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Adapting to a networked world.

Things we’ve learned helping institutions manage digital change since 1993.

Why we stopped building websites (and why that matters to you)

Aug 28, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

Last month we launched the last website Communicopia will build. Why have we stopped making sites after 18 years and close to 1,000 projects? And what does this have to do with how you hire vendors for your digital projects? Read on. Way back in the day, during the .com boom years, a web agency was expected to do everything for you. Come up with a great strategic approach. Design a clear and lasting content structure. Make a killer design. And tie it all together with a back-end that did amazing things. Since those days, the web world has gotten both simpler, and more complex, and projects have therefore gotten both cheaper at the low end and more expensive at the high end.
Image courtesy of the New York Times

The World Bank opens up, how about you?

Jul 21, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

It isn't every day you open your favourite newspaper and see an article that validates absolutely everything you've been prattling on about for the last few years. But there it was, on the front page of the business section in last Sunday's New York Times: "World Bank Opens its Treasure Chest of Data", and it's the most powerful case study of using digital as a catalyst to renew a tired institution that I've come across in years.

You see it wasn't merely the story about another government group embracing open data, which, as exciting as that is, is only a policy wedge to get at the juicier stuff. This was a story of an institution in transition, being humbled by how difficult it is to make change in this complex, interconnected world, and realizing the limits of the "we're big enough to go it alone" approach it's taken for 67 years.

Social media builds community, but not always

Jun 21, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

My friend and colleague Alex Samuel has written “the soul of the Internet can be shaped by how we individually engage with it. [We get to choose] whether the Internet alienates and isolates us; or connects and enriches us.”  We are still very much shaping this emerging tool today with our behaviours, and the way we do so does not always lead to more community and connectedness.

The shameful Stanley Cup riots in my beautiful city last week show a real time example. People’s behaviours during and after the riots have both strengthened and diminished our sense of trust and community. If you're only watching mainstream media you might miss the good that happened, but each pattern of behaviour left a unique digital signature online we can study.

Culture change through digital projects - 8 steps

Jun 9, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

One of my wiser clients once told me “Culture eats strategy. Every time”. If you’ve worked in this field for a while now you see how many change projects fail to achieve their (admittedly often too high) expectations. The idea of embracing change sounds great on paper, but as any therapist will tell you, it's extremely difficult to break away from years of patterned behaviour. Add all those individual pattens into a structured system, and you've got a big barrier standing in the way of innovation.

My experience from leading digital change projects for 15 years is that if you don’t use the catalyst of a digital project to shift the culture of your institution towards a more innovative and responsive model, you’re really just building a website.

Website link to VoteSocial.ca

Creating network effects with collaborative campaigns

May 6, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

This week’s Canadian election was shaping up as a once in a generation game-changer. Some surprisingly creative social media campaigns - driven by a few smart new players – were making an impact on the nightly news and with large swaths of voters, especially youth. I decided to reach out to the leaders of these groups to see if we could find ways to increase their impact.

The pitch was to collaborate publicly and behind the scenes to show up as a united and organized movement. And to create a powerful content network through shared key messaging and activities that would drive more traffic to everyone's sites and, most importantly, the voting booth.

The Global Wake Up Call, organized by Avaaz and TckTckTck in 3 weeks

Be like the web part 2: Network organization structures

Apr 25, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

Earlier I wrote how many of today’s most successful digital campaigns are grown from organizations who are thinking differently, and not just with their online campaigns. These “network organizations” operate in fundamentally different ways from traditional centralized organizations, and, with relatively few resources, are growing faster and having an outsized impact on our world.

What’s a network organization? From the business world, think Facebook, Google, & Groupon. In NGO’s, think Avaaz, MoveOn, & MomsRising. And what about Wikileaks, Sarah Palin, and the Obama presidential campaign? All have attributes of organizations with network principles baked into their core.

Transform, courtesy Tricky www.flickr.com_photos_sovietuk_5222333788_size

6 principles of transformative digital campaigns

Mar 18, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

In the last few weeks I’ve had calls from a high profile multi-city concert to grow the global women’s movement, an international network of freedom of expression activists who need to re-invent their organization, and a big international NGO that wants to “network their whole organization” so they can do more with the same number of people.

For each of these ambitious visions, digital lies at the core of their plans. It’s a way to land the conceptual changes they want in a practical way. The challenge is to design campaigns or new organizational structures that don’t just graft new tools onto old, linear models. If you want to know how that works, tell me how well your organization collaborates internally, or point to the transformative cultural changes you’ve pulled off lately. .

Blogs are not dead yet. Image courtesy Charles Darwin University Art Gallery

Not dead yet: Blogs still the backbone

Feb 28, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

We've heard a lot of noise lately about blogs being a dying breed, with people's attention and effort being pulled towards smaller snippets of content in social networks. While that's certainly happening, I believe blogs are still a critical and under-utilized tool for organizations to share expertise, support cause goals, and grow their businesses. In fact, they are the backbone of a strong multi-channel engagement strategy.

A recent Pew research study shows that, far from shrinking, blog use among adults has grown by an amazing 27% in only the last 2 years.

Welcome to 2011! Free wallpaper from Tripwire Magazine

Fresh Start: 5 resolutions for your digital program in 2011

Jan 3, 2011  |  by Jason Mogus

For most of us the holidays bring much needed downtime from our busy lives, offering time for reflection, visioning, and planning for the road ahead. The big stories last year will no doubt continue in 2011: massive change and uncertainty is the norm, power continues to shift from big, old, closed institutions (even countries) to newer and more nimble ones, and collaboration, the web and networks are enabling these structural shifts like never before.  

Isn't it time to take a fresh look at your organization's digital program to put you on the right side of these historic shifts?

350.org event in Sydney. 350 is a "network organization"

To succeed on the web, Be like the web

Nov 24, 2010  |  by Jason Mogus

We live in times of great systems change, and a lot of what organizations have done in the past isn’t working so well anymore. But while many are re-trenching, treading water, or tentatively trying small experiments (while keeping everything else the same), some innovators are realizing amazing results by embracing entirely new, network-centric business models.

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