Tag Archives: ntc

Better decisons, one napkin at a time

A photo of Dan Roam, autorho fo the Back of the Napkin, standing on stage in front of a presentationImagine if we could solve the world’s problems using a simple technique that truly comes from the back of a napkin.

That’s exactly what Dan Roam promises to help people with. He’s got a big vision: show people how to run meetings more productively and generate tangible results.

Speaking in April at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in San Francisco, which I participated in via an online mini-version of the event, meeting evangelist and raconteur Mr Roam shared his simple method to improve how meetings are run.

It’s simple. So simple, that it seems cheeky he has become a sought after speaker and run a business using napkins.

The core idea is this: use simple diagrams and pictures to help explain and discuss ‘problems’ or explore opportunities. That’s it.

I actually see this happening naturally when someone grabs a pen and strolls purposefully to the whiteboard to start sketching up excruciating bad line drawings. Or reaching for any scrap of paper. The writing is typically very messy. The pictures are crude. Ahem, yes that’s often me, when I’m not sitting with the other meeting participants groaning in agony.

Well, Mr Loam says if only this napkin drawing approach was more widely used, and poor drawers (so-called visual thinkers) received the credit they deserve. And maybe a few waverers were drawn into action.

His talks, like the one at the NTC, suite of books, and now an online Napkin Academy, seek to upskill people in understanding the power of drawing to solve complex problems. There’s a bit of psychology, a whiff of hype and lots of confidence buildings for poor, angst-ridden drawers and wannabes.

I’m still tossing up whether to enroll in the Napkin Academy as a cadet. Access to a series of videos for a year costs NZD$53 (on today’s tumbling exchange rate).

It’s tempting to join the napkin waving ranks. Yet I hesitate. Surely we can intuitively find the right way to use diagrams, models and pictures without having our hand held?

This is part one in a meeting series. Quite by accident in the past month or so I’ve fallen into talking about making meetings more productive, so I’m going to write about this stuff.

Photo credit: anitakhart

Roll up: a few ICT events for NGOs

Huge room filed with hundreds of tote bags for a conference, by NarisaIt’s one of those things that follow a predictable, immutable pattern. At the start of the year there’s a slew of new conferences and learning events sprouting up. 2012 is no different.

Now is the time to start getting organised. Some will take just a trip across town, others across the sea. Some permission, others an early start.

The highly regarded webstock juggernaut has just rolled by, so that’s one registration fee you don’t have to try to find. The sparks and fizzes from the week long webextravaganza are radiating out. You can see a trace of the shining light via the ultra busy #webstock twitter hastag.

I’m not sure if there will be webstock videos, as there have been in previous years, but you can find a record of sorts through collectively prepared, scrawly notes. Anyone attending could jot down impressions, quotes and diatribes on a set of unofficial, editable webstock Google Docs, kindly created by to Miramar Mike.

When writing this post I noted there are just 44 and 56 free tickets left to Connecting Communities events being held in Christchurch and Wellington beginning next week. The sessions cover a broad range of topics from cloud computing to social media. There is an emphasis on getting organised through ICT planning. If I don’t see you at either of the events, you can catch-up on my impressions on this blog.

Register at:

Connecting Communities, Christchurch, Wednesday 29 February 2012
Connecting Communities, Wellington, Monday 5 March 2012

Technology planning will be at the fore of a series of workshops being hosted by Connecting Up Australia in mid-March. Respected NGO technology trainer and advisor John Kenyon will run workshops on “Technology planning essentials for nonprofit leaders” in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart. Registration fees are a slight $A130.

You can get a taste of the ground John Kenyon will cover by taking at look at recordings of recent online sessions he’s run for Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). In November he ran a session “Strategic Planning and Budgeting for Technology” and last month I spent 90 minutes listening to his on “From Computers to the Cloud: Technology Essentials for Nonprofit Leaders” presenation. As the sessions are recorded, there’s no getting up early to sync with US time. Charges apply.

An event which starts at an ungodly hour, delivered over the internet is a mini version of the phenomenally big Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) that NTEN run every year. While there will be 1,700 people assembled at the San Francisco Hilton, 3-5 April 2012, a few folk will eavesdrop via an online version of the NTC. A selection of the talks are being offered as well as access to a super fancy dedicated conference social networking platform. No jetlag, no currency conversion hassles, just a matter of waking up at 3.30am for the opening session. Not sure if I’ll make it.

Once again the Connecting Up road show is slated to happen on 27 April in Wellington, 30 April in Auckland and 1-3 May in Sydney. Registrations for the Sydney Connecting Up 2012 event are open, with details of the New Zealand Connecting Up event coming soon.

The infectiously likable and zany Allen Gunn will be speaking again in Sydney. His participatory keynote was a highlight of the 2009 Connecting Up conference (see my blog post “Privacy concerns raised at Connecting Up 09 conference” and “So many ways to skin a cat” presentation, Connecting Up 09 conference”).

