No One Told You When to Run

And then one day you find,

Ten years have got behind you.

No one told you when to run,

You missed the starting gun.

– Time, Pink Floyd

 

 

We spend a great deal of our formative years, learning the basics of “getting along”:

Sitting quietly.

Being polite.

Following the rules.

All of these are great attributes, to be sure; traits I struggle – daily – to drill into my offspring.

But these traits aren’t always the qualities, that serve us best in leadership.

Who is best served, by sitting quietly, when perspectives and experiences are withheld to solutions being sought?

No one.

Who is best served, when honesty and transparency is required, but politeness prevents a compassionate resolution to a conflict – and instead, prolongs an untenable situation?

No one.

Who is best served, when rules and processes prevent what is right and proper to occur, to correct an injustice?

No one. Or perhaps, only a vanishingly small few.

As a “recovering entrepreneur”, a lesson I learned many years ago, is that if you wait around for someone to invite you to act, you’ll be waiting a very long time.

Because no one is going to tell you when to start living your life. To start contributing.

To start: being awesome.

If you see an injustice, act to correct it.

If you see something that needs doing, don’t wait for someone else to act – do it yourself, or find someone who is qualified, to act.

If processes are impeding what is right to be done, act to change the system.

If you don’t exercise your agency, you will be left at the starting line.

No one told you when to run.

Run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio

Non-Profit Technologists: What Keeps Us Up Nights

Non-profit Technologists

What Keeps You Up Nights?

This is almost a trick question, especially if you work for a non-profit and are responsible for technology in your organization – because the answer is: Everything.

Sure, there are frequently heard answers. Keeping the “trains running on time.” Keeping the “lights on.” Keeping the “main thing, the main thing.”

But – to truly be effective, and innovative – one must look beyond service level agreements, disaster recovery, and crisis planning, and ask – what are the next level challenges that I must overcome as a non-profit technologist?

Technology Refreshes: Non-profits are – and always will be – challenged with funding uncertainty, year over year. As such, planned and dependable technology refreshes – new computers, software updates, new technology purchases – will always be unpredictable and undependable IF your strategy depends only on operating budgets. Innovative non-profit technologists must be versed in grant writing, collaborating with development officers to set up recurring capitalization instruments, such as endowments and chairships. Otherwise, your technology refreshes will always compete – and lose to – higher priority funding, such as compensation and deferred maintenance. Which leads to…

Staff Compensation and Development: When funding times get tough, training and professional development are the first things to go in the operating budget. Recruiting – and keeping – top talent in non-profit organizations is well-nigh impossible. As a leader in the space, you will have to fight over every single dollar; you are not just competing with other non-profits, but anyone funding a tech position. You will have to be able to offer creative forms of compensation, that meaningfully move the needle to affect the quality of life for your staff.

Staying Ahead of the Infrastructure Curve: Large scale investments in our underlying infrastructure (networking, wireless, maintenance, access) demands the lion’s share of our technology planning, and funding. Without adequate infrastructure funding, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the demand curve. Standing pat is no longer an option in this new “Experience Economy”, when always on isn’t an amenity – it’s a necessity; the new normal.

What keeps you up nights, as a non-profit technologist?

Go, and be you.