It seems like every week there is another book or article about social media and technology for nonprofits, with many of them falling into the "how to" category, or focusing on one particular application (like Twitter). However, if you want to step back and see the big picture Brian Reich’s Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues in a Connected Society (Wiley, 2011) is worth a look. Reich waxes philosophical about how today’s hyperconnected society is affecting the way we behave and relate to each other, and how social media and other technologies are changing old paradigms of business and productivity.
Throughout the book, Reich offers principles, solutions, and must-read resources on how we can "shift and reset" our attitudes toward education, language, and mobilization efforts, as well as improve our overall game plan in supporting social issues important to us.
In the chapter "Shift Your Education" he cites a Sesame Street experiment that used cell phones to educate children; one reason Sesame Street has maintained its success is that it has kept a disciplined approach to childhood education in the face of significant changes in technology, occupying a state of perpetual "beta" in which they are always willing to experiment with new developments. Reich also talks about Zappos (in "Shift Your Language") an online shoe/clothing retailer which is highly regarded because of its excellent customer service and relationships. The company has figured out what people expect and what they respond to, leading to a successful business strategy that focuses on the culture (i.e. language) of buying shoes and building loyalty rather than on blind metrics or efficiency standards.
Reich also describes what the nonprofit sector should stop doing, namely the same old stale and “correct” things. He feels it would be wise if the sector stop creating new organizations and instead find groups that are operating successfully and help them instead; stop (over) using social media, since it alone is not enough for engagement and mobilization; and ignore those case studies, because by and large the success stories they convey aren’t transferable.
Many of the book's ideas and stories are designed to get you out of your comfort zone, which is often the best way to see new solutions. Shift & Reset is available at the Foundation Center’s New York, DC, San Francisco and Atlanta libraries under call no 676 REI.
The Foundation Center--New York
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