When Good Ideas Go Bad (part 2)

When Good Ideas Go Bad (part 2)


When Good Ideas Go Bad (part 2)

Last week, I blogged about joyful funerals. Today, I want to look at this idea in practice.

A friend of mine used to have a little embroidered sign in his home that said, “All Growth Requires Risk.” Joyful funerals work because they not only allow an organization to quickly kill bad ideas, but they also encourage a culture of innovation by encouraging smart risk-taking.

Recently, a communications director from a midsize community foundation shared with me that she may need to have one of these joyful funerals for a Ning site that her organization launched several years ago. The site was originally conceived as a hub to feature the artists, arts organizations, and art-related events supported by the community foundation. Despite several attempts to revive the group, it never gained the traction that the foundation originally envisioned.

I poked around the group, and the content was pretty good: visually appealing, easy to navigate, lots of opportunities to engage visitors, but only a small number of members and not a lot of recent activity. I noticed a link to a Facebook site, clicked on that, and voila! there was the community. 700+ members, actively posting, commenting, and liking user-generated content. The online community hadn’t failed, they had just moved elsewhere.

In evaluating the success or failure of technology-heavy initiatives, we all too often focus on the nuts and bolts of the technology (the platform or device or process) vs. the intended outcome. In the case of the community foundation, the artist community was connecting through social media – just not the original platform that was envisioned.

Had this community foundation not taken the smart risk in setting up the Ning group, it’s very likely that they would be strarting from scratch, in which case they would be embarking on the challenging task of creating an online Facebook community. Instead, they have a robust, active online community that is sharing local art and is poised to grow even more as the community becomes more active and engaged.

(BTW, I have nothing against Ning – it’s a super cool platform that is absolutely the best choice for certain types of community building. So please don’t hate on me for "dissing" Ning. I <3 Ning!)

nptech, beth kanter, philanthropy, ZeroDivide, nonprofit technology, COFSF, community foundations