Can the third sector resist social technology?

  • SumoMe

I’ve worked with different third sector organisations as a consultant for over 10 years now, and found that they each have their unique cultures, ethics and leadership quirks.  The leadership tends to ebb and flow, with changes according to the structure of the organisation and various personality roles, however ethics and cultures tend to be slower to change, even though rapid changes may well be needed for success.

There have been significant technology improvements over the past five years, and some organisations have been dynamic in utilising technological change, others have been more sporadic or slow to adapt, whereas some simply refuse to change.

The response to social technologies have been varied with main concerns over wasted staff time, no relevance for the target audience, and a lack of resources and skills to manage technology.  These are valid concerns, however it is important for the sector to fully assess the role of social technology.

Utilising skills and knowledge within the organisation effectively can potentially create opportunities for the third sector.

McKinsey and Company studied how social technologies are being used today, and how they will evolve over the coming years, to assess how this will impact on the social sector.  Their report here suggests the transformation of processes, structures and cultures will be required to fully embrace networks of collaboration, building trust and co-operation to deliver potential economic benefits.

Campaigns such as the #nomakeupselfie indicate the power of fundraising using creative methods, also demonstrating the role of social media for raising awareness. The campaign did not originate from Cancer Research, where unprecedented donations were received.

There are mixed feelings on social media. Some employers are banning the use of social media during work time, which has impacted on staff morale, at a savings of on average 15 minutes per day.  Perhaps this may indicate more effort needs to go into managing and motivating staff to focus channelling energies into productivity.

At the extreme end, some organisations have refused to be part of the social technology boom, even email and websites are only recently being introduced.

This seems to be related to the culture of local community organisations that see no need to promote services outside their locality.  This may be relevant for their world, but the limited approach to research and networking could potentially leave them gasping for much needed work, when the technologically aware organisations move in.

Is there a right or a wrong?

That’s for you to decide.

As more of my work stems around collaborative projects, networking and building effective teams, I fail to see how an organisation can refuse to power up with social technology.  My need for research and information on a daily basis would take far too long without the use of my faithful social networks, a mine of experience, information, signposting and retweeting to find the answers to my much needed questions.

My use of social technology for work has significantly increased to the point where I could not imagine a world without it, including information about future tenders, funding, collaborative projects and offers of work.

Social technology allows us to be dynamic, effective and (if we remain focused) productive, suggesting that organisational success in the future relies on fostering a focused and motivated culture within the organisation, encouraging the creativity and collaboration offered by social technology as an enterprise tool.


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