The one other event I can tentatively mention is one I will be definitely be getting up for. I’m adapting my Give your website TLC workshop for the computer screen. This will be offered along with another session as part of an online series for NGO website managers. Thee will be open to anyone interested from around Aotearoa. Details are due out next week.

Perhaps I’ll see you at one or other of these events: in person, or online?

Photo credit: Narisa

Garage give-away – 1pm 16 May 2009?

So far the move has gone pretty smoothly. Last night everyone was able to find somewhere to sleep in our new place and we’ve all eaten. Most importantly, our cable broadband is installed and working. Much to my relief, things went far smoother than when I tried to switch to TelstraClear last year (see “My broadband saga concludes“).

After an hour problem solving on the phone with AJ in Brandenberg, we’ve got the webserver up and running again. The computer serving up this blog (and doing a heap of other stuff) is discretely tucked in the corner of the living room. With a pellet burner keeping us warm, I’m hope the hardware doesn’t overheat.

All that remains is to clean up down the road. What a lot of suff we’ve collected over the years. Lots unintentionnally like aggregate for making concrete and a spare mountain buggy. Leisure activities no longer pursued. Two of things. Too much stuff. I dunno how but even though we’ve moved lots we consider essential there’s still other stuff.

Without going into a rant about consumerism, I’ll get to the point. I don’t have a lot of time to sort all the surplus stuff out and distribute it around possible welcome homes. I need to organise something easily. Like a garage sale, except everthing will be free. But how do I tell people.

Clay Shirky says this is where the internet can help us achieve feats of organisation which were not cheaply or easily possible prior to the internet age. Giving stuff away is an excellent example of where  givers and recipients are almost never be able find each other. Using a website could be a way to bridge the gap.

Lo and behold I found Wellington Freecycle. There are currently 1232 people offering and taking stuff that others don’t want. The ‘group’ exists online only (well as far as I can tell) through a email list. It looks a busy one. Today someone wants an acoustic guitar and vacuum cleaner, and people offered an adsl modem and a Kenwood blender base.

Everything is obviously not sweetness and light even amongst people giving stuff away. I’m still exploring if it’s how I framed things or the idea itself, but I can’t post an item about my give-away to Wellington Freecylce. According to the admin who blocked my request “these sort of posts are not allowed through freecycle as they have casued alot of problems in the past and therefore are not allowed within the whole freecycle(tm) group”.

Oh well, I’ll try to think of some other ways to either advertise my give-away or find an efficient way to coordinate bids for individual items from recipients. Hindsight being what it is (ie never wrong), I think I should have started earlier. Anyone running a fundraising garage sale? Does anyone want a working toaster, surplus to requirements? Any ideas for my give-away?

PS Here’s the list of stuff we’re giving away (yes some junk, but as they say: one person’s trash is another’s treasure).

Is Michael in the audience today?

I’m sitting in the audience at the National Technology Conference being held in San Francisco. The presentation I’m attending is on “Why the donate button isn’t enough: designing program-centric appeals online”.

When I say I’m in the audience, I’m not actually there. Instead I’m part of the global audience viewing the workshop online. With a limit of 1,400 people (wow!!), not everyone who wanted to attend the conference actually could. So NTEN, the event’s organisers, have provided plenty of ways for people to see at least a few sessions.

The session I’ve joined is the last of the live webcasts: live video with shots of the presenters and questions from other attendees.

There are about six sessions available free as webinars (a audio presentation with slideshow). These are covering topics such as open source constituent relationship management software, integrated mobile advocacy and online fundraising, program-centric appeals online and cloud computing. An archive means these are available after the event is long over. Plus there is live blogging – a bit like hand-written scrawls on your notepad, but shared online.

On a more face-to-face level I’ll catch up with Michael Woodcock, Marketing Manager at NZFVWO, when he gets back from the Conference. Over the past 18 months I’ve been intermittently sitting next to Michael and having many conversations about ecological sustainability, peak oil and the like. I’m wondering if he’s in the audience today – I’m waiting to hear a kiwi accent chime in during the Q&A session.

Michael’s been promoting the TechSoup program since it launched in Aotearoa last June with a positive response. He’s in San Francisco to meet with others running TechSoup programmes around the planet – in 23 countries and more coming.

Here’s a short interview with Michael the day before he headed over to San Francisco (apologies for the sound quality). I asked him buy a me copy of the recently released book “Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders”.

Michael Woodcock interview, 23 April 2009 from Stephen on Vimeo.

After he gets back I’ll do a longer interview and post it here as an audio file. Back to the session about “Why the donate button isn’t enough”……

Update 29 April: I forgot the mention that fellow kiwi and another greenie Peter Davis is also at the NTEN conference. He’s blogged about the conference on the webguide blog.

Update 30 April: Michael has emailed saying he’s got a copy of the book I mentioned above and is hunting down an autograph for me. Feedback from the conference floor: a presentation by Eben Moglen, a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center was fantastic. Moglen received a standing ovation.