Digital is an organizational practice in an imperfect world

Moving into the digital age is a practical matter. It is the practice of evolving your organization; the practice of supporting your people to grow from being content consumers to content creators.

It is the practice of creating content that your members actually want or need.

It’s the mundane and everyday practice of improving, refining, risking, failing and re-engaging.

Practice makes better. Better is progress. Progress is gradual. How are diamonds made? Gradually.

The speed of making diamonds will vary group to group. The more elements of Carpe Digital your organization explores, the better.

Don’t want to call it “carpe digital”? That’s cool. But there are ways for organizations to go digital that won’t turn you into a commodified robot. There are others, but here are six I’ve identified. You need:

  • An open conversation
  • Community
  • A commitment to staying human
  • Align your strategies and teams
  • Build capacity in-house
  • Tell your story yourselves

Think of these elements as roadmaps, and guides, and compasses. You’re not thrown out into this cold new digital world without resources or help.

Come back to clear strategies. Create online learning programs that your members would benefit from. Imagine content marketing strategies that honour your cause, tell your story and help your people. Perhaps most of all, from the point of view of strengthening your organization, develop content strategy that brings your teams together to work collaboratively to publish your material in a smooth, sustainable, ongoing way.

Finally, if there was a “digital practice code” it might be something like: “Practice daily. Make mistakes. Err on the side of action.”

We need to get more comfortable with not being perfect. We need to have faith in ourselves. We need to do it wrong, and learn, and grow.

“From failing, we learn. From success, not so much.”

People would much rather learn and grow in an environment like that. I know I would.


WHY THIS EMPHASIS ON FAILURE AND IMPERFECTION?

Because we need to come to terms with the fact that our best efforts, at first, won’t necessarily match our vision – let alone the output of a professional digital agency.

And that’s okay.

No, really. That’s okay.

Agencies, bless ‘em, will sell you on the idea that “your” stuff has to look perfect and professional and polished – and yet at the same time, “authentic” and loyal to your brand or image.

Agencies benefit from the prevailing cultural bias which holds that professionalism – in all things nonprofit – is to be strived for above all else. This is a supremely debatable notion, but we’ll set it aside for now.

The truth is, making your stuff look good – and meeting whatever expectations your people have – is just a matter of practice.

The more we skill up, the better our stuff will look, and the more genuinely authentic. And, more importantly, we develop the capacity to go digital and stay digital for the long-term. Your members will forgive you if your videos don’t look slick and polished from the get-go – especially if they’re involved in their production in some way. Develop your own vernacular and style. Build quality. Own your own digital.

Give a person a nice explainer video and they can communicate for a day. Teach a person to make nice explainer videos and they can communicate until the very end of time – or at least as long as the grid shall last.