Why do bad things happen to good digital people?

It’s hard to believe now, but when I first tumbled into consulting in 2004, most of the conversations we had with ED’s and CEOs started with the reasons WHY they should consider the power and potential of the internet in/on their work.

Today digital is a given for nearly every organization — from new upstarts to 40-year old institutions like the one I now work with. Instead of asking why digital, we’re now talking about WHERE the digital function should sit wtihin an organization. Comms? Fundraising? Operations? Campaigns? Somewhere else? It’s a tough question — because digital ends up touching almost every aspect of an organization’s work and identity and the idea of restrcuturing one’s organization is almost as appealing as a root canal. 

In my last few years of advising organizations, I often felt as if we were doing more management consulting than digital campaign consutling. It may be a dull topic for those who prefer tools and tactics to organizational politics and beurocracy, but the internal dynamics and structure are what enable or disable digital staff from functioning and succeeding. And these internal structures sure as hell matter to any staffers banging their heads against the wall watching colleagues at competing orgs speed ahead with innovative supporter engagment work or online campaigns. 

So after working with dozens of amazing clients over the years at EchoDitto, the digital consultancy I co-founded, I compared notes with my colleagues Jason Mogus and Christopher Roy at Communicopia

We summarize in this pair of articles for Stanford Social Innovation Review the ways in which we’re seeing digital teams / the digital role running into trouble within orgs and, more importantly, some models for overcoming those challenges:

Part I: The Five Dysfunctions of a Digital Team

Part II: Four Models for Managing Digital at Your Organization

Hope you find something useful in here and that it starts a productive conversation wherever you work. Let us know if that’s the case or if you have other models to add here. 

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