and maintain their digital assets. As pointed out in the Digiday article from this morning, most agencies cannot, or are unwilling to, commit the resources needed to launch a successful technology product.
- Posted November 30, 2012
I found this portion of a post on Seth Godwin’s blog to be inspiring. Nonprofits do have an obligation to the constituents they serve to innovative and find new solutions to the problems they haven’t sold.
The thing about most cause/welfare non-profits is that they haven’t figured out how to solve the problem they’re working on (yet). Yes, they often offer effective aid, or a palliative. But no, too many don’t have a method for getting at the root cause of the problem and creating permanent change. That’s because it’s hard (incredibly hard) to solve these problems. The magic of their status is that no one is expecting a check back, or a quarterly dividend. They’re expecting a new, insightful method that will solve the problem once and for all. Go fail. And then fail again. Non-profit failure is too rare, which means that non-profit innovation is too rare as well. Innovators understand that their job is to fail, repeatedly, until they don’t.
- Posted November 21, 2012
I recently co-authored a blog post with Matt Kelley of Blue State Digital on how nonprofit organizations can apply the Lean Startup approach to developing digital campaigns and technology. This quote sums up our thoughts quite nicely:
Too many nonprofits, like many businesses, still invest time and money in products (such as campaigns or microsites) before they’ve articulated a testable hypothesis and actionable metrics. There’s another way. The iterative process behind lean thinking could mean a revolution in the way we organize and mobilize constituents online. To paraphrase Eric Ries, nonprofits need to build quickly, measure wisely, and learn, learn, learn.
Check out the post and let us know your thoughts.
- Posted October 22, 2012
It is generally understood that nonprofit technology is 5 years behind industry, but that gap is quickly diminishing. Lack of sufficient funding prevented nonprofits from purchasing enterprise-level software in the past, but the lower costs of SaaS products and philanthropic efforts of major technology companies has lowered the barrier to entry for any sized organization. Though most technology platforms available to nonprofits perpetuate this concept that organizations should be doing online advocacy, there are also a number of new nonprofit technology vendors sprouting up that offer tools that allow for more than just creating online forms and sending emails. Most organizations now have access to the technology they need to support their programs and build integrated technology infrastructures that span their organization.
The gap between the sophistication of technology use within the corporate and social sectors is diminishing, but the gap still remains in the mindset that comes along with that. There is a big movement within corporations to adapt their business models to the digital times. More and more brands are building digital experiences that facilitate their interaction with consumers, from both an engagement and transactional standpoint. While fun Facebook apps are great ways to build your brand, apps that facilitate business functions are what build meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers. Apps like HBO GO and Domino’s Pizza mobile apps are perfect examples of how brands have grown their business by recognizing that today’s consumers are constantly plugged in and companies should be doing business with them where they are.
Nonprofits should take note of this growing trend and adapt the way their organizations operate to changing consumer behaviors. There are great examples of how organizations are building products and platforms for social change; tools that allow them to deliver services directly to their constituents or solve some aspect of the social issue(s) they are trying to address.