By Chris Hanson, Co-founder and CEO of thedatabank, gbc
It’s likely most of you reading this are too young to remember the classic Reese’s commercial from the 1980s about the accidental merging of peanut butter and chocolate. The premise behind this is that sometimes when you merge two things together, the result is something greater than the sum of its parts. The synergy created when this happens can be powerful.
This is what we’ve been experiencing here at thedatabank when we started merging the concept of “Technology as Strategy” with the model of “Organizational Capacity Building”. As a result of this approach our clients are having a greater social and economic impact. So, what’s behind this?
About seven years ago our good friend, and noted technology consultant, Tom Lehman, introduced us to the concept of “Technology as Strategy”. Basically, the idea is to look at technology in your organization in the same way you look at other resources such as staff and capital. When you integrate your technology into your strategic thinking and planning the result is greater value from your technology investment. That’s because technology is used more effectively by more people in the organization.
The recent NTEN Technology Staffing and Investments Report supports this conclusion by showing that those organizations that include technology in their strategic planning have much higher technology adoptions rates than those that don’t.
The other half of this powerful merger is “Organizational Capacity Building”. This has been talked about, researched, and used in the nonprofit sector for more than 25 years. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the term. Basically, organizational capacity building involves assessing your organization’s internal “dimensions of capacity” to identify which dimensions are limiting your ability to better fulfill your mission, then creating a strategic plan to increase (build) those dimensions.
We got much more interested in organizational capacity building at thedatabank when we began our own organizational change process a few years ago as we worked to figure out how we could create more value and impact for our clients. The result has been a complete reframing of how we work with our clients and how our clients work with us and our technology.
When you think about technology from a strategic perspective, then tie that technology to an organizational capacity building strategy, your technology investment is more likely to generate higher social and economic returns for your organization. This is an incredibly powerful model that is at the core of how we work with organizations.
Obviously, this is a much more complex process than can be discussed in one blog post. To help you and other organizations like yours start to understand and use this process, thedatabank has created some free resources.
The first resource is a recorded webinar, Strategic Use of Technology for Building Capacity, where I detail the concepts I’ve talked about in this post. The second is a guide book, Using Technology to Build Capacity, that has several exercises to help you begin the process.
If you have any questions or comments about this powerful model please send me an email and I’d be happy to talk with you. Best wishes to achieving your mission.