If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re clearly a part of the digital revolution. Social media is a part of your life. Blogging may even be something you do. And… you even have a host of expectations about what minimum requirements you have for a job or an organization regarding your interaction with all things interweb. But how do we align this increasingly frenetic universe of digital options to ensure that they support the social impact we want to create?
Enter Chris Wolz as my guest for the 137th Terms of Reference Podcast. Chris is the CEO of Forum One, digital agency that works with mission-driven organizations to create the stunning designs, smart messaging, and custom built technology tools they need to realize their goals and extend their influence in the areas they care about most.
You can connect with Chris here:
IN TOR 137 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT
- The value of digital media, a communications platform and branding in the development sphere
- What the job of developing digital processes, products and platforms for aid agencies entails
- Account of experiences (many of them familiar to frequent Terms Of Reference listeners) where platforms spur collaboration
- What to consider when looking to hire a digital agency such as Forum One
- Why organizations should not play catch-up when it comes to innovation, and rather stay on the “cutting edge”
- Why for Chris our digital world of social media “is just beginning”
OUR CONVERSATION FEATURES THE FOLLOWING
- Forum One
- USAID’s Global Development Lab
- Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (data4sdgs)
- Oxfam, Oxfam America
- Owen Barder’s CGDEV Blog
- Feedback Labs
- Charity: Water
- Digital Platforms, Digital Strategy
- Media agency: Engagement, Communication, Creativity, Branding, Messaging, Visual Design, Video
- Collaboration, platforms
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Data, data products, marketplaces
- Client and user expectations
- Online video
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
December 12th, 2016
Forum One CEO
- “We call ourselves a Digital Agency”
- FO helps clients use digital strategies across a range of development topics
- 20+ years old. Chris is employee #3
- Engagement, Communication, Creativity, Branding, Messaging, Visual Design, Video
- The team build platform, processes
- Stephen: Forum One clients include: Global Innovation Exchange (TOR 124’s guest Alexis Bonnell is USAID liaison), Center for Global Development (TOR 092 ― Owen Barder) Population Services International (TOR 40 ― Jen Haile),
- what has it been like working with them?
- Alexis’ Global Innovation Exchange “Was awesome”. USAID’s Global Development Lab is trying new things for development
- “On the ground there’s good ideas, and there’s needs not met”
- The question often is “what kind of platform”
- The Global Innovation Exchange is a 800+ organizations strong platform that has enabled funding opportunities, expert collaborations, and close to 5,000 innovations in areas such as health care
- “In a very decentralized, non-traditional way”
- More organizations are realizing the value of collaboration and targeting
- Collaboration Micro-platforms
Do they come to you? Do they know what they want from you?
- Stephen: What should prospective organizations expect from a FO partnership?
- “They often come after having done a lot of thinking, some sketches”
- They are familiar with “how communication and collaboration happens”
- Platforms are everywhere, we are all over them
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- What would be the kind of experience?
- There are degrees of openness from project to project
- They are always user-centered
- Stephen: Branding is not a common concept in development
- Some works require some persuasion about branding, identity in communications. Some organizations know it clearly before work starts
- Branding is directly related to the expectation of service
- “And you should give people some expectation”
Example: GP4SDD or data4sdgs
- Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
- Professional tracking of projects through a set of common indicators
- How do we share information in comparable ways?
- It is a “development data and data products marketplace”
- “We don’t have an impact story yet. Coming up with the platform was an achievement by itself”
- The Partnership is designed to be compatible with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
- Collaboration helps find more robust answers. “It’s not a definitive source”
Veering off to the bleeding edge
- “I try to remind myself: we’re just getting started”
- Yes, our lives are full of digital, but there is more to come
- Stephen: How do I catch back up?
- Organizations should have processes not only to ‘catch up’, but to “stay on the bleeding edge”
- Constant learning, experimenting, paying attention to users
- Keep pushing the boundaries of communication
- How to convince aid agencies to invest in communication?
- The field has become more sophisticated, and more effective
- Challenges today are related to engagement, expectations
- Digital tools that help connect will increase efficiency, productivity
Greatest hitting disruptions, vol 2016
- Social media
- Data visualization, increasing amounts of data
- Internet, “rising user experience”
- Engagement. “It’s a petri dish”
- “Things were not conceivable 10 years ago”
- FO tries to provide social media-like experiences, engagement
- Find people, connect, network
- With Oxfam America, they realized they required tight integration with other Oxfams
- A “social media-like” platform was set to share insight among Oxfams, better coordination
Innovation as standard business
- How to turn insight into new practice, rid of the old ways?
- “Sometimes the organic approach, bottom-up happens”, it’s dynamic depends on the organization
- “Sometimes it is a mix, and result of deliberate decisions”
- Oxfam had a previous platform that evolved and prove valuable. “But they outgrew it”
- With some clients, the goal is to develop pilots and then turn them into dependable platforms
- To accomplish this, time and constant evaluation
Whom Chris listens
- Barder’s Blog at Center for Global Development
- Feedback Labs
- Charity: Water
- Video online: Live streaming, 360°, AR
- Mapping: open source projects, Mapbox, CarterDB (??), ArcGIS. “Golden Age”
Please share and participate
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me or Chris directly, head on over to the Ask Stephen section. Don’t be shy! Every question is important and I answer every single one.
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